May Day 2023: Statement / by the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU)

The World Federation of Trade Unions, the militant, class-oriented voice, representing 105 million workers who live, work, and struggle in 133 countries of the 5 continents, honors the 137th anniversary of the struggle of workers in Chicago in 1886 that constituted a lasting milestone of the working class and a bright beacon for the struggles of today and tomorrow for stable work with rights, social security, free public, and universal health and education, dignified life.

Nowadays the crisis of capitalism is deepening in the length and breadth of the globe, resulting in the open violation of democratic and trade union rights, the deterioration of working and living conditions, and the dramatic widening of social inequalities, poverty, and exploitation. The big capital and its political representatives were using the pretext of the capitalist crisis of all kinds to attack even the most fundamental democratic and trade union rights, like the right to strike, to demonstrate, and to organize. They do whatever they can to transfer the consequences of the crisis to the shoulders of the working class, the pensioners, the farmers, and to the poorer part of the self-employed people.

The uncontrollable increase of the prices; especially the prices of essential goods, as well the “energy poverty”, is another way to cut salaries and to protect and increase profits resulting in even more poverty and deterioration of the workers living standards. They once again want the peoples and the workers to pay for their crisis. But the workers are not willing to be shouldered the bill. This message is loudly and clearly heard from more and more workplaces, from more and more countries.

The WFTU affiliates, in the militant spirit of the recent 18th congress we had in Rome one year ago, are at the forefront of these struggles, demanding the satisfaction of the contemporary needs of the workers at all levels: salary, employment, social security, health care, education, culture. We are strengthening our opposition against privatization and anti-labour policies, we stand by the side of the struggling female worker, the one who suffers from double exploitation fighting for equal rights to work, society and life. In the same direction, we continue our fight in favor of the youngsters who always are the first victims of the capitalist crisis and the migrants who are exploited as cheap workforce. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the vulnerable parts of the workers’ class, demanding dignified income for the under-employed workers, proper jobs for the unemployed, and decent pensions for the retired workers. We strengthen our militant actions to ensure all labor rights and freedoms, and the conventions to be implemented in practice instead of being empty words in pares. These struggles are relentlessly and unwaveringly given despite the sharpening of state repression and authoritarianism, unfortunately with the tolerance or even the cooperation of surrendered trade union leaders together with yellow unions who are aligned with the orders of the capital.

In addition to the aftermaths of the pandemic and the economic crisis, the bourgeoisie wants the working class to pay also the price of the imperialist war of the US, NATO, EU with Russia in Unkraine. We reiterate our firm internationalist solidarity with the suffering peoples.  We demand the end of the war in Ukraine, the elimination of all the imperialist wars, the disengagement and dismantling of NATO and all military coalitions, and the abolition of nuclear weapons. We intensify our struggle to ensure the right of peoples to live in peace and determine freely and independently their present and future.  We fight to stop the economic wars and sanctions as a means of promotion of foreign imperialist interests in sovereign and independent countries. We an immediate end to the criminal embargos against socialist Cuba and the continuous crime against the Palestinian people. Our most powerful weapons are INTERNATIONALISM and SOLIDARITY. No worker must feel alone.

The WFTU on the occasion of 2023 International Workers Day conveys its warm, internationalist, militant, and class greetings to all struggling workers and to all militant trade unions that tirelessly and decisively conduct the daily fight for dignity, for the satisfaction of the contemporary need of the working class and the popular strata. We intensify our common actions in every sector, in every country, in every continent, for the emancipation of the working class, to meet our own class interests and needs; against the root cause of poverty, misery, wars, and refugees; to build a just human-centered society with dignified living and working conditions for every human being, a society free of the capitalist barbarity and man-by-man exploitation.

We call upon all the affiliates and friends of WFTU to honor the International Workers Day under the slogans and banners of the WFTU:

-Internationalist solidarity: the weapon of the working class

-We refuse to pay for their crisis

-Stop imperialist blockades and economic wars


World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) is an international federation of trade unions established in 1945. Founded in the immediate aftermath of World War Two, the organization built on the pre-war legacy of the International Federation of Trade Unions as a single structure for trade unions world-wide. With the emergence of the Cold War in the late 1940s, the WFTU splintered, with most trade unions from the Western-aligned countries leaving and creating the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) in 1949.

US General Hypes China as Threat in Latin America / By W.T. Whitney Jr.


The U.S. government has long intervened in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Now the U.S. military is paying attention to China’s economic activities there. 

General Laura Richardson on March 8 reported to the Armed Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on actions and needs of the Southern Command, which she heads. She has charge of all U.S. military operations in the region. 

Citing the 2022 National Security Strategy, Richardson declared that “no region impacts the United States more directly than the Western Hemisphere …. [There] autocrats are working overtime to undermine democracy.” And security there “is critical to homeland defense.”

Richardson stated that “the PRC (People’s Republic of China) has both the capability and intent to eschew international norms, advance its brand of authoritarianism, and amass power and influence at the expense of the existing and emerging democracies in our hemisphere.” The Southern Command’s “main priority … is to expose and mitigate PRC malign activity.”

She sees a “myriad of ways in which the PRC is spreading its malign influence, wielding its economic might, and conducting gray zone activities to expand its military and political access and influence.” A “grey zone,” according to the NATO-friendly Atlantic Council, is a “set of activities … [like] nefarious economic activities, influence operations, … cyberattacks, mercenary operations, assassinations, and disinformation campaigns.”

Richardson highlighted China’s trade with LAC that is heading toward “$700 billion [annually] by 2035.” The United States, in her view, will be facing intense competition and presently “its comparative trade advantage is eroding.”

She added that, “The PRC’s efforts to extract South America’s natural resources to support its own population … are conducted at the expense of our partner nations and their citizens.” And opportunities for “quality private sector investment” are disappearing.

Competition extends to space: “11 PRC-linked space facilities across five countries in this region [enable] space tracking and surveillance capabilities.” Richardson complained of “24 countries [that] have existing Chinese telecommunication infrastructure (3G/4G), increasing their potential to transition to Chinese 5G.” 

She expressed concern both about surveillance networks supplied by China that represent a “potential counterintelligence threat” and about Latin Americans going to China “to receive training on cybersecurity and military doctrine.” Richardson denounced China’s role in facilitating environmental crimes and pointed to “potential dual use for malign commercial and military activities.”

“Relationships absolutely matter,” she insisted, “and our partner democracies are desperate for assistance from the United States.” Plus, “if we’re not there in time, they … take what’s available, creating opportunities for the PRC.”

Moving beyond China, Richardson indicated that “many partner nations …  see TCOs (transnational criminal organizations) as their primary security challenge.” That’s because drug-cartel violence leads to deaths and poverty and “illicit funds exacerbate regionalcorruption, insecurity, and instability.”

Her report avoids mention of particular countries other than offering brief references to Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. She criticized Russia for “military engagements with Venezuela and Nicaragua” and for spreading “false narratives.” Richardson praised Colombia for providing military training in other countries. 

The Southern Command gains “exponential return” on supplying various countries with U.S. weapons and supplies. It conducts joint military exercises, and “provides professional military education to personnel from 28 countries.”

Richardson reported at length on processes she sees as fostering useful relationships between her command and the various governments and military services. The tone of urgency characterizing her discussion on China was entirely lacking. 

Economic intervention

General Richardson’s view that China has greatly expanded its economic involvement with the LAC nations is on target.

Since 2005, China’s state-owned banks have arranged for 117 loans in the region worth, in all, more than $140 billion. They averaged over $10 billion annually. Since 2020, China has made fewer loans.

Chinese trade with Latin America grew from $12 billion in 2000 to $448 billion in 2021. China’s imports of “ores (42%), soybeans (16%), mineral fuels and oils (10%), meat (6%), and copper (5%)” totaled $221 billion in 2021. The value of exported manufactured goods that year was $227 billion. By 2022, China had become the biggest trading partner in four Latin American countries and the second-largest in many others.  

