March 21, 2023
Letter from a soul-sister stranger for peace
One autumn day in 2022, a mail winged into TFF’s inbox from a woman in the United States.
Here first some excerpts; the first sentence reveals a sense of being in a larger world.
I hope you’re feeling all right, even though it’s difficult to feel that way now. I’d like to send you this letter that I’m sending to as many people that I can think of. Given the urgency of the international situation I figure it’s no time to be shy. Here it is! Hardly a soul responds to me, but I was hoping maybe you would.
Peace will never arrive if people are not able to listen to the other side’s perspective. Peace will never arrive if people on one side of conflict tell half-truths and lies to paint the other side as only evil, thus falsely justifying weapon shipments, sanctions, and proxy war against that other side.
I’ve been independently writing and researching about peace and foreign policy for 21 years now, since 9/11. I wrote a multi-volume work on foreign policy and peace based upon my own model for conflict resolution: Paradigm for Peace.
Unable to get published (aside from op-eds and articles on websites), and out of desperation and anger over the latest round of US propaganda, I created a YouTube channel this past April in order to counter the US propaganda about the Ukraine crisis.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is part of a larger dynamic, a story that is not being told to the American people. US policymakers, while likely convinced by their prejudices that they are good people fighting evil, are also using this invasion as a pretext to push their own agenda, which includes the expansion of NATO, the acquisition of more wealth and resources from Ukraine and eventually Russia, and booting Russia out of Europe’s energy market (as the US has been trying to do since John D. Rockefeller).
While there are fears to be heard and addressed on one side, there are also fears to be heard and addressed on the other side. This is how we create peace! Not by threatening one another, not by trivializing and dismissing the other side’s fears.
US policymakers are goaded by greed, by rivalry and competition, by anti-Russian fearful prejudice and decades of ingesting false anti-Russian propaganda, and by self-delusions of their own morality and goodness. I believe many sincerely think they are doing what is right. This is the same combination of factors that drove the US to stampede over the Native Americans.
The purpose of my YouTube channel and the essays that I read, which are also posted in the written form on Countercurrents.org, is to counter this “cultural script” of good vs. evil, to point out the many clear lies within US propaganda, to clarify Putin’s actual words from his speeches and essay which are libeled by US “experts,” to show Russia’s perspective, and to encourage cooperative dialogue that is amiable, open-minded, and sincere, in order to genuinely care for one another and to resolve the fears driving all sides.
I’ve devoted 21 years of my life to writing on these issues. Not many people know about my channel. I feel like I’m in a brick room, banging my head on the wall, writing all this in vain!
On the YouTube channel, I read the essays I’ve written as well as some letters to the editor. I also read the letters in Russian (my major in undergraduate school).
The most recent six videos of the channel are the Grand Finale. Instead of reading from my essays, I use charts and speak extemporaneously on how to apply the Paradigm for Peace model to the current Russia/US conflict.
I feel that all my years of work and knowledge is just going into a black hole. Aside from 3-4 editors and two politicians who helped me, I feel completely gagged – voiceless – mute – shouting truths from behind a soundproof barrier. It feels to me like that verse from Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” “Hello, hello, hello. Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone home?”
But, still, I feel it is the best I can do to try to stop World War 3.
The writer now turns to the situation in the US and how the Paradigm for Peace model can be helpful:
My purpose is to try to get a harness on the US government and media and to try to encourage cooperative dialogue, truth, and non-violent solutions to conflict.
The peace movement within the US is divided. Some see the Russian invasion simply as evil and they support Ukrainians. Others, like me, see the wider dynamic of what is going on and how Russia has been severely provoked for decades.
Sympathizing solely and exclusively with the suffering of Ukrainians, while natural given the skewed story we’re given, is attractive but dangerous because it serves as a pretext for US weapon shipments, sanctions, further NATO expansion, and, I believe, ultimately efforts to take greater control over both Ukraine and Russia.
