US Lawmakers Withdraw Letter on Diplomacy in Ukraine

The move comes after the mild and carefully worded letter sparked furious backlash from pundits and at least one Democratic leader, Jake Johnson reports.

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

The Congressional Progressive Caucus on Tuesday withdrew a letter that mildly expressed support for diplomatic negotiations to end Russia’s war on Ukraine as the document’s 30 signatories faced a torrent of criticism and hysterical backlash from fellow Democrats, party leaders, and pundits on social media.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chair of the CPC, said in a statement that the letter addressed to U.S. President Joe Biden “was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting”—a line that was widely seen as Jayapal throwing her staff under the bus.

“As chair of the caucus, I accept responsibility for this,” she added. “Because of the timing, our message is being conflated by some as being equivalent to the recent statement by Republican Leader McCarthy threatening an end to aid to Ukraine if Republicans take over.”

“The proximity of these statements,” the CPC leader said, “created the unfortunate appearance that Democrats, who have strongly and unanimously supported and voted for every package of military, strategic, and economic assistance to the Ukrainian people, are somehow aligned with Republicans who seek to pull the plug on American support for President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian forces.”

Jayapal said that narrative—peddled by one Democratic leader who Politico granted anonymity to slime their colleagues as Putin apologists—could not be “further from the truth.”

“Every war ends with diplomacy, and this one will too after Ukrainian victory,” Jayapal continued. “The letter sent yesterday, although restating that basic principle, has been conflated with GOP opposition to support for the Ukrainians’ just defense of their national sovereignty. As such, it is a distraction at this time and we withdraw the letter.”

Jayapal’s statement capped off a bizarre series of events that began Monday afternoon, when the CPC released a letter voicing support for a “proactive diplomatic push” in pursuit of a “realistic framework for a ceasefire.” The letter directly quoted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who said in May that the war “will be bloody, there will be fighting, but it will only definitively end through diplomacy.”

Though the letter went out of its way to condemn Russia’s aggression, support the arming of Ukraine, and acknowledge the major obstacles to a diplomatic settlement—including Russia’s unlawful annexation of Ukrainian territory—it was immediately maligned on social media and in the press as a dangerous call for “appeasement.”

One unnamed member of the Democratic leadership told Politico that “Vladimir Putin would have signed that letter if asked.”

“That bone-headed letter just put Dems in the same league as Kevin McCarthy, who said in the same week that Ukraine funding could be in jeopardy,” the anonymous top Democrat said.

As the outrage mounted in the hours following the letter’s release, signatories began distancing themselves from its message and insisting on their support for aiding Ukraine militarily—even though the letter doesn’t suggest cutting off military assistance. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) noted in response to one critic of the letter that he has “voted for every defense package to Ukraine.”

“Calling for exploring every diplomatic avenue to avoid nuclear war and seek a ceasefire while upholding Ukraine sovereignty is what many constituents seek,” Khanna wrote on Twitter. “Our nation should never silence or shout down debate. The admin does not.”

Khanna was just one of several prominent progressives who signed the letter, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)

Late Monday, in the face of growing backlash, Jayapal issued a statement purportedly aimed at “clarifying the position” of the letter, which was endorsed by a number of peace groups including Just Foreign Policy, Win Without War, and the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

“Let me be clear: we are united as Democrats in our unequivocal commitment to supporting Ukraine in their fight for their democracy and freedom in the face of the illegal and outrageous Russian invasion, and nothing in the letter advocates for a change in that support,” Jayapal said. “Diplomacy is an important tool that can save lives—but it is just one tool.”

Erik Sperling, the executive director of Just Foreign Policy, told The Intercept Monday night that “the shrill response to this utterly moderate letter exposes that war proponents are scared of an open debate about the range of potential approaches to address this escalating conflict.”

“As happened with the war in Iraq and many others throughout human history, war proponents attempt to silence debate in large part because they aren’t confident in their arguments and are afraid that pro-diplomacy views will appeal to average Americans,” said Sperling. “With polls already showing growing opposition to U.S. military involvement in Ukraine, increasing concern from progressives will only make it harder for war proponents to cast conventional pro-diplomacy views as ‘far-right’ or ‘pro-Putin.'”

