by James Billot
Friday, 13
May 2022
Reaction
16:07

The Squad nowhere to be seen as Ukraine package sails through

AOC, Ilhan Omar and others have been curiously silent on the issue
by James Billot
The Squad has toed the line on Ukraine. Credit: Getty

It passed in the House by 358 votes to 57 and would have sailed through the Senate unopposed were it not for a single Republican dissenter. The $40 billion foreign aid package to Ukraine — the second and largest aid package proposed by the Biden administration — nearly shuttled through Congress at a speed not seen since the New Deal era.

In a pre-Ukraine, post-9/11 era, this level of bipartisan support for a foreign aid bill of this size might have roused some apprehension, not only from the Trumpist nat-cons or Libertarian Right, but from the anti-war Left too. And yet, members of The Squad, the Democrats’ most prominent progressive group in Congress, have been curiously silent on the issue. 

Following the passage of the bill through the House, no members of the Squad (or any Democrat) voted against. It was only Cori Bush, who, in a tersely worded statement, admitted that ‘a large percentage…[will] go directly to private defense contractors’. Only she chose to speak out about the bill. 

There has been a Ukraine-shaped blind spot for most of The Squad since war broke out. Aside from a few limited interventions, Left-wingers in the Democrat Party have largely refrained from challenging the Biden administration on its deepening involvement in the war. Indeed, it was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who first commented on the war in February 23 when she tweeted:

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.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Other Squad members subsequently joined in calls for sanctions, while Jamaal Bowman released a statement condemning Russia’s “imperialism and fascism”. Ilhan Omar dissented, fearing that, ‘A lot of progressives have abandoned their principles of being anti-war, anti-broad-based sanctions, anti-harmful policies that not only impact us here in the United States, but inadvertently impact the civilians of our adversary regime’. Still, Omar toed the line when it came to the vote.

To date, the US has spent over $10bn on aid to Ukraine ($2bn of which has been military assistance), dwarfing the next nine donor nations (all EU countries combined have provided 12.8 billion Euros). Why, then, has the anti-war Left been so acquiescent? It was only four months ago that AOC was decrying how much the US Government was hiding the true cost of war in Afghanistan and, months before that, the Squad acted in unison to stonewall a spending bill because of a provision to give Israel $1bn for its iron dome system. 

Now, all that remains of the anti-war resistance in Congress (along with some other lesser-known Republican quantities) is a lonely fiscal hawk in the Republican party. As Rand Paul asserted: “This is the second spending bill for Ukraine in two months. And this bill is three times larger than the first… Congress just wants to keep on spending, and spending.”

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Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
11 days ago

“The Squad” is saying nothing bad about Biden’s stance on Ukraine. The “Old Left” was reflexively anti-war. The New Left supports the current thing, whatever that may be.

John Murray
John Murray
10 days ago

Well, my understanding is that the difference is that Ukrainians are white people and ergo the Squad are white supremacists. I didn’t make the rules, that’s just how it works now.

James H Johnson
James H Johnson
8 days ago

Senator Rand Paul’s is blocking the $40-billion Ukraine aid package because the House failed to add any oversight to the package. The American people deserve to know that their tax money is being spent wisely and responsibly.
‘The Squad is nothing more than a sideshow. These people are neither serious legislators nor principled public servants.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
6 days ago

Not true, they amended the bill to add oversight in response to Paul’s objections and……..he still blocked it.
He’s not an honest operator.

Dylan Regan
Dylan Regan
11 days ago

Well done Rand Paul. At least one voice of reason

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
10 days ago

I think it’s perfectly reasonable to be against spending more money on the Afghanistan conflict, seeing as it had lasted for two decades and had no clear objectives, while being in favour of giving money to the Ukrainians to defend themselves.
Being anti war doesn’t necessarily mean you think countries should roll over in the face of unprovoked aggression, merely that it should be a last resort.

Geoffrey Hicking
Geoffrey Hicking
10 days ago

It is possible to be an anti-imperialist and, y’know, oppose Russian imperialism.

Some commentators need to wake up to the fact that not everything is black and white. The people you despise today may be your allies tomorrow, and vice versa. People are complex.

Not that I like much of what the squad does, but, y’know, “allies today, enemies tomorrow”, and all that. If they want to be “curiously silent” (what does this mean, is this a criticism? gloating?) then let them.

Last edited 10 days ago by Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
8 days ago

Original reporting or is the author channeling Glenn Greenwald? If the latter then surely the polite, kind and ethical course would be to acknowledge the man in question?

Todd Kreigh
Todd Kreigh
8 days ago

The U.S. can print up a couple of trillion to spend on nothing, but Congress can’t draft enough oversight into a 40 billion spending bill to ensure the money is spent on its intended purpose. Money that could help tip the balance of war decidely in Ukraine’s favor and save thousands of innocent civilian lives.
“Nope, can’t do it”, says the Randster. And let’s waste some ink wondering what the circus sideshow known as “The Squad” think.
What is the U.S. Congress good for? Anything? Bueller?

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
8 days ago
Reply to  Todd Kreigh

Yes, no history of dodgy US cash laundering in Ukraine, it’s all just Russian propaganda like the laptop.

Last edited 8 days ago by Martin Smith
Vince B
Vince B
8 days ago

“Why, then, has the anti-war Left been so acquiescent?”
Because when American liberals see Putin’s face, they see Trump’s. To them, every Russian tank destroyed by a US-provided Javelin is a tear down Tucker Carlson’s face.
I haven’t seen the liberal establishment and rank and file Democrats as pro-war since 9/11, and even then there were plenty of words of caution about going too far. Today, you would think Russia had invaded Connecticut. Anything less than maximalist anti-Russian policy is regarded as being smitten with Putinesque fascism.
Nancy Pelosi’s claim that Ukraine is fighting for “the survival of democracy in the West” is absurd, given that Russia can’t fight its way out of eastern Ukraine, let alone through NATO-controlled Europe. It’s perverse when we realize that the month before the invasion, Freedom House ranked Ukraine below much-loathed Hungary in terms of civil and political rights, and is regularly named among the world’s most corrupt governments.
Truly, America’s domestic cold civil war has come to the point where we are risking a global cataclysm just to to stick it to the “other” side.

Last edited 8 days ago by Vince B
Martin Smith
Martin Smith
8 days ago

Only racist white supremicist patriarchs like Rand Paul and Tucker Carlson seem to be questioning either the warmongering or the censorship of the new ‘anti-disinformation’ unit, while even Bernie says nothing. On the left only Chomsky protests, but he has no power. “The Bonfire of the Stereotypes”… were Tom Wolfe with us still! What glorious satire he would make.