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Manifesto against war

by Karl Heinz Roth and Karl-W. Koch
It is therefore high time for the mobilization of a broad anti-militarist resistance that is integrated comprehensively and transnationally into the social struggles. This approach is by no means without chance, as the inclusion of the resistance against the Vietnam War in the global social revolt of the late 1960s has shown.
Manifesto against war
by Karl Heinz Roth
[This manifesto published on 3/15/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

Telepolis documents: Call from academics on Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, NATO's role and upcoming challenges

The monstrous has happened: War has finally returned to our everyday life in Europe. Currently, major cities in Ukraine are becoming battlefields. Peaceful people are being torn apart by shells and rockets or buried under the rubble of their dwellings.

Those who survive the barbaric attacks in basements or subway shafts are driven to flee by hunger, cold, deprivation of water and darkness. Barbarism is making a comeback.

For more than 20 years, this inferno has been brewing and spreading: First in Chechnya and Yugoslavia, then in Afghanistan, in Iraq and until today in Yemen, Syria and other regions of the Middle East.

Now it has reached Europe once again and has assumed catastrophic proportions with the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. The metropolitan agglomerations overbuilt and inhabited by millions of people became the main combat zone of the two armies.

The brutalization of military conflicts has multiple causes. It was an expression of the growing rivalry between the major imperialist powers that had been building up in recent decades behind the facades of world economic globalization.

Worldwide demonstrations against the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Washington, D.C. on March 6.
The world capitalist system once again showed its Janus face. On the one hand, it relied on the profit-generating world peace of globalized commodity chains and information systems to relegate the exploitation of the working classes and push it to the far corners of the planet.

On the other hand, it unleashed increasingly violent struggles for geostrategic zones of influence. Typical of this is China, which has combined its project of the continent-connecting New Silk Road with territorial claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea.

But the USA is also typical of this. In order to secure its world hegemony economically, Washington has made its East Asian counterpart the extended workbench of its production potential.

At the same time, Washington sabotaged the Chinese New Silk Road project at all levels and did everything it could to undermine a peaceful economic relationship between China, Russia and Europe.

In parallel, the U.S. government has positioned its military alliance system, NATO, against the Russian Federation to prevent the integration of the successor to the defunct Soviet empire into an expanded Europe with a stable peace order and mutual security guarantees.

The sabotage of North Stream 2 shows that economic pressure has the same significance here as in the positioning against China. What the U.S. succeeded in doing to Russia proved to be a boomerang in the case of China and favored China's rise as a competing world power.

Finally, the third factor of barbarization was Islamist fundamentalism, a profoundly regressive variant of anti-imperialism that strives for a patriarchal god-state.

These developments became threatening to humanity because all parties involved in the conflict were able to draw on war material in which the technological thrusts of capitalist development were combined into an ever greater destructive power of conventional weapons systems.

Why the prehistory of the Russian attack must not be ignored

Only against this background can Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, unleashed on February 24, be understood. These contexts also explain the prehistory.

When the Soviet empire collapsed, the U.S. bought Russian consent to the inclusion of a unified Germany in NATO in exchange for a pledge not to expand NATO further into Eastern Europe. At that time, the chances for Russia's democratization and opening toward Europe were quite favorable.

However, this chance was lost after a few years. Since 1997, the subliminal and finally also openly promoted eastward expansion of NATO and, in its wake, of the European Union began. The Russian power elite and the majority of the population perceived this exclusion as humiliation.

There were also countervailing tendencies toward understanding, especially in France and Germany; however, they were thwarted by the new special alliance of the United States with the Eastern European states.

This hubris created the external conditions in Russia for the implementation of an imperialist strategy of revision, which had been propagated by parts of the power elite since the fall of the Soviet Union and then culminated in the Putin era.

The warning signals emanating from this revisionary course - the 2008 Georgian war and the 2014 Crimean annexation - were also disregarded. Instead, Ukraine pushed ahead with NATO infrastructure building even though the country had been in civil war with indirect Russian involvement since 2014.

The joint maneuvers of Ukrainian forces with NATO in September 2021 then marked the crossing of the red line.

Nato's direct advance 1,200 km to Russia's western border was intolerable to the Russian power and military elite, and it decided to wage a war of aggression against Ukraine before its formal entry into Nato.

These considerations are not about justifying apologetics. The war of aggression against Ukraine cannot be legitimized by anything.

