Anti-militaristic impulses: peace reports for war
A peace researcher calls for more arms deliveries to Ukraine. Resistance and irritated voices are now stirring about this.
You must forgive me for sometimes recycling things here that I have collected elsewhere. The kind of us rarely come out, so it keeps you busy for longer when experts give insights into their work – that’s what happened in one taz video talkwhich I recently had with the peace researcher Ursula Schröder.
Schröder is director of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg, and she says Ukraine needs more weapons from the West. She is not alone in this in her professional group: when the four major German peace research institutes presented their peace report last June, they all advocated military support for Ukraine.
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I asked if that wouldn’t disappoint people who think the peace research institutes are there for peace research and not for arms claims. Schroeder replied, “It’s my job to complicate things if they’re not easy.” Aggressive wars may require making peace by force of arms. “We don’t have the same situation as in the 80s, when two upgraded blocks faced each other and then demanded that both be downgraded” – which is still signable today, she added.
However, within peace research there is objection to the fact that the institutes so clearly support the German government’s turnaround course. Irritated voices recently gathered in the magazine “Science and Peace”. Unfortunately, the editors couldn’t think of any other title than “Quo vadis, Friedensforschung?”, but the texts show well how anti-militarism is doing at the moment.
“Critical peace research questions the logic of war and its irrational consequences,” writes Jürgen Scheffran. The dossier offers a lot of theory about war and peace elsewhere and in the past – but also has an idea for the acute case of Ukraine: the concept of social defense, meaning civil forms of resistance, strikes, refusal, underground organizations.
Olaf L. Müller formulates retrospectively: “If Ukraine had decided to prepare for civil defense against a further attack immediately after the annexation of Crimea in 2014”, if it had not wanted to join NATO, “if it had expressed its reluctance to Foreign rule from Moscow through millions of demonstrations with slogans like ‘You are not welcome'” and if the West had also supported all this financially, “then Putin might not have ordered his troops to invade”.
Hmm, maybe. Very maybe.
It is no prerogative of the pacifist wing of peace research to always know things better afterwards. The world always produces its conflicts in such a new and different way that it rarely seems possible to learn from the past. This also drives some pacifist researchers who used to write the peace reports themselves.
When asked about the 2022 report of their successors, they said things like “would have liked more consideration” or “would have made critical darts”. Of course, Putin’s war of aggression made it necessary for Ukraine to be able to defend itself, also with help from the West. Nevertheless, the anti-militarist impulse must remain in the public eye, they say.
It would be even better if this impulse were also to have a practical effect – preferably to end the war. How remains an open question, even in critical peace research circles.