A Push for Peace in Ukraine

After last week’s protests, Marcy Winograd is amplifying Mexican President Obrador’s call for dialog among Biden, Putin and Zelensky to end the proxy war. 

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the U.N., November 2021. (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

By Marcy Winograd
Common Dreams

On Sunday, U.S. President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin “Dont, Don’t, Don’t” use nuclear weapons in retaliation for battlefield losses in Ukraine.

While Putin dismissed Biden’s worries as unfounded, the specter of nuclear Armageddon  drove U.S. anti-war activists last week to the streets in a September Week of Action organized by the Peace in Ukraine Coalition.

Demanding a “Ceasefire now!” activists hosted anti-war events in D.C., San Francisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Madison, Boston, Rockville, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, San Pedro, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.

The Peace in Ukraine Coalition — CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, Democratic Socialists of America, Massachusetts Peace Action, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom-U.S. and other organizations — mobilized for negotiations, not escalation in what CODEPINK describes as a proxy war threatening a direct war between the two most heavily armed nuclear nations, the United States and Russia.

With Biden asking Congress for another $13.7 billion for Ukraine, $7.2 billion for weapons and military training, activists delivered letters to their House and U.S. Senate representatives, some letters simply urging a ceasefire, others pushing for a no vote on the next weapons request folded into a $47 billion Covid relief bill.

That bill, called a continuing resolution, must be voted on in one form or another by Sept. 30 to avoid a federal government shutdown.

If the resolution passes with Biden’s request, military analysts say it would bring this year’s total for Ukraine to $67 billion. The amount allotted for weapons, military training and intelligence could surpass $40 billion, four times the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency during an existential climate crisis of wildfires, droughts, storms and rising sea levels.

Week of Action

In the nation’s capital CODE-PINK co-founders Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans, together with Colonel Ann Wright and other activists, kicked off the Week of Action, going door to door to the offices of the House Congressional Progressive Caucus. (Marcy Winograd)

In the nation’s capital CODEPINK co-founders Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans, together with Col. Ann Wright and other activists, kicked off the Week of Action, going door-to-door to the offices of the House Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), where the most natural anti-war allies would, theoretically, be found.

While some members of the caucus call for much-needed diplomacy and raise concerns about the risk of nuclear war — either through a miscalculation or an intentional first strike — not one member of the nearly 100-member CPC will commit to voting against more weapons for Ukraine.

Benjamin told the press,

“Further escalation should be unthinkable, but so should a long war of endless crushing artillery barrages and brutal urban and trench warfare that slowly and agonizingly destroys Ukraine, killing hundreds of Ukrainians with each day that passes. The only realistic alternative to this endless slaughter is a return to peace talks to bring the fighting to an end.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer do not make it easy for Democrats to break ranks — as the Republicans are doing ahead of the midterms — on the question of weapons for Ukraine.

Pelosi & Schumer

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at a ceremony for the American Rescue Plan Act, March 2021. (Senate Democrats, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Pelosi and Schumer embed humanitarian aid and military dollars in the same legislation, making it hard for progressive Democrats to join with the 57 Republicans, among them hard-core Trumpers Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14), Lauren Boebert (CO-03), Jim Jordan (OH-04), who voted against previous Ukraine packages.

Since the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have died, and according to the United Nations, 12 million have been displaced, either internally or throughout eastern Europe. The Pentagon estimates 80,000 Russian soldiers have been killed.

Partners in the Peace in Ukraine Coalition condemn the Russian invasion but argue there is no military solution to a war that was provoked by the same neo-conservatives responsible for the disastrous U.S. invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Through successive administrations, the voices for a unipolar world in which the U.S. dominates led to expansion of NATO, a hostile nuclear-armed military alliance, from 12 countries after the fall of the Soviet Union to 30 countries, including some that border Russia:  Latvia, Estonia, Poland and LIthuania.

In addition to the expansion of NATO, organizations in the Peace in Ukraine Coalition cite other provocations: U.S. support for a 2014 coup of Ukraine’s democratically elected Russia-friendly president and years of U.S. arms shipments — from Presidents Barack Obama to Donald Trump to Biden — to undermine the 2015 MINSK II peace agreement. That accord signed by Russia and Ukraine was to end the civil war that followed the 2014 coup and left an estimated 14,000 people dead in Ukraine’s industrial Donbass region.

