Letter: War and peace and Buncombe County

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Many of the Xpress online comments and offline letters criticizing my pleas to my relative Jack Cecil [“Dear John Francis Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil IV (Jack),” May 10, Xpress] have been contemptuously dismissive. They include: “Might be time to put down the pipe,” “repetitive nonsense” and “join the real world.” The writers apparently think that the Pratt & Whitney weapons plant that Jack helped locate in Buncombe County is a logical thing, and more and better weapons are necessary.

But the real-world facts are that the U.S. use of war weapons, parts of which were often made by Pratt & Whitney, have often backfired horribly in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, among many others. In fact, 200 others since 1950, according to The Journal of Conflict Resolution.

Another critical theme of the writers is that there are bad guys in the world. And that Lord Robert Cecil’s mindset and Nobel Peace Prize activities were quickly forgotten after Hitler began (true to his word) his conquest of Europe. Yes, I was shattered when my League of Nations failed to prevent Hitler’s rampage.

However, the current real world is that England has 220 and France 290 nuclear weapons, according to the Federation of American Scientists. Thus, Putin cannot try to overrun much of Europe as Hitler did without almost certainly precipitating the near-total destruction of his country. And that’s even without NATO’s use of the 5,428 nuclear weapons of the United States. Of course, then Russia might respond with its 5,977 nuclear weapons, and much of humanity will be exploded, incinerated and/or irradiated to death — all within a few days. We’re not in World War II anymore.

Paul Weichselbaum’s Xpress letter is more nuanced than the others [“Branyon Channels Revisionist History,” May 24]. He contends that NATO expansion “beyond the Baltic states was unnecessary and ill-advised, but that expansion was not the proximate cause of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.” And: “It takes a very amateur historian to assert that the ‘merchants of death’ are the cause of war” for there are “multiple causes” of war.

Yet the real-world fact is that negotiation is still possible with Russia. Probably only Putin knows what he would have done if the U.S. had pledged not to extend NATO into Ukraine, an outcome he constantly demanded. Gorbachev and Yeltsin often expressed the same NATO concerns. We can still agree not to extend NATO if we would. Isn’t it worth a try, considering the carnage vicious Putin is inflicting on Ukraine and the potential for nuclear war?

And yes, there often are multiple causes of war, but that means the influence of defense contractors can’t be discounted, either. For instance, current Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin used to sit on the board of Raytheon, the parent company of Pratt & Whitney. In militarytimes.com, Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently stated that in “2019 a government watchdog found that the Pentagon’s 14 largest [private] contractors had hired 1,700 former Department of Defense senior civilian and military officials.” Thus, the untangling of whether war decisions are made for private profit or public policy is almost impossible these days. And that will also be true if we get into the war with China that many are promoting.

Therefore, the negotiations that I hoped would become the main way to handle disputes between nations may still be the best way to peace in Ukraine, China and the world. And it’s a real-world possibility that the alternative may be the horror of a nuclear World War III. The Pratt & Whitney plant that Jack Cecil and Buncombe County recruited, along with many other such plants, may contribute to this cataclysm as they try to maximize profits by promoting war.

— Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, aka Lord Robert Cecil (1864-1958)
via Bill Branyon


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16 thoughts on “Letter: War and peace and Buncombe County

  1. Dead Horse

    As you noted, someone has correctly assessed your need to ‘put down the pipe’.

  2. NFB

    I’m not totally unsympathetic to some of the issues Mr. Branyon raises, but when he tries to make them under the guise of someone who has been dead for several decades it just comes across as a silly gimmick and is hard to take seriously.

    • indy499

      Disagree. Hard to take anyone seriously who appears to believe in unilateral disarmament. You’d think Ukraine would be a wake up call.

      • NFB

        I agree Ukraine is indeed a wake-up call, or least it should be, and as far as Ukraine goes, it seems that the people who need that wake up call are (mostly) those on the right as they are the ones who idolize Putin: Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Tucker Carlson, JD Vance, Steven Bannon, Matt Gatez, Paul Gosnar, Dinesh D’Souza, Mike Flynn, Roger Stone, etc. These are people who actually have influence and power.

        Some of the aforementioned actually hold elective office. Mr. Branoyn did not even break 30% in a Democratic primary in a heavily blue district.

        I said I was not TOTALLY unsympathetic to Mr. Branoyn’s views, not that I was fully in line with them. I think his case could be better made without the gimmick of him writing in the guise of someone from the past.

        • gapple

          I don’t believe that any of the aforementioned got us into the current proxy war we are fighting in Ukraine. Rather, I believe the current administration keeps pumping arms and money into it to protect themselves from being caught.

  3. indy499

    One beat drummers, of which there seem to be a disproportionate % in Asheville, are unbelievably boring. This writer one of the worst.

  4. Mike Rains

    It astounds me how naive and gullible Americans have become. This is what happens to empires after years of too much wealth and comfort.