In a Monday tweet touting the since-withdrawn letter, CPC policy director Keane Bhatt pointed to Data for Progress polling from September showing that “a majority (57 percent) of Americans support U.S. negotiations to end the war in Ukraine as soon as possible, even if it means Ukraine making some compromises with Russia.”

“A majority of voters (57 percent) believe that Russia’s war in Ukraine will end in a negotiated peace, not a total military victory for either side,” Jessica Rosenblum, director of communications at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, wrote in a summary of the survey’s findings. “Moreover, voters largely agree that the U.S. has a leading role to play in negotiating an end to the war (59 percent).”

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

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.

38 comments for “US Lawmakers Withdraw Letter on Diplomacy in Ukraine

  1. Lois Gagnon
    October 26, 2022 at 16:07

    No one should be surprised by this turn of events. The empire is at the point where it tolerates no dissent against its drive for unipolar dominance.

    Western colonial rule has dominated for centuries and is finally being challenged. Russia would have preferred to integrate with Europe but Uncle Sam said no dice. So now war with Russia and China is unquestioned policy in Washington. And these cretins think this will work in their favor. How to get them to step back is now paramount to the survival of life on earth. As we see, the incentive won’t emanate from inside the walls of power.

  2. Bob Gardner
    October 26, 2022 at 15:57

    Alyanna Pressley, who got her start working for John Kerry, can now she “was for it before she was against it”, or “was against it before she was for it.” Whatever, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  3. Ed Rickert
    October 26, 2022 at 15:14

    Another grim surprise from the deadly Democrats. The Democrats are the reincarnation of the Weimar Social Democrats and the progressive caucus is a feckless crew of sycophants supporting a political party that was taken off life support sometime ago. Disgusting.

  4. DW Bartoo
    October 26, 2022 at 15:11

    Consider that the purpose of voting, in the U$, is akin to affixing a toy steering wheel to the children’s car seats.

    The “adults”, up front, are pleased because the “Little Folks” are (pre)occupied, and the “Little Folks” honestly believe that their efforts and inputs are have some affect on the direction in which things are going.

    It is very likely that voting in the U$ will be made mandatory.

    At that point, the charade will be complete, and democracy will be claimed to have been proven just and liberating and the Merkin Way will fully vindicated.

    Again, I hope that “alternative” media will not soft sell the Dem$ this or any other election season.

    Considering the magnitude of what we face, it might be wise, at some point, to begin to discuss among ourselves and encourage others to do likewise , what we, the people, the many might do to prevent our own destruction.

    Any who would argue that we are not in very dire straits are obviously well served by all those U$ systems, the legal system, the political system, the educational system, the healthcare system, and so on which were, from the beginning, designed and intended to protect the status quo of wealth, power, and privilege.

    The disconnect between the elite, their political servants (the whole of the “system”), and the rest of us, is vast and yawning with depraved indifference.

  5. susan
    October 26, 2022 at 13:28

    What a bunch of chicken shits!

  6. James White
    October 26, 2022 at 13:25

    Democrat House Speaker Pelosi doles out the dark money. That is all it took to silence any dissent on the Ukraine war madness. Incumbent Senator D-Hassan has received $32 million to spend on her campaign in the tiny state of NH. Her opponent, R-Bolduc has received less than $1 million. The propaganda press is likewise close to 100% in the bag for the Democrat. As are Facebook, Google and Twitter. Have Americans realized that their elections are stacked against them by those in power and those with all of the money? We are about to find out on 8-November.

  7. Dave E
    October 26, 2022 at 12:13

    The Charge of the Light Brigade all over again. “Theirs not to reason why. Theirs but to do or die.” Thousands die in the open steppes, not so far from the fields immortalized in Alfred Lord Tennis Anyone’s poem, because the US is having mid-terms. Yes, “someone blundered” as Lord Tennis Anyone stated in the 2nd stanza, which seems a generous assessment, at least in this current war. Actually, this sort of cold, calculated expenditure of human life is amongst the most disgusting of activities in the human realm.

  8. Michael McNulty
    October 26, 2022 at 11:52

    To withdraw their call for diplomacy in place of more war was cowardice in the face of stupidity.

  9. October 26, 2022 at 11:51

    Why is anyone surprised? Fake opposition is the norm in USA.