It is only a matter of clarifying that this catastrophic war of aggression was preceded by imperialist acts of aggression, also on the part of the West, which provoked in Putin-Russia a geostrategic logic common to all imperialist power elites.

Imagine if the Russian Federation had entered into a military pact with Cuba and Mexico and was building a military infrastructure directed against the U.S. in the Caribbean and just off its southern border!

This comparison makes it clear that we cannot be party to this disastrous poker of imperialist powers. We strongly condemn the Russian aggression. But we also firmly reject the power elites of the West.

Instead of admitting the failure of their immoderate expansionist goals, they are now turning the escalation screw and advocating all-out economic warfare as well as far-reaching military aid operations and arms deliveries.

We are aware that with this positioning against all direct and indirect parties and actors in the Ukraine war, we currently represent only a vanishing minority.

Ways out of the logic of the warmongers

But we must not cede our identity, our orientation towards the social and emancipatory struggles for equality and self-determination to the logic of imperialist war and the cynicism of the warmongers on all sides.

We share the responsibility to immediately stop the military slaughter, the killing of civilians, the bombings, the starvation and the mass displacement of the Ukrainian population, and to stop the destruction of social infrastructures.

We must not allow NATO and the West to let Ukraine be defended to the last Ukrainian fit for military service, and the Russian General Staff to accept the death of tens of thousands of soldiers - mostly conscripts.

But we also do not want to be asked later by our children and grandchildren why we did nothing to prevent the Ukraine conflict from expanding into a major European war or even into a nuclear Armageddon.

This danger has been steadily growing due to massive military support from the U.S. and NATO, as well as comprehensive economic sanctions. We are not passive spectators. If the escalation screw is turned even further, we could face the horrors of war in the coming weeks just as Ukrainian civilians currently do.

We demand:

1. an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of all combat troops from all urban agglomerations

2. the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. The disarmament and disbanding of all paramilitary formations on the territory of Ukraine.

3. the immediate cessation of arms deliveries and of NATO's covert participation in the war

4. the immediate lifting of sanctions and the end of economic warfare

5. the start of peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine under the supervision of the OSCE. Assurance of Ukraine's indefinite neutrality and dismantling of NATO infrastructure in Ukraine in return for comprehensive and internationally backed Russian security guarantees.

6. establishing Ukraine as an independent bridge state between NATO/EU and Russia under the OSCE umbrella. Ukraine's bilateral reconstruction and economic treaties with the EU and the post-Soviet Customs Union.

We are well aware that these demands will hang in the air as long as they are not forced by the social movements, the working classes and the critical intelligentsia strata in an internationally coordinated effort.

It is therefore high time for the mobilization of a broad anti-militarist resistance that is integrated comprehensively and transnationally into the social struggles. This approach is by no means without chance, as the inclusion of the resistance against the Vietnam War in the global social revolt of the late 1960s has shown.

We therefore propose as first steps to mobilize resistance:

1. the halting of all arms shipments to Ukraine and the other war zones of the world through boycott actions

2. the launch of a campaign of refusal of military service in all armies directly or indirectly involved in the Ukrainian war: Defiance of conscription orders, refusal to obey orders, desertion from combat forces and supply units of Russia, Ukraine and NATO. Building a broad solidarity movement for conscientious objectors.

3. participation in the relief actions for all refugees from Ukraine and other war and civil war zones indiscriminately

4. it is high time to take a stand against the disorientation of the peace and protest movement. The mass demonstrations around the world and the interests of the working classes are directed against all imperialist powers and must not take one-sided sides.

Their goal was and is to overcome exploitation, patriarchal oppression, racism, nationalism, destruction of nature, and to assert individual and social human rights. Now the struggle against the revived barbarism has been added.

It is high time for the opponents of war in all countries to unite before it is too late. The danger of the use of nuclear weapons is real. We must do everything we can to prevent it. This is our responsibility to our children and grandchildren!

Initial signatory:

Sergio Bologna, historian and logistics consultant, Milano
Rüdiger Hachtmann, historian, Berlin
Erik Merks, retired trade union official, Hamburg
Karl Heinz Roth, historian and medical doctor, Bremen
Bernd Schrader, sociologist, Hanover

What if Ukraine war goes nuclear?
by Karl-W. Koch
[This article published on 3/19/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Was, wenn der Ukraine-Krieg atomar eskaliert?]

