Virtually every aspect of Putin’s “Special Military Operation” has been a war crime. The invasion itself is a defined war crime of aggression.

The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines is an act of terrorism possibly perpetrated by the U.S. and Norway. Whether it’s a war crime is even less clear-cut.

According to the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW), “The US, UK, Russia, China, France and Pakistan produce uranium weapons.” But: “These weapons have been used only by two states so far: the US and Britain.”

The U.K. now plans to supply Ukraine with depleted uranium ammo designed specifically for piercing Russian tanks. Its usage may well violate international “rules of engagement.” If so, Ukraine’s own record of limited war criminality would be seriously and purposefully compromised, but not so compromised as to equate to Russia’s targeting of civilians by any and all means possible, physical and psychological. Ditto Ukraine’s vs. Russia’s levels of hypocrisy.

Ukraine will have to go a very long way astray to conduct itself as deplorably as Russia by any metric of humanity or morality. The U.S. and NATO have certainly committed many terrible acts of unpunished criminality, but their hypocrisy and misconduct isn’t Ukraine’s, nor does their behavior ameliorate that of Russia. The International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant for Putin isn’t invalidated just because such an historic indictment was previously warranted but not invoked against U.S. or NATO heads of state. Justice served late or unfairly is still morally correct and nevertheless sets a new bar for criminal accountability.

What needs to be done now is to outlaw war, make it a crime unless in actual self-defense or a morally imperative intervention. Sadly, that’s already been done. It’s called the “Just War Theory,” a Christian religious construct Jesus himself would find a totally baffling interpretation of his teachings. Trouble is, even the best waging of war undermines the waging of peace by fundamentally resorting to violence as the arbiter of conflict.


Zelensky’s circumstances are way different than that of Gandhi, MLK Jr. or Mandela and far more like Churchill’s. Zelensky is a “just war” warrior combating a rampaging Goliath. His peace plan is for Putin to fully relinquish all territory sovereign to Ukraine, returning home with all the tanks. Putin’s peace plan is for Ukraine to capitulate or face absolute annihilation. There will be no negotiated settlement, only eventual submission.

The path to peace is hardly clearly marked if at all presentable.

Paradoxically, even the anti-war movement can’t seem to decide in which direction to head. Rather than predictably protesting both sides of the violence, or at least condemning the most egregious participant, many remain bewilderingly adamant that Putin’s the actual just warrior, not Zelensky.

Sadly, the majority of the peace community has been effectively daunted by a Putin allied minority zealously insisting that “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” that the real enemy is a U.S. hegemony Putin’s heroically defying.

History will adjudicate that Putin is no friend to peace and that Zelensky is a true Old Testament David slingshotting Ukraine against Russia as best he can to overcome the gravity of a worldwide geopolitical existential moment. Zelensky understandably mistrusts stepping out on an olive branch he fears won’t bear the immense weight of responsibility he now shoulders as Putin continues trying to cut down the entire tree.

This is a perilous time when all good people must come to the aid of a non-violent resolution to this war. For the peace/ anti-war movement, this needs to become a vital teachable moment if it doesn’t want to be on the wrong side of history and if it’s to have any real influence on a pro-war race to the bottom of coexistence.

Gary B. Anderson is a Bath resident.

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