Humanity's priority: stop war and avoid nuclear catastrophe

Around the world, people are watching the horrors of war unfold in real time as the Russian military continues its invasion of Ukraine. The immediate chaos unleashed on the people of Ukraine is unbearable, and the threat of nuclear war has once again forced humanity to confront the possibility of mutually assured destruction; we need to do whatever we can to stop the bloodshed now and avert worldwide catastrophe. With permission from the event organizers, The Real News is publishing this panel discussion—recorded on Feb. 28 and cosponsored by RootsAction.org, Progressive Democrats of America, and World Beyond War—about the need for people to take action and fight for peace before it’s too late.

Speakers include: Ira Helfand, MD, co-chair of Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Nuclear Weapons Abolition Committee and co-president of PSR’s global federation, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War; Cynthia Lazaroff, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and founder of Women Transforming Our Nuclear Legacy; Roxane Assaf-Lynn, writer, scholar, journalist, and social media co-coordinator for RootsAction.org; David Swanson, author, activist, journalist, host of “Talk Nation Radio,” director of World Beyond War, and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org; Alan Minsky, executive director of Progressive Democrats of America, lifelong activist, and longtime progressive journalist; and Greta Zarro, organizing director for World Beyond War.

Post-Production: Cameron Granadino

Pieces marked as Opinion may contain views that do not necessarily reflect or align with those of The Real News Network; they also may contain claims that could not be fully corroborated by TRNN’s editorial team.


Transcript

Greta Zarro:             We are going to get started with today’s events on the Ukraine crisis and how to take action. This event is co-sponsored by rootsaction.org, Progressive Democrats of America, and World BEYOND War. My name is Greta Zarro and I’m the organizing director of World BEYOND War. I’ll be moderating today’s event. Today’s event will run for a little over one hour. First we will hear from our two panelists Cynthia Lazaroff and Ira Helfand, two of our longtime peace and anti-nuclear activists. And then we will hear from representatives of Progressive Democrats of America, RootsAction, and World BEYOND War, who will be presenting ways that we can take tangible action on the issues that we’ll be discussing today. And then we will open up to Q&A. So again, remember to put your questions in the Q&A tab throughout the event.

Before we get started, some context. In this time of crisis coming together on webinars like these is ever more important to find a sense of solidarity and support and to strengthen our collective call for peace. Emotions are running high as the world reacts with anger, sadness, and fear over this escalating conflict, and many of us fear the worst — An all out nuclear war. Just this week we learned that Putin has put Russian nuclear forces on high alert and both sides in the conflict are pointing the blame at the other and tensions are high. Moments like these reinforce the importance of our work as anti-war and anti-nuclear activists. We must strengthen our calls for demilitarization, de-escalation, and diplomacy. There is no military solution to this conflict.

The West and NATO are sending weapons to Ukraine and this will only fan the flames of war further. We call for an immediate ceasefire, Russia out of Ukraine, and the abolition of NATO. And we must also recognize that this crisis is a symptom of a larger problem: the global war machine that exists for the purpose of fueling the profits of weapons corporations that literally make a killing off of killing. And as we call for the end to the war in Ukraine, we must also call for the end to bombings in Yemen, in Palestine, in Somalia, in Syria, and Afghanistan, an end to all war everywhere.

For now, let us introduce our panelists today. First, we will hear from Cynthia Lazaroff. Cynthia is the founder of Women Transforming our Nuclear Legacy and nuclearwakeupcall.earth. She’s a filmmaker and an activist who has been engaged in groundbreaking US-Russian exchange initiatives for decades. She was a key organizer of a moving call for peace which was signed by dozens of Russian and American women and published last week by The Nation as well as Russian newspapers. Cynthia, the floor is yours.

Cynthia Lazaroff:    Thank you, Greta. I’m so honored to be here with you, Ira, and all, for this urgent conversation. I join you from the island of Kauai, beneath Kalalea, the mountains sacred to the native Hawaiian people, the original stewards of this land. I know I’m not alone but my heart has been breaking this past week. Today, my heart and prayers are with the people of Ukraine, those who are wounded, those mourning the loss of loved ones, with the mothers and children who have been hiding in bomb shelters for days, with those who have fled their homes and are displaced, and with all who are suffering and traumatized by this war. Today, my heart and prayers are also with the people in Belarus and Russia who are courageously dissenting, speaking out against the war, calling for peace, risking loss of jobs and livelihood, imprisonment, or worse.

In the short time we have together, I want to focus on three areas. One: what is of greatest concern to me right now with the war and some recommendations. Two: observations of things unfolding in Russia that I think we need to be aware of and pay attention to. And three: what we can do now to mobilize effectively and strategically to maximize our impact and make a difference.

So what’s of greatest concern to me? First, I’m deeply concerned about this war going on any longer. The loss of life and destruction, humanitarian crisis, and the displacement of what could be millions of people. We need to call for ongoing negotiations and diplomacy, we have to do everything we can to give peace a chance and get a ceasefire. There’s a lot more to figure out, but let’s stop the killing. The Red Cross is operating on the ground in Ukraine, we can all send support there or to other verified organizations addressing the crisis.

At the same time I think it’s really important to step back and acknowledge the gravity of the moment we’re in. We’re in a moment of extremely high tensions, perhaps as high or even higher than the Cuban Missile Crisis. Twice in the past week the president of the country, Putin, the president of the country with the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, has threatened the possible use of nuclear weapons, and just yesterday ordered Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces to go on high alert. It’s not alarmist to say that we could possibly be closer and more at risk of nuclear war than ever before in our lifetime. This would be a civilization-ending event, the end of life as we know it, of everything and everyone we know and love and cherish on this earth. The only way to prevent one person or nine nuclear-armed countries from holding the world hostage and unleashing nuclear Armageddon is to abolish, eliminate, and ban nuclear weapons forever, to build peace, and create the conditions to make this possible. It’s an existential imperative that we support the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

Next — And this is what keeps me awake at night — In this fog of war what I’m most worried about is the increasing risk of an inadvertent escalation that could push us closer to the brink of unthinkable nuclear war. We’re already too close, things are moving so fast and furiously in this crisis. I am deeply concerned that events could spiral out of control and we could blunder into a nuclear war due to miscalculation, accident, or mistake. To add to the danger, the US and Russia do not have good communication channels in place, and in a moment of crisis like this, this increases the likelihood of miscalculation and escalation. I’m deeply concerned that certain diplomatic channels have been cut off.

