Dear President Biden,
My name is Olivia DiNucci and I am the anti-war activist who interrupted your dinner in DC the other night. You, the most powerful man in the world, were sitting right in front of me. Normal people like me don’t often have access to people like you and I couldn’t resist addressing you knowing we are in such a pivotal moment in history, one year after the horrific Russian invasion of Ukraine. I know that it was President Putin’s decision to illegally and inhumanely invade Ukraine but I believe you have the power to initiate peace talks between him and President Zelensky to end this war and stop the bloodshed. The continued escalation of this war has real consequences.
Knowing that people are dying and will continue to die because of endless wars, I asked you to push for negotiations over a further escalation in Ukraine. The continuation of this war only means more death and destruction for the people and communities of Ukraine, those in the Global South, and the world at large. The war has plunged the country into chaos and instability and the threat of nuclear war is terrifying to young people like me.
Since my disruption, China’s president Xi has offered up a peace plan. President Lula de Silva of Brazil and other countries’ leaders are intensifying their push for diplomacy and negotiations as well. The U.S. must also push for peace instead of endlessly supplying weapons to prolong the devastating conflict. Human beings do not “win” in war, instead the weapons manufacturers and military contractors do. In fact, they profit from war and have monetary incentives to make politicians like you believe they’re “necessary” to national security. Those companies, like Lockheed Martin, also happened to donate to your presidential campaign and receive over half of the nearly one trillion dollar Pentagon budget you just signed a few months ago.
As the devastating war enters its second year, the escalation of weapons and propaganda is turning the conflict into a forever war. War and conflict end with some sort of negotiated settlement. The question is: how many more deaths does it take before you use your power to initiate peace talks? The more weapons you send or fund will only create less stabilization in Ukraine and its neighbors. US escalations have real consequences. And now, more than a fourth of Ukrainians are displaced (largely women and children), homes have crumbled, farmlands that feed communities have been poisoned, and families have been torn apart. We need peace now.
The war in Ukraine has had a devastating effect on the entire world, especially the Global South. Don’t take my word for it. Listen to the populations who face famine and extreme hunger the longer the war lasts. If you didn’t like me disrupting your dinner, imagine what it’s like for the millions of people of the global south whose dinners are constantly disrupted by war.
I also asked that you remove Cuba from the State sponsor of terrorists list. The current economic blockade we impose on Cubans is another form of war. Another costly form of war that you could end now. The whole world agrees: sanctions only hurt poor and working class families in Cuba.
I was kicked out of the restaurant before I could demand you stop funding and arming Israel’s occupation of Palestine, urged you to stop supporting Saudi Arabia’s slaughter in Yemen, reminded you of the devastation happening in Ohio, demanded you address the needs of the unhoused who were outside the door of the restaurant, take serious action towards the world’s common enemy, the climate crisis in which the Pentagon is the largest institutional polluter. The list could go on and on.
The world is at a crossroads. At this moment in history, we have the ability to choose between peace and war – between stability and chaos and addressing the needs of true national security: healthcare, housing, education and climate justice. We must pursue what is right, not what is easy; we must pursue what benefits people, not war profiteers. I don’t feel ashamed for disrupting your dinner and wish the people had more access to you. People are dying and you hold the power to end much of the death and destruction of people and the planet.
I encourage every person who may be reading this: if you find yourselves in the same room as members of the ruling class, ask them the hard questions. To the warmongers: why do you think young people do not deserve a future free from war? To the corporations from the weapons manufacturers to the fossil fuel industry: why do you continue to make a killing off of killing? We demand answers to these questions even if it does briefly disrupt someone’s fancy dinner.
Olivia DiNucci is currently based in Washington DC on Piscataway Land as an anti-militarism and climate justice organizer for CODEPINK.