Washington’s conflict with Russia over Ukraine threatens the world with immeasurable catastrophe. Driven by an intractable internal crisis and rapacious geopolitical ambition, US imperialism is recklessly heading to the extreme limit before a Third World War.
The crisis in Ukraine was fabricated by the United States and its NATO allies based on lies. Biden government slams Russia for troop movements within its own borders. The assertion of an imminent invasion of Ukraine by Russia is repeated endlessly by the White House and taken up without reserve by the media.
This is hysterical war propaganda. Russia has never threatened to invade Ukraine. Moscow, however, said it could not tolerate Ukraine joining NATO.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is not a geographic alliance of “democratic” states but an imperialist cabal for war with Russia and other countries. The incorporation of Ukraine would place NATO arms and forces on Russia’s immediate border. It would commit the forces of American and Western European imperialism, under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, to go to war in the name of the far-right regime in Kiev, in the event that the latter would cause a conflict with Moscow, knowing that it is linked to neo-Nazis and fascists.
US officials have revealed their intention to deploy up to 50,000 troops to the borders of Russia and Ukraine. On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement rejecting Moscow’s written request for guarantees that Ukraine would not be allowed to join NATO. The Biden government is not negotiating. He does not seek to ease tensions, but to push Putin into armed conflict so that he can present him as the aggressor.
While US and NATO troops are mobilized, Washington has turned on the apparatus of economic warfare. Both Biden and Blinken have threatened Moscow with “tough economic sanctions.” Russia is preparing for Washington to cut off its access to the SWIFT global financial system for US dollar transactions, which would exclude the country from much of the global economy.
The United States has invaded countries around the world, and Putin knows what defeat at their hands would mean to him. Manuel Noriega and Slobodan Milosevic died in prison, Muammar Gaddafi was brutally murdered and Saddam Hussein was hanged. Washington wants Putin dead.
The Biden administration has created a situation that Putin and Russia must interpret as an existential threat. Moscow cannot make any concessions that would prevent the advance of NATO forces, unless it capitulates completely. It must choose between war now and war in the near future when NATO is on its doorstep.
The White House is moving recklessly toward war, but no one discusses its implications. No reporter asks Biden what the worst-case scenario would be. Nor has anyone asked if it could lead to the use of nuclear weapons. Washington acts as if the conflict it is pursuing will be properly contained in the eastern regions of Ukraine, locked in the Donbass.
The United States has fought a series of wars since 1991, and each has ended in disaster. Millions of people died, and entire societies in the Middle East and Central Asia were reduced to dust and rubble. They had only primitive weapons. Washington now has in its sights the country which holds the second largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world.
If the United States and NATO have convinced themselves that they can pose an existential threat to Russia without posing the terrible danger of nuclear war, they are kidding themselves. How can they rule out this possibility? If they recognize this risk, their actions can be called insane.
All US and NATO war propaganda portrays Putin as a deranged criminal; their whole strategy rests on the fact that his behavior is healthier than theirs. A deeply reactionary faction exists within Russia’s ruling elite and military circles, many of which are steeped in all manner of fascist views.
War has an inexorable logic of its own; she does not bow to the well-crafted intrigues worked out in the Oval Office of the White House. The logic of the military whirlwind that Washington sets in motion will draw the great powers into a global conflict.
China is facing demands from Washington to abandon its ‘zero Covid’ policy and allow the pandemic to kill millions of its people. The United States’ will to war in the Asia-Pacific region is almost as advanced as that which Russia faces. This confronts Beijing with a similar existential threat. China sees the deployment of US troops in Taiwan as a direct parallel to developments in Ukraine.
British imperialism, once again donning the colonial helmet, invents its own lies in the service of war. Washington is pressuring the German bourgeoisie, which has the blood of 28 million Soviet citizens on its conscience, to turn to the East again.
The outbreak of a war with Russia would involve in a few weeks, even in a few days, Iran, Israel, China and Taiwan. Japan and Australia would quickly find themselves caught in an ever-expanding melee. Military imperatives would take over. The world would be swallowed up. The loss of human life that is brewing is incalculable.