This skewed story in the US news also ignores the US-supported 2014 coup in Ukraine that placed a pro-NATO leader in power and led to an eight-year civil war, a deadly war that Russia has been trying to resolve non-violently but which the US has kept pumping with weapon shipments for years.
For me, it is crucial to counter the US propaganda, to show that it is not good versus evil, that Russia’s fears are valid and should not be scorned, and that the sending of weapon shipments to Ukraine and hostility towards Russia are not the answers.
One of the four pillars of my Paradigm for Peace model is cooperative dialogue – not only between the US and its so-called “enemies,” but among Americans. But aside from my voice not getting out, those who also speak from Russia’s perspective are blacklisted – considered “information terrorists” and “Russian propagandists,” as if no one in their right mind could support a thing Putin says unless they’re evil and malicious and stupid.
I hope the ideas presented on my channel and in my essays can help promote peace. As the Dalai Lama once wrote in The Art of Happiness, all negative thoughts and feelings arise from distortions in one’s perception.
I think you will find that my countering and correcting the US propaganda is a major attempt to un-distort the thinking that has caused so much hatred towards Russia.
The writer then urges us at TFF to think of how we can help spread the mentioned Paradigm for Peace and perspectives on the Ukraine war, particularly to those in politics and war – and promote dialogue. And it ends:
Take great care.
Sincerely, Kristin (Young) Christman
Dartmouth College – 1990, summa cum laude, BA, Russian
Brown University – 1991, MA, Slavic languages
University at Albany – 1995, MPA, public administration
How independent peace workers must live and work today
It goes without saying that you feel very honoured and privileged that a soul-sister stranger writes such a brutally honest mail to you out of the blue.
Kristin Christman’s story is about a deeply personal, unrelenting and idealistic struggle for the world that is infinitely bigger than herself. But no less important, it is a painful illustration of the Sisyphus-like situation independent peace workers struggle with in these times – the extent to which the peace discourse has (been) disappeared by the pervasive militarism that has crept in during those roughly 20 years, Kristin refers to.
It was not always like this. But today, Sisyphus’ peace stone is bigger and the mountain higher than it ever was. Kristin Christman feels it, body and soul.
So we’ve corresponded now for months. We at TFF wanted to know more about her work and what motivates her – while also respecting her sincere wish for privacy. Humbly, she promotes peace issues and thinking, not herself.
Kristin Christman’s professional background and intellectual path
Here is how Kristin presents her academic background – in the light of the situation of the US society’s problems and potentials:
I was in graduate school studying Slavic literature in 1991 when the Persian Gulf War broke out. With bombs dropping on Baghdad, my studies seemed irrelevant, powerless to stop the bombs. Enraged and severely depressed, I completed the year there, receiving a Master’s, but I decided to discontinue the full doctoral program. I instead worked as a secretary for several years and began reading independently about prejudice, ethnic conflict, foreign policy, and war.
In 1995, I received a Master’s degree in public administration, a program that included courses in negotiation, judgment and decision-making, organizational behavior, and cultural analysis (of organizations) – all highly relevant to the study of US foreign policymaking and peace.
In fact, I think problems relating to organizational behavior and culture within the US government as well as poor skills in group judgment and decision-making, cooperative dialogue, and negotiation have a lot more to do with the failures and terrible directions of US foreign policy than people might realize.
In some ways, US policymakers’ totally inept social and human relations skills, information-gathering skills, and analytical skills on the international level are reflections of the poor social and human relations skills, information-gathering skills, and analytical skills within the US government.
For the program’s negotiation class, I wrote a lengthy research paper on the conflicts during the Angolan Civil War – not only the conflict within Angola, but the conflict within the US government. The poor decision-making processes and dysfunctional human relations within the US foreign policymaking establishment, including during the two-man rule Nixon-Kissinger era, were particularly striking and startling, especially in what I thought was a democracy.
