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Rolla Peace News

February 28, 2022
Dear Friends:
Editor's notes:

This week Linden Mueller gives us an account of her work at Great Rivers Environmental Law Center and her environmental activism.

Please consider writing for our newsletter. It's always very exciting to be able to publish submissions from our readers.

This newsletter will be distributed on Monday, February 28 for personal reasons.

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3. THE MISFIT MATHEMATICIAN (Tom's column, http://tomsager.org)
          Some Observations on the Russo-Ukrainian War



We vigil for peace in front of the Rolla Post Office, THIS THURSDAY, MARCH 3, FROM NOON TO 1:00 PM (and most subsequent Thursdays until Peace is established). Please join us this Thursday in saying END THE WAR IN UKRAINE AND ALL OTHER WARS — LET PEACE PREVAIL. The temperature is predicted to be in the 60s. If you do not feel comfortable joining us in front of the Post Office, please consider driving by and showing your support for our message by honking your horn and flashing a peace sign.

Note 1: Since there are so few of us, generally 2 or 3, no need to cancel; but let's maintain social distancing.

Note 2: In case of inclement weather, vigils may be canceled or terminated early.


Last month Linden Mueller commented on a snippet I wrote:
“[I was] hit by this line: ‘belief does not necessarily imply comprehension.’ I think that is true for myself and climate change — I believe it — I envision it — I expect it and dread it — but do I really comprehend it? And if I do, I wonder, why am I not running through the streets crying out for change?”
Linden Mueller is the Director of Development and Community Outreach at Great Rivers Environmental Law Center. We, here in Rolla, owe the existence of beautiful, historic Buehler Park to the lawyers at Great Rivers, who ably defended Buehler Park and won a landmark victory 15 years ago when the Courts ruled for the first time since 1910 that users of public property have standing in Missouri's Courts to maintain that public use.

I asked Linden if she would write to us about her work for the environment and how she came to be an environmental activist. Here is her response:
“[Great Rivers is] a nonprofit environmental law center serving the people of Missouri and Southern Illinois. Our attorneys regularly monitor Missouri’s public utilities’ planning processes and other actions before the state’s Public Service Commission. When opportunity exists, we intervene on behalf of citizens and environmental organizations like the Sierra Club, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, NAACP, Renew Missouri, and the Natural Resources Defense Council to assert their interests, advocating for increased investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency measures and opposing proposed investments in new fossil-fuel infrastructure. We help them argue for utilities to offer energy efficiency programs to help people save energy and money; for utilities to build wind and solar farms, which are now too economically sound to ignore; and for electrification of transportation, which is the way to get off our oil addiction and clean the air.

“I don't think I ever had a moment of recognition that protecting our living world was important to me: to me, instead, the necessity and desire to do so has always been there.

“(Recently I realized I actually quite dislike the term ‘environmentalist.’ The use of the term suggests that a person's orientation of concern for the preservation of the very earth that sustains us is something unusual: that it is an orientation that stands out and should be named as a unique or notable way to be. Shouldn't having a desire to care for our home be considered the natural state we take for granted in a person, and the lack of that desire be named as the aberration? We do not have a word (at least one used commonly) to denote someone who can understand and perceive the emotions of others, rather, we consider that the baseline/normal way to be — instead, we call someone a psychopath when they cannot. In contrast, we do not have a word (that I can think of) for someone who madly disassociates from and disregards the impact of their actions on the earth. Do you know a word like that?)

“I could say that I became an environmentalist as I learned about the different ways that the earth does need protecting. I have always felt connected to the earth: the dirt, the grasses, the trees, the innumerably varied life that lives in it. I am only one small part of that system. It seems apparent from the actions of small bugs to large creatures that they can feel many of the same emotions we do. It seems apparent that it is just as much their world as it is ours. It seems apparent that future people who inhabit the planet will be impacted by the better or worse environment we leave them, and that our actions today will have effects multiplied many times over during those future generations lifetimes. I suppose I am an environmentalist because I value those future people's experience just as much as our present experience, and because I love the earth's intricate beauty and desire for it to be able to continue and enjoyed by others.

“This is such an interesting question to explore. How do you answer it, Yusha?”

I'll have to give some thought to this question. Perhaps, some of our readers would like to answer this question too.

3. THE MISFIT MATHEMATICIAN (Tom's column, http://tomsager.org)

Some Observations on the Russo-Ukrainian War
“War, children,
It's just a shot away,
It's just a shot away.”
—Mic Jagger, Keith Richards
(Gimme Shelter)

Disclaimer: I am NOT an “expert” on European history. Most of the historical references in this article come from a week of reading, mostly on Wikipedia. I encourage readers to do their own research and, as always, I welcome comments from readers. I found the mainstream media singularly unhelpful in digging out the historical information below.

Well, were you surprised when War broke out in the Ukraine? You really shouldn't have been. Europe has a long history of fighting wars. If there was ever a time when Europe wasn't at war, it was because Europeans were too busy preparing for future wars.

Here is a very very looooooong list of European Wars, starting thousands of years ago and continuing until today. I won't ask you to read about them all. (I haven't.) But take a look at these few:

Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812, in which Russia won a decisive victory over Napoleon at the expense of an estimated 200,000 Russian deaths.

