On February 23, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first weighed in on the war in Ukraine, calling for the United States to escalate its intervention using sanctions. She tweeted the following message from her congressional Twitter account:
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is indefensible. The U.S. is right to impose targeted sanctions on Putin & his oligarchs. We also must work with our allies to prepare for a refugee crisis on a massive scale. Finally, any military action must take place with Congressional approval.
Since then, other members of The Squad of “progressive” members of Congress have spoken out. Cori Bush (D-MO) joined the calls for sanctions, and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) released a statement condemning Russia’s “unchecked imperialism” and Putin’s violation of international law. Bowman’s statement says nothing about U.S. imperialism and its 800 military bases around the world. Instead, Bowman says that he is “committed to supporting the Biden administration in holding Putin and his oligarchs accountable.”
Not one of these three members of Congress states categorical opposition to U.S. military action in Ukraine. And what they do say is dangerous: they’re calling for the United States to wage economic warfare. Support for sanctions — which only really hurt the working classes of countries subjected to them — sets up a political justification for military intervention that would have devastating consequences for workers and the oppressed around the globe.
Thus, the “progressive” members of the Squad have put themselves in the same camp with all the U.S. politicians pushing for U.S. intervention in one form or another. It’s a position that those who support the Squad must disavow. There must be unconditional opposition to sanctions. They are not some kind of “lesser evil” of intervention, as implied by Barack Obama in an Instagram post on February 24; they are an intervention that harms the masses.
At this point, there should be no illusions that AOC, Cori Bush, or Jamaal Bowman are even remotely part of the anti-imperialist movement. They have made this clear time after time. AOC went along with bipartisan attempts during the Trump administration to back a coup in Venezuela. She and Bowman voted “present” in a move to give $1 billion to Israel, and later Bowman went on a tour of the apartheid state. Cori Bush is showing us her own imperialist tendencies.
If a movement against intervention in Ukraine is to emerge, it will have to take a stand against these and all the politicians in the Democratic Party who present themselves as part of the Left. Their recent calls for intervention show they are not allies of a movement against war. If we are against sanctions, we must oppose anyone who calls for them, especially when they do so within the halls of Congress. Now is the time to take a stand against pro-war politics.
Anti-imperialists and anti-war activists in the United States must make it very clear: there can be no more escalation of this conflict. All who oppose war must oppose any intervention by the United States — including sanctions.
Opposition to war must take place in the streets!