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Dmitri Prieto-Samsonov: I define myself as being either Cuban-Russian or Russian-Cuban, indiscriminately. I was born in Moscow in 1972 of a Russian mother and a Cuban father. I lived in the USSR until I was 13, although I was already familiar with Cuba-- where we would take our vacation almost every year. I currently live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Santa Cruz del Norte, near the sea. I’ve studied biochemistry and law in Havana and anthropology in London. I’ve written about molecular biology, philosophy and anarchism, although I enjoy reading more than writing. I am currently teaching in the Agrarian University of Havana. I believe in God and in the possibility of a free society. Together with other people, that’s what we’re into: breaking down walls and routines.

Blessed Are They Who Work for Peace

May 20, 2014 | Print Print |

Dmitri Prieto

Havana angle.  Photo: Juan Suarez

Havana angle. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — The world we see in the news today is a world torn by civil conflict. In the most serious cases, these conflicts threaten to unleash genocides or large-scale, high or “low”-intensity wars.

In countries like Syria or the Ukraine, rivaling factions take entire cities and command military groups that lack neither weapons nor logistical means.

The world’s great powers threaten to become involved and transform these conflicts into conventional wars (those that entail air landings, tank combats and the use of impoverished uranium).

From what we’ve learned from cases such as Iraq and Afghanistan, such escalation often exacerbates the cruelty of the confrontation, leading to Hobbesian situations where democracy is forcefully silenced.

I ask myself: what could someone who is professedly opposed to war and to leaving things in the hands of the powerful do in the face of all this? Can one do anything at all?

I am surprised by the poverty of options offered by current forms of pacifism, particularly when we compare these to the great movements of the 1930s (which didn’t manage to prevent the Second World War, but gave the world someone of the stature of Mahatma Gandhi).

There must be peaceful strategies and tactics that can be used in the struggle for equality and freedom, even when violent conflict between rivaling factions exists, ways of intervening in these conflicts peacefully (I know research is being done in this connection).

Such methods of active non-violence cannot, however, be limited to color revolution technologies or to donating small sums of money to NGOs in order to quiet restless minds, in a world where, on the one hand, we are served a concert by Lady Gaga on high-definition TVs and, on the other, someone is forced to decide whether the person who will starve to death tomorrow (or die as a result of “friendly fire”) is someone’s mother or the smallest child in the family.

I may strike some as an imbecile, but I do not believe in the intervention of the great powers when it comes to resolving conflicts.

We common folk must create means of intervening peacefully in such conflicts.

I cannot help but recall Rwanda, when the UN demonstrated its illegitimacy by allowing the genocide to take place.

I see the Israeli animated film Waltz with Bashir, dealing with the Sabra and Chatila slaughters, while Telesur shows us how the far-right uses tear-gas to kill 30 people in a building in the Ukraine (while the other camp forces a badly-injured pilot to walk). Where is the stretcher, the Red Cross or the Geneva Convention?

I feel sorry for people like Gorbachov, who wanted to put an end to all wars once and for all and hit the mud head on, particularly when we need someone of Kissinger’s intellect.

It has been demonstrated that non-violent struggle demands as much or more courage than any armed intervention – so this is not a question of cowardice.

This struggle also demands precise knowledge of strategy, tactics and technique – those of active non-violence.

We must come up with ways of interposing ourselves between warring factions, allowing those who do not want to become involved in the conflict to walk away in peace and – even though this can come at a very high price, perhaps life itself – be able to stop the bloodshed ourselves.


What's your opinion?

  • John Goodrich

    Excuse me but did you actually write that HENRY KISSINGER is needed ?
    The man is a war criminal who led the killing in Vietnam .
    He should be SHOT and certainly not regarded as anyone the world needs.
    Yes, you go right ahead and hire on HK and then TRY to be a pacifist .
    Being a pacifist in a world largely controlled by the American Empire is asking to die or languish in prison.
    You cannot be a pacifist when a mad dog attacks you and U.S. imperialism has the same morality in its foreign policy atrocities as a mad dog.
    A joke:
    There was a man who prayed every day at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem for world peace .
    A reporter interviewing him asked what effect he was having and he replied:
    “It’s like talking to a fucking wall”
    Talking peace to an empire whose modus operandi is always killing is talking to not just any wall but the wall they put you up against when they shoot you.
    Good luck with that strategy.