With the war in Ukraine, a confrontation between nuclear powers Russia and NATO has become conceivable. Ten questions and answers on the possible consequences

Russia expert and former U.S. National Security Advisor Fiona Hill said in a recent interview about Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian nuclear weapons, "The thing about Putin is, when he has an instrument, he wants to use it." (paywall)

From our responsible politicians and from the military officials a too-end-thinking of the next political and military steps is actually to be expected as a matter of course. However, if one follows the statements and discussions in public, there are justified doubts as to whether this can be taken for granted. Let us consider the following ten questions:

Can the Ukraine war escalate nuclear?

Of course! One of the two warring parties involved is a nuclear power. At its head - obviously with unlimited powers - is an unpredictable and ruthless power politician. In the case of an imminent military defeat, nothing and no one will stop him from resorting to "stronger" weapons to turn the course of the war.

Can NATO be "involuntarily" drawn into the war?

Of course! Occasions for an adversary, who is perhaps only looking for a pretext to escalate further, are already provided by NATO. Thus, the deliveries of weapons (anti-aircraft, anti-tank missiles, ...) are clearly a "hostile" act. If these were extended, as discussed to combat aircraft, the danger increases. Also, attacks by the Russian military on the weapons transports could already take place in Poland, which would trigger a NATO case under Art. 5.

Can there be a NATO decision to actively intervene in the war?

Of course! Discussions are already in full swing. The establishment of a no-fly zone over Ukraine would inevitably entail NATO intervention, making it a belligerent. If the no-fly zone is to be effective, Russian aircraft must be prevented from flying there. Only on "instructions" they will not leave the airspace, so they must be shot down, de facto that would be NATO's entry into the war at the latest.
Destruction radii in case of explosion of a SS-25 in German capitals

Estimated destruction on impact of a Russian SS-25 with 800 kilotons in Kiel. Picture: Screenshot Nukemap. A detailed legend of the destruction radii can be found here.

Furthermore, as Russian bombing intensifies, a moment may be reached when the horror on the part of the population of NATO countries becomes so great that they urge their governments to enter the war. This is to be expected in particular if the Russian troops use NBC weapons, i.e. nuclear weapons (see 1.), biological - in my opinion rather unlikely - or chemical warfare agents.

Even below this level, intervention would be conceivable if, for example, large-scale radioactive contamination were triggered by the shelling of nuclear facilities. Targeted bombardment of an interim storage facility would be sufficient. Attacks on nuclear facilities have already occurred.

Would it be possible to limit a nuclear strike?

With great probability not! The reason lies in the logic of nuclear warfare: Every use of nuclear weapons is followed by a counterattack, the principle of deterrence. Due to the extremely short reaction times, the procedures are so well-rehearsed, automated and fixed that there is practically no room for maneuver or decision for those responsible.

The principle of nuclear warfare is the "decapitation" of the enemy, both in terms of weapons and personnel. This means that one's own nuclear missiles must be fired immediately if an attack is imminent, otherwise there is a danger that the commander and/or one's own launch capability will be destroyed before the decision would have been made.

Thanks to the latest hypersonic technology, this reaction time has been shortened again considerably; the former 20 to 30 minutes have long since become obsolete. Also, nuclear-armed submarines are stationed just off the coasts, which also suggests the shortest possible attack times.

Would a nuclear war be terminable after the first exchange of blows?

What has just been said applies here: Probably not! Who starts a nuclear war, assumes that he will win it, otherwise he does not start it. Also the temporal sequences leave no time for reflection or even for negotiation. If a nuclear war is started, it is probably not over until all ready weapons are fired or their launching base would be destroyed.

Eliminating each other's command structure, on the other hand, does little good because that is "priced in": the procedures are automated that they do not require new intermediate orders after the basic first fire order. Both states, with mobile and concealable nuclear weapons (land-based-transportable, bombers-permanently airborne or on submarines in the event of a crisis), have the certain possibility of a retaliatory strike.

The only macabre but unrealistic chance would be if one side deployed a single or a few nuclear weapons and so impressed the other side that it capitulated.

What roles does Germany's "nuclear sharing" play in the current war?

Exactly for this purpose! The current situation is one of the few seriously envisaged deployment scenarios for the bombs from Büchel: they are planned for use in major battles in the event of an attack by Russia. There, the bombs are to be used on large combat units of the enemy. But the convoy over 60 kilometers long in the direction of Kiev in the second week of the war alone shows how little that would work. Directly destroyed would then be a fraction of this convoy (and large parts of the surrounding area, right and left several kilometers wide).