    Did you think billionaire Trump really is a populist?
    He was made one simply by the pretense that the establishment hates him and is out to get him. His Administration actually acted like every other: 1) increased military spending; 2) tax cuts (including eliminating many regulations); and 3) served the Empire.

    How was sword dancing with the Saudi’s supposed to be “America First”? Moving the embassy to Jerusalem? What about the near-war with Iran (which ultimately resulted in the embarrassment of dozens of American casualties from a Iranian missile barrage) and seizing Syrian oil fields? Why did his much-touted peace with North Korea fail?( Cynics may well ask if the NK peace deal was just a smoke-screen to burnish Trump’s peace credentials prior to starting a war with Iran?)

    Did you think that Sanders was anything more than a sheepdog for the Democratic Party?
    In 2016 he was a fake candidate against Hillary, his “friend of 25-years” and noticeably caved to Biden in 2020. He’s also a close friend to ALL the top Democrats.

    Did you think Obama (now sainted by the Democratic Party) really intended to bring “Change You Can Believe In?”
    He wouldn’t hold CIA or NSA accountable; when DNI Clapper lied to Congress and AG Holder was held in Contempt of Congress, Obama did nothing; Timothy Geithner, Obama’s Treasury Secretary revealed that Obama’s HAMP program to (supposedly) prevent foreclosures actually was “foaming the runway” for the banks to permit them to foreclose over time; it has been reported that Obama made a deal with the health insurance lobby to nix a ‘Public Option’ in Obamacare; he worked with Republican leaders to make the Bush tax cuts permanent (most of them) while cutting social programs in a fiasco prompted by “Fiscal Cliff” propaganda. He boasted of his drone targeting (wedding, children, American citizens). He turned a UN “no fly zone” in Libya into a bombing campaign. He promoted the notion of “moderate rebels” and allowed ISIS to grow with a fake bombing campaign.

    And I could go on and on. Every Administration serves the same powerful interests. So much so that there’s virtually no difference between each one except for the propaganda narratives surrounding each one’s service to those abiding interests. A ConsortiumNews reader once commented that this amounts to “two-party fascism”. Yet, people express shock when they are betraying again … and again … and again.

    The lies we tell ourselves are the most hurtful.

  10. Vera Gottlieb
    October 26, 2022 at 11:45

    And without a doubt the armament industry lobby applauding…More war, more earnings. FOR SHAME, AMERICA !!! for shame. I don’t know when but one day you’ll pay a heavy price for all this.

  11. Alan
    October 26, 2022 at 11:38

    The Democratic Progressive Caucus is a fraud. Its true purpose is to provide cover for the party’s leaders and the other Democratic House members to pursue anti-progressive policies, including the belligerent spreading of Empire across the world. One can hope that this letter dust-up will have the positive effect of awakening true progressives to the scam that is being perpetrated against them. Unfortunately, the only real alternative to the Democratic Party, namely the Republican Party, is even more objectionable, but at least they don’t hide their true agenda.

  12. Drew Hunkins
    October 26, 2022 at 10:44

    What a friggin clown show.

    Bernie the pwogwessive and all the other spineless warmongering pwogwessives are all on board putting us on nuclear brinkmanship with the biggest nuclear weapons power in the world.

    This is all incomprehensible! But yet, in a way, it’s to be totally expected.

  13. Heidi Walter
    October 26, 2022 at 10:24

    I am not the only in Germany and, probably, in Europe to keep her fingers crossed for the Repulicans to issue a devastating blow to the Dems. The EU-diktators are already fearing that and the press already can hardly wait to empty buckets of manure on the newly elected Senators. We are watching closely and wishing the Republicans all the luck in the world to make that devastating blow come true on Nov 8th. By the way, scientists say that the universe ist comprised of protons, neutrons and electrons. They forgot the morons.

  14. October 26, 2022 at 10:22

    That ought to do in the myth that the Democratic Party has a progressive wing. It’s Deep State all the way!! Yay!!!

  15. Prompt Critical
    October 26, 2022 at 10:12

    There is no “just defense of sovereignty” for a NATO colony run by Banderites and neo-Nazis. Ukraine ceased to be a sovereign nation when the US coup happened in 2014.