    • Griffin

      It is a grotesque distortion of historical fact to say that Kissinger “led the killing in Vietnam”. The Vietnam War essentially began during WWII when the Japanese “led the killing”. During the post war period, various factions on the left & right “led the killing”, including the Viet Minh, (who had support from the USSR & China) & the French Colonial Army.

      The US became involved in the war in the late 1950’s and withdrew in April 1973.

      Kissinger did not become Secretary of State until 1969. He gave no orders to the US military nor to the CIA. He advised his President, who gave the orders.

      Although Kissinger’s realpolitik methods were tough, he did succeed in pushing the North Vietnamese to negotiate a peace treaty which ended the US involvement in the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, the North Vietnamese soon broke the treaty and resumed the war when they re-invaded South Vietnam. This time, the US did nothing and the Viet Cong slaughtered millions more Vietnamese.

      More Vietnamese were killed in the war, before and after the US involvement, and the majority of that killing was carried out by the Communist forces.

      • John Goodrich

        The U.S. intervention in Vietnam began in 1950 with its economic support of the French war to regain its colonies after the Japanese were defeated there.
        After the war the colonialist Allies moved in British troops along with DEFEATED JAPANESE military to hold the country against the Vietnamese nationalists and for the soon-to-be-returning French forces .
        A free and independent Vietnam was so horrible for the colonialists to contemplate that they actually placed the hated Japanese over the Vietnamese people.
        Between 1950 and the defeat of the French forces at Dien Bien Phu , in 1954 the U.S. supported that war to the tune of 80% of all costs.
        So you are in error on the dates of U.S. involvement.
        Further , around 1955 the U.S. UNILATERALLY declared Vietnam to be two countries where the Geneva Treaty between France and Vietnam signed in 1954 had the country TEMPORARILY divided until a planned reunification election in 1956 -at the latest- was to be held.
        The U.S. installed a puppet government in the south , cancelled the elections and began the permanent division of the country as it did in Korea.
        Those wanting independence tried to get the election held but since, as President Eisenhower was quoted as saying , Ho Chi Minh would have gotten 80% of the vote , the U.S. was simply never going to allow that reunification election.
        After a few years those who had gone north started returning to their homes in the south and fighting broke out.
        The U.S. had advisers in the country at all times and the first U.S. casualty was in 1959.
        In 1963, Lyndon Johnson’s Tonkin Gulf lie prompted Congress to give him carte blanche as far as war-making went and very much like G.W. Bush ‘s WMD lie stampeded Congress into invading Iraq just 20 years later.
        Your revisionist version of the U.S. invasion of Vietnam/southeast Asia is duly noted as a right wing fantasy and bears little resemblance to historical fact.
        You’re blaming the victims, the Vietnamese for killing themselves ?
        The U.S. dropped more tonnage in bombs on that tiny country than were dropped by both sides in all of World War II.
        They killed an estimated 3 million southeast Asians .
        The residuals from Agent Orange and the landmines the U.S. used in those 20 odd years still kill and maim thousands of Vietnamese every year
        Something you seem to have trouble understanding is that Vietnam was a colonial war, that the U.S. went there and the Vietnamese did not come to the U.S. and start this war.
        The U.S. was not even a signatory to the French-Vietnamese peace agreement but went in and attempted to prevent their independence from capitalism and colonialist exploitation .
        There was NO noble cause involved, just imperial psychopathic methods and intentions.
        Vietnam was never communist .It was, at best, a state run economy .
        This is something you should learn about all such “communist” societies if just so we can be on the same page when discussing issues .
        We need to have commonality in the terms we use to mean what they really mean and not what common usage through ignorance.
        would have it.
        If I maintain that communism is a democratic (bottom-up) run system as the originators of the philosophy maintain and you claim it is a totalitarian top-down system as these societies run by an ostensibly Communist Party all are , how can we possibly ever have a rational discussion ?
        If you have a term you’d like to use such as Communist Party- run Cuba or China, or the USSR or Vietnam or N.Korea or anything else that is absolutely clear that it is a party that calls itself Communist that is control from the top-down and not a communist SOCIETY which would be bottom-up and democratic .
        then let me know and let’s see if we can come up with a descriptive term that will eliminate the confusion caused by using the same term to mean two entirely opposite things.
        In the end it boils down to either a democratic or a totalitarian definition of a particular society and since all the societies run by a party that CALLS itself communist have been totalitarian precisely because they do not practice communism at all , it is correct to use another term to not conflate democracy and totalitarianism .
        What say you ?
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