China’s foreign direct investment (FDI) has long represented China’s strongest economic tie to the region. FDI signifies funding of projects abroad directed at long-term impact. China’s FDI from 2005 to mid-2022 was $143 billion. Energy projects and “metals/mining” accounted for 59% and 24% of the total, respectively. Of that total, Brazil and Peru received 45% and 17%, respectively. 

The FDI flow since 2016 has averaged $4.5 billion annually; worldwide, China’s FDI has contracted.

Chinese banks and corporations have invested heavily in lithium production in Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, which, together, account for 56% of the world’s lithium deposits. China is the largest investor in Peru’s mining sector, controlling seven large mines and owning two of Peru’s biggest copper mines. Brazil is the world’s largest recipient of Chinese investments.  

China’s government has linked FDI to its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that began in 2013. As of May 2022, 21 Latin American and Caribbean countries were cooperating with the BRI and 11 of them had formally joined.

On the ground

U.S. military intervention in LAC is far from new. Analyst Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein complements Richardson’s report with a three-part survey, accessible herehere, and here, of recent U.S. military activities in the region.

He indicates the United States now has “12 military bases in Panamá, 12 in Puerto Rico, 9 in Colombia, 8 in Perú, 3 in Honduras, 2 in Paraguay, as well as similar installations in Aruba, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Cuba (Guantánamo), and in other countries.”

Rodríguez maintains that, “levels of aggressive interference by Washington in the region have increased dramatically” and that U.S. embassies there are supplied with more military, Cuba, Nicaragua, and CIA personnel than ever before.

Rodríguez notes features of the LAC region that attract U.S. attention, among them: closeness to strategically-important Antarctica; reserves of fresh water and biodiversity in Amazonian regions; the Guarani Aquifer near the triple frontier of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina, the largest in the world; and huge reserves of valuable natural resources.

Among ongoing or recent U.S. military interventions are these:

·        The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is implementing a “master plan” for navigability of the Paraguay River and Plata River Basin. The nearby Triple Frontier area supposedly harbors international terrorism and drug-trafficking.

·        The U.S. military facility in Neuquén, Argentina is turning from its alleged humanitarian mission to activities in line with local preparations for oil extraction.            

·        U.S. officials on October 13, 2022 announced that 95 military vehicles were being donated to Guatemala for drug-war activities.   

·        In Brazil in September 2022, General Richardson indicated that U.S. forces would join Brazilian counterparts to fight fires in the Amazon..

·        The Southern Command’s fostering of good relations with Peru’s military has borne fruit. Under consideration in Peru’s Congress is a proposal to authorize the entry of foreign military forces. To what nation would they belong? Hint: former CIA operative and U.S. Ambassador Lisa Kenna met with Peru’s Defense Minister the day before President Pedro Castillo was removed in a parliamentary coup on December 7, 2022.

·        In March 2023, two U.S. congresspersons proposed that U.S. troops enter Mexico to carry out drug-war operations.

·        Presently the United States is making great efforts to establish a naval base on Gorgona island off Colombia’s Pacific coast. It would be the ninth U.S. base in Colombia, a NATO “global partner.”

·        In Colombia, U.S. troops acting on behalf of NATO, are active in that country’s Amazon region supposedly to protect the environment and combat drug-trafficking.

·        The U.S. National Defense Authorization Act of December 2022 awarded the Southern Command $858 million for military operations in Ecuador.

·        In a second visit, the US Coast Guard Cutter Stone was plying Uruguayan waters in February ostensibly to train with local counterparts for search and rescue operations. The ship was also monitoring the nearby Chinese fishing fleet.

Rodríguez does not comment on U.S. interventions in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. That’s because they’ve persisted for “more than 60, 40, and 20 years, respectively” and each requires a “special report.”

John Quincy Adams returns

Proclaiming the Monroe Doctrine 200 years ago, Secretary of State Adams informed European powers that the United States regarded “any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.”

General Richardson would apply the warning of that era to the PRC. Yet signs of hegemonic aspirations from that quarter are absent.

Commenting recently, Argentinian economist and academician Claudio Katz notes that, “China concentrates its forces in the economic arena while avoiding confrontations at the political or military level … Investments are not accompanied by troops and bases, useful for guaranteeing return on investments.”

Besides, China “does business with all governments, without regard to their internal politics.” That tendency, Katz writes, stems from the PRC having “arisen from a socialist experience, having hybrid characteristics, and not completing a passage to capitalism.” He maintains that China, with its economic involvement, contributes nothing to advancing socialism in the region.   


W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.

Rage Against The War Machine Speech / By Chris Hedges

Murder King – by Mr. Fish

Originally published in Sheerpost on February 19, 2023

Hedges spoke at the Washington DC rally on Feb. 19 alongside an array of other notable speakers.

Idolatry is the primal sin from which all other sins derive. Idols tempt us to become God. They  demand the sacrifice of others in the mad quest for wealth, fame or power. But the idol always ends by requiring self-sacrifice, leaving us to perish on the blood-soaked altars we erected for others. 

For empires are not murdered, they commit suicide at the feet of the idols that entrance them. 

We are here today to denounce the unelected, unaccountable high priests of Empire, who funnel the bodies of millions of victims, along with trillions of our national wealth, into the bowels of our own version of the Canaanite idol, Moloch.

The political class, the media, the entertainment industry, the financiers and even religious institutions bay like wolves for the blood of Muslims or Russians or Chinese, or whoever the idol has demonized as unworthy of life. There were no rational objectives in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Somalia. There are none in Ukraine. Permanent war and industrial slaughter are their own justification. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing and Northrop Grumman earn billions of dollars in profits. The vast expenditures demanded by the Pentagon are sacrosanct. The cabal of warmongering pundits, diplomats and technocrats, who smugly dodge responsibility for the array of military disasters they orchestrate, are protean, shifting adroitly with the political tides, moving from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party and then back again, mutating from cold warriors to neocons to liberal interventionists. Julien Benda called these courtiers to power “the self-made barbarians of the intelligentsia.”

These pimps of war do not see the corpses of their victims. I did. Including children. Every lifeless body I stood over as a reporter in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Bosnia, or Kosovo, month after month, year after year, exposed their moral bankruptcy, intellectual dishonesty, sick bloodlust and delusional fantasies. They are puppets of the Pentagon, a state within a state, and the weapons manufacturers who lavishly fund their think tanks: Project for the New American CenturyForeign Policy InitiativeAmerican Enterprise InstituteCenter for a New American SecurityInstitute for the Study of WarAtlantic Council and Brookings Institute. Like some mutant strain of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, they cannot be vanquished. It does not matter how wrong they are, how absurd their theories of global dominance, how many times they lie or denigrate other cultures and societies as uncivilized or how many they condemn to death. They are immovable props, parasites vomited up in the dying days of all empires, ready to sell us the next virtuous war against whoever they have decided is the new Hitler. The map changes. The game is the same.

Pity our prophets, those who wander the desolate landscape crying out in the darkness. Pity Julian Assange, undergoing a slow-motion execution in a high-security prison in London. He committed Empire’s fatal sin. He exposed its crimes, its machinery of death, its moral depravity. 

A society that prohibits the capacity to speak in truth extinguishes the capacity to live in justice.

Some here today might like to think of themselves as radicals, maybe even revolutionaries. But what we are demanding on the political spectrum is, in fact, conservative: the restoration of the rule of law. It is simple and basic. It should not, in a functioning republic, be incendiary. But living in truth in a despotic system, one the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin called “inverted totalitarianism,” is subversive. 

The architects of imperialism, the masters of war, the corporate-controlled legislative, judicial and executive branches of government and their obsequious mouth pieces in the media and academia, are illegitimate. Say this simple truth and you are banished, as many of us have been, to the margins. Prove this truth, as Julian did, and you are crucified.

“Red Rosa now has vanished too…” Bertolt Brecht wrote of the murdered socialist Rosa Luxemburg. “She told the poor what life is about, And so the rich have rubbed her out.”

