[News] Ukraine: War and the Challenge of Human Rights in the United States and Beyond

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Thu Mar 24 00:51:58 EDT 2022


*Ukraine: War and the Challenge of Human Rights in the United States and

Ajamu Baraka <https://www.blackagendareport.com/author/ Ajamu Baraka, BAR
editor and columnist> - 23 Mar 2022

  <https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=Ukraine: War and the Challenge of
Human Rights in the United States and
[image: Ukraine: War and the Challenge of Human Rights in the United States
and Beyond]
New York City protest, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

*The U.S. justifies wars of aggression in the name of human rights. The
term has no meaning domestically either, as the people's needs are
subordinated to those of the ruling class.*

Images of burnt flesh from napalm bombs, wounded and dead soldiers, scenes
of U.S. soldiers burning the simple huts of Vietnamese villages, eventually
turned the public against the war in Vietnam and produced the dreaded
affliction, from the ruling class point of view, known as the “Vietnam
syndrome.” This collective Post Traumatic Stress Disorder made it
impossible for the public to support any foreign military involvement for

It took the rulers almost three decades to finally cure the public of this
affliction. But the rulers were careful.

The brutal reality of what the U.S. was doing in Afghanistan and Iraq was
whitewashed. That is why the images now being brought to the public by the
corporate media are so shocking. It has been more than two generations
since the U.S. public was exposed to the horrific images of war.

In the 1960s the rulers inadvertently allowed themselves to be undermined
by the new television technology that brought the awful reality of
imperialist war into the homes of the public. Now, the ruling class
operating through its corporate media propaganda arms has been effectively
using Ukraine war propaganda, not to increase Anti-war sentiment but to
stimulate support for more war!

Incredibly also, the propagandists are pushing a line that essentially says
that in the name of “freedom” and supporting Ukraine, the U.S. public
should shoulder the sacrifice of higher fuel and food prices. This is on
top of the inflation that workers and consumers were already being
subjected to coming out of the capitalist covid scandal that devastated
millions of workers and the lower stratums of the petit bourgeoisie.

But the war, and now the unfair shouldering of all of the costs of the
capitalist crisis of 2008 - 2009, and the impact of covid by the working
classes in the U.S., amounts to a capitalist tax. It is levied by the
oligarchy on workers to subsidize the defense of the interests of big
capital and the conditions that have produced obscene profits, even in the
midst of the covid crisis and now, the Ukraine war.

These policies are criminal. While the U.S. continues to pretend that it
champions human rights around the world, the failure of the state to
protect the fundamental human rights of the citizens and residents in the
U.S. is obvious to all, but spoken about by the few, except the Chinese

For those who might think that the Chinese criticism of the U.S. is only
being driven by politics, and it might be,  just a cursory, objective
examination of the U.S. state policies over just the last few years reveals
a shocking record of systematic human rights abuses that promise to become
even more acute as a consequence of the manufactured
<https://blackallianceforpeace.com/resourcesonukraine> U.S./NATO war in

*The Ongoing Human Rights Crisis*

The U.S. working class, and Black working class in particular, never
recovered from the economic crisis of 2008 before it was once again ravaged
in 2020 with the global capitalist crisis exacerbated by covid. On the
heels of those two shocks, today millions of workers are experiencing a
permanent state of precarity with evictions, the continued loss of medical
coverage, unaffordable housing and food costs, and a capitalist-initiated
inflation. The rulers are operating under the belief that with the daily
bombardment of war images, U.S. workers and the poor will embrace rising
costs of gas and even more increases in the cost of food.

Doesn’t the state have any responsibility to ensure that the economic human
rights of the people are fulfilled? No, because liberal human rights
practice separates fundamental human rights - such as the right to health,
food, housing, education, a means to subsist at an acceptable level of
material culture, leisure, and life-long social security - from democratic
discourse on what constitutes the human rights responsibility of the state
and the interests it must uphold in order to be legitimate.

The non-recognition of the indivisibility of human rights that values
economic human rights to an equal level as civil and political rights,
exposed the moral and political contradictions of the liberal human rights
framework. The massive economic displacements with hunger, unemployment,
and unnecessary deaths among the population in the United States, with a
disproportionate rate of sickness and hospitalization among non-white
workers and the poor in the U.S., were never condemned as violations of
human rights.

*War and Economic Deprivation the Systemic Contradictions of the Western
colonial/capitalist Project. *

The war being waged against global humanity by the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of
Domination is a hybrid war that utilizes all the tools it has at its
disposal – sanctions, mass incarceration, coups, drugs, disinformation,
culture, subversion, murder, and direct military engagement to further
white power. The Eurocentrism and “White Lives Matters More Movement”
represented by the coverage of the war in Ukraine stripped away any
pretense to the supposed liberal commitment to global humanity. The
white-washing of the danger of the ultra-right and neo-Nazi elements in the
Ukrainian military and state and the white ethno-nationalism that the
conflict generated across the Western world demonstrated, once again, how
“racialism” and the commitment to the fiction of white supremacy continues
to trump class and class struggle and the ability to build a
multi-national, class based anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist opposition in
the North.

It is primarily workers from Russia, the Donbas and Ukraine who are dying.
But as in the run-up to the first imperialist war in Europe, known as World
War One, workers with the encouragement of their national bourgeoisies, are
lining up behind their rulers to support the capitalist redivision taking
place, a redivision that can only be completed by war as long as capitalism
and capitalist competition continues. Yet, instead of “progressives and
radicals” joining forces to resist the mobilization to war, they are
finding creative ways to align themselves with the interests of their
ruling classes in support of the colonial/capitalist project.

In the meantime, the people of Afghanistan are starving, with thousands of
babies now dying of malnutrition because the U.S. stole their nation’s
assets. Estimates suggest that unless reversed, more
people there will die from U.S./EU imposed sanctions than died during the
twenty year long war. And the impact of the war in Ukraine with the loss of
wheat exports from Ukraine and Russia resulting not only in rising food
prices globally but in some places like East Africa
resulting in death from famine.

In the U.S. where we witness the most abysmal record of covid failure on
the planet, the virus will continue to ravage the population, with a
disproportionate number who get sick and die being the poorest and those
furthest from whiteness.

The lackeys of capital playing the role of democratic representatives claim
that there is no money to bring a modicum of relief to workers represented
in the mildly reformist package known as Build Back Better. Yet, the Brown
University Costs of War Project estimates that the wars waged by the United
States in this century have cost $8 trillion
<https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/figures/2021/BudgetaryCosts> and
counting, with another $8 trillion
that will be spent over the next ten years on the military budget if costs
remain constant from the $778 billion just allocated.

No rational human being desires war and conflict. The horrors of war that
the public are finally being exposed to because it was brought to Europe
again, the most violent continent on the planet, should call into question
all of the brutal and unjustified wars that the U.S. and its flunkey allies
waged throughout the global South over the last seventy years.
Unfortunately, because of the hierarchy of the value of human beings, the
images of war in Ukraine are not translating into a rejection of war, but
instead a rejection of war in Europe and on white Europeans.

This means that the wars will continue and we must fight, often alone,
because as Bob Marley said in his song “War

Until the philosophy

Which hold one race superior and another


Is finally

And permanently


And abandoned

Everywhere is war

Me say war

*Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and
an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. Baraka
serves on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Peace Council and leadership
body of the U.S. based United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) and the
steering committee of the Black is Back Coalition.*
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