Fighting between the swastika-flag-waving Azov Battalion and Russian separatists preceded Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine, though corporate media often fails to mention this.

On Sept. 15, demonstrators in San Francisco’s Financial District marched from the Senate offices of Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein to deliver letters in opposition to funding a protracted war in Ukraine.

Massachusetts Peace Action activists camped outside the offices of three Democratic House members — Jake Auchincloss, Katherine Clark and Stephen Lynch — to implore them to support a ceasefire.

Milwaukee anti-war activists, including a county supervisor, took their peace flags and “Diplomacy, Not War” signs to the campus of conservative Marquette University, where they passed out hundreds of flyers with QR codes for students to email their Congress members for a ceasefire.

Organizer Jim Carpenter, co-chair (with this author) of the foreign policy team of Progressive Democrats of America, told skeptics who want a fight to the last Ukrainian, “Are you more concerned about saving lives or saving territory?”

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DSA members in Santa Barbara, California, distributed a similar half-pager to a staffer for Democratic Congressman Salud Carbajal, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and represents a district crawling with military contractors and home to Vandenberg Air Force Base, where a test launch of a nuclear missile was delayed due to Putin’s placement of Russia’s nuclear arsenal on high alert.

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test, April 26, 2017, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ian Dudley)

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test, April 26, 2017, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ian Dudley)

On the steps outside the congressman’s office, activists talked to a Ukrainian church member visiting the lawmaker at the same time to press for more weapons to Ukraine. “You can’t negotiate with Putin–you can never trust him,” he insisted, waving a life-size Ukrainian flag and arguing for a fight to the finish–to regime change.

“But there is no military solution short of economic ruin, global famine, climate catastrophe — or worse, nuclear Armageddon,” responded this activist, who pointed out — to nods from the Ukrainian — that since the start of the war Ukraine and Russia had negotiated grain exports and nuclear reactor inspections.

Why couldn’t they negotiate an end to the war, if only the U.S. and NATO would stop sending weapons to prolong the crisis?

Veterans for Peace members in the Bay Area wrote to Democratic reps Mark Desaulinier (CA-11) and Barbara Lee (CA-13), the lone vote against the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and sponsor of legislation to cut the Pentagon budget by $350 billion.

“We urge you to forcefully call for negotiations and speak out against Secretary of Defense Austin’s call for continuing the war to ‘weaken Russia.’ That is a recipe for a world war if ever there was one,” read the letters.

In Rockville, Maryland, another Veterans for Peace member Jim Driscoll, who volunteered for the Marines in Vietnam, published an OpEd in the local press, “Why I was arrested to ‘Stop the War. Save the Climate.'” Driscoll was arrested in August during an anti-war protest outside Maryland Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen’s office. His message to Van Hollen, as well as the media?: Stop fueling the war in Ukraine that exacerbates the climate crisis.

Driscoll writes,

“As with Vietnam and Iraq, the U.S. government and a subservient media have painted an ahistorical, one-sided, distorted narrative to justify the damage we have foisted upon the people of Ukraine …”

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, is slated this week to virtually address an Austin, Texas, summit of military contractors — Raytheon, Northrop Grumman — to appeal directly to the war profiteers for more weapons.

The White House — concerned that Ukrainian battlefield victories will trigger Russian retaliation — opposes Zelensky’s latest request: missiles with a range of 190 miles that Zelensky could use to strike Russian-annexed Crimea.

As a plan B, Zelensky’s government has launched an “Advantage Ukraine” initiative of low taxation and deregulation to attract foreign investors to build made-to-order weapons systems in Ukraine. That country, however, may have serious competition as a forward-deployed threat to Russia, for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz recently announced he wants to make his country “the cornerstone of conventional defense of Europe.”

Not everyone in high places campaigns, however, for escalation and further militarization. Mexican President Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) will call on the United Nations during the General Assembly’s general debate this week to  create an international committee to promote dialogue between Biden, Putin and Zelensky with invitations to Pope Francis, the prime minister of India and the U.N. secretary general to act as mediators to end the war in Ukraine. AMLO would like to put everything on the negotiating table, including nuclear missile tests.

Excited by AMLO’s initiative, members of the Peace in Ukraine Coalition hope to amplify his message in the coming weeks as an existential question haunts coalition members.

How does the war in Ukraine end? With nuclear annihilation of 60 percent of the human race or a decades-long war of attrition or a backdoor deal for semi-autonomy of the Donbass and partial denuclearization of Europe?