We have undergone a corporate coup d’état, where the poor and working men and women, half of whom lack $400 to cover an emergency expense, are reduced to chronic instability. Joblessness and food insecurity are endemic. Our communities and cities are desolate. War, financial speculation, constant surveillance and militarized police that function as internal armies of occupation are the only real concerns of the state. Even habeas corpus no longer exists. We, as citizens, are commodities to corporate systems of power, used and discarded. And the endless wars we fight overseas have spawned the wars we fight at home, as the students I teach in the New Jersey prison system are acutely aware. All empires die in the same act of self-immolation. The tyranny the Athenian empire imposed on others, Thucydides noted in his history of the Peloponnesian war, it finally imposed on itself.

To fight back, to reach out and help the weak, the oppressed and the suffering, to save the planet from ecocide, to decry the domestic and international crimes of the ruling class, to demand justice, to live in truth, to smash the graven images, is to bear the mark of Cain.

Those in power must feel our wrath, which means constant acts of non-violent civil disobedience, social and political disruption. Organized power from below is the only power that can save us. Politics is a game of fear. It is our duty to make those in power very, very afraid.

The ruling oligarchy has us locked in its death grip. It cannot be reformed. It obscures and falsifies the truth.  It is on a maniacal quest to increase its obscene wealth and unchecked power. It forces us to kneel before its false gods. And so, to quote the Queen of Hearts, metaphorically, of course, I say, “Off with their heads!” 


Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He was an early and outspoken critic of the US plan to invade and occupy Iraq and called the press coverage at the time “shameful cheerleading.” He is the author of the 2002 best seller, War is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, which is an examination of what war does to individuals and societies. He states that war is the pornography of violence, a powerful narcotic that “…has a dark beauty, filled with the monstrous and the grotesque.” Hedges has also published the following books: What Every Person Should Know About War (2003); Losing Moses on the Freeway: The Ten Commandments in America (2005); American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (2008); I Don’t Believe in Atheists (2008); Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle ( 2009); and Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (2012). He writes a weekly column for Truthdig.com

NATO arms transfers to Ukraine risk nuclear nightmare / by Scott Ritter

A soldier walks past a line of M1 Abrams tanks at Fort Carson, Colorado Springs | Photo by Christian Murdock

Posted to Canadian Dimension on January 27, 2023

The West’s recent approval of more military assistance for Kyiv could lead to rapid and irreversible escalation.

Early on the morning of May 2, 1945, General Vasily Chuikov, the commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army, accepted the surrender of the German garrison of Berlin.

Two days prior, soldiers from the 150th Rifle Division, part of the Soviet 5th Shock Army, had raised the victory banner of the Red Army over the Reichstag. An hour after the banner went up, Adolf Hitler and his mistress, Eva Braun, committed suicide in his study inside the Furhrerbunker.

Chuikov, the hero of Stalingrad whose battered 62nd Army was renamed the 8th Guards Army in honor of their victory in holding that city in the face of a massive German onslaught, had led his troops into the heart of the Nazi capital, battling stubborn Nazi resistance in the Tiergarten district of Berlin, where the den of the Nazi beast was located. The Soviet general was rewarded for the courage and sacrifice of his soldiers by being in position to accept the German surrender.

In honour of this accomplishment, and the sacrifice it entailed, the Soviet Army inaugurated, in November 1945, a commemorative monument along the Tiergarten. Constructed from red marble and granite stripped away from the ruins of Adolf Hitler’s Neue Reichskanzlei (New Imperial Chancellery), the monument, consisting of a concave colonnade of six joined axes flanked by Red Army artillery and a pair of T-34 tanks, with a giant bronze statue of a victorious Red Army soldier standing watch from the center pylon.

From 1945 until 1993, when the Russian Army withdrew from Berlin, Soviet guards stood guard over the monument. Since that time, the monument has been maintained according to the terms of the German Reunification Treaty of 1990, which brought West and East Germany together in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Carved into the granite of the monument, in Cyrillic letters, is an inscription that reads “Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in battle with the German fascist occupiers for the freedom and independence of the Soviet Union.”

In a turn of events which must have Vasily Chuikov and the Soviet heroes to whom the Tiergarten war memorial was dedicated turning in their graves, the forces of fascism have once again reared their odious heads, this time manifested in a Ukrainian government motivated by the neo-Nazi ultra-nationalistic ideology of Stepan Bandera and his ilk.

Bandera and his murderous movement had been physically defeated by Soviet forces in the decade following the end of the Second World War. However, its ideology survived in a western Ukrainian diaspora formed from the survivors of that movement who found safe haven in West Germany (where Bandera himself settled until assassinated by the Soviet KGB in 1959); Canada (where Chrystia Freeland, the granddaughter of a former publisher of pro-Bandera propaganda, currently serves as deputy prime minister), and the United States (where the followers of Bandera have constructed a “heroes park” outside Ellenville, New York, including a bust of Bandera and other neo-Nazi Ukrainian ultra-nationalists).

The ideology also survived in the shadows of the western Ukrainian districts that had been absorbed by the Soviet Union following the dismemberment of Poland in 1939, and later, after the reoccupation of these territories by Soviet forces in 1945.

CIA-funded political underground

Here, beginning in 1956 (following the de-Stalinization policies instituted by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in the aftermath of his “secret speech” to members of the Communist Party), thousands of members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Bandera (OUN-B), who had been arrested and convicted by Soviet authorities, were released from the Gulag and returned to their homes, ostensibly to be reintegrated into Soviet society. This reintegration never materialized, however.

Instead, Ukrainian fascists, funded by the CIA, operated as a political underground, running sabotage operations and fomenting anti-Soviet ideology amongst a population where the precepts of Ukrainian nationalist ideology ran strong.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, at the end of 1991, these Ukrainian nationalists emerged from the shadows and began organizing into political parties backed by gangs of violence-prone extremists who promulgated, through physical intimidation, a cult of personality built around Bandera.

Political parties such as Svoboda (“Freedom”) and Right Sector came into being. Although lacking support among the majority of the Ukrainian population, these groups were able to leverage their penchant for organization and violence into a dominant role in the riots that broke out in Maidan Square in Kyiv, in early 2014, that led to the ouster of democratically-elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych and his replacement by a government of figures hand-picked by the United States, including the future prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

An intercepted phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, which took place in the days prior to the ouster of Yanukovych in February 2014, had Nuland positioning Yatsenyuk as the future leader of Ukraine and, in this context, was actively encouraging Yatsenyuk to coordinate with Oleh Tyahnybok, the head of Svoboda, who was being openly backed by armed radicals from the Right Sector.

The close coordination between the new post-Maidan government of Ukraine and the pro-Bandera Svoboda and Right Sector political parties manifested in these organizations having an oversized role in Ukrainian security affairs.

By way of example, Dmytro Yarosh, the former head of Right Sector, became an adviser to the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi. In that role, Yarosh oversaw the incorporation of numerous volunteer units of the Right Sector into the regular armed forces of Ukraine.

One of the units created because of this reorganization is the 67th Separate Mechanized Brigade, which since November 2022 has been undergoing training in the United Kingdom.

The fact that NATO members, such as the United Kingdom, are actively involved in the training of Ukrainian forces is well-established. In July 2022 the British Defense Ministry announced that it would begin training approximately 10,000 Ukrainian troops every four months.

That they are playing an active role in providing combat training to ardent neo-Nazi military formations is something Western media outlets appear to eschew.

Protesters with the OUN-B’s red and black flag among Maidan Square protesters in Kyiv, December 2013 | Photo: Nessa Gnatoush/Wikimedia
Ukraine defense contact group

The issue, however, is far more complex⁠—and controversial⁠—than simply providing basic military training to a few thousand adherents of Bandera’s hate-filled ideology.

The 67th Separate Mechanized Brigade is likely to be one of three Ukrainian brigade-sized formations that will be trained and equipped using billions of dollars of military assistance recently approved during the eighth session of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

The contact group was first convened at the sprawling US Air Force base in Ramstein, Germany, in April 2022, and has served as the primary mechanism of coordination between the armed forces of Ukraine and NATO regarding the provision of training and material support to the Ukrainian military.