I was worried when Secretary Blinken canceled his meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov last week. And I was alarmed when the Biden administration announced last week that they’re putting arms control and strategic stability talks on hold. And then in this action-reaction cycle, it gave me more cause for concern over the weekend when former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev implied that Russia is considering retaliation, including pulling out of the New START Treaty which puts a cap on our nuclear arsenals. All of this is deeply worrying.

At the same time, at a time like this you have to keep negotiating, you have to keep talking about diplomatic solutions, and you have to keep talking about nuclear risk reduction no matter what. As long as we have these weapons we have nuclear risk. It never goes away. It doesn’t take a time out for war. All the more so in a high-stakes crisis like this one, with extreme tensions between the United States and Russia, who together possess over 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons. Neither side has declared no first use of nuclear weapons, and to make matters worse we now have Putin’s threats.

It’s omnicidal behavior to stop talking to your nuclear adversary. We do so at our own and humanity’s peril. We need to restore a dialogue, we need to establish good channels for communication like the jointly-staffed crisis communication centers we had in place during the Cold War. I’m also, of course, deeply concerned about the potential for some kind of nuclear catastrophe at one of Ukraine’s many nuclear power plants, and I know Ira will speak a little bit about this.

Now, some observations I feel are important to share about what I see going on in Russia. I track Kremlin watchers very closely. People in Russia I know, respect, and who up to now have always had a pulse on what’s going on. What’s clear is Putin’s behavior, his actions, his brutal invasion of Ukraine were not expected, were not predicted. I would say that most experts I follow were blindsided by the invasion. They had been saying no war, no invasion. They didn’t see it coming. Maybe in a day or two before, but certainly, and some not until it actually happened. And after the invasion many have gone silent, maybe a tweet or two on the part of some. And there’s speculation about divisions in the ruling elite in the high ranks of the military over Putin’s actions. This is all different and I believe it’s significant, we’ll see how it plays out.

So a little bit about dissent in Russia. It’s been heartening to see so many coming forward courageously to oppose the war. And yet right away, there have been signs of severe repression, arrests, instilling fear in so many who are quietly dissenting. The dissent is widespread, whether made visible or silent. Publicly, it’s included writers, artists, theater directors — Some of whom have walked out of their government-funded jobs — Rock stars, athletes, journalists, TV personalities, teachers across Russia, members of parliament. The Russian representative to the meetings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change publicly apologized to Ukraine for the invasion during the meeting. Putin’s top spokesperson’s daughter, Lisa Peskova, posted an anti-war message on Telegram which she later took down.

Mothers of soldiers gathered together, their sons lied to about where they’re going, who were told they were going on a mandatory training exercise and had no clue they were being conscripted for war in Ukraine. And ordinary Russian people in the streets. Shock, grief, shame is what I hear from my Russian friends and colleagues. They say this is not their war, this is not the war of the Russian people, they want the world to know that this is not Russia’s war. They say it’s Putin’s war.

I’m also deeply concerned about efforts to suppress information about this dissent. Access to social media has been limited, the internet as well. The government media regulators sent a message to media outlets reminding journalists of their “duty” to publish information and only from government sources. They’re forbidden from using the words “invasion” and “war,” they can only use the word “special operation.” The consequences for breaking the rules, a ₽5 million [ruble] fine.

The third area I want to look at is how we can come together strategically in this moment in a way that could be truly game-changing. I offer this really as a prayer. I think this is a turning point moment that calls for us to come out of our silos and connect the dots a moment to realize the intersectionalities and bring our movements and causes together to double our power and maximize our impact. A moment to remember what’s at stake, to align around our shared interests. I want to talk about two specific areas. First, for all of us working on country-specific conflicts whether it be Russia, North Korea, China, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, I could go on, to recognize the many intersectionalities and that the root causes of our challenges in our work are the same and shared. Very simply put, in the interest of time, these are the militarization of US foreign policy and the power of the military-industrial complex.

I believe it’s an existential imperative that we come together and call for a transformation of US foreign policy, one that adopts feminist foreign policy values, transparency over secrecy, cooperation and collaboration over rivalry and competition, dialogue over silence, engagement over isolation, diplomacy and peace-building over conflict and war.

Area two. This is a call from the peace and nuclear abolition, nuclear justice movements to our sisters and brothers in the climate justice movement. I want to plant the seeds here now with you all together for us coming together and aligning around our shared interests. There are so many intersectionalities between our movements. To name just a few: first, Indigenous peoples and peoples of color, frontline, and marginalized communities are those most disproportionately impacted by both nuclear weapons and fossil fuels.

Second, it’s abundantly clear who is benefiting from this war devastating Ukraine and her people. On the one side, we have the arms dealers’ military-industrial complex. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin have boasted that the worsening conflict in Ukraine is good for their profits. On the other, as Bill McKibben said this morning on Democracy Now! “It’s the big fossil fuel industries that are using this Ukraine moment to expand, not contract their empire.” They’re causing the US to open up more areas for drilling, for the so-called energy security. This war is being used to justify more military spending, more weapons, and greater fossil fuel extraction.

Finally, the same biggest defender banks funding their weapons are those funding fossil fuels. Both of our movements are calling for divestment from these banks. So let divestment be the bridge to bring our movements together and use our doubled power to take the money away from those who are robbing our future. The peace and fossil fuel dividends will give us the resources we need to claim and create the world we want to leave our children and future generations, with renewable energy, clean air, clean water, clean soil, health care for all, education, racial and economic justice, a world at peace, not war and more. Our work is going to be harder now, but if we stand together it’s going to be easier.

Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of Russia’s independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last fall, made a courageous statement after Putin’s speech last week. He called for us to stand together and said, “Only a global anti-war movement can save life on this planet.” Let’s stand with Dmitry and build this global anti-war movement together. Thank you.

Greta Zarro:           Thank you so much, Cynthia. We’re all clapping silently if we weren’t muted. Thank you. Next, we’ll go to Ira. Ira Helfand is co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, and he is co-founder and past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. He has published studies on the medical consequences of nuclear war in the New England Journal of Medicine and elsewhere. Ira, the floor is yours.