    Russia’s entry into Ukraine was caused entirely by the US and it’s imperialistic foreign policy. The real problems began in 2014 with the American supported coup of Ukraine’s president at that time. It was after this that Putin took ownership of Crimea and began defending in earnest the Russian population in the Donbass.

    When the Soviet Union collapsed in the 90’s, our leaders told then President Yeltson and Gorbachav that we would not press NATO into these former satellitess of the USSR. In otherwords, NATO would not expand east ward. Contrary to those assurances, Bill Clinton and then Bushy 2 promoted further NATO expansion. Many of these countries are on or very close to Russia’s borders.

    A good US analogy would have been the Warsaw Pact (Russias’ side counter to NATO) signing up Canada and Mexico on our borders and positioning fast moving weapons (including nukes), back in the day. Wonder how that would have gone down.

    The US has turned into an imperialistic shadow of its former self. The defense industry is totally out of control (becasue it is making some people very wealthy) but we continue to increase the budget without concern. We have more than enough weaponry to defend ourselves. On the otherhand, it’s always nice to be able to go into other countries and kick up some dust to let everyone know who’s in charge in the world! Iraq was an immoral disaster. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians killed by us and look where it is today. And we know our leaders lied to us about the justificaiton. Syria isn’t much better and of course Afghanastan. The list goes on: LIbya, Egypt and now we seem to want to call all the shots over in China’s neighborhood.

    There are very clear and discernable reasons why America has turned into this war mongering bully. And it has everything to do with our desire to “encourage” everyone to continue to use the dollar throughout the world. That special status has provided all of us continued wealth far beyond what we really earn.

    If these comments upset anyone, I suggest they do some basic research on my comments.

  5. Shultz!

    “My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”

  6. Bill Branyon

    This NY Times op-ed states that
    “… Ample evidence suggests that enlarging NATO over the years stoked Moscow’s grievances and heightened Ukraine’s vulnerability.
    After the Cold War ended, Moscow wanted NATO, previously an anti-Soviet military alliance, to freeze in place and diminish in significance. Instead, Western countries elevated NATO as the premier vehicle for European security and began an open-ended process of eastward expansion…
    …As Ukraine’s domestic struggles became entangled in a resurgent East-West rivalry, it sought to join NATO and found a powerful backer: President George W. Bush.
    In the run-up to NATO’s summit in 2008, Mr. Bush wanted to give Ukraine and Georgia a formal path to enter the alliance, called a Membership Action Plan. Before the meeting, William Burns, the current C.I.A. director who was then ambassador to Russia, cautioned that such a move would have deadly consequences…”

  7. Prop Joe

    I see why Ms. Craig and the other ladies get all hot for you. That big brain of yours *Swoon*. But, you didn’t touch on Putin’s invasion of Crimea in 2014 or the current threat to Taiwan. Could you please be a good mouthpiece and tell us why Ukraine got what it deserved so many years ago? Hint – It wasn’t NATO expansion. Do you think Taiwan would still be a democratic and independently governed nation if there weren’t “good guys with guns” across the pond? I realize these two examples don’t fit your narrative of “they wuz asking’ fer it” but unlike your Cecil role-play, they’re both very real.

    • Bill Branyon

      Yes, Prop Joe, an independent Taiwan with all its impressive freedoms is the greatly preferred outcome. But Taiwan is 100 miles from China and over 5,000 miles from Los Angeles. You’re so real politick and tough minded how about using it a little bit when it comes to Taiwan? You’re willing to risk nuclear war with China over a tiny country that is obviously in China’s orbit of power. Over a country that China has owned through many centuries. Whereas America routinely invades or overthrows countries in Central America, the Caribbean and South America. So no, I’m not impressed by your apparently hardnosed look at things. It’s really dreary, pie-in-the-sky, what-are-you smoking sentimentality left over from World War II, when most of the weapons used were not nuclear. And then you miss the major point of World War II: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Humanity cannot survive another world war. But your blustering, pre-Hiroshima warmongering over Taiwan may contribute to it. What you are smoking is MIC propaganda. Hope it’s satisfies your need to stomp around the planet bombing and bombing, because what it really is is Dr. Strangelove gone ballistic.

      • Prop Joe

        Bill – You had two weeks and this is the best you can do? Although I am impressed that you found a way to blame Taiwan in the event they “get what’s coming to them”. “Xi is your daddy and your neighbor, so if he wants to invade it’s his right”
        I don’t want war – I’m not a “warmonger” – and I certainly dont want you to be impressed with me. I don’t have a need to stomp anywhere or bomb anything. These are nothing more than the very colorful and dramatic ways you try to paint the many who disagree with you. Is it okay for China to overtake Taiwan but not okay for the US to do it in Central and South America? You’re talking out of both sides of your mouth again. And the invasion of Crimea…Can I expect a response to that in a few weeks? You probably need time to figure out how they had it coming.

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