Within a few months after 9/11 struck, I read Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s bill to establish a US Department of Peace. Inspired by this bill of positive change, I developed a model, Paradigm for Peace, for the analysis of the roots of violence and the development of solutions, with an emphasis on cooperation and non-violence. I then sent Dennis a Validation, Suggested Organization, and Strategic Plan for the department, using the Paradigm for Peace model as a foundation.
For two decades, I researched and wrote a multi-volume series for policymakers, journalists, and college students that applies the Paradigm for Peace model primarily to the Mid-East/US conflicts, but which also runs several other conflicts through the model, including the Cold War, WWII Germany, and the US Civil War. The volumes also analyze many elements of other US conflicts, including those with the Koreas, Latin America, and Native Americans.
A significant consequence of writing the series is that when the Roots and Escalators of Violence are all laid out and analyzed, it becomes quite obvious that barely a single root or escalator, if any, can be resolved or even ameliorated by hostility and weapons. Instead, hostility and weapons severely aggravate the very Roots and Escalators of Violence they’re assumed to fix.
Dennis, who’d kept in contact with me and frequently read my op-eds, even wrote an endorsement for my writing:
“This is an extraordinary, landmark work on the key elements of the structure of peace and diplomacy. Kristin Christman’s “Strategies” represents a true achievement and offers practical guideposts to creating a peaceful society. It is destined to become an important reference for all those who seriously desire to create a world where each of us strives to develop a capacity for peace-making.
Dennis Kucinich, Member of Congress, 1997-2013″
But comprehensive works on how to create peace have not been a topic of interest to publishers or a part of their vision of company growth. I guess they felt it just wasn’t that important. So, unable to find a publisher for my multi-volume series, I turned to writing numerous op-eds for the local paper and websites.
This past April, finding my ideas on US propaganda and Russia shut out even from the local paper, in desperation and frustration, I turned to creating a Youtube channel devoted to countering the lies and twisted half-truths of US propaganda with regard to the Russia/US conflict in Ukraine and elsewhere.
Light bulbs and bombs
Kristin Christman has an extraordinary talent for combining the micro and the macro – perhaps because her insights about the macro system – such as war and foreign policy – have been acquired through a daily struggle as a mom with two kids – a life where there’s never been enough for even small luxuries.
Here are some excerpts from a letter she wrote recently which illustrates that talent:
Dear Surgeon General,
I am in despair over Biden’s complete ban on incandescent light bulbs, which I just found out about in the past week during my fruitless search for 60-watt incandescent bulbs. I am not the only one who is negatively affected by non-incandescent light bulbs.
LED lights irritate my eyes. They make them feel terribly dry, as if they’re peeling, and they affect the area behind my eyes.
Research at a university lab in Madrid, Spain (Dr Celia Sanchez Ramos, 2013) found that LED lights cause permanent damage to the retina. Why was this research not taken into consideration? Why were mental and physical health consequences not considered at all?
I love the warm, cozy feeling from an incandescent light bulb. The effects incandescent light bulbs have on soothing depression, and the effects the non-incandescent light bulbs have on aggravating depression, have been completely overlooked by lawmakers. We are told that they are a waste of energy. Yet, as one petitioner commented, when the outside temperature is colder than room temperature, incandescent light bulbs are 100% energy efficient.
The harsh LED lights shine in my dog’s eyes when we’re outside. It’s horrible having to put up with LED headlights in cars. They are so blinding that I have to often look away from the road while driving or put my hand up in the front windshield to shield my eyes from the light!
I have a suggestion for Biden: If he wants to save energy, why not ban nukes?
Why are we keeping this idiotic arsenal? What an absolute waste of energy.
Using them would be a monstrous waste of energy and a waste of the planet, which would be damaged forever. Not using them is also a monstrous waste of energy. They are of no benefit in creating peace or justice, cooperation or understanding. They’re plain stupid, and, the US revitalization of the nuke arsenal is a violation of the NPT – Non-Proliferation Treaty, as is the US deployment of nukes in Europe and past deployment of hundreds of nukes in South Korea.
