While the Daily Beast is hardly my go-to media outlet, it did report a quote that really caught my eye this week. Regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Congressman Jamaal Bowman said: “We have to go back to the table and find a diplomatic solution… The continued sending of weapons alone is not going to get them to victory.”
I find this quote absolutely stunning in its deep ignorance of international politics. I find it astonishing that some progressives, the same people who justifiably demanded Trump’s impeachment and incarceration, think we can somehow negotiate with Vladimir Putin. In Rep. Brown’s own words:
In other words, Rep. Bowman believes we should go to the mat in disarming the most dangerous president in American history, but we should sit at the negotiating table with that president’s best friend, Vladimir Putin. Does he believe that somehow this megalomaniac dictator will be amenable to our pleas for peace and sanity more than Donald Trump?
While I share the Congressman’s strong distaste for violence, this war was foisted upon the people of Ukraine. There is no diplomatic solution without actively arming the Ukrainian military to defend its sovereign territory, which will cease to exist without our aid. I agree that diplomacy plays an important role in resolving conflict, but it cannot be the only tool in the toolkit when fighting an invasion. Self-defense is a right enshrined in international law and the United Nations Charter, according to that nefarious right-wing organization the International Committee of the Red Cross.
While I am proud that the vast majority of the American political system has been supportive of President Biden’s efforts to support Ukraine, a small but vocal minority has criticized him. I do not have the stomach to go into the Putin cheer-leading among sectors of the Republican Party, but I can point out that on the progressive margins of my own political home, there are others who think like Rep. Bowman. The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), who at their best advocate for noble causes like student debt cancellation and labor rights, offered this twisted view of the Russian invasion: “DSA reaffirms our call for the US to withdraw from NATO and to end the imperialist expansionism that set the stage for this conflict.”
Long story short: DSA believes the Russian invasion is in part America’s fault. Right-wing news outlets will no doubt have a field day with this, if they have not already. And legitimate progressive causes will be tainted with the stench of such ridiculous, defeatist, narcissistic rhetoric. It is a rhetoric that I have written about extensively vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In the face of such idiocy, I’d like to affirm some basic facts. I’m a progressive Democrat. I believe in LGBTQ+ equality, economic and racial justice, immigrant and refugee rights, and yes, diplomacy. And I’ve fought the good fight as an activist on these and many other issues at rallies and teach-ins and lobbying days. And I believe it is a logical conclusion for a progressive, for any sort of human, to support the Ukrainian people’s right to live in peace in their own country. And if it means we need to arm the hell out of their military to prevent the greatest unbridled aggression since World War II, then we ought to do so.
Because human rights only matter if you’re alive to enjoy them.