As the United States approaches the 60th anniversary of the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, one is reminded that former President John F. Kennedy persuaded Soviet Leader Nikita Krushchev to remove nuclear missiles pointed at Florida from a base in Cuba, not by fast-tracking weapons to escalate a hot war but by quietly making a deal to remove U.S. Jupiter missiles from Turkey.

As time passed, U.S. nuclear warheads were reinstalled in Turkey, though the quiet negotiations between JFK and Kruschev serve as an example of how diplomacy can avert catastrophe.

Marcy Winograd of Progressive Democrats of America served as a 2020 DNC delegate for Bernie Sanders and co-founded the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party. Coordinator of CODEPINKCONGRESS, Marcy spearheads Capitol Hill calling parties to mobilize co-sponsors and votes for peace and foreign policy legislation. She can be reached at [email protected].

This article is from  Common Dreams.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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16 comments for “A Push for Peace in Ukraine

  1. Common Sense
    September 22, 2022 at 14:14

    And following to hopefully successful peace negotiations, a step by step global disarmament program urgently must be introduced at U.N.- level:

    A reminder-

    It is a challenge to transition the giant industries including all the connected “jobs” from a destructive towards a constructive process/ progress.

    There is really a lot(!) to do to “repair”- looking at the human/ industrial made huge social and environmental damage in history and at present around the planet (including the oceans).

    Let’s shift (almost in the first place) the military budget (~ 2 trillion dollars per year) in a step by step international binding agreement within a 12 year time-frame to regenerating nature and social balance.

    The attached industries will follow consequently.

    Let our (military) guys and girls be good “forces”/ stewards for a healthy and as far as possible resilient planet, and a socially stable global society including all wonderful creatures sharing the world with us.

    By training the staff correspondingly and thoroughly.

    That would be really great & smart for national and global security!

    And lets make them finally undertake the long overdue clean up of all the highly dangerous, poisonous and tremendous mess, the military and their industries have been leaving or dumping about everywhere around the planet during and after past (world) wars.

    Including the deadly nuclear waste time bombs rotting somewhere.

    Dangerous work for decades.

    There is only one garden Eden we very likely are ever able to reach ^^

    The entire weapon industry (military- industrial complex) must become state owned and controlled for no monetary profit.

    Just maintained for the really necessary defence needs.

    Not more than that!

    And this can be probably done very well with just ~10% of the present budget/ cost in about every country.

    In the hands of a shareholders dictated industry they always will be looking for more profit every single day and year by year.

    And if there is no conflict/ crisis they will create one at its “best”. They even are in for multiple conflicts/ crisis if maximum profit is on the horizon.

    Again and again, always based on malicious propaganda, spread by “government” agencies, evil willing „think tanks“ and allied media.

    Accepting/ causing millions of civil deaths and natures destruction.

    There is a choice for what to use global yearly military spendings…
    … of now more than,. $ each year.

    We got to want it and insist on it!

  2. WillD
    September 22, 2022 at 00:33

    The notion of true peace is an anathema in the collective west, except when it comes on their terms and at the expense of their enemy. Even then it still has to feed the industrial military complex on which so much of the western economies are based. Take away the need for war, and their economies collapse.

    Sadly, there is zero chance of a negotiated peace, partly because of the fear of massive loss of face and the perception of losing, and partly because of the large numbers of powerful people who have personal financial or other vested interests in the conflict continuing. When so much is invested in conflict, and so many people fully committed to it, it is virtually impossible to back out and seek peace.

    They don’t have a peaceful ‘off ramp’, only one where they win – and more importantly they don’t care what their populations think. This last point may well be the catalyst for much bigger problems at home, when the energy and cost of living crisis reaches breaking point and civil unrest spirals out of control. The unrest has started already, will undoubtedly get much worse as the crisis worsens.

    The narrati9ve about ‘democracy versus autocracy’ is also beginning to reverse and backfire, just like the sanctions. Western governments are starting to prepare for civil unrest, with a stated desire to force citizens to put up with the economic problems for as long as necessary.

    Western democracy is collapsing as fast as western economies. With increasingly unrepresentative governments, less and less transparency and accountability, and increasing censorship coupled with reduced civil & human rights….. what’s left of democracy? Not much, only meaningless elections.

