Thursday, December 22, 2022

“Our Anti-Imperialism Must Be Consistent”

I have self-identifying progressive friends who are so focused on being critical of U.S. foreign policy and its detrimental effects on other countries that they don’t seem able to cast this same critical eye onto other nations that engage in similar imperialistic behavior. In particular, I’m thinking of the actions of the authoritarian governments of Iran and Russia.

For these particular friends of mine, the U.S. government is the one and only “enemy.” Accordingly, they have uncritically taken to heart the adage, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” It’s insane, I know.

I, on the other hand, take to heart the wise words of Dr. Cornel West: “I stand on the highest moral ground I can gain access to, which is in opposition to imperialism – be it China, be it India, be it America, be it Britain, be it France, be it Russia. Across the board, our anti-imperialism must be consistent.” Amen, brother! (For a good definition of imperialism and how it is different from yet related to colonialism, see the image below.)

Dr. West shared his perspective on anti-imperialism earlier today, when part of a round-table discussion on the daily independent news hour, Democracy Now! He and others were discussing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s one-day visit to Washington, D.C., where he called on the Biden administration and lawmakers to provide more military and financial aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia. It’s been just over ten months since Russian leader Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine.

Dr. West is one of over 1,000 faith leaders in the U.S. calling for a Christmas truce in Ukraine. He was joined on this morning broadcast of Democracy Now! by Reverend Graylan Scott Hagler, senior adviser to the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and peace activist Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink. Following is part of what Dr. West and Medea Benjamin had to say.


I would hope we accent both the American empire, that set the context for this situation with the expansion of NATO and pushing the gangster Putin with his wounded Russian empire against the wall, and [Putin’s] wrong, illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of our precious Ukrainian brothers and sisters. . . . We have to be willing to have a moral witness that keeps track of the organized greed, the routinized hatred, the manipulated fear and the chronic hypocrisy of [both] the wounded Russian empire and the American empire. [The latter] has 800 military [bases] around the world and doesn’t want to be honest about its own role. We know that if there were missiles in Canada or Mexico or Venezuela or Cuba, the U.S. military would blow them to smithereens. So we have no moral authority when it comes to dealing with the gangster activity of Putin. We have American gangster activity in our military-industrial complex tied to the White House. . . . I stand on the highest moral ground I can gain access to, which is in opposition to imperialism – be it China, be it India, be it America, be it Britain, be it France, be it Russia. Across the board, our anti-imperialism must be consistent.

There is no trust on any side at this point. But there is a need for negotiations. Both sides have staked out their positions, maximalist positions on each side – Zelensky now saying they want every inch of Donbas and all of Crimea back, and the Russians saying they now control and own these four regions of Ukraine that they can’t even control on the battlefield. But these are positions for negotiations. But the call for negotiations has to come from Biden. And it is not happening. We see that after he met with Macron, the head of France, Macron said there are legitimate security interests of Russia that have to be taken into account. So that all has to be dealt with at the peace table. And so, what we are saying with this Christmas truce call is let’s be realistic with the American people. We keep pouring more money [into this war] – another $45 billion will be approved by the end of this week. That’s over $100 billion, without a year going by, that could have been used for so many essential needs here in this country, and instead poured into a war that is not winnable on the battlefield. So, we need to be honest about this. . . . The U.S., unfortunately, and the Biden administration, has been against negotiations, nixed the negotiations that were going on in late March, early April, and told the Ukrainians, basically, “You don’t have to negotiate, because we’re going to keep pouring more weapons in.” This is only helping the weapons companies, who actually were the sponsors of a reception at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., on December 8th, brought to you by Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. They are the ones who are getting rich in this. The Ukrainians are suffering. The whole world is suffering from this. And we have to get Congress – all of Congress – to recognize this is not in the best interest of the American people or of the entire world.

Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies:
Quote of the Day – December 28, 2022

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A “Post-Cold War Train Wreck Long In the Making”
Yanis Varoufakis: Quote of the Day – February 24, 2022
A Prayer for Ukraine
Jeff Cohen: Quote of the Day – February 28, 2022
Something to Think About – March 4, 2022
William Hartung: Quote of the Day – May 24, 2022
Phyllis Bennis On the Need For a Ceasefire in Ukraine

For more of Cornel West at The Wild Reed, see:
Cornel West on Responding to the “Spiritual Decay That Cuts Across the Board”
Cornel West on the Legacy of James Baldwin
“Of Course America Is Racist”
“Two of the Most Dedicated and Enlightened Heroes of Present Day America”
Cornel West: Quote of the Day – December 3, 2020
Eight Leading Progressive Voices on Why They’re Voting for Biden
Progressives and Obama
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump
Rocking the Cradle of Power

For more of Medea Benjamin at The Wild Reed, see:
Out and About – August 2008
Progressive Perspectives on U.S. Military Intervention in Syria
Progressives and Obama

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