  16. GBC
    October 26, 2022 at 08:49

    There are hardly words that can express the degree of cowardice on display here by “progressives”. The mighty Wurlitzer of government, DNC, and media propaganda has successfully neutered what once passed for the antiwar left. Code Pink is virtually alone in opposing the monstrous evil that the US has spawned in unleashing the dogs of war in Ukraine. Our 2014 coup effectively destroyed whatever claims to being a democracy Ukraine once had. Its 8 years-long civil war against the Russian-speaking east, its raising WW2 Nazi Stepan Bandera to hero status, are just some of the inconvenient facts ignored and forgotten. The West’s leaders are drunk on hubris and greed, most USians are ill-informed and or preoccupied with the stresses of living in a society self-destructing to care. It’s a perfect prelude for Armageddon.

  17. Elial
    October 26, 2022 at 04:36

    It’s not only that they can’t define “woman”, the Dems seem also to have no concept of balls.
    LMAO !!

  18. Bill Todd
    October 26, 2022 at 04:30

    As the late Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report (before that, The Black Commentator) used to observe, the Democratic establishment is not really ‘the lesser evil’ but instead ‘the more effective evil’ in terms of sounding progressive but instead moving the country to the right in ways the Republicans never could. They tolerate the Congressional Progressive Caucus because they know they can reliably get it to cave in whenever they need it to. E.g., when over 60 members pledged, in writing, to withhold the votes that Obamacare needed to pass if it did not include a robust public option to keep it from being a massive giveaway to the insurance and hospital industries and then, after the Democratic establishment simply ignored that demand, ALL reneged on that pledge (see hxxps:// ). Then last year members of the CPC threatened to hold up the bi-partisan infrastructure bill unless a robust ‘build back better’ progressive bill was passed with it, but made concession after concession until the latter was whittled down from $6 trillion to $3.5 trillion to !.75 trillion. And now there’s this.

    If the Tea Party movement had caved in so regularly it would never have amounted to squat. Instead, it used the leverage it had to become a dominant force in the Republican party. By contrast, the CPC is almost useless save for getting progressive policies a bit of news coverage once in a while, and no use at all in reforming the Democratic establishment into something worth supporting.

    Which is why I haven’t supported or even voted for an establishment Democrat since 2002 (due to its tepid opposition to the invasion of Iraq in 2003) and began voting progressive third-party, then (due to the Obamacare fiasco) in 2010 began voting Republican in any national race that appeared close enough that my vote MIGHT make a difference – my goal being to weaken the Democratic establishment until it left a sufficient vacuum for something worthwhile to replace it. I do support promising progressive challengers in Democratic primaries (another way of kicking out establishment Democrats) but wait until they’ve shown serious progressive credentials (such as withholding support from the establishment when it DOES matter) before supporting them as incumbents. People committed to ‘identity politics’ rather than taking a longer view might find that difficult.

  19. Willow
    October 26, 2022 at 03:35

    It’s official, the Progressive Caucus are warmongers. The meteorological conditions in Hades have turned to ice. Their new bumper stickers: “All we are saaaaaaying is give war a chaaaaance.” Or, “Who says you can’t hug your kids with nuclear arms? Don’t trust the science.” Or “Preemptive nukes end climate change and stuff… forever.” Vote Dimwits on November 8.

  20. Eddie S
    October 25, 2022 at 22:44

    Damn, for a day or so I thought that some small body of Congress was starting to turn the corner on the Ukraine/nuclear war issue (yes ‘Virginia’, they should be conflated), but electoral concerns apparently proved too strong.

  21. Packard
    October 25, 2022 at 21:44

    A woke cabal of bought ladies and gentlemen of easy virtue.

    Nothing more, but certainly nothing less either.

  22. Ian Brown
    October 25, 2022 at 21:32

    Well, that’s likely the final nail in the coffin for the Democratic Party, and Congress in general to show even a thread of sanity. I wouldn’t be surprised if any surviving historians in the future point to this incident as proof of how overwhelmingly reckless and sick the United States was.

  23. Jeff Harrison
    October 25, 2022 at 21:28

    The Democrats don’t have anywhere near enough testosterone to stand up as an anti-war party. Somebody needs to tell people that year dot isn’t when Russia invaded the Ukraine to protect the Russian speaking Ukrainians in the Donbass. Year dot was when the US started fomenting coups (aka color revolutions) in former SSRs. That sort of thing is every bit as much an attack as a missile. Americans seem to have the Three Names Syndrome – I’ll get at least everything I want or we won’t do it. That kind of an attitude will just land us in a nuclear war.