The most recent convocation of the Ramstein Contact Group took place in the shadow of an interview given by the commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, to The Economist, in December 2022. According to Zaluzhnyi, the primary problem facing Ukraine was the need “to hold this line [i.e., the Soledar-Bakhmut defensive belt] and not lose any more ground.”

Since that interview, Soledar has fallen to the Russians, and Bakhmut is threatened with being surrounded. Moreover, Russian forces are on the offensive north and south of the Bakhmut front, in some instances advancing up to seven kilometers per day.

Zaluzhnyi also stated that the second priority for Ukraine was:

to get ready for this war which can happen in February [2023]. To be able to wage a war with fresh forces and reserves. Our troops are all tied up in battles now, they are bleeding. They are bleeding and are being held together solely by courage, heroism, and the ability of their commanders to keep the situation under control.


The Ukrainian commander noted that the February “war” would have Ukraine resuming the attack:

We have made all the calculations—how many tanks, artillery we need and so on and so on. This is what everyone needs to concentrate on right now. May the soldiers in the trenches forgive me, it’s more important to focus on the accumulation of resources right now for the more protracted and heavier battles that may begin next year.


The goal of this offensive, Zaluzhnyi said, was to push Russia back to the borders that existed on February 23, 2022, the start of the Russian invasion. He also indicated that the liberation of Crimea was an objective.

“In order to reach the borders of Crimea, as of today we need to cover a distance of 84 kilometres to Melitopol [a strategic city in the south of the Donetsk Republic]. By the way, this is enough for us, because Melitopol would give us a full fire control of the land corridor, because from Melitopol we can already fire at the Crimean Isthmus.”

Zaluzhnyi exuded confidence. “I know that I can beat this enemy,” he said. “But I need resources. I need 300 tanks, 600-700 IFV’s [infantry fighting vehicles], 500 Howitzers. Then, I think it is completely realistic to get to the lines of February 23.”

Zaluzhnyi spoke of an upcoming meeting with US General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I will tell him [Milley] how much it is worth, how much it costs. If we don’t get it, of course we will fight to the end. But as a movie character said, ‘I don’t vouch for the consequences.’ The consequences are not hard to foresee. This is what we have to do.”

In short, Zaluzhnyi was saying he could win the war with Russia if he received the requested amount of military equipment. Otherwise, Ukraine would likely lose the conflict.

The eighth session

The eighth session of the Ramstein Contact Group convened on January 20 and the Ukrainians pressed hard for their Western allies to provide the material support Zaluzhnyi had requested.

Defense ministers from more than 50 countries participated, including Ukraine’s Oleksii Reznikov who, speaking at the Davos World Economic Forum a few days before the Ramstein meeting, declared that “We [Ukraine] are carrying out NATO’s mission today. They aren’t shedding their blood. We’re shedding ours. That’s why they’re required to supply us with weapons.”

The Contact Group took the Ukrainian demand for material support under consideration, and by the end of the meeting had committed to providing Ukraine with a multi-billion dollar support package, including air defense weapons, artillery ammunition, support vehicle, and (perhaps most importantly) approximately 240 of the 500 infantry fighting vehicles it had requested, broken down roughly into one battalion (59 vehicles) of US-made M-2 Bradleys, two battalions (90 vehicles) of M-1126s, one battalion (40 vehicles) of German Marders and one battalion (approximately 50 vehicles) of Swedish-made CV90s.

The Ramstein Contact Group also promised delivery of four self-propelled artillery battalions, consisting of 19 Swedish-made Archer’s, 18 British-made AS-90’s, 18 US-made M-109 Paladin’s, and a dozen French-made CEASAR’s. When added to the 24 towed FH-70 pieces, the total of artillery pieces being sent to Ukraine amounts to just under 100 artillery pieces, a far cry from the 500 requested by Zaluzhnyi.

Missing from the Ramstein Contact Group list was anything remotely resembling the 300 tanks Zaluzhnyi had requested; the best Ukraine’s European allies could muster [until Tuesday] was a promise from the United Kingdom to supply a company’s worth (14) of Challenger 2 main battle tanks.

Zaluzhnyi, in his interview with The Economist, had indicated that he could not accomplish his planned offensive with anything less than the three armored and three mechanized brigade-equivalents he had requested.

The collective West had responded with barely two brigade’s worth of equipment.

These two, when added to a third mechanized brigade that had previously been formed and was undergoing training in Poland, gave the Ukrainian general half of what he claimed he needed to launch a successful offensive against Russia.

For US General Milley, the equipment shortfall wasn’t the issue⁠—training was. Prior to arriving at Ramstein, Milley toured the sprawling Grafenwoehr training grounds in Germany. There the US Army is in the process of training some 600 Ukrainian soldiers to effectively move and coordinate their company-and battalion-size units in battle, using combined artillery, armor and ground forces.

Speaking to reporters, General Milley said such training was critical in helping Ukraine recapture territory lost to Russia last year. The goal of this training, Milley said, is for incoming weapons and equipment to be delivered to Ukraine so the newly trained forces will be able to use it “sometime before the spring rains show up. That would be ideal.”

Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov, right, with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin during a Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, September 8, 2022. Photo by Chad J. McNeeley/US Department of Defense/Flickr.
What the West is giving

Operational training, no matter how competently delivered and absorbed, does not paint an accurate picture of the true combat capability being turned over to Ukraine by the West. The reality is most of this equipment won’t last a month under combat conditions; even if the Russians don’t destroy them, maintenance issues will.

Take, for instance, the 59 M-2 Bradley vehicles being supplied by the United States. According to anecdotal information obtained from Reddit, the Bradley is, to quote, “a maintenance NIGHTMARE.”

“I can’t even begin to commiserate how f***ing awful maintenance on a Bradley is,” the author, a self-described US Army veteran who served in a Bradley unit in Iraq, declared.

Two experienced crews MIGHT be able to change one Brad’s track in 3 or 4 hours, if nothing goes wrong (something always goes wrong). Then you got the track adjuster arms, the shock arms, the roadwheels, the sprocket itself, that all need maintained and replaced as needed. I haven’t even started talking about the engine/transmission pack yet. When you do services on that, it’s not like you just raise the engine deck lid. You got to take the armor OFF the Bradley so an M88 Wrecker vehicle can use its crane to LIFT the engine/tranny out of the hull.


The Stryker isn’t any better. According to a recent article in Responsible Statecraft, US soldiers who used the vehicle in both Iraq and Afghanistan called the Stryker “a very good combat vehicle, so long as it traveled on roads, it wasn’t raining⁠—and didn’t have to fight.”

The Stryker is also a difficult system to maintain properly. One of the critical features of the Stryker is the “height management system,” or HMS. In short, it is what keeps the hull from riding on the tires. A failure to constantly maintain and monitor the HMS system will result in the hull rubbing up against the tires, causing tire failure and a non-operable vehicle.

The HMS is complex, and a failure to maintain or operate one component will result in the failure of the entire system. The likelihood of the future Ukrainian operators of the Stryker properly maintaining the HMS under combat conditions is near-zero—they will lack the training as well as the “logistical support” necessary (such as spare parts).

The German Marder IFV appears to represent a similar maintenance headache for the Ukrainians: according to a 2021 article in The National Interest, “The vehicle was considered unreliable from the outset: Tracks rapidly wore out, transmissions often failed, and soldiers could not easily remove the vehicle’s engine for field maintenance.”

While Germany is preparing to invest a significant amount of money to upgrade the Marder, this hasn’t yet been done. Ukraine is inheriting an old weapons system that brings with it a considerable maintenance problem Ukraine is not prepared to properly handle.

The Swedish CV 90 saw some limited combat in Afghanistan when deployed with the Norwegian Army. While there is not enough publicly available data about the maintainability of this system, one only needs to note that even if the SV 90 proves easy to maintain, it represents a completely different maintenance problem from that of the Bradly, Stryker, or Marder.

