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Anti-imperialists ignore Russia using Africans as cannon fodder

FROMA HARROP

Vladimir Putin doesn’t have enough Russians to maintain the full fury of his barbaric assault on Ukraine, so he is sending African workers and students to the frontlines, threatening the visas of those who won’t go.

One must ask why the anti-Israel left, so sensitive to racist practices less obvious than this one, aren’t setting up tents and recharging their bullhorns to protest Russia’s war crimes. They just look the other way.

In March, a handful of far-left reps joined the MAGA right in voting against helping arm Ukraine, a sovereign country that did not kidnap Russians, bomb them or otherwise attack their neighbor. They may say they don’t like what Russia is doing, but basically, not their problem.

The war in Gaza stems from a long and complex history of which many have only a vague idea. But equally distressing is ignorance of those who ignore the plight of Ukraine and fail to foresee the conflagration in Europe that could follow its defeat.

Is it not their issue because the victims are white?

Rep. Cori Bush is a Missouri Democrat representing St. Louis and some of its suburbs. She’s quite outspoken on not aiding Israel in its quest to root out Hamas. But a reporter asked, “Did the Israeli invasion of Gaza provide some moral clarity in that it’s inconsistent to stand up for the Palestinians while letting Russia massacre the Ukraine?”

Her short answer: “We don’t believe in sending money for bombs.”

She offered a fuller response in a post on X, writing: “Putin’s murderous dictatorship is killing people right now in a brutal and illegal invasion of Ukraine. Now is the time for us to act with moral clarity.”

But then she adds, “We must use every tool to save lives and promote diplomacy — not military escalation or inhumane sanctions.”

If Ukraine’s citizens are being brutally killed in an illegal invasion, their only defense has to be military. But Bush couldn’t even take the baby step of supporting sanctions, which are nonviolent.

Russia is currently bombing Ukraine’s second biggest city, Kharkiv, Western observers say, with the intention of making it uninhabitable. Putin doesn’t do diplomacy. He wants Ukraine.

Bush is now being primaried by Wesley Bell, who is also Black. Her bad poll numbers in that race may partly reflect the efforts of pro-Israel groups campaigning against her. But she has other problematic stands, in addition to her initial opposition to aiding Ukraine. For example, her calls to defund the police during a crime wave. Her opponent Bell, meanwhile, is a solid Democrat serving as a St. Louis County prosecutor.

Bush says her activism for the Palestinian cause came out of her experience in Ferguson, Missouri, where riots broke out after police killed Michael Brown, a Black man. Bush has said that her position on Gaza stems from beliefs “rooted in my experiences as an activist in the movement to save Black lives.”

But we are witnessing Russia pushing thousands of African migrant workers and students into the meatgrinder offensive operations. Their role is to protect the more trained units behind them, read native Russians.

Putin has avoided a full nationwide mobilization that would force Russians into the military and cause domestic unrest. So he’s replenishing his forces with Black Africans, not only those working and studying in Russia, but also directly from Africa. He’s recruiting foreign mercenaries in at least 21 countries, including places like Tanzania, Zambia and the Ivory Coast.

Since the war began some 500,00 personnel on the Russian side have been killed or injured. Where are the hard-left protests against Russia’s racist use of Black people as cannon fodder? So much for moral clarity.

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Froma Harrop can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com.

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