Rep. Pramila Jayapal
“Progressive” Democrats Retract Call For Diplomacy As War Hawks Steamroll Dissent
Tyler Durden / ZeroHedge
(October 25, 2022) — That didn’t take long… the 30 Houses Progressive Democrats led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has early Tuesday afternoon issued a complete retraction of their letter sent to the Biden White House urging diplomacy on Ukraine, per an official statement [emphasis ours]: “The Congressional Progressive Caucus hereby withdraws its recent letter to the White House regarding Ukraine.”
“The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting. As Chair of the Caucus, I accept responsibility for this. Because of the timing, our message is being conflated by some as being equivalent to the recent statement by Republican Leader McCarthy threatening an end to aid to Ukraine if Republicans take over.
The proximity of these statements created the unfortunate appearance that Democrats, who have strongly and unanimously supported and voted for every package of military, strategic, and economic assistance to the Ukrainian people, are somehow aligned with Republicans who seek to pull the plug on American support for President Zelensky and the Ukrainian forces.”
What’s more is that Jayapal’s retraction — after giving the ole “blame the interns” excuse (“unfortunately was released by staff without vetting”) — actually goes so far as to suggest diplomacy won’t be possible until after Ukrainian victory. The retraction concludes:
“Nothing could be further from the truth. Every war ends with diplomacy, and this one will too after Ukrainian victory. The letter sent yesterday, although restating that basic principle, has been conflated with GOP opposition to support for the Ukrainians’ just defense of their national sovereignty. As such, it is a distraction at this time and we withdraw the letter.” Glenn Greenwald observes they couldn’t even hold out for 24 hours….
Glenn Greenwald —
Holy shit! The humiliation of @RepJayapal and the House Progressive Caucus just got worse, even when it appeared it couldn’t. Her degrading reversal of their Ukraine letter after 1 day wasn’t enough. Now they’re formally “retracting” it, blaming staff.
There’s also a “blame the GOP” defense going on in this deeply awkward and embarrassing episode, which might also be the clearest demonstration yet of war hawks and the Washington deep state’s swift ability to so easily co-opt and control the talking points of these “progressives”. A contingency of thirty of them got steamrolled into conformity literally within a matter of hours.
CNN reports that fellow Dems are “furious” — also given the timing just ahead of the midterms: The public reversal comes amid a backlash from Democrats who criticized the timing of the letter, which was sent on Monday.
“People are furious — especially front-liners,” said one senior House Democrat ahead of the letter being withdrawn, referring to the most vulnerable members at risk of losing their seats in the November 8 midterms.”
“We apologize for calling for diplomacy
to end a catastrophic proxy war against
a nuclear-armed power.
Bring on Armageddon!”
— Aaron Maté
The White House has responded to a new letter sent to President Joe Biden by a group of 30 Progressive Democrats urging what they dubbed a dramatic shift in policy on Ukraine toward prioritizing diplomacy with an aim to urgently get the warring parties at the negotiating table.
“We’ve been very clear: Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday in response to the letter, adding that “this is a decision that President Zelensky is going to have to make when it comes to any type of conversation with Russia, any type of negotiation.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal had warned in leading the group’s letter, which was also singed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, “The longer the war in Ukraine goes on, the greater the risk of escalation — to widespread, devastating effect.” She said “my colleagues and I are urging the Administration to engage in a proactive diplomatic push in an effort to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire.”
The letter had also warned of the possibility of nuclear war, especially if the US doesn’t make efforts toward a diplomatic track with Russia, but many have also noted the glaring contradictions — such as talk of still supporting ongoing massive military aid to the Ukrainians.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby also responded Monday, stressing that “We’re not going to have conversations with the Russian leadership without the Ukrainians being represented.” He added, according to The Washington Post, “Mr. Zelensky gets to determine — because it’s his country — what success looks like and when to negotiate.” Kirby explained that while the White House “appreciates [the lawmakers’] very thoughtful concerns,” it remains that Russia’s Putin could choose to end the conflict “at any time.”
The Democrats’ letter was further mocked by a handful of pundits highlighting its contradictions, and that it was more about optics in order to satisfy far left constituents:
The two-page statement points to the death and destruction Russia’s war in Ukraine is causing in Ukraine and the harmful effects it is having outside the war zone, acknowledges that engaging with Russia is difficult, and reiterates that any resolution needs to be “acceptable to the people of Ukraine.” A lot of people were confused.