  3. YO MOMA
    September 21, 2022 at 16:49

    To have peace, you must guarantee security for Russia. NATO and the collective West, including the post-2014 coup did NOT do this. Let’s stop lying to ourselves.

    Let’s not confuse anti-imperialism with blind pacifism. Those criticizing RF for “invading” Ukraine (it did not, it intervened in a civil war on petition by the Donbas separatist who were getting slaughtered)…are just living inside lala land. If you’re honest about what the West is and what it’s aims are vis a vis Russia, then you know that RF had zero choice this time.

  4. Vera Gottlieb
    September 21, 2022 at 14:29

    WHY???? is it that America delights in prov0king others, causing so much destruction and grief over the entire world. In modern times America has never experience a war on its own territory…perhaps it is time it does experience exactly that which it makes others go through. This arrogance, this ‘holier than thou’ attitude…What an odious nation it has become.

  5. KPR
    September 21, 2022 at 11:43

    They won’t be able to negotiate peace if Biden is involved.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      September 21, 2022 at 14:30

      Not a single American should be allowed to participate in any peace talks. America’s ‘help’ has always consisted of ‘and what is in it for me?’ . Shameless.

  6. Lois Gagnon
    September 21, 2022 at 10:03

    Who is behind the drive for US unipolar hegemony? Wall St. relies on war and occupation for constant profits. Wall St. funds elections. That’s the trap we’re in.

    This is a Western capitalist war to stop the rise of a multi-polar world which threatens Western capitalist dominance. The politicians won’t seek peace as long as this dynamic remains in place. It’s too late to stop the multipolar world from emerging. It’s already a reality. The question is, how far are the US/Western elites willing to go to hold on to their failing empire and how do we convince them to give up their dystopian dream of global domination?

  7. Nika
    September 21, 2022 at 09:16

    If America and Europe wanted to end the war, they would not have been preparing for it since 2014 and would have allowed Ukraine to sign a peace treaty. This war to destroy Russia was the planned goal of America, and the most tragic thing for the whole world is that they themselves admit it. Another goal was to simultaneously drag a distraught Europe into this war and weaken its economy. Europe is like a little angry dog ??on a leash, and America holds it tightly with its bloody dirty hand. She barks loudly and cannot gnaw through this leash and live independently of the “foreign master”

  8. Mikael Andersson
    September 21, 2022 at 04:58

    I see no reason for the RF to use nuclear weapons. They have defined the criteria for use and none exist. They have a fleet of strategic bombers capable of reducing Ukrainian infrastructure to rubble using conventional explosives. This will be sufficient for their purposes. I am amazed at the restraint they have shown to date. It appears to me that the RF has attempted to cause minimum damage during the demilitarization and denazification operation. If the Kiev regime will not be subdued by minimal efforts the RF could “Shock-and-Awe” them quite easily. It seems that they have complete air superiority and nothing that could resist a fleet of strategic bombers. Kiev would shortly resemble Berlin 1945. I conclude that talk of nuclear weapons is another western media perversion. Should I call it “shaping” the narrative. One day soon the Russian air force will blow up lot of USA stuff / people that are officially not in Ukraine (of course they aren’t). The USA – which isn’t in Ukraine – will claim it was attacked. The reaction will be a game changer.

  9. ABP
    September 21, 2022 at 00:52

    At this point in the tragic development of events in Ukraine, we would all do well to watch again the eloquent speech by Martin Kimani, Kenya’s ambassador to the UN Security Council, delivered February 22 of this year in response to the recognition by Russia of Lugansk and Donetsk as independent states. Ambassador Kimani reminds us that “almost every African country was birthed by the end of empire” and that it is extremely dangerous to continuously look backward and try to “stoke the embers of dead empires” in an effort to re-draw borders to achieve some “perfect” division of territories into ethnically pure enclaves. The proper path is to look forward, not backward into history, and forge progress by reaching out with the hand of peace to our brethren across country borders, even if those borders are not quite to our satisfaction. If only this wise advice from Africa had been heeded, think of how much death, suffering and destruction would have been avoided.

  10. Scared Person
    September 21, 2022 at 00:30

    There is an unasked question here:
    “Why does the US Empire require control of Russia?”

    The answer is – the US Empire is a ponzi scheme which will collapse if it does not grow.

    To grow, it must control finance and resources sectors everywhere, to ensure the nations of the world are dependent on the US plutocrats. Competition is to be violently crushed.

