Since it is almost always the poor sent to fight wars, the political left has correctly used the metaphor of pawns in a larger, murderous chess game. This tide started to turn under Obama. His 2008 campaign is a testament to how the left used to be antiwar. But once he became president, not only did he continue the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he created new ones in Libya, Syria and Yemen while his supporters cheered him on.
Whether it’s Democrats and Republicans in America or Conservatives and Liberals (and the NDP) in Canada – war is the health of the state. This situation in Ukraine is a direct result of a U.S.-backed coup that overthrew an elected government in 2014. An elected government friendly to Russia. The U.S. has a long history of doing things like this, so this war comes as no surprise. Despite the propaganda, the Ukraine conflict comes down to money, oil, power and control. Like most modern wars.
The irony is that the left used to understand this.
And some of them still do. Noam Chomsky isn’t buying the war propaganda. He’s condemned both Putin and NATO for their war crimes. How is the patron saint of the antiwar left treated by today’s progressives? Shunned or ignored. When your views no longer align with the progressive establishment, you’re either branded a Nazi (or in this case, a senile old man) or you’re ignored altogether.
Take Jeremy Scahill. Editor and co-founder of the Intercept, he tweeted: “There is no contradiction between standing with the people of Ukraine and against Russia’s heinous invasion and being honest about the hypocrisy, war crimes and militarism of the US and NATO.”
The response? Attacks of “Whataboutism” and even a “You should go to Ukraine,” tweet from a so-called journalist at NPR. Of course, Whataboutism, or an appeal to hypocrisy, is purposefully misused by the media to shut down the conversation. It is not “Whataboutism” to point out the similarities between Putin’s war in Ukraine with the United States’ illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. The logical fallacy stems from justifying Putin’s war by comparing it to the Iraq war.
Is war ever justified?
The right-wing justification for US intervention abroad is that, unlike Russia or China, the US is a beacon for freedom. They have free speech, democratic elections, the rule of law. Ergo, they have a moral obligation to export their system abroad.
But what is the left-wing version of this argument? America is a hyper-capitalist fascist state, no? One that treats minorities like dirt and rewards billionaires with offshore tax havens. If America is as bad as the rest of the world, then what justification can there be for their intervention abroad?
First, people on the left supporting war is nothing new. When the ol’ USSR went to war it was construed as a defensive tactic to fight “Western imperialism.” What’s funny is that the old Soviet Union is modern-day Russia. Putin is former KGB. One wonders, if Russia was still communist, would the left support their invasion of Ukraine?
Second, whether you consider yourself left, right or neither – the hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy is obvious. You cannot support the murderous regime in Saudi Arabia and then claim moral superiority in Eastern Europe.
War and Peace and Cannabis
So what happened? How did the cannabis-smoking hippies of the Woodstock era become the war establishment? I have some theories, and it’s not going to be just one thing. But switching out cannabis for pharmaceutical pills probably had something to do with it.
Consider the first wave of boomers to take over the reins of power. Who did they elect? Ronald Regan who ramped up the Cold War. He’s credited with ending it, but if the USSR wasn’t already bankrupt and dying, the hot war in Europe may have started in the 1980s instead of the 2020s.
Consider how long it’s taken for cannabis to become legal. It’s clear that as the boomers aged, they turned over their peace pipe for a corporate pill. They stopped consuming a natural plant that expands their mind. And they started taking pills designed to docile them.
Is Peace a Viable Option?
Peace will never be a viable option so long as the corporate press controls the narrative. Peace will never be a viable option so long as Big Pharma has the masses docile and dependent. Peace will never be a viable option so long as cannabis is condemned even when legalized (as is the case in Canada).
Simply put, cannabis is an instrument for peace. War is the health of the state.