Conventional bombs, too, they give off lots of heat, light, and sound. Plus they kill.
Isn’t that a waste of energy?
But no, we can’t control our govt and its wasteful use of weapons. We have no voice in this pseudo-democracy! Instead, the government wants to control us and make us not use the warm incandescent light bulb while they go around using bombs and manufacturing nukes.
This really isn’t about preserving the environment either. If they really care about that, there would also be a ban on nukes. Just take a look at any research paper on the effects of living around areas where nukes are manufactured, tested or used, or where their wastes are stored.
This ban is really a matter of feeding the LED industry – its CEOs and investors. It’s a matter of trying to pretend to be a president who cares about the environment and energy while he’s sending weapons to Ukraine that destroy both and that only prolong war, when non-violent solutions are available.
Talk about UTTER WASTE OF ENERGY.
Collage © Jan Oberg 2023
The matter of light bulbs should be a matter of individual choice. Government should not act in a parental role, telling us what to do, when we as individuals know best how to optimize our mental and physical health. Or is the US govt warming up even more to the idea of centralized planning? What’s next? Food rations?
As you can see from online petitions, such as at Change.org, I am not the only one whose mental and physical health will suffer drastically and severely from this ban and who also suffer dangerously from the blinding headlights of LED lights.
As US Surgeon General, your job includes protecting Americans from laws that are detrimental to their health. You’re supposed to speak out against those laws and strongly advocate their repeal.
I have asked my legislators to tell me precisely how they plan to help me survive with this ban in place. I have asked them if they will be able to ensure that my family and pets can emigrate to another nation – one that is saner and not so obsessed with manufacturing and sending weapons that use colossal amounts of energy to manufacture, ship, and use, while banning its civilians from using incandescent light bulbs.
I hope you will fulfil your role of advocating for our health and getting this ban repealed. This is not a case of politics, of being pro-Trump or anti-Trump, of being pro-Biden or anti-Biden, of job loss or industry profits.
I am talking about mental and physical health, which no one in mainstream media seems to be doing with regard to this law.
To be able to see the larger world in a light bulb issue is a talent of the few and gifted – so is Kristin’s political satire which so effectively reveals the utter hypocrisy that requires us all to care for the environment in small everyday ways without even mentioning the fact the world’s military system is likely the single largest environmental destroyer.
More bombs – the National Security Strategy 2022
Kristin tells me that she feels physically sick when reading this document and comments on it thus:
The theme of competition permeates the National Security Strategy 2022. But competition is not a realistic basis for a National Security Strategy. It is a basis for hostility. A National Security Strategy based upon competition is really a National Strategy of Competition armed with the nation’s security.
The competition against Russia and China in which President Biden, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and the US foreign policymaking establishment perceive the world is not so much an indicator of reality as an indicator of their own peculiar psychological patterns that obsess upon competition and rivalry and that compulsively concoct a false good versus evil view of the world.
Nowhere in the NSS 2022 is any suggestion made to try to understand the “adversaries,” to alleviate their fears, and to remedy their grievances. Throughout, we see only the twin assumptions that the adversaries have no valid perspectives and that the US government must beat and degrade them. Such an attitude is a recipe, not for security but for violence, hatred, injustice, oppression, and insecurity.
Biden’s determination to win in “a race to the top” is likely a symptom, not only of greed for resources, markets, and profits, but of mistaking superior wealth and victory in rivalry for valid proof of national worth, presidential worth, and personal worth.
Invalidly labelling another nation as evil and then condemning and fighting it is a shallow and false shortcut to seeming to possess superior moral worth.
Repeatedly, beneath the fighting for resources and power, conflict researchers find that rivalry to receive an evaluation of superior moral worth is a common underlying theme in all ethnic conflicts. But those who fall into the trap of perceiving the world as good versus evil should beware: it’s easy to falsely feel holy if you falsely believe you’re killing evil. And it’s far too easy to be blind to the evil of your own actions against those you’ve labelled evil.