    China and Russia refuse to allow Wall St to gain dominant ownership of their financial and resources industries, so, these nations must be conquered or killed, just to maintain the wealth and power of those few who rule the “West”. These nations are bigger fish than the others though.

    Violent conflict is the logical result of privatized political and economic power in the US system.
    In a system which requires economic growth to pay debts the plutocrats invented, which have already been treated as assets, economic expansion is necessary. ie: ponzi scheme. New markets and resources are required for the US to just continue as it is. Violence is their way. (re: Confessions – John Perkins)

    Ukraine is in a proxy war instigated by the US Empire, so the empire can expand, to avoid collapse. Most of the world is sick of the US doing things like this, and now we are at a turning point. Most of the people in the world are in nations which have refused to support the US in this matter. Western media spins a different narrative, again, of course. (re: Consent – Chomsky)

    Saving lives with a peace deal, is not economically viable for the empire.

    The rich must grow. The spice must flow. Bombs must be bought and sold. Private ownership must expand. Ukrainians must die for profit. Russia must die for what they own which the empire requires. Then China can be next.

    So it goes. (Dear Vonnegut)

    The US is falling apart, with homelessness rising, life expectancy falling, inability to provide clean water, and gun violence evolving into militarized factions… and at the same time record billions in profits are gained by the largest corporations during a pandemic. (re: Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein)

    The US plutocrats have already looted as much as can be looted from its own people, so growth must come from elsewhere. [insert patriotic war narrative here – “they’re bad, we say so” – so it goes, again, and again.]

    The US people can’t seem to stop the madness of their rulers, maybe other nations can. Maybe we’ll live to see the outcome.
    An outbreak of peace would cripple the US economy just as surely as losing a real war, so… grow local food, look after your neighbors, hide good books.

    • Arch Stanton
      September 22, 2022 at 06:01

      Great post, everything you say is true

      Unfortunately, the only way this depravity ends is by MAD I think, logic & reasoning alone isn’t enough

      • Scared Person
        September 22, 2022 at 21:26

        There are problems with mutually assured destruction as a force for peace.

        One is that religiously themed apocalypse prophecy cults have become mainstream capitalist political factions. They may want to “get biblical” as they see it.

        Another is that if some broken-minded ideologue produces a study which says one side can “win” a nuclear war, some jerk on the oval throne may take it seriously, and act before anyone sane can prevent that.

        Another is that proliferation itself entails risks, where a malfunction on one side can occur, and the present political and media environment will spin it as a first strike rather than a disaster. Maybe no one will live to report the truth. No one with power will ask me or you what we think about it, or if we wish to live.

        The people who have all the power right now have to be stopped, but I don’t know how that can happen, looking at present circumstances. Maybe by getting what they want the ruling psychopaths will destroy the stability of the order they enforce, and something else can grow out of the aftermath.

        I’m in my forties, and nothing I see is new. Resistance from the bottom up has been a resounding failure so far. At some point we have to accept reform is impossible, and this existing power structure can’t be fixed, it has to collapse in some way to make space for better socioeconomic structures to emerge. An old diseased tree sometimes has to fall to let the light in for the rest of life to have a chance at thriving. *shrug* That fall will do a lot of harm. It could have been managed to minimize harm, but that’s not how “the few” have decided to run things.

        There is a momentum, or inertia involved in cultural ideology, and the sub-culture prevalent in the rulers, sees the world as a battlefield of ownership and domination, not a garden to be tended to maximize utility and beauty for all. We’re out of time for reform. Best wishes.

  11. Drew Hunkins
    September 20, 2022 at 21:47

    The Kremlin had been pushing incessantly for peace in Ukraine from 2014 up until the eve of its liberating SMO in late Feb 2022.

    The reality is that Russia had no choice but to embark on its liberating SMO in the face of the aggression, violence, fascism, and propaganda offensive by the Washington-Zio-militarist empire.

    • Japar Sham
      September 21, 2022 at 16:47

      You are so right, Drew Hunkins. I believe the Minsk 2 agreement was a chance for everyone including the US-led western governments.

      • Drew Hunkins
        September 21, 2022 at 23:44

        Thanks Japar.

        It’s real simple: as per usual, the biggest and bloodiest empire the world’s ever seen is solely to blame for us staring into the brink of World War 3.

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