The letter “is remarkable in that it mostly calls for what the U.S. is already doing — arming Ukraine, wanting a diplomatic solution, recognizing Russia isn’t currently open to one — but presents this as if it would be a big change,” writes University of Illinois political scientist Nicholas Grossman. The CPC’s concerns “seem to be more about vibes than the actual policy, which makes the pre-election timing particularly curious,” agrees political journalist Ben Jacobs. Talking Point Memo’s Josh Marshall calls the letter’s arguments “completely incoherent” and “contradictory on the key points.”
All of this prompted Jayapal to issue a statement in follow-up, perhaps walking back or seeking to clarify elements of the letter…
“In a letter to President Biden today, my colleagues and I advocated for the administration to continue ongoing military and economic support for Ukrainians while pursuing diplomatic support to Ukraine to ensure we are helpful partners on efforts to reach ‘a solution that is acceptable to the people of Ukraine.’
“Let me be clear: we are united as Democrats in our unequivocal commitment to supporting Ukraine in their fight for their democracy and freedom in the face of the illegal and outrageous Russian invasion, and nothing in the letter advocates for a change in that support.”
She continued: “Diplomacy is an important tool that can save lives — but it is just one tool. As we also made explicitly clear in our letter and will continue to make clear, we support President Biden and his administration’s commitment to nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.”
Indeed the follow-up statement does appear to be a walk-back, blunting the fundamental message urging negotiations or else escalation toward nuclear confrontation looms — as the message of the initial letter emphasized. As journalist Glenn Greenwald observes, while there are some good and rare points on diplomacy that were raised, it remains that “the Progressives’ letter postures as opposition but isn’t really.”
ACTION: House Progressives’ Peace Call Collapses
Diplomacy Crushed by Biden’s Russophobia
ACTION: You Can Still Tell Congress to Promote Diplomacy and Prevent Nuclear War
(October 24, 2022) — After months of grassroots activism, 30 Democrats in Congress have signed on to Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal’s letter to President Biden calling for a ceasefire and diplomatic settlement to the war in Ukraine. The next step is for Congress to acknowledge that there is no military solution and that weapons only prolong the fighting.
Tell your Congress member to make a public statement in support of a ceasefire and diplomatic settlement to the war in Ukraine. Urge your Rep to vote against more weapons that fan the flames of war.
President Biden warns that we’ve never been closer to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Yet he refuses to meet with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to avert a nuclear catastrophe in Ukraine. Instead, he demands US participation in the “Steadfast Noon” military exercise — NATO’s platform for practicing mock nuclear strikes against Russia.
In a two-week-long military drill, the US and 13 other NATO countries will fly F-35s and B-52 nuclear bombers, albeit without live weapons, over Belgium, the North Sea and the United Kingdom, in a dangerous and provocative dress rehearsal for a nuclear attack on Russia.
This is madness, particularly in light of Putin’s remarks that he reserves the option to use every weapon in his arsenal to defend Russia. We do not have to sleepwalk into endless war or worse — a nuclear war with Russia.
Email your Congress members to demand that Biden call off the nuclear drills, meet with Putin and support a ceasefire in Ukraine.
Tell your Rep to vote no on future weapons for Ukraine. Diplomacy, not war is the answer.
Skeptics argue there’s no point in trying to negotiate with Putin because he’s not interested in peace talks. In a recent speech, however, Putin said he wanted Ukraine and Russia to immediately return to the negotiating table.
If Ukraine and Russia can negotiate the flow of grain exports out of the Black Sea, international inspections of a nuclear reactor and prisoner exchanges, the two countries can also negotiate an end to this disastrous war — provided the US does not torpedo the negotiations with promises of more and more weapons and talk of weakening Russia for regime change.
US regime change wars have not worked out in the past. Think Iraq or Afghanistan or Libya. What are our choices in Ukraine? One is endless war with continued death and destruction, skyrocketing inflation, global hunger, and dress rehearsals for nuclear annihilation. The other is a ceasefire and negotiated settlement in which all parties make compromises.
Tell your House and Senate Reps to demand that Biden meets with Putin to support a negotiated settlement to end the war in Ukraine.
ACTION: Ask your Rep to make a public statement in support of diplomacy. If you live outside the US, sign our petition to US, NATO & EU leaders instead. With hope for peace in Ukraine, Marcy, Medea, Jodie, Grace, Maha and the rest of the CODEPINK Team
PS: See Medea Benjamin on her new book tour — click here for dates and locations!