In short, to properly operate the five battalion-equivalents of infantry fighting vehicles being supplied their NATO partners, Ukraine will need to train its maintenance troops on four completely different systems, each with its own unique set of problems and separate logistical/spare part support requirements.

It is, literally, a logistical nightmare that will ultimately prove to be the Achilles heel of the Ramstein tranche of heavy equipment.

But even here, neither NATO nor Ukraine seems able to see the forest for the trees. Rather than acknowledging that the material being provided is inadequate to the task of empowering Ukraine to carry out large-scale offensive operations against Russia, the two sides began haranguing each other over the issue of tanks, namely the failure of Germany to step up to the plate in Ramstein and clear the way for the provision to Ukraine of hundreds of modern Leopard 2 main battle tanks.

German history and optics

The Ramstein meeting was hampered by concern within the German Parliament over the optics associated with Germany providing tanks which would be used to fight Russians in Ukraine.

This angst was perhaps best captured by Petr Bystron of the right-wing Alternative for Germany party. “German tanks [fighting] against Russia in Ukraine,” Bystron challenged his colleagues, “remember, your grandfathers tried to do the same trick, together with [Ukrainian nationalists] Melnik, Bandera and their supporters.

“The result was immense suffering, millions of casualties on both sides and, eventually, Russian tanks came here, to Berlin. Two of those tanks remain on permanent display nearby, and you must keep this in mind when you pass them by every morning,” Bystron said, referring to the two Soviet T-34 tanks at the Tiergarten memorial to fallen Soviet soldiers.

The issue of Leopard tanks, however, was more political than technical, with Poland threatening to ignore Germany’s refusal to allow the tanks to be sent to Ukraine, announcing that it was prepared to dispatch 14 of its own Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine in the near future. When combined with the 14 Challenger 2 tanks being promised by the British, Ukraine was getting 28 of the 300 tanks it said it needed for any future offensive (now roughly 58 with the US Abrams).

The numerical disparities and maintenance difficulties aside, NATO politicians seem quite pleased with what was accomplished at Ramstein. According to British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, in an address to Parliament:

The international community recognizes that equipping Ukraine to push Russia out of its territory is as important as equipping them to defend what they already have. Today’s package is an important increase in Ukraine’s capabilities. It means they can go from resisting to expelling Russian forces from Ukrainian soil.


Wallace seems to ignore that by empowering Ukraine to expel Russian troops from what are⁠—following the annexation of the four former Ukrainian territories (Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Kherson) last September⁠—permanently part of the Russian Federation, NATO would be potentially creating the conditions under which Russia would be able to doctrinally employ nuclear weapons. Those conditions would be to defend against the accumulation of conventional military power capable of threatening the existential survival of Russia.

Russia, however, has not ignored this. Speaking after the Ramstein Contact Group finished its meeting, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, “Potentially, this is extremely dangerous, it will mean bringing the conflict to a whole new level, which, of course, will not bode well from the point of view of global and pan-European security.”

Senior Russian officials chimed in on social media. Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the United States, declared on his Telegram channel that:

It should be clear for everyone⁠—we will destroy any weapons supplied to the Zelensky’s regime by either the United States or NATO. That is true now as it was true during the Great Patriotic War. The emergence of tanks, bearing Nazi insignia, on the former Soviet soil unequivocally makes us aim at toppling the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine and creating normal conditions so that the neighboring peoples in the region could live peacefully like in the old days.


Dmitri Medvedev, a former Russian president and close adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, added on Twitter that those who promote a Russian defeat risk unleashing global ruin. “None of them gets it that a nuclear power’s loss of a conventional war can lead to a nuclear one. Nuclear powers haven’t been defeated in major conflicts crucial for their destiny.”

The consequences for Ukraine

The reality is, however, that the consequences of the Ramstein Contact Group’s work will be far more detrimental to Ukraine than Russia.

Under pressure from the West to carry out a major offensive designed to expel Russian forces from the territories captured last year, General Zaluzhnyi will be compelled to sacrifice whatever reserves he would be able to assemble in the aftermath of Ramstein for the purpose of engaging in fruitless attacks against a Russian opponent that is far different from the one Ukraine faced in September and October of last year.

Then, a reconstituted Ukrainian army, bolstered by tens of billions of dollars of NATO equipment, training and operational support, was able to take advantage of over-extended Russian forces to recapture large swaths of territory in Kharkov and Kherson.

Today, Russia’s military presence in Ukraine is a far cry from what it was in the autumn of 2022. In the aftermath of Putin’s September 2022 decision to mobilize 300,000 reservists, Russia has not only consolidated the frontline in eastern Ukraine, assuming a more defensible posture, but also reinforced its forces with some 80,000 mobilized troops, allowing for Russia to sustain offensive operations in the Donetsk regions while solidifying its defenses in Kherson and Luhansk.

From February 24 through the autumn of 2022, Russia deviated significantly from how it doctrinally prosecutes armed conflict. Moving forward, Russia will be waging war by the book. Defensive positions will be laid in a manner designed to defeat concerted NATO attack, both in terms of troop density along the frontline, but also in depth (something lacking in the Kharkov offensive in September 2022) and with sufficient dedicated fire support (again, lacking in September 2022).

By General Zaluzhnyi’s own admission, Ukraine has insufficient forces for the task. Even if Ukraine were able to concentrate all three brigades’ worth of men and material that are in the pipeline following the Ramstein Contact Group meeting at one place at the same time, the 20,000 or so troops this represents would be unable to breach a Russian defensive position laid out in doctrinal fashion.

Ukraine and NATO should heed the history lesson that Petr Bystron presented to his fellow German parliamentarians—German tanks do not historically fare well against Russian tanks on Ukrainian soil.

And Ben Wallace and Mark Milley should pay attention to the order of battle of the Russian forces opposing the Ukrainian Army, especially around the critical battlefields in and around the strategic city of Bakhmut. There, Russian soldiers belonging to the 8th Guards Army are poised to continue in the tradition of Vasily Chuikov’s heroes of Stalingrad and Berlin, destroying the forces of fascism on the field of battle.

While the modern-day soldiers of the 8th Guards Army may not be mounting a new generation of tanks on display in the Berlin Tiergarten, rest assured they know fully well their historical legacy and what is expected of them.

This, more than anything else, is the true expression of the Ramstein effect, a cause-effect relationship that the West does not seem either able or willing to discern before it is too late for the tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers whose lives are about to be sacrificed on an altar of national hubris and ignorance.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Canadian Dimension.


Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD.

This article originally appeared on ConsortiumNews.com.

Sadness and Solidarity: a poem / by Bruce Gagnon

Originally posted in Organizing Notes on January 30, 2023


I am gripped by sadness,
clouds
of sea smoke
clinging to me,
waiting for the sun
to return,
bring
life again.

It’s a sadness
I’ve long known.

First becoming
recognizable
at a young age
when I read about
Washington’s army
slaughtering the Lakota
at Wounded Knee.

Wounded Knee (1890)

Today the sadness
descends on me
as I see Washington’s
darkness
illuminate the sky
via HIMARS rockets,
battle tanks being queued up
to be delivered to the front,
like the Hotchkiss guns
sent to South Dakota
in 1890.

The U.S. targets have changed over time.
Ukrainian ‘allies’ just hit
a civilian hospital
in Novoaydar,
(using Pentagon supplied targeting coordinates)
HIMARS was long-range weapon of choice
killing 14 people and injuring 24.
Nonstop Nazi attacks in the Donbass
since 2014.
All on behalf of the ‘defensive’ NATO alliance.

No anguished cries
are heard from western media,
nor from those who denounce Putin
for defending
the long-suffering victims
of US client state
Nazi terror along Russia’s border.

What comes next
to the war zone?
F-16’s and nukes?

Out of my deep sadness
seeps energy for
solidarity
which I learned to sing about
in my farm worker union days.

In current times
I am moved to rail against
Raytheon, Lockheed Martin,
General Dynamics, Boeing
and the rest of the warmongers
(and their puppets in Congress)
making massive profits
by killing the so-called enemies
of the uni-polar pirates.

