Avoiding wars, by Jordi Armadans

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As of early February 2022, hardly anyone expected a Russian attack on Ukraine, and the few who did believed it would be brief.

A year later, we are still at war. And the result in Ukraine is terrifying. According to the United Nations, 13 million people have had to flee their homes; 18 million need humanitarian assistance; eight thousand have lost their lives, and another thirteen thousand have been wounded. Regarding deaths and injuries, beyond the confirmed figures, the United Nations admits that the real ones are higher and other sources reach up to thirty thousand. In Russia there have also been impacts on the civilian population. Hundreds of thousands have fled to avoid repression. About twenty thousand opponents of the war are in jail. With regard to soldiers, the figures, disparate, agree that there are tens of thousands of deaths.

After 20 years of growth in military spending, we have more wars and more deaths

It is disheartening to see how, at this point, there are still political leaders who, with tremendous irresponsibility, wage wars with total contempt for the terrible loss of human life they cause.

On the other hand, the reasonable desire to help Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression cannot lead to the absurdity of collaborating to prolong a war whose main victim, in loss of human life and destruction, is Ukraine itself.

Beyond the human drama, the war has severe global impacts: the polarizing dynamics of blocks are intensifying, the gap between the West and the rest of the world is growing, Europe is fading as a global actor with its own profile and militarization is intensifying even more. and armaments. And it is not exactly positive news for the preservation of peace.

In the first place, because there is a lot of talk about war, but very little about how to stop it. Neither governments nor global organizations are betting on diplomatic channels. As the director of Sipri, Dan Smith, warned, it seems difficult today to talk about dialogue and reconciliation, but coexistence is inevitable. We cannot, therefore, ignore and postpone the search for spaces for the construction of shared trust and security.

Rocket launcher in action in the Kharkov area (Ukraine)


Secondly, because arming ourselves to the teeth and increasing military spending without end while we do not create conflict prevention structures or carry out active policies to promote peace and defend human rights is a serious mistake. But to think that this brings us closer to a safer world is immensely naive.

After 20 years of growth in military spending, we have more wars, more deaths from armed conflicts, and more displaced populations fleeing violence than two decades ago. And there have been other powers that have waged wars of aggression, in which all the rules have been broken, and we have suffered devastatingly long wars with unacceptable human suffering. It does not seem that the militaristic path leads us to peace.

All this shows that we do not have a world prepared to prevent armed conflicts, discourage imperialist aggressions and avoid massive violations of human rights. Because protecting the victims is not waiting for a war to break out to react. It is working actively, consistently and coherently to prevent wars: promoting democratic global governance, promoting international justice that protects human rights, demilitarizing and disarming security. That is what we should dedicate our efforts to. Otherwise, we will have to resign ourselves to continue suffering wars like those of recent years in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen or Ukraine.

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Nuclear mushroom after the first explosion of a hydrogen bomb carried out by the USA, in 1952

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