Ira Helfand:             Thanks Greta, and thanks for inviting me to be part of this this evening. And Cynthia, thank you for that wonderful speech which says, I think, almost everything that needs to be said tonight. This is a very bizarre moment that we’re in that I think we’re all having a great deal of difficulty adjusting to. Not only is a horrible war going on, with terrible suffering and the potential for escalation to something even worse, but we’re at a moment where the world is changing in a very fundamental way. The post Cold War era, which we have lived in for the last 30 years, ended last Thursday. We are in a new place and it’s going to take us quite some time, I think, to figure out what that means and how we cope with it.

The most immediate aspect of this [inaudible] is that we are going to have to, again, as a society come to terms with the fact that nuclear war is a real threat. Many of us in the movement have been trying to convince people of this throughout the post Cold War period, to help people understand that the weapons didn’t go away, that they’re still here, that they still threaten our survival. But the vast majority of people have not really believed that. In the 1980s if you asked people what the big problems are in the world today, everybody said preventing nuclear war is their first and second choice, the most important issue.

We posed that question two weeks ago, it wasn’t on anybody’s list. That is going to have to change, and it’s going to be part of our job to make sure that it does change. What we are going through right now can and should be, unfortunately, a Cuban Missile Crisis equivalent for the generations that have grown up since the end of the Cold War. When they come to understand that nuclear weapons pose an existential threat to their survival every bit as severe as the climate crisis, and perhaps more imminent than the climate crisis does.

The danger was inherent from the moment that this crisis started to build last year when the United States first started warning that Putin was planning to invade Ukraine. It became more intense last Saturday, nine days ago, when Putin, as this war is about to erupt, held nuclear drills just to make the point that he had a big nuclear arsenal. And then it intensified further in the middle of last week when he threatened to use these weapons if anyone interfered with his efforts to conquer Ukraine. And of course it reached, for the moment, the high point yesterday when he put his nuclear weapons on high alert. There are many ways that this crisis [could, as Cynthia worried,] spiral into an actual use of nuclear weapons.

Putin could choose to use weapons deliberately on the battlefield if he feels that that’s necessary to bring this invasion to a successful conclusion. Not terribly likely, but certainly something which we can no longer dismiss out of hand. His behavior over the last week and a half has made many people worry about his stability, and I think that’s a legitimate concern given the things he said and done. I can’t [help but] wonder how many hours he’s slept in the last 10 days, what that’s doing to his judgment. That’s one possibility.

Another possibility is that there could be some kind of a false alarm. There have been many of these over the years when either the US or Russia thought they were under strategic nuclear attack from the other side. Most times these things were dismissed because it made no sense for Russia or the US would be attacking each other in the post Cold War period. If it’s a false alarm this week, or a terrorist attack simulating a false alarm, it’s not clear how people are going to react given the heightened tension that we’re dealing with. There’s the possibility that there will be some kind of extension of the fighting directly beyond the borders of Ukraine, which doesn’t necessarily involve military activity. The cyber attack on the Western part of Ukraine could spill over into Poland, and Hungary, and Romania, which are member states of NATO.

Will that trigger Article 5 obligations for the rest of NATO to come to their aid? I’m not sure, but I think so. So there are multiple pathways that could lead to the thing which we have come to fear the most and it is critically important that we understand this, that we communicate this. I think, frankly, there is very little that we can do. There are some things we’ll talk about, but there’s little that we can do to influence the immediate course of events. As Cynthia said, things are moving much too quickly. We have much less leverage than we need to bring about real changes in what’s happening at the moment. But we have an obligation, I think, to take advantage of this moment, if you will, if we are lucky enough to survive it, to make sure that we are never in this position again.

We can use this situation to get through to the vast majority of people who have not appreciated the enormity of the danger they face and to mobilize them into a truly effective anti-nuclear movement that brings about the fundamental change in US nuclear policy that’s necessary to move us off this point. I think in the short-term, things are going to be very difficult. Cynthia argued persuasively for why we need to maintain communication between the United States and Russia nuclear disarmament issues, but it’s going to be very hard for these two sides to talk to each other [inaudible].

And similarly, many people have advocated over the years the need to stop NATO expansion, perhaps get rid of NATO altogether. For many people those arguments were blown out of the water last Thursday morning and it’s going to be very difficult to convince lots of people in Europe in particular that they don’t need NATO right now, and there’s going to be a lot of ongoing conversation about this. So there’s going to be a real thicket that we’re going to have to make our way through in order to focus on the issue that we want to put on the table, which is that we need to eliminate these weapons, and we need to do it as quickly as we possibly can.

Because, as Robert McNamara famously said, we have not survived because we’re smart or because we have good doctrine, or because we have the [inaudible] technology, quotes, we lucked out, it was luck that prevented nuclear war. And we have been trying, I think, for the last 30 years to convince people that our luck is not going to last forever, that a hope for good luck is an insane substitute for an actual policy to protect people. Hopefully our luck is not running out in this current crisis. And again, if we’re lucky enough to survive it, we need to have something totally different.

At the moment, the United States, Russia, China, are engaging in basically a gigantic global king of the mountain game. And it’s all a zero-sum game competition of who’s going to come out on top. And it is possible one of them will come out on top, but if things continue the way they’re going, where they’re going to come out on top of is a gigantic ash pile.

We have enormous problems. We have a climate crisis, the potential for further epidemics, pandemics, the ongoing problems of racial and economic inequality, overpopulation. We have got to address these problems and we can only do it if the United States, Russia, China, and the other major powers cooperate with each other and fundamentally transform their relationship from a competitive one to one of cooperation based on the understanding that they’re not doing this because they’re having a kumbaya movement, they’re doing this because this is practically what they need to do if this planet is going to survive.

I think, as I look at the future, I’m not sure if I should be optimistic or pessimistic. Obviously we are in a terrible point right at the moment. The thing that gives me some optimism is the understanding that this is a problem which we have made ourselves, it’s not like we’re dealing with some natural problems, a natural force. We know how to dismantle nuclear weapons, [we’ve] dismantled tens of thousands of them, we know how to dismantle the 13,500 that remain, but what we need to do is to summon the political will to do that. And I think that those of us in the peace movement need to demand that the United States government reach out to all eight of the other nuclear-armed states and begin as soon as possible negotiations for the verifiable, forcible, time-bound elimination of the remaining nuclear arsenals, recognize that these weapons do not provide any measure of safety. Rather, they are the greatest threat to the security of all people, and our security concerns require that we eliminate these weapons as soon as we possibly can.

