We in the United States are on the brink of war with a major nuclear power, Russia. If that is not a dire emergency, an acute existential threat, what is? This situation has persisted for a year now without a national protest to stop the slide to Armageddon.
Given the proximity of nuclear Armageddon, the reaction that sanity dictates has now materialized for the first time. On February 19 in Washington DC, a demonstration against the war, RageAgainstWar, will take place, with sister rallies occurring in cities distant from DC, like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Minneapolis, Ann Arbor, and others.
But its organization and composition represent a radical departure from the peace movements of the last 40 years. The organizational framework for Feb. 19 has leapt the bounds of conventional political discourse. The effort is being led by a broad coalition of forces from "left" to "right." The Peoples Party, a new progressive Party growing out of dissatisfaction with the Bernie Sanders campaigns and forfeited promises, and the Libertarian Party have taken the lead, represented by Nick Brana and Angela McCardle, respectively.
Here is a brief interview with McCardle and Brana conducted by David Swanson of World Beyond War, himself one of the featured speakers at the rally. It reveals two competent and inspiring leaders who provide an eloquent and clear exposition of the event. A full list of the speakers at the rally with their bios is found here and includes Jill Stein, Tulsi Gabbard, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney, Dan McKnight, Garland Nixon, Daniel McAdams, Chris Hedges and many others.
The lead demand of the demonstration is simple, straightforward and unequivocal: "Not one more penny for war in Ukraine." It summarizes the point of unity among the politically diverse forces that are brought together for this event. And it directs the attention of this American protest to our own government, the only one which we can hope to influence in the real world.
Furthermore, the lead demand of the event recognizes that the US is not simply a bystander in this event. The war in Ukraine is our war, a war ginned up by the neocon-dominated foreign policy Establishment. It is a proxy war waged by the US, cruelly and cynically using Ukrainians as cannon fodder. Its purpose, as the clueless Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin acknowledged, is to "weaken" Russia. In the words of the second demand of the rally, "Negotiate Peace,"
"The US instigated the war with a coup on its democratically-elected government in 2014, and then sabotaged a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine in March, 2022. Pursue an immediate ceasefire and diplomacy to end the war."
A brief and complete history of the genesis of this war can be found in pamphlet sized books here and here, beginning with the expansion of NATO and the US-backed 2014 coup. In fact the beginning of the US assault on Russia antedates those events going all the way back to the 1990s with the US-engineered Russian Great Depression, worse than our own in the 1930s.
There is also material reason for the public to oppose the war. The war itself and blowback from US sanctions are hurting the US population and threaten to worsen inflation, trigger recession or even both, the dread stagflation. The third demand of the protest, "Stop the War Inflation" makes this clear and it reads:
"This war is accelerating inflation and increasing food, gas and energy prices. (Anyone who fills a gas tank or shopped at a supermarket recently knows that full well. Jw) The US blew up Russian gas pipelines to Europe, starving them of energy and deindustrializing their countries. End the war and stop increasing prices."
All ten demands can be found here.
Given all these facts it is not surprising that the US public is growing increasingly skeptical of the war. The ground is fertile for a movement to get us out from under this threat. Polling here and here now shows that support for arms and aid to Ukraine, while still a majority opinion, is falling. Interestingly and worthy of more exploration, Democrats rather than Republicans or Independents hold the most hawkish opinions in these polls and this is coincident with the policies and actions of the Democratic Party.
So it comes as no surprise that recent legislation to end the funding for the Ukraine Proxy War comes from the Republican side of the aisle in the form of "Ukraine Fatigue" Resolution introduced in the House by Republican Matt Gaetz with all ten co-sponsors GOP members. In part here is what Responsible Statecraft has to say about this bill:
"The resolution states that ‘the United States must end its military and financial aid to Ukraine, and urges all combatants to reach a peace agreement.’
"’President Joe Biden must have forgotten his prediction from March 2022, suggesting that arming Ukraine with military equipment will escalate the conflict to ‘World War III.’ America is in a state of managed decline, and it will exacerbate if we continue to hemorrhage taxpayer dollars toward a foreign war. We must suspend all foreign aid for the War in Ukraine and demand that all combatants in this conflict reach a peace agreement immediately,’ Gaetz said in a statement."
As the resolution notes, the United States has been "top contributor of military aid to Ukraine compared to its counterparts," having appropriated more than $110 billion in humanitarian, financial, and military aid.
"Earlier this week, Gaetz criticized President Joe Biden and a "bipartisan coalition" in Congress for dragging the U.S. into a war that was costing taxpayers and not advancing American interests."
Perhaps the time is ripe for the two major parties to engage in an all-out tussle for the peace vote. Wouldn’t that be nice. A relatively small and determined minority can decide elections.
It is clear that the US government has responsibility for ginning up this war. US support and weapons and those of its NATO dependencies make the proxy war possible. Without that support the slaughter of Ukrainians and Russians will not continue. The US government can stop this potentially omnicidal war, and Americans can move the US government. It is our right and responsibility to do so.
John V. Walsh, until recently a Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, has written on issues of peace and health care for the San Francisco Chronicle, EastBayTimes/San Jose Mercury News, Asia Times, LA Progressive, Antiwar.com, CounterPunch, Consortium News, Scheerpost and others.