Monday, November 21, 2022

A Skunk at a Garden Party

A Skunk at a Garden Party

 Maryland Peace Action held  its annual meeting on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 17715 Meeting House Road, Sandy Spring (Montgomery County). Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, discussed her new book, War in Ukraine, Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict. Since February 24, when Putin invaded Ukraine for the third time, I have been at odds with Code Pink's opposition to allowing Ukraine to defend itself.

   Code Pink is not alone, as numerous groups, obviously there are those who support Putin, but also some "peace" advocates who have denounced the US government for sending US weapons to Ukraine.  These groups would permit "humanitarian aid" to be funneled to the people being bombarded by the Russian military.  But what is humanitarian aid? I presume it would be bandages, hospital beds, blood supplies, medications, heart monitors and other items one sees in a hospital.  But how do these supplies prevent the bombs from falling on apartment buildings, museums, nuclear power plants, schools or playgrounds?  As more and more destruction takes place, I presume these opposition groups would allow more medications, more bandages, and maybe even more blood supplies to be sent to devastated areas of Ukraine.  Of course, if these groups were able to convince Congress to send no weapons to Ukraine, Putin would be able to occupy the entire country as part of his dream for a Greater Russia.

   From news reports, it seems North Korea, Iran, Belarus, China and presumably other countries are providing weapons to Putin's forces.  I have not seen any of these "peace" groups condemning the supply of weapons going to Russia.  These organizations unite under a banner of Do not Escalate.  I find that to be farcical, as Putin continues to strike Ukraine with the same mentality he used to destroy Grozny and Aleppo.  Putin is the escalator. As Matt Duss told Ray McGovern on Democracy Now it is very simple, Russia should pull out of Ukraine. 

 Medea’s perspective on the war in Ukraine

 Medea began her talk at the annual meeting by indicating that we must pressure our government.  She added that we would not be able to have any influence on Putin. As an example of a successful negotiation, she cited the fact that an agreement was reached to allow grain shipments to leave the area.

  She promoted contacting members of Congress to demand that they vote against weapons sales to Ukraine and inform the Biden administration to negotiate. She claimed that the Russians are ready to talk, but did not provide much in the way of specifics.  She also claimed that Boris Johnson and Lloyd Austin went to Kiev and told Zelenskyy not to negotiate.  She also trotted out the argument that a casus belli was NATO encroachment on Ukraine.    

   Near the end of her talk, she did admit that the invasion has been disastrous for the environment. However, she then thought environmentalists might join the movement to stop US weapons from being sent to Ukraine. 

   She closed her presentation by excoriating the Progressive Caucus for refusing to stand by the Jayapal letter. Jayapal claimed her staff sent out the letter before clearing it with her.

  The letter pressed President Biden to engage directly with Russia to bring the months-long conflict in Ukraine to “a rapid end.”  The letter urged Biden to make vigorous diplomatic efforts in support of a negotiated settlement and ceasefire, engage in direct talks with Russia, explore prospects for a new European security arrangement acceptable to all parties and get a rapid end to the conflict and reiterate this goal as America’s chief priority. Code Pink supported the letter and urged all to contact their representatives to show support for Biden to negotiate with Russia.

   She then indicated her disdain for the Democrats who backtracked and disassociated themselves from the contents of the letter.  She was furious with the “worst” of them all, Jamie Raskin.

 Max’s rebuttal

   I indicated in the Q & A that I would be a skunk at this garden party.  As a long-time activist, I have not had much of an influence on my government’s policies, especially regarding the military budget and the warmongering.  I also disagreed with her about protesting Putin's war of aggression.  For example, I have been arrested protesting Indonesia’s assault on East Timor, Israel’s apartheid policies and the white minority government in South Africa’s subjugation of the indigenous people.

 I informed the gathering that John Pfeffer and Michael Klare pointed out that they have seen no information that the British prime minister or the US Secretary of War told Z not to negotiate.  Claiming NATO as a thorn in Putin’s side is inaccurate.  Ukraine cannot become a member of NATO as the country is too corrupt. Blaming the governments of Ukraine, the USA or the European Union or the CIAand NATO is of little value.  Some 98 percent of the Ukrainian people played no role in poking the Russia bear, but are suffering greatly from an invasion aimed at noncombatants with the idea of breaking the will of the people. 

   Yes, Joe Biden should be indicted for his role in promoting the invasion of Iraq, and Joe Stalin for invading Poland and Finland.  But of course, the victors are generally untouched by international courts.

   While I am a pacifist, I have no right to tell the Ukrainian people not to take up arms.  In fact, Howard Zinn, Phil Berrigan, George McGovern and Kurt Vonnegut all chose to fight against fascism.

  Finally, I turned my attention towards the flaws in the Jayapal letter.  The Biden administration has no right to promote a cease fire or negotiations without the consent of the administration in Ukraine.  That is why I did not ask Rep. John Sarbanes to sign on to the letter.

   Yes, the Biden administration should be negotiating with Russia about nuclear disarmament treaties.  And apparently, according to the Washington Post, this is happening.  Also the president should remove US nuclear weapons from five European countries.  This could jumpstart disarmament negotiations.

   Medea did not appreciate my perspective.  And said, do you support the latest weapons sales to Ukraine?  I then asked her if she supported armed intervention in Uvalde where a child with an AR 15 slaughtered schoolchildren and two teachers as armed men waited some forty minutes in the hallways?  She did not answer that question.

    In the real world, ultraviolence is rampant in many countries.  It would be naïve to suggest these conflicts can be solved by ceasefires and negotiations.  I was thrilled to read about a cessation of hostilities in Ethiopia.  However, negotiations to end the brutal invasion of Vietnam by my government took years before US forces pulled out.  I have no immediate plan for peace in Ukraine.  However, I hope the pope or an United Nations official somehow brings Putin to the table to engage in serious and constructive negotiations.  In the meantime, I will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine and call for the immediate withdrawal of all Russian forces.

 Kagiso, Max

Donations can be sent to Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 431 Notre Dame Lane, Apt. 206, Baltimore, MD 21212.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

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