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Waging war or building bridges

by Kai Ehlers, S Flounders and Bernhard Romeike
"NATO is de facto at war with Russia and using Ukraine as a tool to do it." And further, "Everything about NATO is hypocrisy. They declare themselves the 'peace alliance,' but their history is nothing but war. Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and now Ukraine, they all reveal that NATO is in fact the pirate power to implement corporate globalization.
Waging war or building bridges?
by Kai Ehlers.
[This article published on 4/12/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=82890.]

The war in Ukraine is currently shaking the world more than other simultaneous wars. Why? Because it is taking place in the middle of Europe? Because it falls out of the blue? Because Vladimir Putin is trampling on the peace that the West wants to secure for the world? The outrage over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which violates international law, is making waves. In the future, it is said, peace and security can no longer be secured with Russia, only against it. A gigantic campaign of sanctions against Russia, an unparalleled spiral of rearmament, and an exclusion of everything Russian that borders on the racist have been set in motion. Who benefits from this? By Kai Ehlers.

Let us pause for a moment: Was it really the case that since the end of the Soviet Union the West, the EU, and Germany in particular, have done everything to build a new security architecture for lasting peace with Russia in place of the collapsed "Cold Peace" system, as Russia has repeatedly proposed? Why did Ukraine have to be torn between the European Union and the Eurasian Union with Russia? Why does NATO have to penetrate all the way to Ukraine? Why can't Ukraine be what it could be from its historical nature as a transit space between East and West, between North and South: a bridge connecting Russia and Europe in its cultural, historical and spiritual diversity?

We could talk to each other about these questions instead of participating in the deepening of the rifts that have already been created and falling into the hysteria of ideological and material rearmament.

Steinmeier's self-criticism oblivious to history

For a better understanding of what the times now demand of people who care about building bridges, it will be good to remember what German President Steinmeier, after the events in Butsha, apparently driven by the militant agitation of Ukrainian Ambassador Andriy Melnyk, believed he had to let the public know - self-critically, as he would have it understood, namely: he was wrong about Putin.

Literally, he declared: "We have failed with the establishment of a common European house, in which Russia is included. We have failed with the approach of including Russia in a common security architecture." (FAZ, 5.4.2022)

That sounds like radical self-criticism, apart from who the "we" is based on. But what is radical about this "self-criticism" is only the inversion of the actual development and the bigoted self-forgetfulness of the role that Steinmeier himself, as a member of German politics, has taken in this development.

Was it not Mikhail Gorbachev, after all, who made the proposal of the "European house" in 1989? Was it not Boris Yeltsin who wanted to join NATO? Was it not Vladimir Putin who offered to renew the Cold War security order, dissolved after the end of the Soviet Union, through a security agreement for the whole of Eurasia? Was it not Putin and his interim successor, Dmitry Medvedev, who have since then repeatedly put forward to NATO, the "West," the proposal of a "security architecture from Vladivostok to Lisbon," which has virtually become canon? Wasn't it Russia that put forward these proposals once again before the current escalation, most recently also in an ultimate manner? And have not all these efforts, which came from the Russian side, simply been countered by the NATO expansions, by the EU expansions to Russia's borders, by the support of colorful revolutions up to the promotion of the coup-like takeover of Ukraine by the Maidan right-wing in 2014 and the subsequent blocking of an implementation of the Minsk resolutions on the part of the Kiev government promoted by the German government, NATO and the USA? No one would have had to be "involved" there, they would only have had to be willing to take up the proposals and negotiate the new order, which would take into account the security needs of Russia and the EU, with each other on an equal footing.

But now the Ukrainian civil war, which has been waged since the Maidan in 2014 as an "anti-terrorist action" from Kiev against the east of the country, has turned into a veritable war that threatens to chaotize the new order of Europe, and beyond that of Eurasia as a whole and worldwide.

One can only call out to the German president and the present German government, who are ready for self-criticism, to stop! It is nice if you, Mr. Steinmeier, placed in such a prominent position as that of a Federal President, recognize your error and even admit it publicly! The error, however, did not consist in not having "integrated" Russia into "our" security architecture. It was rather to have penetratingly pushed aside the proposals and efforts for a common Eurasian security architecture as suggested by Russia and to have answered them with unrestrained enlargement policy instead of accepting them as an invitation to work out a new peace order of Eurasia which would have been able to replace the disintegrated order of the Cold War.
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NATO’s global history of reaction

By Sara Flounders posted on April 4, 2022 https://www.workers.org/2022/04/63075/

The U.S.-commanded military alliance called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – NATO, was founded April 4, 1949. Its initials describe its early geographic reach but obscure NATO’s intent, and how NATO has acted, first from 1949 to 1991, and later from 1991 to the present.

