Tulsi Gabbard, Jimmy Dore, Ron Paul Call for End to Ukraine War
Tulsi Gabbard, Jimmy Dore, Ron Paul Call for End to Ukraine War

By Liam Cosgrove

WASHINGTON—Red flags with the communist symbol hammer and sickle flew side by side with Gadsden “DON’T TREAD ON ME” flags at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday afternoon. Self-proclaimed socialists stood in common cause with anarchists at the “Rage Against the War Machine” rally, a peace protest organized by the People’s Party—a progressive third party led by disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters—in cooperation with the Libertarian Party.

Despite their radically different economic and political views, the parties—along with many conservatives, moderates, and independents—came together to voice support for what they view as the most important issue of the day: finding a peaceful solution to the war in Ukraine.

The rally featured a diverse cast of speakers, including several past U.S. presidential candidates, Iraq war veterans, and a comedian. When asked about the clashing ideologies present at the rally, speakers emphasized the importance of unity.

“Everyone needs to work together towards peace,” former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (I-Hawaii) told the Epoch Times.

Also speaking to the Times, comedian Jimmy Dore and former Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) echoed the importance of collaboration.

“I treat everyone as an individual,” Paul said, adding that he has common ground with the left. “I have views that agree with socialism, like being anti-war.”

Dore paraphrased the Black abolitionist Fredrick Douglass and said, “I will unite with anyone to do good and no one to do bad.”

Former Congressman Ron Paul speaks at the “Rage Against the War Machine” rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Feb. 19, 2023. (Courtesy of Liberty Speaks)

US Culpability in the Invasion

Since the war began in February of last year, the Biden administration has authorized over $110 billion in aid to Ukraine. This dwarfs Russia’s annual military budget, which was just under $66 billion for 2021, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

In addition to being costly, speakers argued that U.S. support deters the involved parties from entering into peace negotiations.

One speaker, author Scott Horton, alleged that President Biden “interfered with peace talks in March and April of last year, which could have brought an end to the war.” Horton’s comments referenced a recent interview with former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, in which the prime minister—who mediated negotiations early in the war—said that “both sides very much wanted a ceasefire” but that the U.S. “blocked it.”

Horton, author of Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism, listed several pre-invasion escalations initiated by the Biden administration.

“As President of the United States, he [Biden] spent his first year in office, 2021, pouring more arms into Ukraine, reiterating promises to bring them into the NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] alliance, and increasing military interoperability between their military and ours, making them essentially a de facto member of NATO,” Horton said in his speech.

Biden contributed more than $650 million in lethal aid to Ukraine and conducted U.S.-led military drills with Ukrainian soldiers in 2021, months before Russia invaded. In May of 2021, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration would support a Ukrainian bid to join NATO, something the Kremlin has long considered a “red line.

“Yes, this war was provoked,” Horton summated.

Author Scott Horton walks towards the podium at the “Rage Against the War Machine” rally in Washington on Feb. 19, 2023. (Courtesy of Liberty Speaks)

Avoiding Nuclear War

Many speakers expressed their sympathy for the Ukrainian people but said the consequences of nuclear war are too great.

Avoiding a nuclear confrontation “is the most important issue facing us in the 21st century,” said Gabbard during her speech.

Gabbard recounted her experience with the false ballistic missile warning of 2018, which Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency issued mistakenly. The agency broadcast a message to Hawaiians that nuclear weapons could impact the state in minutes, causing severe panic and inciting a desperate scramble for shelter, Gabbard recalled.

“Our leaders failed us then, and they continue to fail us now,” she said.

Gabbard criticized the reckless escalatory moves made by the U.S. in various wars around the globe that are made “without any consideration for the rest of us and the destruction and incineration that their wars will cause.” She implied leaders in Washington are emboldened by their access to emergency bunkers, while for ordinary people, “there is no shelter.”

“This proxy war that we’re fighting against Russia right now could turn at any moment into a direct conflict between the United States and NATO and Russia, a country that has more nuclear weapons than any other in the world,” the former congresswoman concluded, stressing the futility of a hot war. “World War Three cannot be won.”

Comedian Dore echoed this warning.

“This is really a fight over nuclear war,” he said during his speech. “Bombs today are much more powerful than those bombs we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

Asked about potential off-ramps for the conflict, Dore told The Epoch Times that “peace can happen at any moment.”

“It just takes people in America to wake up to what’s really happening,” he added. “That’s the point of one of these things is to raise everybody’s awareness because they’re not going to get it watching CNN—who spent all day not covering this.”

Comedian Jimmy Dore waves to the crowd at “Rage Against the War Machine” rally in Washington on Feb. 19, 2023. (Courtesy of Liberty Speaks)

Some top U.S. military officials have advocated for a peaceful solution as well.

While speaking to the Economic Club of New York last November, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said that a military victory may not be achievable in Ukraine. During this talk, he also underscored the severity of a potential nuclear conflict, suggesting diplomacy may be the best bet for Ukraine.

“When there’s an opportunity to negotiate, when peace can be achieved, seize it. Seize the moment,” he said.

Milley’s predecessor, Mike Mullen, made similar comments during an interview with ABC in October, calling Vladimir Putin a “cornered animal” and warning that he is becoming “more and more dangerous.” Mullen said it was crucial for the Biden administration “to figure out a way to get both Zelensky and Putin to the table.”

Controversy Surrounding Rally

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow called the event a “pro-Russia rally” in a segment on Monday evening, pointing to Russian flags brandished by two of Sunday’s protesters.  One of the flag bearers, a Russian-American U.S. Navy veteran Pavos De Koken, spoke with the Epoch Times.

“I’m not pro-Putin,” he said. “I’m pro-Russian people and pro-American people.”

When asked whether he was concerned about his flag being misconstrued as support for the invasion, De Koken, a self-described anarchist, said that he does not support any government, nor was he concerned about how he might be judged for carrying the flag.

“People can come and talk to me.”

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