It’s possible the United States will reach out and the other countries won’t respond, but we don’t know that, and we have to try, and we never have. And I’m talking about the United States doing the reaching out because, frankly, I do think at this moment the US is the most likely of the great powers to initiate this, although it’s going to take a lot of work on our part for that to happen. In the ’80s it wasn’t the United States. Obviously, it was the Soviet Union that reached out to the United States. Vladimir Putin does not seem to be the person who’s going to initiate this conversation and I don’t think the President [Xi] is either, he may surprise us.

But we are, in the United States, most of us, our responsibilities to what our government does. And we need to focus like a laser on this government with the demand that it lead the way in pursuing the total elimination of nuclear weapons so that all nuclear-armed states can accede to the [inaudible] of nuclear weapons. And I would offer to people the vehicle for bringing about that fundamental change, the Back from the Brink campaign, which I think is geared specifically to bringing about this kind of change in US nuclear policy, and we urge you to visit the website www.preventnuclearwar.org.

I would also ask that people consider signing on, as an immediate thing that can be done, it must be done, a petition which IPPNW, International Physicians, has started [inaudible] calling on NATO and the Russian Federation in this current crisis to publicly and explicitly renounce the use of nuclear weapons. We need to raise our voice. Whether it will be heard, I don’t know, but we need to raise our voice. That is our responsibility. And I’ll put in the chat in just a minute the link to that petition that people can sign. And please sign it and share it widely with your networks and on social media. So [I want] you to take a big breath, we need to hope that things resolve themselves peacefully over the next few days, if the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine are successful, bring an end to this conflict, and we need to look ahead to what we’re going to do to make sure we were never in the situation again. Thank you.

Greta Zarro:          Thank you so much, Ira. And now we will go to our three organizational representatives who will be sharing some action steps that we can all take. And a reminder to everyone to please use the Q&A tab to put your questions. I do see lots of questions coming in so we will try to get to all of those, but if you have more questions feel free to put those in the Q&A tab. And a reminder that we are recording this webinar and we will send out the recording to the registrants afterwards, and we will also include some of these important links in the follow-up email. So first, let’s go to Alan Minsky, executive director for Progressive Democrats of America. Alan.

Alan Minsky:             Thank you so much Greta, and thank you Ira and Cynthia for your powerful presentations. And I just want to say that PDA of course was founded out of the Dennis Kucinich campaign in 2004. And among the mass membership progressive organizations we’re somewhat distinct in our focus on not just anti-war and peace activities, but also, along with our partners of course, RootsAction and World BEYOND War, but also in focusing on foreign policy. And having been executive director for four years, and obviously, PDA, if people don’t know, we were the sole national organization to call upon Bernie Sanders to run for president as a Democrat beginning in 2013.

And we did have one probably noted criticism of the two back-to-back Sanders campaigns, which was the way that foreign policy was sort of a minor component of those campaigns and not necessarily focused upon in the way that we would have liked. So along those lines, if anybody is interested in participating in the group within PDA that meets monthly and talks about what our foreign policy focus should be, I’m adding the link right there. We call it our End Wars & Occupations-Issue Organizing Team led by Marcy Winograd and Jim Carpenter. For those who really want to try to join us in being proactive about making an impact on US policy, we have a program called our Congressional Liaison Program in which actual constituents lobby their elected representatives, whether their US senators or their Congress people, on policy.

And, much as with so much that’s been going on in American politics since it’s been in existence, only about one out of every 10 months has been focused on foreign policy matters. So we really need to lift that. And if enough people are interested in signing up with that link that I’ll drop in, our Congressional Liaison Program. From this call maybe we can even create a separate group — Because we have a separate group now just for climate policy — Maybe we can have one that is separate and active every month or every other month on foreign policy matters. This is the general signup form that I’ll drop in and it’s for you to be a liaison to your elected federal representative. So thank you so much Greta.

Greta Zarro:             Great, thank you so much Alan. And I see a lot of people are having trouble saving the chat, so we will see what we can do about that. We might be able to send the chat in the follow-up email or at the very least, as I said, we will definitely send the key links in the follow-up email. The next speaker will be Roxane Assaf-Lynn, social media co-coordinator for rootsaction.org. The stage is yours.

Roxane Assaf-Lynn:    Thank you Greta and World BEYOND War. It’s so good to be working with people who have such informed positions on these things. But at the end of the day it comes down to something visceral, and I love that Ira said, take a deep breath. Because I think when something like this happens there’s a collective catching of breath, like people stop breathing. And Cynthia’s words produced these openings and then these ideas that we’re bringing to you now are a way to get the bellows going again. So my first idea from RootsAction is our new domain and website. It’s an information and activism hub called nowarinukraine.org. I will place all of these things in the chat field.

nowarinukraine.org produces or provides graphics and video clips from notable thought leaders, actions that you can take. As anti-war activists, you’re invited to send messages of solidarity to the anti-war people of Russia. There is so much that we are saying in the same voice, so let’s exploit that. Add your own words, or you may also just sign on to the RootsAction statement as it’s written. The second thing I want to raise up is, if you haven’t already, please go to the rootsaction.org website and participate in our Ukraine online action that you’ll see featured right at the top of the homepage. It’s an opportunity to email Congress and the White House demanding restraint, diplomacy, and negotiations. Sounds like obvious things, but really power cedes nothing without a demand, let’s make that demand. I’m going to put that in the chat field.

The third thing I was going to mention, and an ongoing project, is Progressive Hub. progressivehub.net is a project sponsored by rootsaction.org and RootsAction Education Fund. It’s a new site, it’s a digital vehicle that combines the need to know with the imperative to act. Progressive Hub is dedicated to defunding endless warfare, among other progressive concerns. So there you’ll find toolkits, you’ll find a variety of activities, there are articles there that deal with everything from analysis of corporate media to experienced voices on US foreign policy and our history with diplomacy over war, or vice versa.

So speaking of that, a foreign policy idea, we have a primer also, I should probably just let David Swanson address this because it’s something he’s incubated his whole life. But it’s a primer for congressional candidates on the topic of foreign policy. I’ll put those in the chat now.

Greta Zarro:           All right, thank you so much. And our last speaker is David Swanson, a co-founder and executive director of World BEYOND War, as well as campaign coordinator for RootsAction.