From its founding moment, NATO was an aggressive military apparatus to coordinate the police and military and intelligence apparati among the ten founding West European member countries (plus U.S. and Canada) under U.S. command. NATO’s past 30 years of steady expansion is tied to its original purpose as an imperialist weapon against the working class.

The 1991 broken promise by Secretary of State Baker, echoed by many other Western politicians, to Soviet Prime Minister Gorbachev that if the reunification of Germany went forward “NATO would expand not one inch to the East” is often quoted today in discussing the encirclement of Russia and the root of the war in Ukraine.

What needs to be understood is why did NATO expand? Why was NATO’s expansion inevitable?

NATO expanded because the capitalist markets expanded. The defeat of socialism in Eastern Europe and the dismemberment of the Soviet Union and the auctioning off of formerly nationalized public property and industries was only possible with an enforcement organization.

Just as the U.S., as the center of finance capital, is held together by the largest repressive state apparatus, the largest internal police force, and the largest prison system in the world.

NATO’s founding principle was to ensure a strong U.S. military, political and economic presence in Europe. There was no plan to end the U.S. military occupation of Europe. Its stated purpose from its inception was a military alliance against the Soviet Union.

NATO claimed to be a collective security arrangement against Soviet expansion, even though the Soviet Union was hardly expanding. It was devastated by World War II and had suffered the overwhelming majority of the losses in human life (27 million) and in industrial capacity. Over 700 cities and towns lay in total ruin. Refugee camps and rationing dominated daily life.

The border between two social systems

But the fact that the Soviet Union had survived was threatening to the capitalist class.

In all the countries liberated by the Red Army from Nazi Germany’s occupation in Eastern Europe workers organizations were attempting to reorganize society. Only by organizing on a non-capitalist basis could they defend their countries from absorption by Western imperialism.

Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had spoken in Missouri in 1946 denouncing this development and labeling it an Iron Curtain dividing Europe. His speech was a rallying cry to wall off all economic trade and technological assistance to the entire region the Red Army had liberated.

Socialism in Western Europe?

Capitalist domination of Western Europe was in question. What was labeled as Soviet expansion, imminent Soviet invasion, the Red Scare (with a media frenzy that matches today’s against Russia), was the growing influence of workers’ movements in Western Europe.

The organized power of the working class and of Communist parties was rapidly growing in national parliaments, city councils and powerful unions in war-torn Western Europe, especially in Italy and France. Communists had been the largest force in resistance to the Nazis during the years of German occupation.

In Greece the Communist Party, who had led the anti-fascist resistance, was openly contending for state power. From 1945 to 1949, U.S. and British active intervention in the Civil War in Greece, equipping and helping to coordinate the weak rightwing and monarchist forces, was crucial for defeating the Greek workers’ movement.

This Civil War helped convince the West European ruling class to follow the U.S. into a continent-wide military organization of the capitalist class.

A security umbrella for capitalism

NATO was understood as a security umbrella of Western European imperialist countries. It had, from its founding, a consolidated command structure, with the U.S. military on top.

U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the first Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), was the commander of this new military alliance. U.S.-commanded NATO and the Marshall Plan of U.S. loans and investment funds together stabilized capitalism in Western Europe and assured U.S. corporate domination.

The pre-World War II industrial capacity of much of the world was in ruins. Military security was the essential glue in Western Europe, binding the economic and political dominance of capitalist rule.

For decades NATO and the CIA operated throughout Western Europe, in tandem with the U.S. State Department, disrupting communist-led unions, financing interventions in elections and even using terror attacks against communists and socialist organizations and against the masses.

Operation Gladio was the codename for this ruthless capitalist subversion in Italy, some of which was revealed by Christian Democrat Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti in October 1990.

Impact of nuclear stalemate

The second event in 1949 that consolidated the NATO military alliance was the Soviet Union’s detonation of an atomic bomb on Aug. 29, years ahead of what U.S. intelligence predicted. President Harry Truman immediately called for a re-evaluation of U.S. policies, as the U.S. could no longer simply threaten to wipe out Soviet cities without consequences.

NATO absorbed Greece and Turkey in 1952. Turkey’s membership in NATO meant that NATO had military control of the Bosporus Straits – the essential navigational waterway from the Mediterranean Sea into the Black Sea – a choke point for the Soviet ports of Odessa and Sevastopol.

