By Roger Waters
Mrs Zelenska’s Sept 5 tweet:
It is Russia that invaded Ukraine, destroys cities and kills civilians.
Ukrainians defend their land and their children’s future. If we give up – we will not exist tomorrow.
If Russia gives up – war will be over.
Dear Mrs Zelenska,
Please excuse my tardy reply to your twitter response to my open letter. I am in the middle of a North American tour. I confess I never dreamed you would respond personally, I am bowled over, so thank you. I note what you say, but I’m fairly sure that ‘giving up’ just like that, is not an option that any side is considering. I feel I’m getting to know you a little, I see that you, like me, trained as an architect, so maybe we have a common interest in building things. That is good because we all need to focus on building something now, and obviously that something is peace in your country. My research leads me to believe that peace in the Ukraine is what the vast majority of the people of the Ukraine voted for when they elected your husband as President. And that majority expected him to use his huge mandate to negotiate a settlement between the Ukraine and the Russian Federation that would meet the security needs of both nations and provide a credible alternative to this disastrous war.
I believe even after hostilities began, last April, two months into the war, such a settlement was on the table, it was in Istanbul wasn’t it? What happened?
You were so close to a ceasefire. I smell interference from Washington, I’m quite prepared to be wrong of course, but in my experience, if it smells like fish and looks fishy, it’s probably what passes for foreign policy in Washington DC. Anyway, it’s all water under the bridge now. What I am suggesting is that the only sane course is for all sides, and I say all sides, not both sides, because clearly this is a proxy war that involves the USA, so all sides need to agree to an unconditional ceasefire and the beginning of talks. I for one Olena will continue to bang the drum of peace, however unpopular that may be in these bellicose times. The mainstream media in the west seems intent on encouraging public support for escalation of the proxy war between the USA and the Russian Federation that is raging in the Ukraine, even to the point of contemplating playing nuclear chicken. Wow! How very irresponsible of the gentlemen of the press.
Back in 1962 we faced a very similarly deadly situation in the Caribbean. It was called the Cuban missile crisis. The whole human race came perilously close to extinction in a nuclear war, and we all knew it. That crisis came about because the USA, quite rightly, perceived an existential threat because the USSR was installing nuclear missiles in Cuba, only a stone’s throw from the US mainland. Today the roles are reversed, it is the USA that seeks, through NATO to install nuclear weapons in Ukraine, right on the Russian border only a stone’s throw from Moscow, and The Russian Federation perceives that as an existential threat. So Ukraine has become today’s Cuba.
That we all survived the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, if only just barely, can be partially explained by two things that happened. The first, and probably most important thing was that, unlike in the current crisis, in 1962 the Presidents of the USSR and the USA, Nikita Khrushchev and John Fitzpatrick Kennedy spoke to one another, repeatedly, soberly, politely and respectfully, on the telephone.
The second thing was just as crucial and is fascinating, and also, at least in the West, very little known.
It is the story of a Russian hero Vasily Aleksandrovich Arkhipov (1926–1998).
Quoting Wikipedia, Arkhipov: “was a Soviet Naval officer credited with preventing a Soviet nuclear launch during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Such an attack likely would have caused a major global thermonuclear response.
“As flotilla chief of staff and second-in-command of the diesel powered submarine B-59, Arkhipov refused to authorize the captain and the political officer’s use of nuclear torpedoes against the United States Navy, a decision which required the agreement of all three senior officers. After his death, Arkhipov has been widely recognized as someone who had ‘saved the world’ with his actions.”
Wow, Vasily, on behalf of the whole human race, thank you for doing the right thing.
I have literally just now, this morning, received an Email from MAPA (Massachusetts Peace Action) reminding me that back in 1962, the two Presidents resolved the crisis by compromising. Khrushchev agreed to remove the Russian missiles from Cuba and as a ‘quid pro quo’ Kennedy agreed to remove American missiles from Turkey! They spoke, they compromised, job done? It’s called diplomacy. What has happened to diplomacy? Why doesn’t President Biden do the right thing and speak to President Putin? Why have the powers that be in the USA steadfastly refused to address Russian concerns vis a vis the potential existential threat of a fully-fledged, nuclear armed, Ukraine joining NATO on Russia’s doorstep?
Though you and I, Mrs Zelenska, are still trying to communicate to promote peace, albeit through the desperately unhelpful fog of partisan propaganda, every day more Ukrainian and Russian lives are tragically lost. Un-fathomably, the President of The United States of America, speaks publicly, in raucous and bellicose tones, of removing his opposite number in Russia from power. What! Mr President the world is not a unipolar Marvel Comic strip. What are you thinking? The Powers that Be who pull your strings and presumably tell you what to say, have a powerful echo chamber in the whole of the mainstream media, but ‘we the people’ have a voice too, and we will continue to use it, in spite of your efforts to subvert the law, ignore the constitution of the United States, and suppress basic human rights even to the point of imprisoning journalists who actually believe in liberty and democracy. Yes, Mr President, I’m talking about Julian Assange.
More and more we are noticing that US foreign policy, as planned thirty years ago, by The Project For The New American Century, by Wolfowitz and Kagan, Kristol, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of the neocons, has increasingly become, the voice of the school yard bully, “Do as we say or we’ll kick your teeth in.” Really? Do you really think the American Empire should be trying to start a war with Russia? And then China? Are you crazy? ‘We the People’ don’t want that, because ‘We the People’ are not crazy. And the Russian and Chinese people don’t want that either, because they too are not crazy, but by God if you do start one, we better all get ready for a bloody nose because as I recall the Russian people didn’t want a war with the Germans either, but twenty six million of them died giving the Nazis a very bloody nose.
So where was I Mrs Zelenska, I’m sorry I got a bit side tracked, oh yes, why don’t you prevail upon your husband to ‘do the right thing’, and ‘We the People’ in the USA will try to prevail upon poor old Uncle Joe Biden to do the right thing, and the Russian people will prevail upon the ‘stripped to the waist’ Vladimir Putin to do the right thing, and maybe, together, ‘We the People can prevail upon all our leaders to do the right thing, and maybe we can save the world from the imminent destruction upon which they seem hellbent. Maybe we can prevent The Powers that Be from sacrificing this, our beautiful planet home, on the altar of their deadly unipolar warmongering.