Friday, Feb. 24 marks what is generally considered to be the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, Ukraine. That is, of course, if one discounts Vladimir Putin’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and the years-long struggle for control of eastern Ukrainian provinces such as Donbas. To mark the infamous occasion, a coalition operating under the banner, “Rage Against the War Machine” stages a rally in Washington, DC, on Sunday, Feb 19. In the current climate of almost unyielding political polarization, this coalition against the Ukraine war has brought together an array of organizations spanning the political spectrum, from the Libertarian Party and the Mises Caucus to the People’s Party and the American Student Union.
Speakers at the event also represent a wide range of political ideologies. Former members of Congress Ron Paul, Tulsi Gabbard, Dennis Kucinich, and Cynthia McKinney will address the rally along with Jimmy Dale, a podcaster and stand-up comedian, musician Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame, talk show host Garland Nixon and a host of independent journalists and anti-war activists. Libertarian National Committee Chair Angela McArdle gave an exclusive statement to Liberty Nation, explaining the coalition’s aims and why it was able to draw in such a diverse group of organizations.
Demands of the Anti-War Coalition
On its website, Rage Against the War Machine lists several demands – ten, in fact. They are not all directly connected to the Ukraine War. The first three demands specifically address the conflict:
- Not One More Penny for War in Ukraine
- Negotiate Peace
- Stop the War Inflation
“The Democrats and Republicans have armed Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars in weapons and military aid,” Rage Against the War Machine says by way of explaining the first demand. “The war has killed tens of thousands, displaced millions, and is pushing us toward a nuclear WW3. Stop funding the war.”
That third demand decries “war inflation” – the rising costs of food and energy that have been largely fueled by the Ukraine-Russia conflict and the sabotaging of the Nord Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Europe. Also on the list is disbanding NATO, global nuclear de-escalation, and slashing the Pentagon’s budget. The list additionally includes restoring civil liberties lost or restricted for two decades as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the rise of mass surveillance of civilian populations.
The coalition also calls for freeing Julian Assange, abolishing the CIA and military-industrial Deep State and the abolition of war in general. This last one seems less clear than the others. The coalition appears to imply, on its website, that the US is responsible for just about all the wars in the world. Some would dispute that suggestion, though America’s fingerprints are all over a great many military conflicts currently being fought out in various countries. Still, it is hardly debatable that war would continue to be a factor in human civilization even if the US scrapped its armed forces and closed itself off from the rest of the world. Military conflicts raged across the globe for centuries before the United States was first colonized by Europeans and they will no doubt rage long after the days of America as a superpower are over.
Angela McArdle addressed the issue of war and US involvement:
“Libertarians support the right of the Ukrainian people to defend themselves from all government aggression, both Ukrainian and Russian (the United States turned a blind eye when [the] Ukrainian government shelled its own people in the Donbass region). However, history shows us that U.S. military intervention across the globe always has unintended consequences for liberty both at home and abroad.”
By way of further explanation, McArdle continued, “A prime example is the massive loss of civil liberties in America as a result of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and the rest of the Global War on Terror – and the Middle East is still unstable.”
Doubtless, there are some who might view these aims – or a few of them – as a little left-leaning, politically speaking. Perhaps certain people might even interpret the whole project as pro-Putin. No more money for Ukraine? Scrap NATO? Reduce America’s defense budget? But these ideas are, in fact, all in line with the libertarian worldview. Wars are fueled by money and by powerful government agencies that are all but unaccountable to the people who elect the political leaders. McArdle says, “[G]etting involved in a fight with Russia and its 6,000 nuclear weapons is just insane, especially with someone like Joe Biden with his finger on the button.”
As for NATO, it was created to facilitate the defense of western Europe against a Soviet and Warsaw Pact invasion. Neither the Warsaw Pact – the block of eastern European countries formerly under Soviet Communist control – nor the Soviet Union still exists. Despite Putin’s apparently limitless appetite for conquest and conflict, Russia is in no position to invade any of the countries to its west – apart from, perhaps, Belarus, its ally. After the now year-long Ukraine war, the Russian military is battered, degraded, and demoralized. Many believe that NATO, essentially, has no reason to exist other than to constantly expand.
Ukraine War Brings Left and Right Together
The calls to restore civil liberties and eliminate the Deep State are also in line with a more right-wing worldview. They are demands of which conservatives would approve. So, this coalition is truly a coming together of people with, normally, very different political philosophies in pursuit of a common goal. Of that, McArdle said:
“This issue coalition has been challenging but rewarding. All of the groups working on this rally share a common cause: we oppose the bloodshed and we think US involvement is serving only to prolong it. When the entire political and media establishments are pursuing such a dangerous course, we have to be willing to work with anyone of good faith who wants to do the right thing. That’s been a core strategy of the Mises Caucus since it started, and, thanks to their influence, the Libertarian Party is able to increase our effectiveness by leading single-issue coalitions in opposition to the DC uniparty.”
The world is certainly tiring of the Ukraine war – Americans, especially, since they are footing a lion’s share of the bill. With no end in sight, anyone could be forgiven for thinking this will turn into another Afghanistan; a decades-long, bloody struggle and a financial black hole that sucks in seemingly unlimited amounts of money provided mostly through the taxing of people who have absolutely no connection to either of the two countries at war. The argument that Putin must be stopped in Ukraine before he swallows any more countries is now a red herring. The Russian armed forces, even before they began taking heavy losses in Ukraine, proved themselves far less capable than probably even esteemed military experts would have imagined. With or without NATO, the rest of Europe has nothing to worry about at this point, in terms of a military assault by Moscow’s forces.
Perhaps it is time the people of Ukraine and Russia were left to decide whether this conflict is worth continuing and what are the acceptable conditions for it to end. If the US and NATO powers – or, perhaps worse still, the United Nations – decide they are the ones to set the terms of peace, this is not going to end well. The people behind the Rage against the War Machine coalition could find themselves booking hotels in Washington for next year – and the year after that, and so on.
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