The American ruling class has shown itself to be impervious to mass death. More than 900,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 in less than two years, but Biden’s White House isn’t even talking about it. The evening newscaster talks about today’s weather, not today’s dead. There is not an ounce of moral conscience that will prevent Washington from unleashing a catastrophic world war.
There is a madness in this policy, but it is a madness that has objective causes. The incitement to war is fueled by an utterly toxic mix of unruly geopolitical ambitions and intractable internal crises.
The conflict stems from the desperate efforts made by the United States since the dissolution of the Soviet Union to restore its geopolitical dominance and compensate for its economic difficulties, by military means. As the Stalinist bureaucracy dismantled the Soviet Union, the imperialist powers pondered how best to profit from the ensuing social devastation.
In 1992, a prominent foreign policy scholar, Walter Russell Mead, published an important article in the World Policy Journal, bearing the subtitle “A Modest Proposal for US Policy after the Cold War”. He advocated that the United States acquire Siberia from the impoverished Russian nation and profit from the “privatization of Siberia’s vast reservoir of natural resources.”
“This region contains some of the most valuable deposits of oil, gas, diamonds and gold in the world,” writes Mead. “There are vast expanses of exploitable forests, huge deposits of minerals. All of these resources are more valuable if they are part of the United States than if they are part of Russia.” He wrote about the value of acquiring Vladivostok, “one of the best ports in Asia”, and the royalties to be made from concessions to the Japanese. It is the language of imperial plunder.
Mead offered to buy Siberia. Today, Washington seeks to achieve similar goals through military aggression aimed at fragmenting the country. Hitler conceived of Russia as a breadbasket. The United States has even grander plans.
Even more decisively, it is the explosive social crisis of the pandemic and the emergence of an open class struggle that is pushing the ruling class to war. The immense disruption of social life produced by the global pandemic has fundamentally destabilized all bourgeois regimes.
An opinion piece by Thomas Edsall, published Wednesday in the New York Times, says the intense social polarization places the United States in “uncharted and very dangerous territory.” He quotes a political scientist who said that a successful “depolarizing event” should be one “whose causes are manifestly external”.
It is above all this that fuels the will to war. A war with Russia would allow the American ruling class to use nationalism to channel social anger outward and provide it with a pretext to suppress dissent. The crisis of capitalism, brought to its climax by the pandemic, places the bourgeoisie before an insoluble dilemma and it turns to war to find a way out.
The greatest danger today lies in the chasm that separates the magnitude of the danger from the awareness of the population. The working class has been kept in the dark, lied to, battered by the pandemic and forced back to work.
The working class, struggling to prevent the spread of the pandemic and oppose the relentless growth of social inequality and exploitation, must be made politically aware of the ruling elite’s war plans.
Whatever the immediate outcome of the provocations in Ukraine, the situation is immensely dangerous. The working class must act on this basis. We must not raise our hands in fear, but fight for a correct policy. Imperialism is preparing a catastrophe which can only be averted by the development of an international movement of the working class to fight against the war.
In 2016, we already recognized the intensification of US imperialism’s drive towards war. The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) issued a statement: “Socialism and the Struggle Against War” where we called for the building of an international movement of the working class and youth against imperialism. The ICFI condensed the crucial principles of this anti-war movement:
- The struggle against war must be based on the working class, the great revolutionary force of society, rallying to it all the progressive elements of the population.
- The new anti-war movement must be anti-capitalist and socialist, because there can be no real struggle against war without a struggle that aims to end the dictatorship of finance capital and the economic system that is the fundamental cause of militarism and war.
- The new anti-war movement must therefore necessarily maintain full and complete independence and hostility towards all political parties and organizations of the capitalist class.
- The new anti-war movement must above all be international and mobilize the full power of the working class in a unified global struggle against imperialism. To the permanent war of the bourgeoisie, we must oppose the perspective of the permanent revolution of the working class, whose strategic goal is to abolish the system of nation-states and to establish a world socialist federation. This will enable the rational and planned development of the world’s resources and, on this basis, the eradication of poverty and the expansion of human culture to new heights.
The urgency to build this movement has only grown. The most crucial issue is the struggle for these policies in the working class. Everyone who agrees with this perspective should take up this fight and join the Socialist Equality Party.
(Article first published in English on January 28, 2022)