So true, in my view. The strategy is based on a devastating, delusional assumption of us ’good’ and them ’bad.’ It’s not what these others do; it’s the fact that they have other values and interests than ’we’ have – that’s enough. The other side can be used, however, to project our own – denied – dark sides onto the other. Psycho-political projection has become a fundamental ingredient in the foreign policy formation of the United States.
And – never forget, and Kristin Christman never does – it all fits like a hand in glove to the arms industry, to warfare and to a culture of militarism.
Never a culture of common security, mutual respect and peace.
Christman’s Youtube Channel
She wrote to me that she was about to give up writing – too difficult to find a publisher to take on her books. This has nothing to do with their insights but with the fact that peace is cancelled in the present culture of militarism. Peace thinking has no market, and publishers can’t afford to be altruistic.
In addition, if you are independent – not part of, say, a university you get no ’easy’ credit via affiliation. You have to struggle twice as hard.
She established her own channel on Youtube in 2022. While she has devoted a lot of her intellectual energy over the years to the Middle East – remember, she started out after 9/11 – the majority of the videos on her channel focus on US-Russia relations in general and the (Western) interpretation of Ukraine.
Find it here with, so far, 48 educational videos. This is how she describes it:
This channel is devoted to a truthful, open-minded understanding of the Ukraine conflict – a proxy war between the US & NATO versus Russia. US policy & media makers irresponsibly, dangerously, and falsely portray Ukraine, US weapon shipments & NATO as innocent, moral, uncorrupt, and democratic and Russia & Putin as evil, aggressive, corrupt, and authoritarian. US experts issue slanderous, false information about Putin’s own statements while they hide facts such as NATO, fossil fuels and the 2014 coup in Kiev.
Conflict can never be resolved by presenting only one skewed side of the story. Slanted stories are only good for promoting war, for convincing the “good guys” to feel moral about hating, sending weapons, sanctioning, and funding private contractors to kill “bad guys.” It’s essential to recognize positive and negative motives on all sides of a conflict, including US/NATO greed & prejudice and Russia’s legitimate survival fears.
I have academic degrees in Russian and public administration from Dartmouth University, Brown University & the University of Albany.
Here are two photos from her videos:
Kristin invites you right into her living room, her dog sleeping on the couch behind under a world peace sign. She has put up the camera first, starts it and then enters the scene with ”Hi, my name is Kristin Christman” – reaches for her manuscripts and shows her charts – and then ”Thank you very much for listening. Good night” – she gets up, walks around the small blue table with painted flowers on it and stops the camera.
There is no acting here. She is completely herself. The sound is not the best, neither the camera nor the light. But it is so convincingly genuine. You are in that room – and it feels as if she would ask, ”Would you like a cup of coffee before I begin?”
She is loaded with knowledge and arguments – in that sense, extremely well-prepared. But her videos are unedited – and while reading, she may also make a note in the manuscript, as if getting an idea or changing a formulation, and she may also excuse herself and get up to close the window.
Her teaching tool is a simple board that she can hold sidewise; on it, she has fixed a series of papers with (many) points – a kind of x-fold table by which her lecture progresses through the dimensions of her peace paradigm. Where others use a laser beam, she uses a ruler to point out where she is in the process.
It’s all based on her own theoretical model called the Paradigm for Peace Model. It is fully aligned with the best in academic peace and conflict research traditions, although she maintains that she never studied academic peace research; the model and analysis are “just my own doing from my own head.”
Kristin adds that “the reading I did do was especially on the history of ethnic conflict and causes of prejudice as well as psychology books and different analysts’ takes on foreign policy.”
This is so delightfully different from the technically sophisticated or perfect, sleek presentations of our time. It’s down to the essentials: What is this woman actually saying? How dare she be so upfront – do things in such a simple everyday manner, there in her living room trying hard to make people listen in these dark times?