David Swanson:       Thank you Greta, terrific job, and terrific from Cynthia and Ira and Alan and Roxane. World BEYOND War is a global organization going after the institution of war, not just the wars, and doing it with activism and education. We also have a web page worldbeyondwar.org/ukraine, it has online and real-world actions, it has resources. We’re trying to make people see, as I think the intelligent people on this call see, the complexity of these situations and that blame is an infinite quantity. It’s not some sticker you stick on one guy’s nose and nobody else can have it, thinking like a criminal prosecutor or a cartoon character. I think we have to use this moment to educate not just on nuclear weapons but on war. The institution of war, the elimination of which may be required to get some nations to give up the nuclear weapons.

And of course refusing all war may sound crazy to some people, but when the only alternative is eliminating all life on Earth more quickly than climate collapse can do it, which is preferable? I think that we are likely to be having a webinar some years hence — If we’re still around — With some brave, courageous whistleblower who headed over from the United States to help out in Ukraine and get a free rifle and discovered that his US tax dollars had paid for the rifle instead of giving him a decent education and a decent life, and he found out he wasn’t bringing peace and prosperity and democracy to Europe. Better to understand this now, better to understand the financial and bureaucratic forces that have created this conflict, some of the same ones that claim to be solving it, and to scale them back and transition and redirect our resources into something useful and life-preserving rather than apocalypse-creating. So thank you to all of you who are talking wisdom in this time of madness.

Greta Zarro:            Thank you, David. And now we have about 20 minutes or so for Q&A. We have tons of questions that have been coming in through the Q&A box, feel free to keep putting them there. We will try to get to as much as possible. And I want to empower all of our panelists and organization representatives, please feel free to unmute yourself and answer the question. If you’d like to chime in you can just unmute or wave your hand around and I’ll call on you.

So the first question, and this is something we were just talking about at World BEYOND War today, is about the role of sanctions and whether you think that sanctions are appropriate in this case or not appropriate, and there’s talk of the use of smart sanctions which are targeted to specific people such as the sanctions being targeted to Putin, and then there’s broader sanctions targeted towards whole populations. So yeah, if the speakers could speak about the role of sanctions and what you think that could play in this situation.

Ira Helfand:        No one else seems to be taking this question. I just have a thought, I mean, sanctions have been terribly abused by the United States in particular over the years that have caused terrible hardship and suffering for people in many countries. I think in the current crisis there is potential for that, surely, but there aren’t a lot of alternatives. I think we need to applaud the Biden administration for stating very clearly very early on in this crisis that the United States would not put troops on the ground in Ukraine. And I think it was an important de-escalatory step that the administration took.

Similarly, when the Russians put their nuclear forces on high alert yesterday, NATO and the United States responded by doing nothing, which was just the right thing to do and an important de-escalatory step. I think there needed to be some response. The US administration correctly told the world for months that this invasion was coming and there needed to be some response to it. Whether the sanctions that have been put in place will be effective, whether they will be as targeted as they are reportedly trying to be, we’ll have to see. But I think it’s wrong to a priori condemn the position of sanctions at this point because I don’t know what else it is that the rest of the world could do in this situation in the short-term and I don’t know what effect these sanctions are going to have. But hopefully they will have a positive effect in convincing the Putin administration, or Putin himself since he’s a one-man administration apparently, to negotiate a settlement to this conflict.

Cynthia Lazaroff:       I will add to that. Yes, I agree with everything that Ira has said. I think that in general sanctions are completely overused, they’re a failed policy, they’re… I’ve heard experts say that the US is having an affair with sanctions, that we’re married to sanctions. But I think in this situation, on the part of the Biden administration, it is an act of his restraint. And I also will say that I’ve heard different points of view from people in the communities that I’m talking to. One is that it’s definitely going to impact ordinary people, and it already is. So there is going to be a humanitarian impact on people.

On the other hand, there’s talk that this will encourage people to be more likely to protest the war. So I think that there are different points of view even within Russia at this point about the sanctions. There’s fear because they’re going to really hurt, but I do think that they are a way in this situation, it is very volatile. Some response had to be done and I agree with Ira that this is restrained under the circumstances, and not sending troops in, which is what we want to avoid at all cost at this point.

Greta Zarro:         All right, let’s move on. We’re getting several questions about the nonviolent resistance happening in Ukraine and in Russia and whether our panelists could speak more about that resistance that’s happening. And not just what actions are happening, but how can we better support those protesters in Ukraine and in Russia? How can we support them when we know that we’re hearing reports of those nonviolent protests being silenced?

Cynthia Lazaroff:         Well, I just put in the chat a blog, it’s a daily blog by Finley Muratova and it’s in The Nation every day, that’s tracking protests across Russia. So one thing that we can do is, the first thing that we can do is keep ourselves as informed as possible and tracking what’s going on, that’s the first thing. As far as how we specifically concretely support, I have my circle of people that I — And this is just as an individual kind of citizen diplomat, I guess, if you will, a friend — Is that I’m just providing support, I’m just listening, I’m being available. Some friends have said they’re concerned that they’re not going to have information and they want information, that they are going to rely maybe if the internet goes completely down, things like that. Just they’re going to need information.

So I think that we need to, first of all, make sure that what is being said is happening, is actually happening, that we verify in some way that the source is trusted. That’s number one. Because there’s so much misinformation, as there is about everything right now, about this war out there. Fake pictures from one side and the other, it’s just a mess. So I think verifying the information, I think educating ourselves. Again, I just put the blog in the chat, making ourselves available when we can to communities that are asking for support, publicizing what’s going on, letting people know.

There are a lot of people in the United States who I am hearing are inspired to know that there are people who are protesting there in Russia and in Belarus. I want to bring up Belarus because it’s such a repressive regime as well and so aligned at this point with Russia. And it’s really an act of incredible courage, in both countries now, to stand up and dissent. And there are very courageous people standing up in Belarus.

Before this war broke out, my Russian friends, human rights people, activists, etc, were more concerned about things, how hard it was in Belarus. So it’s really an act there as well. And I think it’s important to track what’s going on in both countries and offer whatever support we can. I don’t know of any specific ways to get concrete support, but I think publicizing, standing in solidarity, letting them know that we see them and we support them and we’re applauding their courage, and all of that, feeling that support from us at a time when they’re feeling so much grief and shame. I mean, I’ve had Russian friends call and just weep to me and it’s been heartbreaking just their shame and their pain about the situation. So I think that, in whatever ways we can creatively do that, people to people, publicly, will be really appreciated.

