More responses to the Enablers

The Problem with Barber’s Call for a Truce


January 6, 2023

Democracy Now today played much of Rev. William Barber’s speech calling for a cease-fire in Ukraine.  The Nation printed out his whole speech here. Barber has led an anti-poverty movement and is a well-known and eloquent voice.  He makes several points: 1) a cease-fire could help set the stage for a diplomatic solution and 2) the Ukraine war is impacting the whole world and making the poorest poorer; 3) the warfare could end up going nuclear.


He ends with a stirring pacifist call.  If you have a cease-fire for a night, , he says, then you maybe it could last for a day.  If it last for a day then it could last for a week.  If it lasts for a week then maybe it could last for a month, and so on and so on.  But would that actually be a good thing in itself?  Russia has most of the Donbas and southern Ukraine around Mariupol and the Crimea.  Putin knows his war is a disaster.  He could accept his current territorial gains as permanent wins, but should Ukrainians accept those awful losses?


Barber criticized the Russian invasion (after mentioning false claims about U.S. nuclear provocation), but he never demanded the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops.  He also did not mention the very serious problem of resupply of troops.  Should Russia’s disorganized army be allowed to use a truce to reorganize and resupply?  As for a truce to allow an opportunity to negotiations, there is some truth to that.  It puts talks under a world focus, but why not demand that these talks be public so the world can see the imperial claims that Putin is proposing in exchange for stopping the killing?


As for points 2 and 3, Putin is using these real troubles and potential catastrophes to get his way.  Rather than give in to him the world outside Russia can reorganize, to grow more grain for export by drastically decreasing the amount used for animal factory farming.    As for nuclear let’s propose something real, get rid of the land-based ICBM’s, make the no first-use pledge, get the U.S. to rejoin the anti-nuclear treaties that it left during Trump and other ideas of the Diffuse Nuclear War campaign.


Last point.  Barber simply dismisses the warfare as “madness”.  I think that’s insulting to Ukrainians soldiers and to Ukrainians of all walks of life who joined their military to keep their country from being ravaged.  I think it’s insulting to Vietnamese and Cubans who resisted U.S. armies and to Chechens and Afghans who defied Russian attacks, and to all those peoples who had to pick up a gun to prevent their countries from being pillaged.


(a version of the above was posted in the comment section of The Nation under the text of Barber's speech.)


The Token Ukrainian


December 28, 2022

by Stanley Heller


Liberals and doctrinaire pacifists who are unsympathetic to the cause of Ukraine often sponsor a Ukrainian named Yuri Sheliazhenko to speak at events. They want to show that a Ukrainian pacifist movement wants what they want, which is no armed defense of Ukraine.  Right after the February invasion of Ukraine he was on Democracy Now several times, though thankfully, no longer.  As far as I can determine he doesn’t represent any significant section of Ukrainians.   I spoke to one Ukrainian activist who said he never heard about him from media or personal conversations , and that Sheliazhenko viewpoint would be extremely unpopular in Ukraine if it was expressed publicly.


The latest video I can find about him was on 11/11/2022  “Remembrance Day”, “Veterans Day” in the U.S.  I note certain of his statements and answer in red type.


At 0:17 “leaders of Moscow, Kyiv and Washington intend to fight indefinitely for total victory and don’t care about victims of their ambitions”

He’s saying there’s no difference between Putin and Zelensky.  They both are at war because of their personal ambitions.  That’s worse than pathetic.  It’s despicable. It shows this “intellectual” has no understanding at all about what is happening in his country.


At 2:04 “Some people still remember what a shameful carnage every war is, wearing white poppies”

Aggression is horrific, and as a whole war is indeed a terrible stain on our species, but it’s just nonsense to say that all warfare is wrong.  Don’t tell me it was wrong to mobilize armies to fight Hitler or to use force to overthrow the Czar who embroiled Russia in the “Great War” with millions of losses.


At 2:41 “to serve in the army and to repeat bloodshed instead of civil resistance to systematic violence, refusal to be part of inhumane war machine”

And why should Ukrainians only use “civil resistance” to mass murder when then can use weapons to drive out an invader and reduce loss of life and avoid living under the reign of a colonial master whose grandfathers committed mass murder in Ukraine? (see Holodomor)


At 7:05  “We must ban nukes and take seriously obligations to resolves disputes by diplomacy instead of mass murder”

Sure, diplomacy should be used if possible, but the idea that it’s moral to let people get killed because you don’t want your own lovely hands stained with blood has something deeply wrong about it.


7:30  “there is no good in any war.  So, let’s pray for a ceasefire in all wars in the world, for great peace talks so fair and inclusive that could bring to humankind a new social contract…”

This is self-righteous piffle. 


Christmas Truce?

December 23, 2022
by Cheryl Zuur

Code Pink is promoting a “Christmas Truce” in Ukraine which includes a petition and a call for a “Christmas Truce” by US Faith Leaders, and apparently a branch of the Russian Orthodox Church. 

This fantasy is nothing more than another way of forcing Ukraine to surrender, dressed up in holiday clothes. Of course the idea of a “truce” with Putin is absurd and anyone who thinks Putin would be interested in such a thing is living in a fantasy world. 

