By Howie Hawkins
March 4, 2022
With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have entered a global crisis where nuclear war, or a nuclear power plant meltdown as a consequence of combat, are distinct possibilities. The war has buried media coverage of the release last week of the extremely alarming second part of International Panel on Climate Change’s 6th Assessment Report (AR6). Wars tend to promote militarist priorities at the expense of the social and environmental protections we advocate as Greens. It is time for us all to be active and engaged
Demonstrations under the slogans of Stop the War in Ukraine. Russian Troops Out. No NATO Expansion will take place around the world this weekend on the call of Code Pink (US), Stop the War Coalition (UK), Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK), and No To NATO (international network) .
I urge you to participate. You can find a demonstration near you in Code Pink’s list of actions around the country and the world: https://www.peaceinukraine.org.
But I know the list is incomplete because we have a demonstration in Syracuse, NY on Sunday that is not on the list: https://www.facebook.com/events/1156413691766805. So check with peace groups in your area if you don’t see a demonstration near you on this list.
I think the slogans for these demonstrations are much better than those called by others last week that did not call for Russian troops out but emphasized only “No US/NATO War in Ukraine!” and “No War with Russia!”
People are not going to respond to a call for no US war with Russia when they plainly can see that the shooting war is Russia’s assault on Ukraine. If we are not clear that we oppose Russia’s aggressive war in Ukraine, we won’t be able to get a public hearing about opposing the expansion of NATO to Russia’s doorstep as a precipitating factor in this war, as well as opposing the many “low-intensity” and economic wars that the US and NATO are fighting around the world.
I would like to suggest some more particular demands we should make and actions we should take under these two slogans of Russian Troops Out and No NATO expansion.
Russian Troops Out:
- We should be directly support of Ukrainian and Russian peace activists, democracy activists, and social and environmental movement activists.
Expressions of solidarity by us in social media will be heard by them and encourage them. This solidarity is especially needed by Russian anti-war protesters who are snatched off the street and sent to jail as soon as they appear.
Environmental activists in Russia will tell you that the two Green parties are state-sponsored Putinist fronts. But the Russian Socialist Movement is an eco-socialist party speaking out against the war: http://anticapitalist.ru/ and https://www.facebook.com/groups/russocmovement/. You can translate their Russian into English using Google Translate.
A good source for information about the Ukrainian anti-war movement and labor-based Left is the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign, which has been doing Ukraine solidarity work for years: https://ukrainesolidaritycampaign.org.
In Ukraine, in addition to the Green Party, the Ukrainian socialist Social Movement is an anti-fascist, pro-democracy party that is continuing to post statements despite the war conditions: https://rev.org.ua/news/. Again, use Google Translate to get from Ukrainian to English. This Social Movement facebook page is in English: https://www.facebook.com/social.ruh.
An excellent source of information about Ukrainian trade unionists, victims of political repression in Russia, and the anti-war movement in both countries is Simon Pirani’s “People and Nature” blog. Pirani is a climate scholar and activist who also does solidarity work the Ukrainian and Russian Left: https://peopleandnature.wordpress.com.
- Demand the immediate cancellation of Ukraine’s foreign debt.
Most of this $125 billion debt is in IMF loans. The US has the most influence in the IMF. Demand that the Biden administration push to cancel this debt. Ukraine needs the money for medical, housing, and refugee services during the war and for reconstruction after the war. This demand is what the socialist Social Movement in Ukraine is asking us to support.
No NATO Expansion:
- Demand that US/NATO negotiate with Russia to build a European-wide security framework to replace NATO and the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization led by Russia).
This new framework was on the agenda after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. Secretary of State James Baker told Gorbochev that NATO would “not move one inch eastward” in return for accepting German reunification. Such a security framework would have involved, and should involve going forward, progressive mutual demilitarization and reductions in conventional and nuclear forces across Europe with inspections and transparency on all sides.
Instead, pushed by the US as the sole superpower seeking global domination, NATO expanded eastward to Russian borders. Putin may head a reactionary oligarchic capitalist state and articulate a revanchist Great Russian chauvinism that wants to restore the old Russian empire of the Czars, but any Russian government, including a leftwing Green government in Russia, would have legitimate security concerns about NATO’s expansion. When Russia called on NATO to not expand into Ukraine in recent months, the Biden administration’s dismissal of this concern was a precipitating factor in the war. It is not a justification for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But to not address Russia’s legitimate security concerns is not the way to build peace and security in Europe.
- Demand that US/NATO prioritize nuclear arms control and disarmament negotiations with Russia.
The nuclear saber-rattling by Putin and the firefights around Ukrainian nuclear power plants should put renewed nuclear disarmament initiatives at the top of the US foreign policy agenda.
Even as they are in conflict in Ukraine, the US and Russia are still engaged in negotiations around restoring the Iran nuclear deal, which is reportedly close to agreement. We should push for completion of that agreement.
Meanwhile, the US and Russian have stopped negotiating an update to the Strategic Nuclear Arms Treaty (START). We should be pushing the both the Biden and Putin administrations to resume those talks.
The US unilaterally pulled out thee important nuclear arms control treaties: the Anti-Ballistic Missile (Bush II), Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (Trump), and Open Skies (Trump, affirmed by Biden). We should demand the US enter into negotiations with Russia to restore these treaties.
We should demand that the US commit to a process of complete and mutual nuclear disarmament as provided for in the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that 86 national have signed. None of the signers are nuclear powers. We should demand that the US lead the way in bringing the nuclear powers into the process.
- Peace, Prosperity, and Ecology, Not War
The current crisis makes desperately clear the need for pro-peace policies. But we will be making our pro-peace demands against the current of militarism and domestic austerity that always comes from the ruling circles in times of war. The Progressive Era was killed by World War I. The New Deal was killed by World War II. The Great Society’s war on poverty was killed in the war on Vietnam. Climate action could get killed in the current war.
The Green Party can play an important role in building a sustained movement that bucks the trend of war increasing militarism, austerity, and ecological neglect by linking anti-militarist pro-peace policies to progressive domestic policies, from the Green New Deal and Medicare for All to Tax the Rich and Universal Child Care.
In particular, Green candidates running credible campaigns that challenge the militarism of the two major parties are needed more than ever. The peace vote will be taken for granted by the Democrats and nothing will change if Greens don’t compete for it because the Democrats know the peace vote isn’t going to the Republicans.
One of the reasons for this war is oil and gas. Ukraine wants the $2 billion a year in transit fees for Russian oil and gas going through Ukraine to Europe. Russian wants Nord Stream 2 to bypass the Ukrainian pipelines. The US wants to cut off Russian oil and gas to Europe so it can sell its fracked oil and gas to Europe instead.
These geopolitics of oil and gas mean we should redouble our efforts for a global ecosocialist Green New Deal to replace oil and gas with clean renewables. Russia has enormous wind power potential. Ukraine has enormous solar as well as wind power potential. That clean renewable energy is what Russia and Ukraine can use to power their own economies as well as export to Europe to help Europe power its economies. The peace negotiations we demand the US enter with Russia and other nuclear powers should include peace with the planet — international cooperation to fight global warming.
Turning the tide against militarism, austerity, and ecological destruction will take a sustained peace, justice, and ecology movement. It will take more than episodic demonstrations. It will take a sustained political challenge to the two parties of war, Wall St., and fossil fuel capitalists. That is why we need the Green Party more than ever.
Good luck to us all.