I’ve lost friends over this solidarity,
as one said to me,
‘some people who you thought
were your friends
never actually were’.

Hard to swallow that one.

On I trudge
through the deep layers
of sorrow.
My heart beating
so I know I am still alive.

As long as I breathe
I’ll embrace the sadness
and keep showing
solidarity,
it’s all I’ve ever known.


“The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. [The] US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran…a sign of psychopathology for sure.” ~ BKG

Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652, Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 844-8187 / http://www.space4peace.org / http://space4peace.blogspot.com (blog) / Twitter: BruceKGagnon


Ukraine War: Those who fail to call for negotiations, fail to understand the dangerous predicament that faces the planet! / by the U.S. Peace Council

The United States Peace Council

At no time since the Cuban missile crisis has our world has been so close to disaster. As the war in Ukraine approaches its first anniversary, it is being increasingly transformed by the Biden administration and the “collective west” into a war between NATO and Russia. The danger of turning into a nuclear confrontation is imminent.

The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis was a wake-up call in the midst of Cold War, warning just how close a nuclear World War III could be. Unlike today, both sides sought accommodation. They understood that a retreat from war was in their mutual interest. The Anti-Ballistic Missile and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaties, now scrapped, were negotiated.

Back then, an international peace movement with a robust US contingent amplified the demand for a peaceful world. Such voices are much diminished now. Unlike in the past, not a single Democrat in Congress spoke out for peace, leaving the ideological terrain for war virtually uncontested. Particularly unfortunate are the voices, including some in the U.S. “left,” who continue to beat the drums of war by calling for the continuation of war until the victory of Ukraine. That would only mean the victory of NATO in an all-out war with Russia.

Negotiated peace agreements are not based so much on trust as on the mutual understanding that the alternative is in neither side’s interest. Arguing as some on the “left” do that “Putin’s Russia cannot be trusted,” disregards the fact that no negotiation between warring parties has ever been based on trust.

The undeniable reality facing us should make us all aware of the urgency for negotiations and a diplomatic solution to this war.

The war in and around Ukraine must end. There should be no dispute about that. All wars end either with negotiations or with the victory of one side or the other. Given that this war is not merely between Russia and Ukraine but is between Russia and a Western-backed Ukraine, the first option — for victory — is impossible. Neither Russia (a major nuclear power) nor the Western powers (many of them being major nuclear powers) will tolerate anything near a defeat.

If a military victory is not possible, then the only way forward is for negotiations. War is not an answer. Escalating this war should not be promoted by those who believe in international cooperation and genuine peace. Those who fail to call for negotiations in the midst of this contentious period — with the war ongoing and its impact intensifying a cost-of-living crisis around the world — fail to understand the dangerous predicament that faces the planet. 


Contact: U.S. Peace Council, P.O. Box 3105, New Haven, CT 06515, Call:(203) 387-0370, Email: USPC@USPeaceCouncil.org

Review of Russia without Blinders / by Roger Keeran

The Moscow Kremlin | Wikipedia

Originally published in Marxism Leninism Today on January 9, 2023

Russia without Blinders: From the Conflict in Ukraine to a Turning Point in World Politics [Original title: La Russie Sans Oeilleres: Du conflit en Ukraine au tournant geopolitique mondial] edited by Maxime Vivas, Aymeric Monville and Jean-Pierre Page. (Paris, France: Editions Delga, 2022.)

Today the conflict in Ukraine advances every day and intensifies with Russian destruction of the Ukrainian infrastructure, with the western gift to Ukraine of more and more sophisticated and destructive weapons, with provocations like the missile aimed at Poland, and the Ukrainian attacks within Russia. Presently, the conflict in Ukraine has brought the world closer to nuclear war than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

In 1962, U.S. leaders believed that Russian missiles in Cuba posed such a national security threat that they were willing to risk nuclear war to get them removed. Yet, the U.S. and NATO propose creating exactly this kind of threat to Russia.  The gravity of the current situation is obvious if one can imagine the reaction of Russian leaders at the prospect of American/NATO nuclear missiles in Kiev two hours flight from Moscow.  Thus, the lack of an outcry against the war in Ukraine and the almost complete absence of calls for a ceasefire and negotiations constitute one of the most glaring and dangerous aspects of the present moment.

Though Washington officials and the mainstream media always refer to this conflict as Putin’s “unprovoked war,” seldom has a conflict been so clearly provoked as this one. The expansion of NATO since 1991 and U.S. insistence that Ukraine be allowed to join NATO are the most obvious and proximate causes of this conflict.  By increasing economic sanctions against Russia, by arming of Ukraine with ever more sophisticated weapons, and by saying that Putin is a “butcher” who “can no longer remain in power” (Biden in March 2022) and by insisting that Ukraine’s right to join NATO is non-negotiable, the United States continues to escalate the conflict and place a negotiated settlement further out of reach.

In spite of this situation in the United States and Europe, no movement for peace in Ukraine has emerged. Aside from a few right-wing outliers like Senator Rand Paul and a hastily withdrawn letter to Biden from the House Progressive Caucus calling for negotiations, no elected officials have denounced American behavior or called for peace. Almost no intelligent and informed discussion of the war occurs in the media and none at whatsoever in the recent electoral debates. The entire nation seems plunging into the unknown with blinders on.

This makes the current volume an island of facts and reason in a sea of insanity. Russia without Blinders was edited by Aymeric Monville, the head of Delga Editions, the main Marxist publishing house in France, Maxime Vivas, author of a recent book on the anti-Chinese “ravings” in France, and Jean-Pierre Page, a writer and past director of the International Department of the French General Confederation of Labor (CGT). It has seventeen contributors mostly scholars, writers and activists in France, whose contributions fall under three headings: Russophobia, the Origins of the Conflict, and Russia and the World. While exposing the phobia and propaganda that has completely obscured the meaning of this war, the book, in the words of the editors, aims to be not pro-Russian but pro-truth.

To the extent that the book’s many authors and subjects could be reduced to a simple argument it would be this: The war in Ukraine did not begin with the Russian invasion of February 23, 2022, but was rooted in events at least as far back as the collapse of the Soviet Union. Its meaning is far more serious than the simpleminded notion that this is an “unprovoked” war driven by a madman’s desire to restore the Czarist empire. Rather, this war is symbolic of a seismic change in international relations and balance of forces that has occurred since the collapse of the Soviet Union and which has intensified in recent years with the economic recovery of Russia, now the world’s eleventh largest economy and the rise of China, which has become the world’s second largest economy. The United States and its European vassals are determined to hold on to their superiority and even expand their economic, military, and ideological dominance. The authors further argue that these imperial ambitions are doomed to fail and that the war is actually showing the limits of American power and the emergence of a multipolar world. That is, the machinations of American imperialism are giving rise to its opposite, a growing resistance to American dominance not only by  Russia and China and but also by much of Africa, Asia and Latin America. This resistance manifests itself by the rejection of American hypocritical espousal of democracy, sovereignty, and the rule of law, as well as the rebellion against the domination of the American dollar, American sanctions, and American neoliberal policies.

It is impossible for a short review to do justice to the array of topics and the wealth of information and the high quality of research contained in these articles, which unfortunately are only available in French. Therefore, I will focus on the book’s main arguments as to the origin of the war and the increasing isolation and weakness of the U.S. revealed by the war.

Bombarded as we are by daily horror stories of Putin’s madness and  authoritarianism and Russian war atrocities, torture, executions, mass graves, kidnappings, and civilian bombings, it is hard to focus on the causes of the conflict. Yet, without some factual understanding, it is easy to be swept up by war hysteria. The history reveals that far from this being an “unprovoked war,” it was provoked by the expansion of NATO and the longstanding designs on Ukraine by American policy-makers.

