Dmitri Shufutinsky

Progressive Ukraine Letter & The Horseshoe Theory

Today, a group of progressive Democrats in the US House of Representatives were forced to withdraw a letter calling on US President Joe Biden to engage the Russian dictator, Vladimir Putin, in diplomacy on his illegal invasion of Ukraine. The letter, which was written months ago and released without consultation with its signatories, urged Biden to negotiate an end to the war in direct talks with Putin, who has committed numerous war crimes. The timing was as strange as it was terrible. Strange, because the Ukrainians have been racking up a series of victories as they liberate occupied territory in Kherson, Kharkiv, and the Donbas from the Kremlin and its band of thuggish separatists and mercenaries–so why should Putin be negotiated with? Terrible, because the far-right wing of the Republican Party was also calling for an end in aid to the Ukrainian war effort, and thus, a negotiated settlement. However, perhaps this timing isn’t strange. For all the attempt at denying similar views between her party’s woke progressives and the isolationists of the GOP, Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) has put on display the reality of the Horseshoe Theory.

The Horseshoe Theory was coined by a French philosopher called Jean-Pierre Faye, who claimed that extreme poles on the Political Left and Political Right have more in common than not. Both are authoritarian and totalitarian, with an aversion to moderate centrism, classical liberal values, and ultimately, liberal democracy. While their ideologies may seem vastly different at first glance, they’re quite close in end goals, like the two ends of a horseshoe. Congressional Progressive Caucus leader Jayapal and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have vastly differing views on economics, climate change, and social issues. However, it seems this recent episode concerning aid to Ukraine and “diplomacy” has brought the two together.

The Jayapal-Squad Wing of the Democratic Party can no longer hide behind a mask of virtue-signaling and “peacemaking” after this letter has been released. In truth, they are no more concerned about human rights than the other side of the horseshoe is–at least, they aren’t once it’s outside of American borders. They claim to be the #MeToo movement’s biggest advocates, but would abandon Ukrainian civilians to mass rape by Russian soldiers for the sake of “avoiding nuclear war.” The Jayapal-Squad Wing advocates for national groups and minorities having agency in their affairs–to be independent from “capitalist imperialism” imposed by the West–but wants the US to impose its will on Kyiv through a supposed diplomatic solution. The Squad is against “the occupation” when it comes to Palestinians, but apparently is fine with a Russian occupation of Ukraine. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) champions LGBT rights yet will abandon LGBT Ukrainians to Putin and Ramzan Kadyrov, who has murdered countless queer Chechens. Jayapal will rail against Trump for his “friendship” with Putin, yet is fine surrendering innocent Ukrainians to the whims of an authoritarian liar who has never kept his word and doesn’t want to negotiate. This is nothing more than “rules for thee but not for me” ideology. In fact, this is a system, and one that Progressive Democrats claim to hate–colonialism.

So why the hypocrisy from The Squad and Progressive Democrats? It all comes down to the Horseshoe Theory. The Jayapal-Squad Wing of the Democratic Party shares the same antipathy for classic American liberal values that the pro-Putin wing of the GOP does. They see American democracy not as a successful experiment that needs deep reform, but as an oppressive system that needs complete dismantling. This is why Tulsi Gabbard and Noam Chomsky share the same views on the Russo-Ukrainian War that Tucker Carlson and Madison Cawthorne do. The real “intersectionality” in our modern era can be found in the war in Ukraine. Both the Jayapal-Squad Wing on the left and the pro-Putin wing of the GOP deeply fear a defeat for Russia in this war, because they know that it means the discrediting of their own political ideologies.

Moscow has propped up Palestinianism, the Islamic Republic regime in Tehran, ultranationalist homophobia,  American skepticism of its role in the world, and distrust of media. All of these ideologies have either been central to the culture wars and political platforms of the far-right and far-left for the past decade, and have unfortunately begun seeping into and infecting the broader Republican and Democratic Parties. All of this is to the detriment of American society as a whole, and has deeply undermined our unity not just on the issue of Ukraine, but as a whole. Now, the likes of Jayapal and McCarthy are seeking to play the role of peacemaker to look good to the average American voter, claiming to want to see an end to the bloodshed and lower inflation. In reality, they know that if the war ends with Ukraine surrendering territory to Russia, and with an emboldened Putin remaining in power, their extremist viewpoints will continue to be mainstreamed in Washington. For the sake of Ukraine, we cannot stop providing aid to Kyiv so long as its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, wishes to continue the fight. And for the sake of our own country, and the Democratic and Republican parties, we should hope for and contribute to the end of Putin’s regime and the assistance it grants on these extremists.

About the Author
Dmitri Shufutinsky is a freelance reporter with the Jewish News Syndicate, and a Junior Research Fellow with ISGAP. He made aliyah to Kibbutz Erez through Garin Tzabar in 2019, and served as a Lone Soldier in the IDF. Dmitri is an ardent Zionist and a supporter of indigenous rights, autonomy, solidarity, and sovereignty. He currently lives in Hadera, and a graduate of Arcadia University's Masters program in International Peace & Conflict Resolution.
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