The online promotion of this “truce” compares the Russian invasion of Ukraine to the 1914 Christmas Truce. 
This is completely misleading. WW I was simply a war between different imperialist powers to determine who got to rape, loot and plunder which part of the "global South". That is how Code Pink portrays this war - as a war between two imperialist powers. This is entirely false. It is a war of national liberation in which the oppressed nation is being supported by one imperialist power, but it is still a war of national liberation nevertheless.
The 1914 xmas truce is a bad example for other reasons 1) For one, it was followed by 4 years of war. 2) For another, it involved just 2 armies facing each other on the ground in an era when massive air bombardment of civilians wasn't what it is today. That’s probably why Benjamin and company chose it. It takes the attention off Russia's attacks on Ukraine's power grid. They never called for an end to that outside of a general truce. They never call for an end to war crimes. They never call for the removal of Putin’s troops from all of Ukraine, which is the one thing that WOULD bring peace to Ukraine, as Zelensky made clear in his speech to Congress. 
Hiding behind their "peace" agenda is denial of agency to Ukrainians and, therefore, support for Putin's invasion. It's up to the Ukrainians to decide whether a ceasefire is to their benefit or not. 
While Code Pink has very little influence in the real world, this proposal may sound benign to some people who aren’t paying attention. Public figures like Cornell West have signed onto it. 

Which branch of the Russian Orthodox Church has signed on is not made clear. The Russian Orthodox Church is split. In Ukraine, it mostly supports the resistance. In  Russia it supports Putin 100% and has issued statements like this "Orthodox Church leader says Russian soldiers dying in Ukraine will be cleansed of sin"

In addition to its completly reactionary role in the persecution of LGBTQ people.
Democracy Now featured a program about the “truce” and Reverend Graylan Scott Hagler, senior advisor to the Fellowship of Reconcilation, had this telling comment about who supports Ukraine and who doesn’t; 
“Well, there’s this ideological wall that seems to have developed. And that ideological wall is those who continue to cheer on Zelensky and Ukraine, and, on the other hand, you have the Republicans, particularly the right-wing, ultra-right-wing Republicans, that are basically operating as agents for Putin.”
 So what does that make Benjamin and Goodman, who share their position on Ukraine?
What planet is Code Pink living on?
This was originally a thread on the Twitter feed of the Ukrainian Socialist Solidarity Campaign: @UkraineCampaign
@pepeace had a Twitter thread on the subject of a Christmas Truce.  Click here to see it.


This is What They Expect Ukraine to Surrender to Russia


On Nov. 2 Democracy Now featured a debate between Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst, and Matt Duss, former foreign policy advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders.  Ray McGovern did great work 15 years ago when he went to an intelligence experts conference and told off Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the awful Iraq invasion.  However, in the last decade or so he’s gone over to the position that ONLY U.S. imperialism and its wars are bad.  He co-founded a group VIPS (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity) composed of defectors from the empire, many of whom were mistreated, isolated or even jailed.  Yet they are not Leftists and still see the world as a geopolitical game.  They are of McGovern's worldview.


Anyway, as you know the majority of the Left and their "realist" allies keep screaming “diplomacy” instead of yelling  “solidarity”.  So what did McGovern say in his debate with Duss? About 32 minutes into the segment, he says this:

"I mean, Russia can’t lose this either militarily or politically. It is going to keep going as far as it has to. If HIMARS and the like comes in, he’s going have to go farther north and west. As Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister has said, it’s is a matter of geography. “We would settle for the Donbas in southern Ukraine. If you’re going to put in HIMARS or worse, geography will dictate that we go farther.” So talks, of course talks are necessary!”


I never heard that Lavrov said any such thing.  I think it’s more revealing of what McGovern thinks, pretty much that Ukraine should give up all the Russia has already annexed.   But there’s more.   Near the end of the debate he says:

“Not only that, but as the ice covers those fields in Ukraine, Russian forces are going to go forward. And there is a hint in Putin’s latest speech that Odesa could be negotiated about. People ought to look at that. People ought to read his speeches. People ought to read through the Q&A. Now if Odesa can easily fall—after all, it is a Russian city—if it can fall to the Russians, well, maybe they will be able to negotiate on that and say, ‘Look, we will make a deal here. Let’s talk and let’s work out something where we stop and Ukraine persists in a smaller way but the war is over and Ukrainians stop dying by the thousands.’”


 I have no idea what he means that it’s a “Russian city”.  Is it because many people there speak Russian?  A lot of people in my city speak Spanish.  Does that mean we should be part of Spain?  Nonsense.  Odesa is a Ukrainian city. Yet for McGovern Putin has a right to negotiate over the future of Odesa, too.


So at least some of the Left that keeps yelling about “negotiations” would want to the U.S. to use diplomacy to have Russia take the annexed areas and maybe even more.  As a recent article in Workers Voice US pointed out, “These regions—including Ukraine’s section of the Black Sea, now mainly controlled by Russia—account for about half of Ukraine’s conventional oil, 72 percent of its natural gas, and almost its entire coal production and reserves. The bulk of Ukraine’s critical minerals, especially the rare earth metals that are now in high demand, are likewise found in Donetsk and other parts of Ukraine either occupied or threatened by Russia. “


Without these areas Ukraine would become what they call a “rump state”, a state in name only.


More on the DN! debate later.  In the meantime, #SolidarityWithUkraine.

For earlier articles along this line click here

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