Greta Zarro:             Great. And I see some questions coming in about, but what about in the US? What can we do? Are we having protests? Yes, there are protests planned in the US and in the West as well. There’s a Global Day of Action planned on March 6, and I just answered that question in the Q&A tab so you can see the link there. And we’ll also include that link in the follow-up. Let’s see, there’s an interesting question here about the use of social media. The question says: I have hesitated to post sunflowers or the colors of the Ukrainian flag out of concern that this might inadvertently perpetuate a good guy/bad guy dichotomous mentality, but I also believe such symbols are powerful. And I’ve heard this from others too today, even that the flag is being used, for example, by some neo-Nazis. So people are not sure, should we be posting the flag? Should we not be posting the flag? How can we use these symbols? Should we use these symbols? Is there a way to use them but kind of provide more context? Any thoughts about that?

Ira Helfand:         I think all over the world people have been rallying to the defense of Ukraine which has just been invaded, and I think we should do that.

Cynthia Lazaroff:       I agree with Ira, I really do. And I also think we can… I mean, I know that there are many Russians who have done the same thing with the flag, the Ukrainian flag, to stand in solidarity until they had to take it off their post or were visited by someone who came to their door, a policeman, and said take it down or whatever. So I think we all want the war to end. That doesn’t mean that we’re condoning anything that we’re doing that we don’t like in this country or whatever, but at this moment the priority is stopping the killing and preventing a nuclear war. It’s like we have to get a ceasefire, that’s the highest priority.

It’s going to be very complicated to work out any kind of agreement but at least let’s stop the war and the killing. Let’s start there. And let’s stand in solidarity with those who were being invaded. And we’re standing with everyone right now, we’re against all wars so we have to be against this one. We have to be against this war and that’s the way to show our solidarity.

Ira Helfand:            The huge numbers of people in Russia who are showing incredible courage calling out their government on this issue, the million people who’ve signed a petition, million people in Russia signing a petition demanding that their government stop this invasion. There is a side which is primarily responsible for what is happening this week. And if people in Russia can recognize what their government is doing is wrong, I think we can say it as well, and we should. As Cynthia just said, it doesn’t mean that NATO and the West have been blameless in the lead up to this. What’s happened over the last week is decided on by one man and we should support the people in this country who are calling him out for it.

Greta Zarro:            Roxane, did you want to chime in?

Roxane Assaf-Lynn:     Just briefly, as the person that RootsAction with a finger on social media all day, every day, and that question specifically mentioned social media. My first reaction to seeing that flag was to conjure the voices around me that are more nuanced and more seasoned on the topic. So I thought it was overly simplistic, but then I realized in the classic sense of… In communication theory it’s called a second-order system when you have something that had one meaning and now it’s deferred to something else. It is an anti-war symbol right now and it’s good if we have the vast majority of people jumping on that bandwagon.

Greta Zarro:             Thank you. I’m seeing a lot of questions coming in about the role of the US in all of this and if the panelists could speak more to sort of the history that led up to this with the past several years, or even decades, and sort of the culpability of various actors in all of this.

Ira Helfand:               There’s one narrative that says that this entire problem was created by NATO expansion. And certainly, Russia has been quite unhappy with the expansion of NATO since the end of the Cold War. I think there’s another narrative which is also being put forward at this point that Putin’s actions are less to do with his fear of NATO and more to do with his desire to recreate a Russian empire. And certainly things that he said in the last week give support to those who put forward that argument. I have no idea personally, this is not my area of expertise, but I think we’re going to have to look at this question carefully because our response is going to be completely different going forward.

And it’s certainly possible that both of these facts, both of these factors are at play here. But if this is primarily, on Russia’s part, an invasion carried out because it fears for its safety, that implies one thing. If it’s an action carried out as part of an aggressive imperialist design, that’s something altogether different. As much as we are used, in the peace movement, to focusing on the excesses and the crimes of US imperialism, I think we have to be open to the idea that there are other imperialisms involved in the world right now too: Chinese imperialism and Russian imperialism. And it makes for a much more complicated narrative than we were used to. We’re going to have to figure out how to make sense of all that and how to adjust our behavior accordingly.

Cynthia Lazaroff:         Very wise words, Ira, thank you for those. And I think there’s no question that… I was in Russia in the Soviet Union from the late ’70s through the 1980s and early ’90s. And there’s no question that, if you look at the historical context of how this has evolved and the promises that were made to Gorbachev when he allowed the reunification of Germany to happen, when he was in those negotiations and he was promised that if he allowed that to happen NATO would never expand one inch to the east, there was a betrayal that happened. And we can spend the time talking about that, and we need to look at that, we need to have that historical context.

And to what extent the refusal, the dismissing of Russia’s expression of security concerns that were ignored for all these years, to what extent that has played into the behavior we’ve seen in the last week is something that needs to be really explored and analyzed and figured out. But in this moment, as Ira has mentioned, it was a game-changing moment last week, not in terms of the history and not in terms of the seeds that were planted for what we’re seeing today, but in terms of where we are in this moment and not really knowing where the endgame is, what Putin’s endgame is at this point. We don’t know where we’re going from here.

As I said, the experts said no way is he interested in Kyiv, no way is he interested. If at all, it would be the breakaway republics in the far East and maybe in the South, but not Kyiv. So we’re in new territory and we don’t know who we’re dealing with, either. So I think that we’re going to have to reckon with NATO expansion. We had an opportunity at the end of the Cold War, Gorbachev had put out at the UN the idea of, there’s no more Warsaw Pact, why do we need NATO? Why don’t we have a collective security architecture for Europe? We’re not threatening each other anymore.

We had that opportunity, we really ignored that opportunity and we took advantage of Russia’s weakness. And that’s all part of history and it’s very painful. That being said, we’re in a moment now where we have to deal with what we’re seeing unfold and in real time and go from there.

Greta Zarro:              Another interesting question, I think this especially appeals to both of your backgrounds in anti-nuclear struggles. In this time of crisis, or in general in times of crises, should our ask be no first use or no use ever of nukes? And how important is this ask compared to other things that we have been focusing on like an immediate ceasefire and negotiation?

Ira Helfand:             I think at the current moment, the demand that the NATO and Russian Federation both clarify and pledge that they will not use nuclear weapons in this conflict, period, is very important. I don’t know if either side will make such an assurance. If they fail to, I think that’s going to be something which tells us a lot about where their thinking is and will perhaps expose to people the need for getting rid of the weapons altogether if we can’t even get them to pledge they won’t use them.