Several aspects of this “hidden history” of the war stand out. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, central Asia, especially Ukraine, has assumed major importance in the thinking of strategists concerned with preserving American world dominance. In The Grand Chessboard (1997), Zbigniew Brzezinski said, “For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia…. and America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.” According to Brzezinski, on this international chessboard, Ukraine is the “geopolitical pivot.” Ukraine is a vast territory rich in gas, oil, wheat, rare minerals, and nuclear power. If “Russia regains control over Ukraine,” it automatically acquires the potential to become “a powerful imperial state,” and a challenge to the U.S.

Since 1990, the U.S. has tried to drive a wedge between Ukraine and Russia. In 1990, as the Soviet Union dissolved, the Ukrainians participated in a referendum in which some 90 percent voted to remain in a union with Russia. The United States, however, promoted Ukrainian leaders hostile to Russia. In 2010 Viktor Yanoukovitch was elected president. Yanoukovitch tried to weave a course friendly both to Russia and European Union. In the legislative election of 2012, Yanoukovitch’s party won more seats than the other three parties combined. The next year, however, when he refused to sign an agreement of association with the European Union, mass demonstrations encouraged by the U.S. broke out in what became known as the Euromaidan movement. The administration of President Barack Obama supported, financed and coached this movement, which was taken over by right-wing nationalists including neofascists and which eventually forced the president to flee the country.  On December 13, 2013, the U.S. State Department’s Undersecretary for Europe, Victoria Nuland, said that the U.S. had invested over five billion dollars in promoting democracy in Ukraine, that is to say in promoting the movement that ousted the democratically elected president. Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, the American ambassador to Ukraine, played an active role in choosing the new government of Ukraine that included neo-fascists.

In 2019, during the administration of Donald Trump, Vladimir Zelenskyy was elected president of Ukraine. The millionaire comedian, who is now lauded as the heroic defender of democracy, had a sordid past completely overlooked by the American media. The Pandora Papers exposed him as one of the corrupt world leaders with vast wealth stored in offshore accounts.  Moreover, Zelenskyy was closely connected to the corrupt oligarch, Igor Kolomoisky, the owner of the TV station where Zelenskyy’s show appeared and the owner of a major bank, Privat Bank, whose assets the government seized for corruption in 2016. In power, Zelenskyy made a leader of the neo-nazis the governor of Odessa. He also outlawed trade unions and a dozen political groups, including the Communist Party. Also, Zelenskyy pursued military action against the separatists in the Donbas, a pro-Russian and largely working class area of Ukraine. Since 2014, military strikes on the Donbas have killed 14,000 and wounded 40,000 citizens. The worst atrocities were linked to the neo-fascist army unit the Azov Battalion. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who served as the American-picked Prime Minister between 2014 and 2016, referred to the citizens of Donetsk and Lugansk as “non-humans.”

According to Page, under Zelenskyy, the U.S. completely “colonized” Ukraine. It sent billions of dollars of military aid and advisors, built 26 laboratories for biological research, seized a big role in Ukrainian industry and media, allowed American agribusiness to buy huge tracts of farmland, and proposed Ukraine joining NATO. Zelenskyy in turn ended all relations with Russia and suppressed all political opposition.

This was the background to the Russian intervention of February 2022. Putin gave three objectives for this action: to de-nazify Ukraine, to de-militarize Ukraine, and to stop the massacre of citizens in the Donbas.

When NATO met on March 24, 2022, Biden said that the conflict in Ukraine meant that there was going to be a “new world order” and “we must direct it.” Biden also said that Putin was a butcher. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: “Our special military operation is designed to put an end to the rash expansion and rash course toward the complete international domination by the United States and other western countries.”

The book’s argument that the imperial designs of the United States is important and incontestable. The other thrust of the argument–that the war symbolizes the decline of American power and a realignment of global forces–is equally important though more debatable. Jean-Pierre Page and other of the book’s contributors contend that the U.S. attempt to isolate Russia politically and weaken it economically is doomed to fail. In the first place, Russia is one of the most economically self-sufficient nations of the world. The Russian economy has rebounded from the Soviet collapse and privatization and represents one the world’s largest economies. Moreover, it is rich in natural resources — gas, oil, coal, gold, wheat, nickel, aluminum, uranium, neon, lumber among other things. The idea that economic sanctions, which have never proved an effective instrument of international policy (witness the Cuban blockade), are going to force Russia to relent in the face of NATO expansion, which it sees as an existential threat, is simply delusional.

Furthermore, the expectation that the rest of the world would go along with the unilateral economic sanctions, which are illegal under the United Nations charter, has proven to be phantasmagorical. In spite of a tremendous campaign of cajoling, pressure, and threats, the United States has not managed to win the backing of any countries outside of Europe. The countries constituting BRICS–Brazil, India, China and South Africa have rejected sanctions, but so have such other large regional economies as Mexico, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia, Algeria and Egypt. The resistance to U.S. sanctions is part of a larger resistance to the domination of American neoliberal policies and the U.S. dollar. More and more countries have agreed to buy oil and other commodities with rubles, yuans and gold in place of the once mighty dollar. In the words quoted by of one of the book’s contributors, Tamara Kunanayakam, the resistance to sanctions is the sign or a new more fragmented global order in which states are avoiding the geopolitical objectives of the grand powers to pursue their own economic needs.

For all of its merits, the book is not without limitations. For all its strengths in exposing the imperialist ambitions and machinations of the U.S., the book ignores the fact that Russia also has its monopoly capitalists with designs on expanding to Ukraine and elsewhere, and Russia, too, is also part of the imperialist stage of world history. For a book looking at Russia “without blinders,” the authors are strangely blind to Russian imperialism. Lenin argued that is not just a policy but a stage in the development of capitalism dominated by monopolies and finance. As Andrew Murray has pointed out (Communist Review Autumn 2022), Russia ticks off many of the boxes of Lenin’s description of imperialism.  It present “an astonishing degree of economic monopolization” with 22 oligarchic groups accounting for 42 percent of employment and 39 percent of sales. In finance, Sberbank provides banking for 70 percent of Russians, controls a third of all bank assets, and operates in twenty-two countries. Moreover, Russia has repeatedly used military interventions in Chechnya, Kazakhstan and other former Soviet republics as well as in Syria and (with the mercenary Wagner Group) west Africa. Simply put, in Murray’s words Russia “is an imperialist power.”

At the Ideological Seminar in Caracas, Venezuela, in the fall of 2022, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) put forward a similar analysis (see MLToday.com, November 6, 2022): “Recently, in the face of developments and especially the imperialist war in Ukraine, other CPs have focused only on the obvious responsibilities of the US, the EU, and NATO, which has been advancing and encircling Russia for years. In fact, this was combined with the approach that Russia is a capitalist but not an imperialist power. This approach is detached from the fact that imperialism is not just an aggressive policy but capitalism in its modern stage, the monopoly stage. Today, large monopolies prevail in the entire world and in Russia. The plans of NATO, the US, and the EU in the past 30 years have clearly been a powder keg for this conflict, but when did this powder keg begin filling up? Did it not begin with the overthrow of socialism, the dissolution of the USSR —in fact through a coup d’état— against the will of the majority of its peoples? Wasn’t it then when factories, mines, oil, natural gas, precious metals, and labour power became a commodity once again? Wasn’t it then when, after 7 decades of socialist construction, all of the above became once again a bone of contention for the capitalists, for the big monopoly enterprises?”

If the authors of this volume are still wearing blinders with regard to Russia, some are also wearing rose tinted lenses with respect to the emergence of a “fragmented global order” or a “multipolar world.” Of course, the authors are right to point out the decline of American influence as represented by resistance to American sanctions against Russia and the domination of the American dollar and influence. Nevertheless, without actually saying so, some of the authors suggest that this shift in the global balance of forces represents something new and fundamental, and that it might provide a check on imperial expansion and imperial wars. Whether the authors really believe this and whether this idea has any validity remains to be seen, but it is helpful to recall the ideas of Lenin.