  24. dave
    October 25, 2022 at 20:36

    I guess “Mamma Bear” said no.

  25. CNfan
    October 25, 2022 at 20:05

    This incident shows simultaneously the iron grip of the so-called “Neocons”, and their desperation as they are being revealed and their control is starting to slip. Hopefully their regime-change attack on Russia (using the US as dumb muscle) will be their Waterloo, and collapse their control completely.

  26. Geoff Burns
    October 25, 2022 at 19:31

    The world turned upside down. I am staring at my ballot, paralyzed. Insanity vs insanity. What flavor do you prefer?

    • Coltrane
      October 25, 2022 at 20:00

      I there really any point in voting for Democrats anymore? Biden is a warmonger, Nancy is trying her best to start a war between China and Taiwan, and now the progressive wing of the DP has proven that they are cowards and hypocrites.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 25, 2022 at 20:32

      These so-called “progressives” are cowards and charlatans. Oh, of course, all Democrats are. Slimy, smarmy, typical twist on “the dog ate my homework”. Disgusting. This is why I only vote for REAL socialists.

      • Jacob Ketler
        October 26, 2022 at 10:51

        Yep. :(

  27. Canis Ursa
    October 25, 2022 at 19:18

    Not surprised in the least. The empire does not allow dissent within the outer party. The so called progressives have been assimilated into the inner party. It is the finishing touches on what Chris Hedges might call a coup d’etat in slow motion.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 25, 2022 at 20:33

      These so-called progressive were always Democrats. They were always a part of the establishment. If you thought for one moment that they were anything else, you were fooled.

    • Manifold Destiny
      October 26, 2022 at 04:46

      I agree with your overall assessment, however one correction is in order. Chris Hedges always attributes that excellent analysis to the Canadian political philosopher, John Ralston Saul.

      Respectfully, MD

  28. ray Peterson
    October 25, 2022 at 19:12

    Jake, glad to hear you on CN, as Common Dreams is biased against Putin and
    However, so sad that Progressive Democrats have so little courage to face the
    lies and insane level of U.S. spending to support a neo-Nazi government, worse
    falling silent from sensible dialogue. While name calling is a forte for fascists.

  29. October 25, 2022 at 18:43

    If it was not so tragic, it would be hilarious. The fraud squad once again shows its true neoliberal colors.

    What a tragic world we live in when the radical rightwing McCarthy easily moves left of the faux left of the Democrat Party. Not only does he move left, but the fraud squad buckles down and swears allegiance to the MIC. They just can’t move far enough to the right.

    Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) noted in response to one critic of the letter that he has “voted for every defense package to Ukraine.”

    • Rafael
      October 26, 2022 at 15:16

      “Fraud squad”, great name!

  30. Arch Stanton
    October 25, 2022 at 17:54

    There are US based commentators on the FT message boards who seem to work around non stop lambasting anyone and everyone who mentions the words ‘peace’ or ‘dialogue’. One individual equates advocating either option as a ‘surrender’.
    95% of the FT readership support this warmongering nonsense – the masses of educated and ‘well off’ subscribers are now completely brainwashed, it’s quite disturbing reading their vitriolic comments ramp up progressively as the proxy war continues.

    What hope is there?

    • J Anthony
      October 26, 2022 at 09:25

      Not much. You’re right, how is it that otherwise-sensible people have meltdowns when it is suggested to them that there needs to be negotiations between the three primary parties (Ukraine, Russia, US) to end this madness. On Thom Hartman’s live-call-in show, mostly viewed by liberal democrats, a few conservatives and a few genuine lefties, the “we must defeat Russian aggression” is the line, parroted by Hartman too, who is usually well to the left-of-center on just about every issue aside from this one. Any mention of 2014 or criticism of NATO gets you disparaged as “Putin-loving Kremlin bot” etc. As if Ukraine was a peaceful, sovereign nation just minding it’s own business until big bad Vlad decided to storm their country. No objectivity whatsoever, and a delusional notion that there is some kind of “winning” to be had.

  31. Seby
    October 25, 2022 at 17:26

    Eyes are rollin’ rollin’… ad infinitum unfortunately!

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