In November, 2021, the Rapid City-based NDN Collective published “Demilitarization Is Decolonization,” a manifesto declaring the violence against people and planet wrought by the United States military-police industrial complex unacceptable and calling for the dissolution of American militarism.
So what American response is acceptable in the face of military aggression like Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine? None, says NDN Collective:
As the People of Russia launch waves of anti-war protests, sacrificing their freedom and safety, we must dig deeper and look beyond the propaganda from all governments involved. The invasion of Ukraine is deplorable and illegal – but there is no response from the US Military that will end in good. We must be both in solidarity with the People of Ukraine and in opposition to US militarism and imperialism.
War only benefits corporations, specifically war profiteers and the oil & gas industry. It is the People who will suffer under sanctions. The US is not the savior here. So, I call on People to continue to center the voices of the people who will be hurt most by the invasion. Lastly, I challenge us to ask ourselves why Russia invading Ukraine has gained more criticism than the so-called US invading Iraq, Afghanistan or any of the other Nations it has invaded and/or still occupies? As we welcome Ukrainian refugees – as we should – we should ask ourselves why there is no outcry about the mistreatment of Haitan refugees or lack of welcome to refugees from the Middle east?
We are in a moment, where we have to both address the immediate suffering and deepen our understanding of how these major world issues are connected [Krystal Two Bulls, NDN Collective LANDBACK Campaign Director, in press release, NDN Collective, 2022.02.28].
I hate to disagree with good people fighting for justice against militaristic oppressors here on this continent, but I have to wonder: do the Ukrainian citizens firing Kalashnikovs and throwing Molotov cocktails at Russian invaders to kick the enemy out of their home cities feel their fight will only benefit corporations? Should America’s past and ongoing sins prevent America from sending arms to help Ukrainians defend themselves? If we center the voices of the people who will be hurt most by the invasion, what do we make of the voice of President Volodymyr Zelensky, whom Russia intends to kill, when he asks for ammunition?
Or, to put things in counter-historical context, if a somehow enlightened Queen Victoria or Tsar Alexander II had offered Crazy Horse and Geronimo rifles and sanctions against the United States, would NDN Collective have advised their ancestors to reject those interventions in the American genocide? Would the principle of rejecting militarism and imperialism override the immediate benefits of stopping today’s aggressors in their tracks?
Everything NDN Collective says about the war in Ukraine, the American response, and American history has moral merit. I suspect President Biden is aware of much of the moral case NDN Collective makes, and that awareness, as well as fear of the global destruction a full-on war between nuclear powers could cause.
But moral arguments only work if the generals on both sides are open to them, and Vladimir Putin has never been a man for morals. If I were President, I’d keep inviting Putin to peace talks, but I’d continue to ratchet up sanctions to crush Putin’s economy, and I’d need NDN Collective and my Joint Chiefs of Staff to make a really compelling case to keep me from sending air support to Ukraine right now.