Ultimately, I think we need to be focused on the elimination of these weapons because if you get through this crisis there are going to be other crises. There’s a looming confrontation between the United States and China over Taiwan. There are other things, there’s ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan which were both nuclear-armed and have nuclear arsenals capable of destroying the entirety of human civilization. We need to get rid of these weapons altogether, but right at the moment I think what we really should be seeking, and that is the subject of the IPPNW petition [inaudible], a pledge from both sides that they will not use nuclear weapons in this conflict.

Cynthia Lazaroff:     I agree with Ira absolutely. And I think that the question is either-or, it’s kind of like we need both. Because one I see is nuclear risk production, first use and pledging that you’re not going to use nuclear weapons first. That keeps us here, hopefully, while long enough to give us the chance to ban and eliminate and abolish nuclear weapons. And I just want to… I see in the chat that the military-industrial complex hijacked NATO. And I definitely know that and understand, and that the role of the military-industrial complex in arming NATO countries. We have to definitely reckon with all of that and the role that that’s all played.

In this moment, I come back to the fact that we need to stop this war. We need to see what we can do to stop this war. And because the risks… We need to do all of it. But that’s why I also addressed the military-industrial complex in my talk, because we do have to… And the way to do that, I believe, one way to do it is to come together around divestment. We have the power with the money in the banks that fund nuclear weapons, that fund weapons producers, conventional and nuclear and fossil fuels. That’s the way we can reclaim our people’s power and do it together and mobilize.

Susi Snyder, who oversees the campaign, the international campaign for nuclear weapons and investment campaign, tells a story of a French bank where 45,000 people on the same day went to every affiliate bank of that bank in the world and divested in that bank, divested from nuclear weapons and protested, and that bank divested from nuclear weapons. That’s the power of people acting in unity. That’s what… We need to focus on unity right now. We have to, yes, analyze what got us here, but we have to make sure that we survive this right now.

So I think I spent a lot of time interviewing, actually, people like Gorbachev and other experts for a film I made, which I’ll put in the chat, US-Russia Relations: Quest for Stability, on NATO expansion. So I’m very familiar with it, and I put myself in the Russian shoes and I see the western side as well. But the Russian issues, I really understand it intimately. But we need to reckon with the military-industrial complex, absolutely.

Greta Zarro:            Thanks, Cynthia. Yeah, and divestment is one of our key campaigns at World BEYOND War as well. And we see it as something as you’re describing that it’s so tangible, it’s actionable. It’s something that we can do at so many levels, whether the individual level, the institutional level, municipal level, et cetera. So folks can go to worldbeyondwar.org/divest to learn more about that. Or as you said, Cynthia, also, our partners with Susi Snyder at Don’t Bank on the Bomb is another great resource.

We are almost done with this event, we are at 9:01 PM Eastern Time. There are so many questions. We will not be able to get through all of these, but I really appreciate the dialogue going on in the Q&A and flying in the chat. And I want to get to one more question that’s come up actually from a few different people, which is kind of a combined thing of A, should the UN be playing a bigger role in all of this right now? And second of all, should faith communities be playing a bigger role? And particularly a few people have asked about the role of the Pope in potentially intervening in this kind of crisis.

Ira Helfand:           Well, the ability of the United Nations to intervene is quite limited because Russia has veto power in the Security Council and vetoed the resolutions that were introduced last week. There was an emergency session of the General Assembly convened today to consider a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Russian forces. I actually have not… I don’t know what happened at that session, I don’t know if anybody else on the panel does know what the result of that meeting was, if they passed a resolution or if the discussion is ongoing at this time. But this has been the history of the United Nations, it’s very hard for it to take decisive action because of the veto power in the Security Council.

Cynthia Lazaroff:     Yeah, the structure of the United Nations with that Security Council, the way it functions is flawed in terms of what’s needed, I think, in general right now. But they’re certainly making calls, Secretary General Guterres is making calls every day about this. I know they’re putting out the calls for peace and negotiations and bringing an end to the war. And I think the Pope is… I think faith-based communities in general have a huge role to play. They played a huge role in the 1980s in changing Reagan’s opinion and in the disarmament, anti-nuclear movement.

The Pope, I know made… I think someone from the… Either the Pope or someone from the Vatican made a visit to the Russian Embassy in the days leading up to the war with a plea. So I think there is a role for the Pope to play. He’s so passionate about nuclear disarmament and abolishing nuclear weapons, and he’s so knowledgeable about it. And I know that there are archbishops and others who are taking action now like Archbishop Wester in Santa Fe. So I think there’s a time now for us all to come together with the faith-based communities, I think they have a huge role to play in this movement.

Greta Zarro:             Another question, I’m going to try to squeeze a few more in. What was the reason for Russia’s taking of Chernobyl? And I’ve read some news stories about that as well. And also that their taking over of Chernobyl or movement around Chernobyl has sort of brought up some dust and increased radiation levels in the area.

Ira Helfand:             So I neglected to address that question during my remarks before. I’m not sure why they took over the Chernobyl site except that it’s on the invasion route from Belarus into Kyiv. But the fact that there was fighting there is really frightening. There’s an enormous radioactive inventory which is relatively poorly contained by the concrete dome that was poured over it, and military activity in the area could conceivably lead to breakdown of that containment and the release of significant amounts of radiation. There’s also a lot of radiation just in the soil, and fires there last year released a lot of that back up into the atmosphere, all of the fighting that’s going on there has the same potential. There are also the 15 active nuclear reactors in Ukraine that provide 50% of the country’s electricity.

We’ve never had a war before in a country with large numbers of nuclear reactors in the potential war zone. There was a rocket attack today on Zaporizhzhya, I’m going to pronounce that wrong, I’m sorry. It’s the site in Southeastern Ukraine, the largest nuclear plant in Europe, it has six reactors, a total output of 5700 megawatts. There was a rocket attack that hit that town today. I don’t believe it hit the reactor. But there is an enormous danger from this military activity of one or more of the reactors in Ukraine experiencing a meltdown and a catastrophic release of radiation. And it’s something that is yet another reason why we urgently need to get a ceasefire and get the Russian forces to withdraw from the country.

Greta Zarro:       Another question here, and a few people have asked similar ones, is basically who might be a trusted broker for peace between Russia? Or why would Putin eliminate weapons right now? What can we offer? What can we put on the table? Or how can we appeal to him to prompt him to put down weapons and retreat?

