by Kavita Krishnan
You may have come across mention of a “Peoples Forum” in New York, calling for “No to War-Yes to Negotiations” in Ukraine. I’ve signed a petition drafted by the Ukraine Socialist Solidarity Campaign denouncing demands for negotiations to appease Putin and save his face from defeat – by handing over large parts of Ukraine from which Putin has been chased out, back to him, leaving Ukrainian people in those parts to face genocide at Putin’s hands.
Please consider signing it too – [Here is the link to the google document].
Meanwhile here are my comments on WHY we should oppose the call for negotiations to end the war.
“No war, negotiated end to the war” is also the position of the Modi Government as well as all Left parties in India. Sounds reasonable, right? Two sides are at war, both should negotiate instead of continuing the war, right?
Wrong, actually. Remember the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan? If you, like me, were part of the massive worldwide protest marches demanding that Bush stop the war, you probably remember that we never demanded that the US and the countries it invaded, sit down for a “negotiated end to the war.” Because we don’t ask invaded and occupied people to stop fighting for their freedom. We pressure the invader to stop invading.
But somehow the Left as well as people like the notorious imperialist Kissinger as well as fascists and dictators from Trump to Xi, Johnson, Modi, Orban are all in chorus, chanting “a negotiated end to the war”. Kissinger is the American war criminal who organised coups to overturn democratically elected governments, instal cruel dictators who carried out political assassinations, massacres and torture in service of the USA. Kissinger is also synonymous with the foreign policy doctrine of Realism – which claims that foreign policy represents national interests rather than political and class interests of the rulers, and international relations is primarily about the power struggles between competing “poles” – ie Big Powers. Want to understand how come the global Left is on the same page as Kissinger – and also Putin, Xi, Trump and other tyrants and fascists? The answer lies in the Left’s embrace of the rightwing doctrine of Realism – specifically its support for “multipolarity” – ie multiple non-US poles to balance US unipolarity/unilateralism, “irrespective of the internal character” (see screenshots of quotes from recent formulations of CPIM and CPIML) of the Big Power regimes that make up those poles. When Left leaders start saying they tacitly want certain Big Power regimes to exist rather than be overthrown or defeated by the peoples they oppress – “irrespective of their internal character” – ie irrespective of the class or political character of the regimes, irrespective of whether the regime is fascist or democratic, irrespective of whether or not the regime is massacring people who want it gone – you know they’ve gone off the rails rather badly. Especially because Putin and Xi and Trump and other dictators all demand “multipolarity” by which they mean: every one of a handful of Big Power “poles” must have the freedom to run their respective countries/empires in as racist or imperialist or totalitarian a fashion. Universal values of human rights or democracy or equality is nothing but Western imperialist hegemony. Thus anti imperialist multipolarity means the overthrow of the post World War II world order where every government was at least in theory liable to be held accountable to those universal values. So in a multipolar world Putin and Xi are demanding the loudest, they say every Big Power “pole” must be allowed to rule in as fascist or racist or tyrannical a manner as it chooses. Any attempt to hold one of those “poles” accountable and question its “internal character”, is therefore a nefarious imperialist unipolar attempt at “regime change”.
See how the language of Putin and Xi and Trump meet and overlap with the language of the Left that has adopted Realism as its guide in foreign policy?
One of the speakers at the People’s Forum is Vijay Prashad, head of Tricontinental. Check Prashad’s social media – there’s total silence on the people’s movement in Iran. Check the Tricontinental website – also radio silence on the Zan Zindagi Azadi movement in Iran. Check People’s Dispatch – the website which reports on international movements and developments and is closely associated with Tricontinental – again, radio silence on Iran. Strange, right? Not so much, when you realise that these “leftists” don’t want the tyrannical Islamic Republic of Iran which sends drones to let Putin kill Ukrainians, to fall. For Iran’s theocratic tyranny to be replaced with what one Iranian Leftist has written in Weekly Worker, derisively called “bourgeois democracy” would be “US-sponsored regime change”.
Prashad is now passionately demanding peace via negotiations. War is barbaric. To save humanity, let’s unite for peace, and ask the US to order Zelensky to negotiate with Putin, he is saying.
But just a few months ago, when he thought Putin would defeat Ukraine, Prashad had tweeted gloatingly and gleefully about how Ukraine like Hitler and Napoleon would be defeated by Russia thanks to “General Snow and General Mud”. #HistoryLessons he called this prediction. (See screenshots)
Well, now that Ukrainians are showing that they can actually win – and no doubt because Prashad realised belatedly that Ukraine too is no stranger to General Snow and General Mud and played a rather huge role in defeating Hitler – Prashad has changed his tune to call piously for “peace”.
The People’s Forum – and other Left platforms calling for “peace” via negotiations with Putin, are basically calling to appease a fascist invader in the name of preventing another World War. Some #HistoryLessons might come in handy here – the fate of the Munich Pact of various Big Powers of Europe with Hitler ought to remind us that appeasing fascists emboldens them to keep invading and occupying and massacring and waging war. It guarantees war, it doesn’t avert war.
Ukraine has shown it could win. The only responsible course – not only to save Ukrainians from genocide but to save African and other countries of the global South from hunger thanks to Russia blocking export of Ukrainians grain – is to ensure that Ukraine gets the weapons it needs to win.
Negotiations will be needed, of course – but AFTER Putin is defeated.