Donald Trump is no peace maker, but his stance on negotiations to end the war in Ukraine is in stark contrast to that of the democrats, who fully support continuing the dangerous proxy war against Russia. Anti-war forces must step up and struggle for peace.
Since the U.S. sponsored coup in Ukraine in 2014, taking a stand against the plan by the U.S. to use Ukraine as a weapon of war against Russia was a perilous stance for pro-peace and anti-imperialist forces. What made opposition especially difficult was that the plan was being executed by the administration of Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama with the full support of the right-wing neoliberal establishment that controlled and still controls the U.S. state.
But, while it was a challenge to oppose the many criminal adventures of the Obama administration, the return of that administration to power under Joe Biden has ushered in the acceleration and normalization of censorship, the blatant politicization of the investigative agencies of the state and a war fever that has gripped the culture. Opposition to the neoliberal war agenda and domestic subversion has become an affront subject to criminal prosecution, or at minimum social ostracism.
Yet, as dangerous as the environment has been, the vocal call by Donald Trump to seek a path to peace in Ukraine will make it even more hazardous for anti-imperialist and anti-war forces to demand an end to the war. Trump said, “We must demand the immediate negotiation of a peaceful end to the war in Ukraine, or we will end up in World War III and there will be nothing left of our planet.” In the past that position would have found a home in the democrat party, even if it was along the side of more hawkish elements. But in the new democrat party, support for the most aggressive policies of a foreign policy community that seems increasingly out of touch with reality is the norm, with no deviation from the “line” tolerated.
And while only the most naïve would believe that Donald Trump was committed to an anti-war position, there are three points to be made here: First it is a fact that during his administration the U.S. did not initiate any new conflicts and secondly, the opportunism and political myopia of the U.S. liberal/left in aligning itself with the neoliberalism of the democrat party disarmed itself rhetorically from offering principled criticisms of the obvious turn to the right by the democrat party foreign policy establishment, that lastly, represents yet another example of the political and ideological ground conceded by the liberal/left forces to the Trumpian right that it pretends to be opposed.
Trump’s call for negotiations and an end to the war presents a dilemma that is not confined to the contradictory positions of the U.S. liberal/left. Trump is tapping into a sentiment that significant portions of the electorate share and that is that the Ukrainian war has made life even more precarious for them with higher food and fuel prices on top of inflation that is felt as a pay-cut by workers. However, even more importantly, the public is starting to embrace the position that the sacrifices they are being asked to make for Ukraine and the war effort that they did not vote for, does not seem to be shared by the rich. In fact, it appears that the rich, especially the military contractors and energy companies, are benefiting quite well from the conflict and not having to sacrifice much, if at all.
Those sentiments are out there. It is being expressed by democrats, independents and by increasing numbers of republicans that cannot be reduced to Trump supporters. Those positions are just not being covered by the corporate press because the corporate/capitalist press is committed to the class agenda of big capital and that means the war agenda.
The democrats do not get it though, even the so-called progressives. The neoliberals reneged on most of the progressive agenda Biden pretended he would govern by. In response, progressives have supported every piece of legislation presented to them by the leadership, including uncritical support for aid to Ukraine even as the capitalist class shifted the cost of the war to their working-class constituencies. In May of this year, for example, the growing divergence between the republicans and democrats on funding for Ukraine was obvious when Congress voted 368-57 in the House and 86-11 in the Senate to approve an additional $40 billion for the war. Every single no-vote – 11 in the Senate and 57 in the House – came from a Republican. All the “progressives,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, The Squad, Bernie Sanders, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee and most members of the Congressional Black Caucus all fell in line without one question and not a peep of a criticism of the war agenda or of its cost.
This should be an opportunity for the anti-war and anti-imperialist movement. For the last five years, the Black Alliance for Peace has advocated that a major strategic objective for the anti-war and anti-imperialist forces during the bourgeois electoral season should be to attempt to place the issue of war and the U.S. imperialist agenda at the center of national discourse. That never happened.
Therefore, it is ironic, or perhaps contradictory, that both Trump and the democrats have taken up the initiative to insert the issue of war into the national electoral discourse. The democrats were moving to make continued support for the war a partisan issue in the upcoming midterm election before Trump made his remarks on Ukraine. The democrats, though, with the full support of the corporate media were constructing a line that suggested republican questions or opposition to the position of all-out support for Ukraine reflected the pro-Putin influences of Donald Trump. That totalitarian position has ensured that democratic party operatives and elements of the liberal/left either gave verbal support for the war agenda or were cowed into silence.
CODEPINK reported that as part of its week of action against the war in September, Medea Benjamin, Jodie Evans and retired Colonel Ann Wright went door to door to the offices of members of the more than 100 members of the House Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). What they found was that not one member of the caucus would commit to voting against the $12 billion expenditure for the Ukraine war that was contained in the Continuing Resolution legislation that passed on September 30th.
It will take bold and fearless actions on the part of anti-war and anti-imperialist forces if we are to win more of the public to take a stance against an agenda that is antagonistic to the interests of most of the public, especially the public that makes up the working class and the oppressed nationalities.
The servants of imperialist power in the duopoly want to make support for the white supremacist U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination a litmus test in the midterm election. They will frame all opposition to the neoliberal war agenda as unpatriotic and even foreign inspired. The FBI has already been unleashed against the anti-imperialist forces in the African/Black communities with the raid on the properties of the African People's Socialist Party (APSP).
We are preparing our forces for an even more intense struggle. For the Black Alliance for Peace, “Peace is not the absence of conflict, but rather the achievement by popular struggle and self-defense of a world liberated from the interlocking issues of global conflict, nuclear armament and proliferation, unjust war, and subversion through the defeat of global systems of oppression that include colonialism, imperialism, patriarchy, and white supremacy.” We do not fight for ideas in people’s heads, we fight the structures of oppression.
This is the “Black radical peace tradition.” It is a tradition of struggle informed by the historical necessity that we must win. We will not be intimidated into silence by the state, the democrats or confused collaborative leftists.
We continue to struggle for peace, but we understand that there will be no peace without justice and for justice we have to fight for it. On that commitment we say there will be no compromise and no retreat!
Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. Baraka serves on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Peace Council and leadership body of the U.S. based United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) and the Steering Committee of the Black is Back Coalition.