The Crimean War (1853-56) which stood out for its “notoriously incompetent international butchery.”

(I include this one for the benefit of UK Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, who bragged that the Brits had “kicked the backside” of the Russians in the Crimean War and could “always do it again.” Mr. Wallace seems to be missing from action. Talk is cheap. Maybe he could go to the Ukraine with 600 mounted cavalry and execute a frontal charge into heavy Russian artillery.)

Franklin Pierce was President of the United States during the Crimean War. His major claim to fame may be that he kept the United States out of the Crimean War. He even expelled a British minister and three consuls over trying to recruit for the Crimean War on US soil. Sadly, later US presidents seem to have lacked Mr. Pierce's wisdom.

The Russian Civil War (1917-1921) After Russia's withdrawal from World War I, civil war broke out between the Bolsheviks and the White Army which was made up of various monarchists, capitalists and social democrats. 13 foreign countries, including the UK, US and France, intervened on the side of the White Army.

World War II (Eastern Front, 1941-1945) The Soviet Union suffered tens of millions of deaths, including millions of children, in the Nazi invasion. Russia's victory on the Eastern Front is thought to be the primary event leading to the defeat of Nazism and the allied victory in Europe.

After reading about these four European wars, you may understand why Russia is a little bit touchy about aggressive foreign troops on its western border, especially when they are supported by great powers that wish Russia ill.

Some less recent and less well-known European wars may have been equally horrendous. For example:

The 30 Years' War (1618-1648) started out as a religious war: Catholics v. Protestants. Satan soon got the upper hand and the 30 Years' War morphed into a giant free-for-all with everybody slaughtering everybody else. Some locations were decimated with those who didn't flee being put to death. It has been estimated that 4.5 to 8 million died in the 30 Years' War, probably setting a record at the time.

We can only hope and pray that the current Russo-Ukrainian War won't morph into yet another horrendous European war.

And, I would be remiss, if I didn't offer a solution. I propose that Afghanistan be asked to mediate a peace agreement between Russia and The Ukraine. Having been invaded by the British in the 19th Century, the Soviet Union (including The Ukraine, but mainly Russia) in the 20th, and NATO (and other allies, but mainly the United States) in the 21st, and having defeated all three invasions, Afghans would likely have a unique perspective on making Peace in the midst of a foreign invasion. In exchange, those who have stolen money from Afghanistan could show their appreciation by giving Afghanistan back what they have stolen.

          Some notes on The Ukraine and Crimea

Prior to the First World War, the area we know today as The Ukraine was partitioned among three empires: The Ottoman Empire (Turkey), The Hapsburg Empire (Austria) and the Tsarist Empire (Russia). Following World War I and the demise of the above three empires, The Ukraine declared itself a Soviet Socialist Republic and in 1922 became a founding member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It only became an independent country in the modern sense with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Crimea was part of the Russian Soviet until 1954 when it was transferred to the Ukrainian Soviet in an administrative action.

The breakup of the Soviet Union was extremely messy. While The Ukraine retained administrative control over Crimea, many Crimeans were unhappy with this arrangement. The Black Sea Fleet, stationed in Crimea, was split between Russia and The Ukraine. Russia was given possession of all Nuclear Weapons. This arrangement was clearly untenable after 2014, when an anti-Russian government came to power in The Ukraine in what has been described as a western-backed coup.

Russian troops entered Crimea and Crimea, which is, ethnically, majority Russian, voted to secede from The Ukraine and join with Russia.

In the wake of the 2014 regime change, other Russian majority regions (Donbass) also seceded from the Ukraine.

          And in case you missed it:

Not wishing to get involved in a (possibly nuclear) war with Russia, the United States instead bombs Somalia. Somalia is one of world's poorest countries and lacks nuclear weapons or other means to retaliate.

NATO has threatened to deploy nuclear weapons on Russia's border in Poland.

Belarus says it intends to give up its status as a non-nuclear nation and has asked Russia to return its nuclear weapons which it gave up when the Soviet Union broke up.

Switzerland has given up its historic neutral status joining in sanctions against Russia. Finland, also has given up neutrality by supplying arms to the Ukraine.

Ukraine is home to the radioactive remains of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. Ukraine is also home to a purported 15 functioning nuclear power plants. War could lead to world-wide catastrophe at any of these locations.

The Ukraine seems to be putting up a much stronger than expected resistance to the Russian invasion. The Russian invasion seems to have been stalemated; Russia seems to have forgotten its Afghan fiasco of 40 years ago, when the United States and its allies enticed the Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan by creating, arming and training an insurrectionist force.

It's a shame that our memories are so short and we refuse to learn from history. As Stephen Kinzer sagely remarked: “History does not repeat itself, but it delights in patterns and symmetries.”

Peace talks between Russia and The Ukraine today were unsuccessful. (Unless you consider it a success that they even spoke to one another.) I'm not sure if and when a further round will be scheduled; but pray for successful Peace negotiations. Meanwhile, military operations continue.

We move closer and closer to nuclear confrontation each day, with each side blaming the other (in spite of what President Biden might say).

I haven't seen any estimates of how much carbon this war is adding to our already overburdened atmosphere, but I'm sure it is considerable.

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