Is peace interpretable?
A fierce debate about the Easter marches' stance on Ukraine war have begun in Germany. But what happened?
A demonstration for peace against war - actually a clear message one would think, but in today's times there seem to be different interpretations of peace, at least in Germany. At the climax of this year's Easter marches, a debate has flared up about the peace movement's stance on the war in Ukraine. But let's take a step back and first clarify what the Easter Marches are all about.
Easter marches - a long tradition
In 1960, the first Easter marches in the Federal Republic of Germany were initiated by the pacifist Action Group for Nonviolence after press reports of the start of testing of Honest John nuclear missiles near the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. These Easter marches are organized annually by peace associations and always say the same thing year after year: Stop weapons, no war, no arms orgies. But apparently this does not apply to the war in Ukraine.While Habeck says there can only be peace if Russian President Vladimir Putin stops the war. For him, "pacifism is a distant dream at the moment". He also appealed to the participants to make it clear in their actions "that they are directed against Putin's war". Former Bundestag President Wolfgang Thierse even warned against "pacifism at the expense of others". Former Bundestag President Wolfgang Thierse even condemned the peace movement's long-standing motto "Building peace without weapons" as arrogance towards the people of Ukraine, and FDP politician Alexander Graf Lambsdorff accused the Easter March organizers of not being pacifists but "lobbyists for the Russian position" and trying to weaken the West and discredit Ukraine.
What happened in Germany? Does peace no longer equal peace?
Demonstrating for peace against war - that's what the pacifist movement does, regardless of when, where, why and whether a war is currently going on in the world. In the peace movement, every kind of war is rejected, and consequently also every kind of arms production and delivery. The explanation for this is very simple: if no country produces and supplies weapons, there can be no war. While the pacifists' demand has remained the same for over 60 years, the opinion of politicians has changed over the years. If the Greens were still in favor of supplying heavy weapons to Ukraine in the 1980s, they are today. Above all, the chairman of the European Affairs Committee in the Bundestag, Anton Hofreiter of the Greens, is calling for rapid delivery. Why? To strengthen Ukraine, in order that the people can defend themselves against the aggressor Russia. But who decides which of the two warring parties is right? And why does a party that has the word peace firmly anchored in its basic program now wants to meddle and supply weapons of war?
It takes two for a fight, but who is right?
My grandmother always explained to me as a child that it takes two for a fight, and for an outsider, it is difficult to decide who started it. Can we take sides? Yes, my grandmother told me, you always have to protect the weaker party. But what if the weaker one provoked the stronger one, hit him? What, if the weaker one knows that there will be soon the bigger brother helping him? What, if the weaker one isn’t weak at all? Then the decision becomes difficult. Often we decide, out of sympathy, which of the two disputants is more sympathetic to us. Or perhaps we consider, quite opportunistically, which of the two will be the better friend in the future, who is more loyal? Who can perhaps be more useful to us in the future? Our interference is then compromized, because we can no longer make an objective decision. Is the peace movement then not totally objective in its demand, because it uncompromisingly demands the end of all strife, violence and war? It does not interfere, it does not take sides with the disputants, it simply demands one thing: peace.