The Left Debate Over Ukraine

Monday, April 25, 2022 - 1:00pm
Jerry Harris

There are those on the left that put the main blame for the invasion of Ukraine on US imperialism and its aggressive westward expansion using NATO. This position falls prey to the narrative of the realist school of elite foreign policy circles, that argues the world is divided into security spheres and great powers naturally react to threats around their borders. Such threats create insecurity, and should be avoided to maintain peace and a balance of power. Other leftist put the socialist principal of independence and self-determination as the central point by which to judge the Russian invasion. This include the right to armed self-defense. Rather than simply calling for negotiations, they recognized Russia will only come to the peace table when faced with unacceptable losses. 

There is a range of views found in the US Left. Some emphasize how the US created the situation by threatening Russia by NATO expansion. That then makes the US responsible for the war in Ukraine. Others see it as a deliberate provocation by the US in order to strengthen NATO. Others see the invasion as an imperialist expansion aiming at a greater Russia. Some see the Ukrainian government as a liberal democracy, others see it as neofascist. There is a similar range of views internationally. Some condemn the invasion, others like Cuba, Venezuela and even Mexico are more favorable to Russia.

There are also differing views on how the war is going. Some claim the Russian army is being defeated, others say Russia is winning. Is Russia deliberately murdering civilians or are such incidents being staged? There isn’t even agreement on the facts.

With all the diverse views floating around, it’s hard to see how there can be Left unity. Jerry Harris will set off our debate by presenting his views. Others are invited to join in the debate so as to clarify differences and test differences against each other.

Jerry Harris is head of the Global Studies Association. He has authored Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Democracy and The Dialectics of Globalization: Economic and Political Struggle in a Transnational Era.