History teaches us that despite rhetoric and propaganda, most wars are—at root—caused by domestic politics in the aggressor nation rather than any real external threat or attack from whomever they invade. Ukraine posed no military threat to Russia, and an enlarged NATO only threatened to contain expansion of Russia’s sphere of power. But under Putin, Russia is an anti-democratic, police state kleptocracy where all power is concentrated in his hands and those of his crony oligarchs as they siphon off their nation’s wealth into Swiss bank accounts and Manhattan real estate. They cannot tolerate the example of the Ukrainian people’s march towards democracy and a more equitable economy because it shows the Russian people that a better and fairer life is possible. Hence Russia’s destabilization campaign, then biting off the Crimea and Donbas, and now full scale invasion.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is not an isolated event. It’s part of a broader attack against democracy that echoes events of the twentieth century. In the 1930s, when corporate greed and Wall Street speculators threw the entire planet into a decade-long global depression, the resulting poverty, hunger, despair, and social unrest posed an existential threat to the economic and political elite’s status quo of wealth, power, and privilege. They reacted by promoting and financing a worldwide fascist movement to destroy democracy and suppress social movements that threatened their continued rule. Similarly, today’s climate crises pose an existential threat to those at the top of the pyramid, and once again, we see an international rise of authoritarianism and a global assault against democracy and social movements that might threaten or reform the established order.
It is a truism that authoritarians mutually support each other against their common foes, democracy and equality. Here in America, Trump and his Republican sycophants proclaim the “stolen election” lie, attack the Capitol, and launch a racist, multi-state assault against voting rights. Simultaneously, they praise and openly admire Putin of Russia, Bolsonaro of Brazil, Orban of Hungary, Modi of India, and other “strongman” autocrats.
Authoritarianism and militarism go hand in hand. Armies, police, and prisons are authoritarians’ tools for imposing their rule on recalcitrant subjects and enlarging their sphere of control. The more a nation spends on militarism, the less it can spend on improving the lives of its people. Subject populations who lack a minimal level of economic stability and security are easier to control – and easier to exploit, because people who are barely surviving on the ragged edge of hunger & homelessness have no choice but to accept whatever work is offered, however onerous, dangerous, or underpaid.
So it’s no surprise that here in America, Republicans and corporate Democrats like Manchin and Sinema urge greater spending on the Pentagon, police, and prisons, more tax cuts for Wall Street, and less regulation and larger subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, while they simultaneously block voting rights legislation and sabotage domestic initiatives that raise people out of poverty, strengthen education, heal the sick, feed the hungry, and shelter the homeless.
Tell President Biden and our Members of Congress: provide assistance to the citizens and military of Ukraine without revving up the American war machine.
Ways to Help
Thousands of Ukrainians have fled Putin’s murderous advance and millions more face a looming humanitarian disaster caused by the conditions of war.
If you wish to donate to local and international organizations that are providing humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian people, we have provided a few links below. While we tried to identify trustworthy organizations, we’ve had limited time for vetting. We hope this helps as a starting point.
USA for UNHCR: the UN Refugee Agency (Donate)
Kyiv Independent: Local journalism in Ukraine (Patreon/GoFundMe)
Doctors Without Borders: Field medical aid (Donate)
The Voices of Children Foundation: Ukrainian NGO that aids children
If you’re interested in participating in activities like drafting letters to our Members of Congress and developing our strategy for influencing them, the Indivisible SF Federal Working Group is where it happens. Join us at our next meeting on Thursday, February 10. Details on how to register below.
ISF Federal Working Group meeting: Thursday, March 10, 7:30–9 PM.Register here to join our regular Zoom meeting, where we work together to develop strategies for influencing our Members of Congress and the Biden administration to support a progressive agenda. All are welcome to participate and contribute, even if you’ve never attended an ISF meeting before.
About this week’s photo
If you’ve seen our newsletter posts on Twitter and Facebook, you might have noticed that we include a photo or graphic with each issue. Today’s image is a Ukrainian child photographed by Senior Airman Madeline Herzog of the US Air Force, from the State Department’s “United with Ukraine” webpage.
Keep Fighting,The Indivisible SF Team
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