‘The entire world is affected’: Author pushes for negotiations in Ukraine war

  • Medea Benjamin has co-authored a new book titled “War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict.” STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Medea Benjamin co-authored a new book titled “War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict.” STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer
Published: 10/9/2022 8:58:13 PM

GREENFIELD — A nationally recognized peace activist found herself in Greenfield recently, having embarked on a book tour for “War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict.”

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK, a women-led grassroots organization working to end U.S. wars and militarism, recently completed the book about the war in Ukraine with co-author Nicolas J.S. Davies. After giving presentations at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, at Keene State College and in Northampton to discuss the conflict and what Americans can do, she sat down with the Greenfield Recorder to tell local readers about the war that has been dominating national headlines for the past eight months.

“The entire world is affected by this war,” she said.

Benjamin explained prices are rising across the globe due to the lack of Russian oil going into Europe, the lack of grain being exported from Ukraine and the lack of fertilizer coming from Russia.

“Whether it is from the point of view of increased hunger, environmental disaster or the serious threat of nuclear war, we have to find a way out of this,” she said.

Benjamin’s organization, CODEPINK, was formed in response to America’s invasion of Iraq following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Members of the grassroots organization felt the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, a position that many Americans agreed with as the years went on. Since then, CODEPINK has expanded to grow as a peace organization, fighting to end wars across the world.

“We are heartbroken to see destruction and lives being lost, and seeing millions who had to flee,” Benjamin commented. “We want wars to end. Our purpose is to stop the militarization of our country and our planet.”

Benjamin and Davies have been writing about foreign policy in national publications for years. When the war in Ukraine began, their writing about the conflict circulated widely. Because of their popularity, they were approached by the publishing company OR Books, and were given three months to write “War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict.”

“We had to become instant experts in all different aspects of the war,” Benjamin said.

The book is a beginner’s guide to the war. It focuses on NATO’s expansion, the 2014 Ukrainian uprising, nuclear agreements, sanctions and the use of the news media in different countries.

“Our position is that the U.S. should be pushing for a cease fire and negotiations,” Benjamin explained. When the war began, many thought there was a way to have a complete victory on one side, but Benjamin said, “I don’t think this is possible.”

Benjamin explained wars are easiest to resolve in the early stages. She feels the United States and England played a negative role in the negotiations because leaders encouraged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to keep fighting.

“Unfortunately, our Congress and White House have agreed to keep sending an endless stream of money,” Benjamin said. “As this drags on, both sides are hardening their positions.”

Many people say Russian President Vladimir Putin cannot be negotiated with. Benjamin disagrees, citing the many negotiations that have happened during the war, including allowing grain ships to leave Ukraine, allowing an international agency to check Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant and 16 prisoner exchanges.

“The American people are recognizing the need to compromise,” she said. “I think we have to push elected officials to say, ‘The way we solve this war is negotiations.’”

Benjamin called for people to go to their city officials and request resolutions asking for America to push for negotiations in the war. She also said people can meet with their representatives and leave comments on the White House’s website.

“Everyone has political influence,” Benjamin said.

She said billions of dollars have been taken away from climate programs to fund the war in Ukraine. Benjamin feels climate change is the real threat people should focus their energy on, instead of a war that is bringing the threat of nuclear weapons.

“Let’s refocus the human species on what is really the threat right now,” Benjamin concluded, “instead of a war that can be stopped.”

Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-930-4570 or blevavi@recorder.com.


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