Kristin Christman is actually remarkably courageous. But I don’t think she is aware of it. If I asked her, she would probably say – ”But what else should I do? These are the facilities I have and, anyway, what I have to say is important – not me, the technology, or the surroundings.”
It’s Gandhian-style simplicity. No bells and whistles.
And with her huge preparation of the substance, her – long by today’s standard – lectures are actually quite demanding. She’d probably say that “these things are terribly complex and that she is not going to water it down to two minutes because that would betray that complexity. Listen, people, peace is something complex, much more so than war – here is what I think you should know! And a minimum is to do a systematic multi-dimensional diagnosis of the conflicts that stands between the parties, do a fair representation of their interests and fear – live yourself into their shoes, instead of only talking about how innocent and good your own side is – in contrast to how evil the others are.”
I enjoy how Christman’s mission delightfully contrasts the intellectual disarmament which these days dominate the whole field of foreign and security – not to mention peace – policies.
So, you’ve guessed it already: Kristin doesn’t have many subscribers, clicks or comments. She is also not active on social media and doesn’t have the funds to pay for ads and other promotions.
So it looks like a fiasco, doesn’t it?
I tell you, it is anything but.
I believe she is a sort of present-day Rachel Carson of peace and will be admired for her moving and honest peace lectures around her innovative Paradigm for Peace model at some point – the point, namely, when the West has declined and recognises that it has to listen and contribute to peace instead of producing confrontation and militarism.
What she presents is the type of knowledge plus wisdom that will be the sine qua non of humanity in the future.
She is so out of sync with our times – content and style – that what she has created will stand as timeless. Classical. True peace.
A poem, “Mother’s Day”
Kristin Christman uses yet another medium to convey her message of peace: she writes poems. In this one, she visualises a better, more peaceful future world through thoughts and images from around the world.
And that’s what we in the peace research and education community call positive peace – not just being anti-, negative and critical, but being constructive, let ideas flow freely like in a brainstorm: What would that much more desirable world actually look like?
Elise Boulding (1920-2010), the Queen of Peace research, education and activism – and Quaker – used to say: What people cannot imagine, they won’t work for.
And that is much in line with what George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) allegedly has said: Look at the world as it could be and ask: Why not?
Kristin creates this positive, heuristic visioning over no less than 18 pages, and by them, I will let her end this story about an unsung peace hero – of which there are many that we should find, bring out and sing about.
Recommended sources for Kristin Christman’s thoughts and works
There are various sources – and at the moment, a homepage she ran is closed down because she is rethinking how to publish her books, move on from there and get her message out more widely.
You may like to begin by listening to her. Here is a 30 min podcast interview David Swanson of World Without War and also TFF Associate, did 8 years ago: Talk Nation Radio: Kristin Christman on the Taxonomy of Peace.
Countercurrents is the online place that has posted most articles by her since 2017
Foreign Policy News – a number of analyses and commentaries between 2016 and 202
The LA Progressive – various articles
The earliest article I have been able to find on the internet is from 2015
”Is war ever an answer?”
– which brilliantly reveals the systematic misuse of the concept of Just War
Kristin Christman’s YouTube Channel – most important.
And occasionally, you’ll also see her now and then at
Issues that Matter with Cynthia Pooler – like here:
An introduction to Scott Ritter and friends
The Kateri Tekakwitha Peace Conference 2014 in Fonda, NY
Now jump over to Christman’s YouTube channel and see it all…
Pingback: Kristin Christman – Unsung Hero of Peace Research and Education & TFF Associate - The Transnational
Thank you for sharing this Jan Øberg, you are both wonderful persons. Going through with this figth must be extremely challenging and I am so grateful for your work.
Paul from Norway
Thank you Jan for introducing Kristin Christman to us; what a magnificent woman! It’s so affirming and comforting to learn of new visionary and intelligent people, visionary and therefore cannot think of anything else than work for truth and peace. A true hero.