Pressure building in unexpected quarters to end Ukraine war

Pressure building in unexpected quarters to end Ukraine war


Calls for peace, diplomacy, negotiations and cooperation among nations are rarely afforded space in the corporate media. Promoting the administration and Congress’ wars realize far more column inches, video minutes and, most importantly, profits. The U.S. invasions of Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and so many more were all cheered on in our papers of record, and on major networks and cable TV stations.

Just recently, the New York Times ran an “investigative” report that attacked Code Pink and other organizations because they oppose war — cold or hot — with China, arguing instead for cooperation and peace. The NYTimes’ McCarthyite article insinuated that peace is not something progressive and democratic-minded people in the U.S. would seek on their own, and that such challenges to U.S. foreign policy must necessarily be receiving direction and funding from the Communist Party of China. The U.S. ruling class, pursuing both war profits and constraints on their international business competitors, labels promoting peace with China or Russia as un-American.

The lesson we are supposed to draw is that peace initiatives are the work of foreign subversion. The underlining corollary follows, however, that endless war is basic to U.S. foreign policy.

The Biden administration has acknowledged its goal is to prolong the war in Ukraine until Russia is defeated and destroyed as a major power, even though an overwhelming conventional victory by either side could readily unleash the nuclear arsenals held by Russia and NATO in a fiery end to ten thousand years of civilization.

Added to this pro-war, pro-catastrophe message, anyone calling for a ceasefire in the war in Ukraine and insisting on a negotiated settlement risks being accused of being a mere tool of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This point was illuminated last October when a letter signed by 30 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus was released weeks before midterm elections.

The letter endorsed President Biden’s military and economic undergirding of the Kiev government, but considered the grave danger that escalating the war would lead to a nuclear exchange. It urged Biden to end it using diplomacy. Despite the gentleness of the letter, within 24 hours a bipartisan storm of pushback forced its retraction.

Even for members of Congress, only those who support U.S. foreign policy are considered deserving of a serious hearing.

Nonetheless, there are cracks in U.S. imperialism’s ideological armor, as shown by a few recent articles in the capitalist media which challenge the pro-war narrative.

In May, the Eisenhower Media Network published a signed, full-page ad in the New York Times entitled, “The U.S. Should Be a Force for Peace in the World.” The authors, primarily retired U.S. military brass and diplomats, deplore every aspect of the war in Ukraine, stating that the immediate cause is the Russian invasion.

At the same time, however, they contradict the idea that the invasion was unprovoked, providing evidence to the contrary.

The ad displays a timeline of events from 1990, outlining a long series of U.S. military provocations of Russia, including shredding of international security treaties, installation of missiles on Russia’s borders, and U.S. rejection of all Russia’s diplomatic overtures for mutual security.

What, the authors ask, would the United States do if Russia built bases, laid missiles, and held war rehearsals in Canada and Mexico?

We have an answer. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy responded to the nuclear missiles the U.S.S.R. placed in Cuba by moving troops to southern Florida. He threatened all-out nuclear war if they were not removed.

But he also negotiated a settlement that included removing both the Soviet missiles from Cuba, and U.S. missiles aimed at the U.S.S.R. from Turkey.

Another article appeared in Harper’s Magazine in June: “Why Are We in Ukraine? On the dangers of American hubris,” by Benjamin Schwarz, a former editor of the Atlantic, and Christopher Layne, a retired professor.

Washington condemns as repellant the idea that Ukraine resides within Moscow’s sphere of influence. Yet, brandishing the Monroe Doctrine of the 1820s, the U.S. not only claimed the Western Hemisphere as a sole sphere of influence, it has extended this sphere time and time again to embrace the whole world.

U.S. exceptionalism demands that other countries obey international law, while according itself the right to violate it.

From the U.S.-enabled coup that overthrew the democratically-elected Yanukovich government in 2014 to the present, Washington has encouraged the integration of Nazis into the Kiev government. For eight years prior to the Russian invasion, it tacitly supported Kiev’s shelling of the ethnically Russian population of the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine. It has integrated Kiev’s military into NATO, and rejected every Russian request to acknowledge its security concerns and to negotiate.

In early 2022, as the Kiev military increased its shelling of Donbass and the U.S. continued to dismiss Russia’s entreaties over its security concerns, the Russian military invaded Ukraine, escalating that civil conflict into an international one.

Within a month of the Russian invasion, more negotiations took place between Kiev and Moscow to end the war. But the Biden administration dispatched then–British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to squelch them.

The administration also trashed a peace plan proposed by China earlier this year. Both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova initially said they were open to considering at least parts of the plan, Zelensky remarking that “China historically respects our sovereignty.” Following Biden’s comments, however, that “Putin’s applauding it, so how could it be good?” and “The idea that China is going to be negotiating the outcome of the war…is just not rational,” Zelensky reversed course and resumed requests for more weapons shipments. In this regard, the CPUSA NC has said China and South Africa’s peace plan provide a framework “for Russia to remove its troops, [to] stop NATO’s expansion and end the flow of arms including from the U.S. That’s the only way Ukraine will be independent and sovereign.”

A third article appeared on NBC News in July with the headline, “Former U.S. officials have held secret Ukraine talks with prominent Russians.” While this was disavowed by the Biden Administration, it may have been a trial balloon, to test reaction to the possibility that the U.S. is finally inching toward negotiations.

On August 8, CNN, which has consistently fanned every U.S.-enabled war, produced a report that actually contradicted its prior coverage. Stating, “Ukrainian forces have incurred staggering losses,” it quoted a senior western diplomat to say that Kiev’s counteroffensive is “highly unlikely” to change the balance of the conflict.

The fact that these articles are appearing at this time, should be seen as a positive sign that the war in Ukraine can be ended diplomatically.

To address this, however, peace forces must take advantage of the moment to challenge and alter Washington’s overt strong-arm equation, “whatever it takes, for as long as it takes.” Instead, we must demand justice, diplomacy, negotiations and peace.

Images: Tank in Chernihiv, Ukraine by UNDP Ukraine (CC BY-ND 2.0); Peacekeeper, Minuteman, Jupiter Nuclear Missiles by Kelly Michals (CC BY-NC 2.0)


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