Cynthia Lazaroff:     That’s a really good question. I’ve been wondering the same thing myself, trying to imagine who might be that broker. And who came to mind when I kind of was in meditation about it was the Pope. And I know we’ve just mentioned the Pope, but I think that we would have to see, I would have to do some thinking about that. But that’s the first person that I thought of. Some spiritual figure that he might respect and receive, I think, would be a possibility.

I just would like to see and hope that there are some backdoor channels that we don’t know about that are going on. And it just doesn’t feel like there are and I don’t know if there are. But like we had during the Cuban Missile Crisis, we had backdoor channels that opened and made a difference. And so I would like to hope that there are those going on right now.

Ira Helfand:           There is communication, obviously, Russian and Ukrainian delegations met today in Belarus on the border and they’re scheduled to meet again, I believe tomorrow. They all speak Russian, they have long years of contact with each other. There is communication there. I think the question is, what is going to change Putin’s thinking? He made this decision to launch this war, what is it that’s going to make him feel that this is something that he needs to stop?

And I think really, it’s only going to be if he feels that the price he is going to pay for continuing the war is not worth what he hopes to get out of it. And that goes back to the sanctions question that was raised earlier, it goes back to the development of significant unrest within Russia that Cynthia talked about before, and whether these factors can convince him that the price is just not worth it. Short of that, I don’t see any reason why he’s going to stop what he’s doing.

Greta Zarro:            All right, well, let’s wrap up for the evening. I’m so grateful for everyone for joining us today and all of the rich dialogue happening in the chat. We will save that chat, we will email it out since we know folks were having trouble saving it, and we will send that along with the recording as well as key resources that have been shared. Before we officially conclude, maybe we can do a quick round robin and just [get] final very short thoughts from everyone if you have them. Alan, let’s just go to you if you want to share one last thought.

Alan Minsky:            Just, I think everybody should really take this moment to reflect on the fact that the way that foreign policy matters fall out of prominence in progressive circles and to try to maintain a consistency and engagement with it. And so I really encourage organizations to follow [inaudible] Progressive Hub is amazing, from RootsAction, everything coming out of World BEYOND War. And if you’re members of PDA, by all means track what we’re doing and encourage us to lift up our foreign policy-related activities. And we are in, what I said at the top, possibly a geopolitical reconfiguration.

And I think the vision that Cynthia presented in her talks, too, have a alternative approach to international relations, one grounded in pacifism and feminist ideals, would be a brilliant thing to promote, and I think would have incredible traction around the world. And for whatever reason the progressive lift has been really shy about presenting that and lifting that up in recent decades and I think we have to change that equation. So thank you.

Greta Zarro:        Thank you. Roxane?

Roxane Assaf-Lynn:    Just want to thank Alan Minsky and Progressive Democrats of America for the collaborations through the years and just for raising up the voice of RootsAction and Progressive Hub. I just want to make sure that we feel like we’ve addressed the many calls for addressing the United States’s role. If you go to those links that I provided, and I’ll just click it right there and show you again, you’re going to find a lot of think pieces on that very topic and it’ll be clear that you’re in good company. So please don’t think that we are giving the United States a pass, and let’s keep working together.

Greta Zarro:         Thank you. And David?

David Swanson:        I think we should try. It’s very hard and it’s hard to know exactly what bit of everything is true and what is exaggerated, but I think we should try to remember that part of war propaganda is always reducing an entire country and government to one person. And part of war propaganda is always hyping the ancient identity nationalistic stuff. And when you got the one from the US and the other from the Russian side and you put the two together, well, everybody thinks this is all Putin in his nationalism and that explains everything. But it was the parliament of Russia that compelled him to recognize the independent republics.

This was a government that for months had been making fairly reasonable demands, the exact same demands that the US made when Soviet missiles were in Cuba, the exact same demands the US would make if Russian missiles were in Canada. I’ve never seen a war without the nationalistic nonsense. I’m not convinced. If that was the explanation, why not last week, last month, last year, last decade? Why now? Why after the NATO buildup and the conflict and the tensions? So I think we should have an open mind about the possibility that we’re dealing with rational people in corrupt systems and that we need to encourage more rational behavior and support nonviolent noncooperation in Ukraine and not play any part in any side of the hostile violence and madness that is engulfing the world.

Greta Zarro:           Thank you, David. Ira, any last thoughts?

Ira Helfand:              Yeah, I don’t want to get into a back and forth on this with you, David, but I have to say I’m much more in line with all the people I know in Russia who are saying this is not Russia’s war, this is Putin’s war, we do not want this. And I think that’s true. I don’t think the Russian people do want this, I think this has been foisted on them just as many of our wars have been foisted on the American people.

The thing I would say in closing is simply this. The situation is terrifying, it’s the scariest brush with nuclear war we’ve had since the Cuban Missile Crisis, it may turn out to be even more serious than the Cuban Missile Crisis. There’s nothing in my lifetime which has underlined more powerfully the need for us to mobilize ourselves and do everything we possibly can to eliminate nuclear weapons. And I hope that that will be the outcome from this, a renewed, invigorated movement to make the world safe for our children. Thanks.

Greta Zarro:          Thank you. And Cynthia?

Cynthia Lazaroff:       Yes, I just want to say that my prayer is to echo to build on what Ira just said. My prayers at this moment become an awakening. I went through the Hawaii false alarm and that became a huge awakening for me, my life has never been the same since. That’s why I’m here today. And my prayer is that this moment can be that turning point moment for us to transform our foreign policy so that we never are here again. To find a global security architecture that would work, where we come together. And to really mobilize, as Ira said.

This is a moment to mobilize and to wake up to the very real danger that nuclear weapons pose. And absolutely it’s an existential imperative that we come together to eliminate them because they’re going to be used sooner or later as long as we have them, it’s just a matter of statistics. If they exist they are likely to be used whether by accident, miscalculation, mistake, or intention, even. So we have to eliminate them. I echo what Ira said. And divestment, divestment.

Greta Zarro:             Great, thank you. Well, that’s a wrap everyone. And thank you again to our sponsoring organizations: rootsaction.org, Progressive Democrats of America, and World BEYOND War. And thank you everyone for joining us. We hope that you’ll join us for the Global Day of Action coming up this Sunday, March 6. Again, we will send out the recording afterwards, we will send out the chat, and we will include the key links as well that we’ve shared. So thanks, everyone, and have a good evening.

Cynthia Lazaroff:      Thank you, Greta. Thanks everyone.

Roxane Assaf-Lynn:     Thank you, bye-bye.

Cynthia Lazaroff:        Thank you everyone.