Is there a threat of a first strike against Büchel?

Of course! Because the just said leads conversely to the gladly suppressed problem: Büchel is (like e.g. also Ramstein and Spangdahlem as military hubs of the USA) a clear target for Russia, if Putin decides to a preventive first strike. The population of these regions should be informed about this, and the corresponding emergency plans must be published, if they exist at all.

What would be the consequences of a nuclear strike in Ukraine?

Devastating consequences! The direct consequences would be a massive destruction of the affected area. The nuclear weapons currently in use usually have a much more powerful explosive force than the bomb used in Hiroshima.
Karl-W. Koch, resident in the Eifel region (Mehren), ten kilometers as the crow flies from the Büchel airbase, where U.S. nuclear bombs are held in readiness for deployment. Born in 1952, trained as a chemical laboratory assistant, then studied chemical engineering. From 1982, teacher at vocational schools, lastly upper secondary school with chemistry, mathematics, environmental technology; already before and since retirement active as technical writer, photojournalist and editor; publications on the subject of "nuclear accident".

This is mostly used as a reference in comparisons. The B61 bombs in Büchel have about 10 times the explosive power of the Hiroshima bomb and are currently rated as "small" nuclear weapons. In addition to the firestorm and the shock waves, there is the radioactive contamination of the affected areas.

Besides the direct effect, the indirect effect has to be considered, a drastic change of the local, but also of the global climate, the so-called nuclear winter:

Studies have calculated that the use of 50 to 100 nuclear weapons would lead to a nuclear winter, where dust, soot and wildfires on the affected hemisphere (North/South) would lead to a darkening and thus cooling of the Earth's atmosphere for years.

The famines caused by crop failures would be even more drastic than the direct consequences of the atomic bombs. In addition, there would be high levels of UV radiation due to the depletion of the ozone layer. A significant cooling of the earth's atmosphere over decades would be another consequence. Unimaginable would be the effect of a big nuclear war with 20 - 30 % of the existing potential. Directly usable are about 1600 nuclear bombs of both sides. In a large nuclear war, therefore, the use of at least 500 to 1000 nuclear weapons is to be expected.

Can a nuclear war be won?

Yes! This question can only be answered if it is clear who would wage this war against whom. In the case of the USA against Russia, all experts assume that this war would not be winnable for either side. The destruction on both sides and the consequence of the nuclear winter would be so destructive that also the "victorious" country (and probably the rest of mankind) would be bombed back centuries into the past.

Collapse of most, if not all, civilizations, worldwide famines, contaminated drinking water, untreatable diseases, and hundreds of millions of dead and injured people would be the end of at least large parts of today's world. It does not matter at all whether the USA destroyed Russia twelve times or Russia destroyed the USA eight times.

Even with two "smaller" nuclear powers, for example India against Pakistan, such a war would probably not be won - if no surprise strike succeeds. If the other side still succeeds in counterattacking, 10, 20 or more major cities would be destroyed in each case. Concerning the further consequences, e.g. the nuclear winter, what has been said under the eighth point is valid.

A limited nuclear war of a nuclear power against a non-nuclear state is militarily winnable. The infra and military structure of the opposing state is largely destructible with a manageable amount of nuclear weapons.

Is there an exit strategy?

No! In the logic of nuclear deterrence, there is no room to consider and weigh further consequences. Once one side has decided to deploy, no interruption is conceivable. An action (use of nuclear weapons) MUST be followed immediately - even before the impacts - by a response, otherwise there is a threat of destruction of the second strike capability and/or the command infrastructure.

Without a counterstrike, the attacker would have won. If the second-strike capability is not present or can be eliminated, the adversary is encouraged to launch a first strike, and the war would be winnable. First and second strike must each ensure the extensive destruction of the enemy's capabilities. In an emergency, this would probably take place within a few hours, so there is no possibility for an "exit".

Only the targeted use of a few nuclear weapons - possibly with an appropriate indication to the adversary - would offer an exit chance. Even this variant is improbable, whether the opponent then reacts as desired by pausing or instead carries out the big first(?) strike is completely open, with the corresponding risk for the first attacker.

Conclusion: Everyone who talks about a further escalation of the Ukrainian war should be informed about the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons.
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