Imagine a letter co-signed by former presidents, former representatives from both sides of the aisle, House speakers, former governors, attorneys general, cabinet members, ambassadors, CEOs, movie stars and directors, writers, astronauts, religious leaders, mayors, academics, mainstream media correspondents, and more — all united in stating “Nobody wants war.”
Imagine the New York Times publishing this letter. The equivalent happened in Germany just a few days ago.
On December 5, the renowned weekly newspaper Die Zeit published the letter “Another War in Europe? Not in our name!” The more than 60 personalities from politics, business, culture and media certainly do not sound like the typical voices for peace, and indeed they are not. Nevertheless they came together to demand de-escalatory politics between the United States and the European Union, on one side, and Russia.
They appeal to the German federal government, its representatives and the media to assume their responsibility for peace in Europe. The desire for a world without war is one shared far beyond the peace movement choir.
Such a letter might have been written in the United States in the 1920s or 1930s. Is it imaginable today? Should we ask ourselves why not? Here is the German letter and the names of its signers:
Nobody wants war.
But North America, the European Union and Russia are inevitably drifting towards war if they do not finally halt the disastrous spiral of threat and counter-threat. All Europeans, Russia included, jointly hold responsibility for peace and security. Only those who do not lose sight of this goal are avoiding irrational turns.
The Ukraine-conflict shows that the addiction to power and domination has not been overcome. In 1990 at the end of the Cold War, we were all hoping for that. But the successes of the policy of detente and the peaceful revolutions have made us sleepy and careless, in the East and the West alike. For US-Americans, Europeans and Russians the guiding principle to banish war permanently from their relations has been lost. Otherwise, the perceived threatening of Russia with expansion of the West to the East, without simultaneously deepening cooperation with Moscow, as well as the illegal annexation of the Crimea by Putin, cannot be explained.
In this moment of great danger for the continent, Germany has a special responsibility for the maintenance of peace. Without the will for reconciliation from the Russian people, without the foresight of Mikhail Gorbachev, without the support of our Western allies and without the prudent action by the then Federal Government, the division of Europe would not have been overcome. To allow German unification to peacefully evolve was a great gesture, shaped by reason from the victorious powers. It was a decision of historic proportions. …