crash panel on US defense


Code Pink activists pushed for talks with Russia at an event featuring an aggressive Democratic legislator

Pro-peace group Code Pink interrupted a panel discussion Wednesday with Representative Adam Smith, a leading Democratic supporter of arming Ukraine. Smith was invited by the Washington-based think tank Brookings Institution to talk about US military policy.

Smith, his party’s leading member of the House Armed Services Committee, explained to the panel his ideas for increasing U.S. military capability. He urged mothballing large weapon systems that he considered obsolete and focusing on those systems needed for the “modern struggle.” The US must apply “lessons learned from the fighting in Ukraine”, he said.

However, at the event, members of the left-wing anti-war advocacy group Code Pink took to the stage to denounce US President Joe Biden’s administration for pumping weapons into Ukraine and ignoring the path of the negotiations. Such an approach increases the risk of nuclear war, argued the group’s co-founder, Medea Benjamin.

Democrats should support diplomacy and “Don’t leave that to the far right of the Republican Party like Marjorie Taylor Greene,” said the activist. Greene is an outspoken opponent of Biden’s Ukraine policies, which she says lack accountability and fiscal responsibility.

“It is a shame that 30 Democrats who sent a letter to Biden calling for negotiations were so pilloried by people like you in the Democratic Party that they retracted their letter after 24 hours.” she noted.

Benjamin referred to an October letter encouraging peace talks to continue signed by members of the Progressive Caucus. After opposition from pro-Kiev figures, the message was withdrawn and labeled an error. Smith denied “on the pillory” the signatories.

When security removed the protesters from the grounds, Smith said he wanted to respond to the sentiment, claiming Russia was the side standing in the way of a negotiated peace in Ukraine.

“I think presenting arguments like that just adds fuel [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s fire and gives Russia the blank check to continue,” he claimed.

Lawmakers withdraw letter urging Biden to pursue peace

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier that Moscow and Kiev were close to signing a ceasefire in early April on terms proposed by the Ukrainian government. The deal would have made Ukraine a neutral state, with Russia and other major countries offering it security guarantees in return. However, Ukraine reversed the proposal after what Russia describes as Kiev was banned by the West from moving forward.

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