It was only after West Germany’s acceptance into NATO that the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries formed the Warsaw Pact in 1955 in self-defense. The Soviet leaders saw West Germany’s military and industrial leaders as a continuation of the ruling class that backed the Nazis.

World’s largest military

Although the mass U.S. military during World War II had demobilized by 1949, with NATO U.S. troop presence in Europe tripled by 1950 and reached over 450,000 in 1957. In 1987 U.S. troops surged again to 340,000. (Stars and Stripes, March 15)

Today there are 100,000 U.S. troops in Europe. They are 1/35 of the 3.5 million NATO military force, among its 30 members, with another 2 million reservists and paramilitary forces. But U.S. officers still command this alliance – the largest military force in the world under a single command.

NATO has a permanent, integrated military command structure, composed of both military and civilian personnel from all member states. These forces are trained to follow a strict command structure, use the same equipment and deploy to whatever battlefront the U.S. commanders order them to, including Iraq, and Afghanistan. Each country is forced to pay for the maintenance of their own forces. (shape.nato.int)

Cold War leads to bankruptcy

The Cold War was a relentless war of military expenditures calculated to bankrupt the Soviet Union, which had less wealth and which did not exploit subject nations in the Global South.

According to a NATO report, “The Soviet Union was spending three times as much as the United States on defense with an economy that was one-third the size.” (nato.int) This policy of expanding military costs was enormously profitable to U.S. military industries.

The Soviet Union had to match each U.S./NATO escalation. The 1980 U.S. strategy to deploy nuclear-capable Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles in Western Europe aimed at bankrupting the Soviets.

Reagan’s 1983 Strategic Defense Initiative known as “Star Wars,” called for enormous new military expansion. The Soviet Union, starting in the mid-1980s, devoted 15-17% of its gross national product to military spending.

Concessions, enacted with great U.S. and Western applause by Mikhail Gorbachev, who became the Soviet leader in 1985, led to the complete unraveling and dismemberment of the Soviet Union by 1991.

U.S. victory opens endless war

Instead of the Cold War’s end ushering in the promised era of peace and stability, U.S. imperialism, now dominant, opened a new era of endless war and colonial reconquest. The targets were in Eastern Europe and a collapsed Russia, and in the energy-rich southwestern Asia and North Africa.

The Federal Republic of Germany annexed the German Democratic Republic in 1990 and both populations were absorbed into the NATO Alliance. A new era of open capitalist markets meant that major western corporations seized control of socially owned industries and resources in Eastern Europe and Russia.

Any country resisting complete takeover was targeted. Iraq in 1991 and then Yugoslavia in 1995 and 1999 were early victims of colonial style reconquest.

The corporate media bragged about the level of destruction of these modern, developed countries that had high levels of education, health care and infrastructure. But since they were countries that had no weapons capable of matching U.S. bombers they were destroyed with impunity. They were to serve as an example to others.

Pentagon document for world domination

What was in store for the world was discussed at the highest levels of the U.S. establishment.

In a 1992 article in Workers World newspaper, then WWP chairperson Sam Marcy wrote: “On March 8,1992, the New York Times published excerpts from a 46-page secret Pentagon draft document, (written by Paul D. Wolfowitz), that it said was leaked by Pentagon officials. This document is truly extraordinary.

“It asserts complete U.S. world domination in both political and military terms, and threatens any other countries that even ‘aspire’ to a greater role. In other words, the U.S. is to be the sole and exclusive superpower on the face of the planet. It is to exercise its power not only in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, but also on the territory of the former Soviet Union….

“‘Our first objective,’ it states, ‘is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. It is of fundamental importance to preserve NATO as the primary instrument of Western defense and security, as well as the channel for U.S. influence and participation in European security affairs.’

“But then it adds: ‘While the United States supports the goal of European integration, we must seek to prevent the emergence of European-only security arrangements which would undermine NATO, particularly the alliance’s integrated command structure.’ The latter, of course, is led by the U.S.” https://www.workers.org/marcy/cd/sam92/1992html/s920319.htm

April 4 is a day to remember not only the founding of NATO but the famous condemnation of the Vietnam War made by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1967: “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world is my own government. I cannot be silent.”

NATO is the greatest purveyor of violence and we cannot be silent.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Notes on the Ukraine War

by Bernhard Romeike
[This article published on 4/11/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://das-blaettchen.de/2022/04/anmerkungen-zum-ukraine-krieg-61183.html.]

