By Greg Godels
November 1, 2022
At a time when divisions and confusion in the anti-war, anti-imperialist movement have made many activists bystanders to the war in Ukraine, CODEPINK has boldly led the way in denouncing the war and calling for negotiation. Unlike some groups that buried the war question in a laundry list of grievances, causes, and injustices, CodePink focuses laser-like on the danger of escalation and possibly nuclear war.
Thus, when I got an email from CODEPINK on October 25 with “Finally!” on the subject line, I fully expected to learn of a new and important development in the peace movement.
I wasn’t disappointed.
The hard-working peace warriors of CODEPINK announced– with some measure of pride– that “After months of grassroots activism, 30 Democrats in Congress have signed on to Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal’s letter to President Biden calling for a ceasefire and diplomatic settlement to the war in Ukraine.” Thirty members of the House Democratic [self-styled] Progressive Caucus had signed on to– an admittedly tepid– statement departing from the Biden Administration’s rabid instigation of war in Ukraine.
With a growing call for negotiation from unlikely public figures like Henry Kissinger, Jeffrey Sachs, and Elon Musk, with a mid-September Quincy Institute poll showing that most US citizens (57%) support negotiations to end the war, with 57 Republicans voting in May against an additional $40 billions of military aid to continue the war, and with Republican leadership suggesting that, should they win the interim election, they might not support further US military aid to continue the war, one would welcome “Progressive” Democrats seizing the opportunity to help bring this dangerous war to an end.
Despite a complete and total lack of confidence in the Democratic Party and a belief in its limitless appetite for political opportunism, I decided to celebrate CODEPINK’s efforts by forwarding the group’s email to my comrades and friends in the Pittsburgh Anti War Committee; we had only recently staged demonstrations in Pittsburgh to call for an end to the war. Democrats breaking away from their party’s shameful role in sparking the war and fueling its escalation certainly deserved acknowledgement and praise.
But the celebration ended within 36 hours when the leadership of the “progressive” Caucus rescinded the letter. Caucus chair Jayapal and some who signed the letter unceremoniously and cravenly blamed staff members for releasing the letter while declaring continued loyalty to the Administration’s war huckstering.
I was compelled to apologize for misleading my comrades. It was not the first time I underestimated the spinelessness of the Democratic Party.
While the “progressive” Democrats shamed themselves, the Democratic Administration chose that moment to reveal their reckless nuclear policy. The Defense Department announced that the “Pentagon’s Strategy Won’t Rule Out Nuclear Use Against Non-Nuclear Threats,” as Bloomberg headlined. Further, Bloomberg writer Anthony Capaccio claimed that the “Defense strategy shuns limits on use once embraced by Biden.”
Earlier, the monopoly capitalist media vilified Putin for suggesting that Russia would use nuclear weapons under certain circumstances, a suggestion that Putin recently pulled back. Yet not a word of alarm or condemnation over an explicit policy of potentially using nuclear weapons when there is no counterpart nuclear threat, a serious escalation of the tension in Ukraine.
With an approaching interim election, have the Democrats given the anti-imperialist left any reason to vote for them?
Margaret Kimberley– writing in The Black Agenda Report– said this about the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s opportunism:
This fiasco is yet another reminder that the left in this country had better start speaking up for themselves. The Democrats are the party of war and will not allow even a tiny expression of dissent. Some of the letter signatories have fallen on their swords, yelled loud mea culpas and joined in condemning themselves. Others are silent after having stepped out only to be stepped upon.
No one should think that help is coming from Washington. The U.S. involvement in Ukraine will end with negotiations or with a hot war. That determination will not be made by Pramila Jayapal or anyone else in congress who calls themselves progressive.
Democrats are welcome to join us, but we must cancel this war without relying on the Democratic Party leadership. They are the problem.