Protesting only U.S. militarism is like protesting only a U.S. carbon footprint. If one is opposed to one or both and serious about either, one should logically protest all militarism and all carbon footprints worldwide, especially the next two most egregious bad actors, Russia and China. Otherwise, the optics are that you’re primarily anti-United States rather than truly anti-militarism or really concerned with environmentalism.

The United States has long played the principal part in both roles, but Russia and China remain serious understudies for that top billing, and increasingly so. Those who really wish to bring an end to endless war and planetary harm, especially those who can connect the dots between the two, need to condemn any and all presentations of both existentially threatening narratives.

Somehow, the anti-war establishment refuses to do that, to the point of all but cheering on Russian and Chinese combativeness with the West. Somehow, only U.S. warmongering provokes condemnation, a freedom of expression to which Russians and Chinese have no entitlement.

Authoritarianism, ever more widespread, is the enemy of peace within and between nations.

Imperialism is a form of authoritarianism, and the United States is likely the all-time imperial power. Within its own borders, however, the U.S. is still far from the outright authoritarianism of either Russia or China and still the longest-running performance of democracy, albeit progressively performative and badly needing a rewrite. Unfortunately, that rewrite is now being undertaken by largely unscripted and self-elected agents of undemocratic change.

Here in the United States, Jan. 6 supporters are determined to destroy democracy via anarchist attacks on governance itself and systematically undermining a fact-based reality. Empowered by actual fake science and fake news, Donald J. Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have cast themselves as equally opportunistic populist genies summoned to wish away America’s bottled-up reckoning with a failed “U.S. exceptionalism.”


Despite their ongoing disinformation offensive to do so, Russia and China hardly need to fan already-inflamed American distrust of its once-unifying branding. America’s self-inflicted dismantling continues running parallel to its more and more externally beset unipolar dominance. As new would-be members race to join NATO, Russia and China are steadily allied by rising “developing nation” authoritarian rule displacing what remains of the West’s former imperialist colonialism. Revolutionary oppression, however, is still oppression, and non-U.S. superpower hegemony is still hegemonic.

The entirety of existence teeters on two tipping points of repeatedly chosen destruction. Bob Dylan’s prophetic hard rain couldn’t be falling more dramatically. The answer to war and sustainability is still blowin’ in the wind. Protests used to give voice to such poetic soul-searching. Now protesting is far more adversarial than soulful, eloquent or engaging. Unsocial media takes no prisoners in its prevalent us-vs.-them reflexiveness. Conspiracy theories abound as a way of avoiding the heavy lifting of seeking real-world solutions.

Similarly, demanding an end to war and planetary harm without uniformly protesting all participants is just playing the part of yet another myopic antagonist. Worse still, intentionally voicing falsehoods in order to achieve oppositional empowerment isn’t at all the same as speaking truth to power. Princes of peace need to be fully clothed in truth.

These are extreme times by any metric. The Doomsday Clock – telling how close we stand to global disaster – is at 90 seconds to midnight. Instead of being brought together by common enemies, we remain conquered by ever-expanding division. The masters of war continue to overpower any nonviolent resolution to conflict. The captains of industry keep kicking the same, now greenwashed, can down the road. Activism has never been more needed in averting actual Armageddon.

Activism cannot achieve that if it fails to call out its own deceivers. The future of freedom and sustainability depends on a solidarity of genuine truth seekers able to reestablish a consensus reality, one opposed to all aggression and all exploitation.

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