The present mood of confrontation shows that the world has changed. This has become visible in recent months. The Western notion of a 'rules-based world order' has been shaped over the past 70 years by the outdated idea of a post-industrial world that, as the name suggests, dispenses with industrial development and is instead directed by an omnipresent financial empire. As recently as last November, the Davos Forum was demanding that the rest of the world renounce development. [...] That has failed." Where they got my mail address, I could not find out. The sender is a so-called Schiller Institute. This is based in the USA, has a German-speaking branch and goes back to the politician and "activist" Lyndon LaRouche. He died in 2019 at a ripe old age and was considered to be right-wing and a "conspiracy theorist". However, this does not change the fact that the description quoted above is an accurate assessment of the situation in which we currently find ourselves. In addition, who would not want to help prevent a new world war?

Russia has started a war of aggression against Ukraine, which has already cost great victims within a few weeks, in human lives, material values and in the form of millions of refugees. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has now announced on April 6, 2022: "It must be our goal that Russia does not win this war." Even though "democracy" is invoked today, this is now the third German chancellor in the course of the past nearly 120 years to declare this as the goal of German action.

The U.S. peace movement confirms Scholz's concern in its own way. Bruce K. Gagnon, coordinator of a "Global Network" against weapons and nuclear power in space, from Brunswick, Maine, wrote these days: "NATO is de facto at war with Russia and using Ukraine as a tool to do it." And further, "Everything about NATO is hypocrisy. They declare themselves the 'peace alliance,' but their history is nothing but war. Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and now Ukraine, they all reveal that NATO is in fact the pirate power to implement the globalization of big corporations. NATO's job is to force submission to the demands of Western big business." Now one may object that the man is far from the reality of war in Ukraine and the violent acts of Russian warfare. But he is close to U.S. global policy and strategy. Francis A. Boyle, a law professor at the University of Illinois, drew attention (also on April 6) to the Pentagon's "explicit and public rejection of supporting Biden and Blinken's charges of Russian war crimes in Butscha." Joseph Gerson, Quaker and well-known U.S. peace activist, commented, "probably because they have committed so many themselves."

Now US wars in no way justify Russia's, just as US war crimes do not excuse Russian ones. However, given the heated anti-Russian sentiments in Germany, noting the very different perspective of the American peace movement is helpful. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on the occasion of another meeting of NATO foreign ministers (also on April 6) that the war in Ukraine would continue for "many months or even years." What seems to sound like concern is in fact the concept that the U.S. and NATO are pursuing: Russia is destroying its military and economic resources in this self-inflicted war in Ukraine, whether it ends up "winning" it or not. For its part, the West is determined to fight the Russians to the last Ukrainian. The arms supplies are actively contributing to this. At the same time, it is a convenient opportunity for the East-Central European countries that used to be in the Warsaw Treaty to cheaply dispose of old tanks that have now been sitting around for decades.

At present, there can only be approximations to the geopolitical consequences of Russia's war in Ukraine. One relates to the March 2, 2022, UN General Assembly resolution condemning the Russian invasion, where 141 states voted yes and only five, including Russia, voted no. Carefully overlooked is the fact that there were 35 abstentions, including China, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which together make up about half of humanity. Michael von der Schulenburg, formerly a top diplomat for the UN and the OSCE, drew attention to the fact that most small and medium-sized countries supported this resolution not because they share the West's position, but because they wanted to strengthen the UN Charter and the ban on all military action for political reasons, after three other permanent members of the Security Council, the United States, Great Britain and France, had previously broken international law and waged illegal wars. In Asia, too, only the West's usual allies Japan, Australia and Singapore are participating in the sanctions against Russia; other states in Asia, Africa and Latin America are not. For the world of the South, this is again a war of the white men in the North, like the first and second world wars of the 20th century and the Cold War.

The global consequences of the war will be incalculable. The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research recently announced that it believes the 1.5-degree goal to limit global warming is no longer feasible. It is becoming less likely that we will "still get our act together." War brings its absurdities here as well. The smoke and subsequent emissions from warfare alone, the driving of thousands of tanks on diesel fuel, the burning out of tanks, the gunfire, the burning houses, the explosions of bombs, the smoke from burning tank farms are likely to have already put more particulate matter into the air than all the closures of wood-burning stoves and fireplaces in Germany can "save" in 100 years. The additional arms expenditures that the NATO countries are now making as a "response" to RuStarredssia, for tank weapons, combat aircraft, armed drones and other things, are in turn being diverted away from ecological restructuring. Unless now "short and painless" Russia and the U.S. wage a nuclear war against each other, which would be the short-term "solution" to the problem of humanity, we will have to prepare ourselves for a continuing economic and political descent.

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Related Categories: International | U.S. | Anti-War
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