War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict
Since February 24, 2022, the day that Russia illegally invaded Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and Russians have been killed or otherwise become casualties. Eight million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes, and hundreds of thousands of Russians have fled conscription. Millions of people in Ukraine have no heat, electricity or water and temperatures are below freezing. The war has devastated 35% of Ukraine’s economy.
Western sanctions on Russia have led to skyrocketing inflation in Europe, and a dangerous squeeze on energy supplies is crippling manufacturing. The war has also devastated infrastructure, reducing electrical grids, railways, apartment buildings and oil depots to rubble. It has filled the air with pollutants and toxic waste that is contaminating rivers and groundwater.
The war is also exacerbating the climate crisis. The fossil fuel industry is profiting from the sanctions which provide it with an excuse to increase dirty energy exploration and production.
The Western media portrays the war as a conflict between the evil empire Russia and the innocent Ukraine. Lost in the heartbreaking images, however, is a nuanced understanding of the context for the war, what caused it, and how it can be ended. The role of the United States in the historical backdrop to the war and the current U.S. resistance to a peaceful settlement are absent from the coverage in the corporate and even much of the alternative media.
Guest – CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin, who has co-authored with Nicolas Davies the new book, War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict. Medea is one of the leading activists of our time. Wherever people are hurting, we can expect to see Medea and CodePink there.
Disengaging from Violent Far Right Extremism
Since 2019, the number of white nationalist networks in the United States has been declining. More centralized ones, however, are supplanting them. An example of this, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, is how founders of the podcast platform The Right Stuff have switched from organizing pool party groups to focusing on building the racist and antisemitic National Justice Party.
Many prominent leaders in this new iteration of white nationalism say their primary goal is to challenge Conservatism, Inc. Live-streamer Nick Fuentes is one. He recently dined with Donald Trump and Kanye West at Mar-a-Lago and was present outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Fuentes seeks to harness the grievances of Trump supporters into an overtly ethno-nationalist political movement, forming the Republican partys core.
Ideas once confined to the organized white power movement are now openly discussed within the broader political right. The so-called great replacement conspiracy, holding that white people are being systematically replaced across the Western world by multiculturalists and Jews, is routinely cited as a reality by some elected officials and media pundits.
Guest – Patrick Riccards is the CEO of Life After Hate, an organization that helps people leave the violent far right. Founded in 2011 by former violent extremists, its the only nationally recognized and federally funded nonprofit positioned to assist those wishing to disengage from violent far right extremism. An expert in education, Patrick also founded the Driving Force Institute for Public Engagement, an initiative aimed at transforming how U.S. history and civics are taught. An award-winning writer, Patrick serves on the boards of several nonprofits.