In 1916 Lenin wrote his classic analysis of imperialism, Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Lenin distinguished his view of imperialism from the leading competing view, that of the social-democrat Karl Kautsky. On the surface both Lenin and Kautsky had similar views of imperialism.  They both recognized the development of monopoly capital and finance capital, and saw it leading to expansion, exploitation and war.   For Lenin, however, imperialism was a stage, the latest stage, of capitalist development, the stage of monopoly capital that succeeded competitive capital.  For Kautsky, imperialism represented a policy adopted by the monopolists.  The implications of these different points of view were monumental. For Lenin, only revolutionary struggle against monopoly capital could end imperialism and end imperialist wars. Kautsky, however, thought it was possible to replace imperialist policies by other pacifist policies. Kautsky insisted that it was possible to imagine a new stage of economic development, “ultra-imperialism,” where the world would be divided up among a few great monopolies among whom peace would be possible.  The First World War and the Second World War effectively swept Kautsky’s ideas about ultra-imperialism and a pacific imperialist world into the dustbin. Kautsky is barely known let alone read today.

I would suggest that some of Kautsky’s ideas have been picked up or reinvented by contemporaries. The idea of an emerging new stage of multipolarity resembles Kautsky’s stage of super-imperialism. Some of those enamored by the emergence of multipolarity think that it represents a fundamental change in the global balance of forces and seem to think it can countervail the imperialist drive for expansion and war and thus provide a basis for peace within the framework of imperialism. Two of the writers of this volume even say that the time is coming when an alliance of Russia, China, India, Latin America and the Arab world can “prevent” the financial oligarchs of the world from “launching the third world war.”  The problem is that such thinking, however beguiling, avoids a tough-minded understanding of the fundamental nature of imperialism rooted in capitalism’s insatiable drive for profit, exploitation, and expansion. It may not be necessary for worldwide socialist revolution in order to stop any particular imperialist conflict, but under the imperialist stage of capitalism war is omnipresent and unavoidable. This understanding imperialism provides a better basis for struggle against it than social democratic illusions about the efficacy of multipolarity. Let’s hope that it will not take another world war to banish these illusions.

U.S. faith leaders, activists demand Christmas ceasefire in Ukraine / by John Wojcik and C. J. Atkins

Late on Christmas Eve 1914, during World War I, British soldiers heard German troops in the trenches opposite them singing carols and saw lanterns and small fir trees along their trenches. Messages began to be shouted between the two sides. The following day, on Christmas, British and German soldiers met in ‘no man’s land’ and exchanged gifts, took photographs, and played impromptu games of football. They also buried casualties and repaired trenches and dugouts. After the short truce, fighting unfortunately carried on. Today, U.S. faith and peace leaders are calling for a Christmas ceasefire in Ukraine and demanding negotiations to end the war. | Imperial War Museum


Activists and faith leaders in the United States are calling for an immediate Christmas season truce, a ceasefire, and talks to end the Ukraine-Russia conflict. They issued their call in the wake of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to the Congress on Wednesday.

Zelensky called for continued flows of U.S. arms into his country to fight the Russians and promised that the weapons would be put to use. “We are alive and kicking and will never surrender,” he declared. He said that U.S. military aid to Ukraine was not charity but an investment in security for the future.

At a meeting with Zelensky just prior to the Capitol speech, President Joe Biden vowed to back Ukraine with arms “for as long as it takes.” He also pledged to send new Patriot missiles, the most advanced in the U.S. military arsenal, to Ukraine.

This was coupled with approval in the Senate on Thursday of an unprecedented $850-billion military budget, swollen to historic levels by billions more for the Ukraine war and multi-billion-dollar guarantees to the U.S. armaments makers that if any decision they make to increase armament production causes them to lose money, the U.S. treasury will jump in with “socialism for the rich” and cover their losses.

Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, react as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy presents lawmakers with a Ukrainian flag autographed by front-line troops. Zelensky spoke to a joint session of Congress on Dec. 21. | AP

Completely under the radar is this week’s call by more than 1,000 faith leaders demanding the Christmas season truce in Ukraine. Almost all of those leaders have, since the war began, strongly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting death and suffering of the Ukrainian people. They are also concerned, however, about U.S. culpability in the war and the refusal thus far in Washington to push for a ceasefire and negotiations to end the fighting.

Led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Bishop William Barber, who leads the Poor People’s Campaign, they recalled the Christmas truce in 1914 during the First World War. They declared: “We urge our government to take a leadership role in bringing the war in Ukraine to an end through supporting calls for a ceasefire and negotiated settlement, before the conflict results in a nuclear war that could devastate the world’s ecosystems and annihilate all of God’s creation.”

Co-founder of Code Pink Medea Benjamin, one of the signers, said: “There is nothing glorious about the Ukraine war. It is a lose-lose for everyone except weapons makers. Zelensky should be calling for peace. So should Putin. And Biden. And everyone else. #ChristmasTruceNow.”

Benjamin said the war “must move from the battlefield to the negotiating table—no more dollars for war! Peace talks instead!” Supplies of more advanced weaponry would “only bring us closer to a direct war with Russia…and nuclear armageddon,” she added.

Zelensky essentially told the Congress this week, however, that no peace would be possible and no ceasefire was possible until Russia pulls out of Ukraine altogether. He said he has a 10-point peace plan that he discussed with Biden but gave no details. Biden has also not disclosed any specifics of the supposed plan.

A Biden administration spokesperson, retired Admiral John Kirby, said on MSNBC that the Zelensky plan was “not really a peace plan but rather a framework within which discussion between Ukraine and the U.S. can be held.”

The huge military budget is causing enormous problems in the U.S. already. First is the obvious diversion of funds away from programs to address social needs. In addition, existing critical funds are under threat. The trillion-dollar omnibus bill approved in the Senate this week does not specify what part of it can be used to provide more than $1.7 billion needed, for example, to keep Medicaid benefits flowing to those in need.

Federal money for states that have opted into Obamacare could be endangered if there are not adequate funds allocated for that in the federal budget. Millions who rely on these benefits could be harmed.

The conflict is increasingly looks like the proxy war between the U.S. and Russia that many peace activists say it is. They have been saying that Ukraine is caught in the middle of a long-term battle that the U.S. is waging against Russia.

Ukrainians stand around a Christmas tree adorned with peace doves in Kiev on Dec. 17, as partial power outages kept much of the capital city dark. | Felipe Dana / AP

While the U.S. announced billions in new weapons for the Ukraine war this week, Russia responded by announcing plans on Wednesday to increase the size of its army from one million to 1.5 million members, and government officials rolled out plans to create entirely new, “better trained” units.

Meanwhile, NATO which is under the control of Washington, continues its plans to expand—an expansion that is seen as a major cause of the war in the first place. Two countries are slated to soon become new members.

Russia’s Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, said his country needed to safeguard its security because of those NATO plans, which involve the incorporation of Finland and Sweden into the alliance.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov also responded this week to U.S. plans for sending more weapons into the conflict. He declared that the move would not “bode well” for Ukraine, as Russian bombardments continued to pound the country’s energy infrastructure.

This news analysis published here reflects the views of the authors.


      John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People’s World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and ’80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper’s predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

        C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People’s World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left. In addition to his work at People’s World, C.J. currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director of ProudPolitics.

        People’s World, December 23, 2022, https://live-peoples-world.pantheonsite.io/

        Fake Ukraine referendums, pipeline sabotage raise danger of wider war / by C.J. Atkins

        Voting at the point of a gun? A military vehicle drives along a street with a billboard that reads: ‘With Russia forever, September 27,’ prior to a referendum in the Luhansk People’s Republic controlled by Russia-backed separatists, eastern Ukraine, Sept. 22, 2022. | AP

        Russia now stands ready to annex the parts of eastern Ukraine that its invading troops currently occupy. Following the announcement of vote totals in the referendums held in the territories controlled by his military, President Vladimir Putin is expected to address the Russian parliament Friday and officially finalize the land grab.

        The absorption of the territories, which include but are not limited to Russian ethnic-majority regions that have sought separation from Ukraine for years, comes on the same day that the two major pipelines built to carry natural gas from Russia to Germany exploded beneath the Baltic Sea. The damage done to these key pieces of energy infrastructure are being widely described as an act of sabotage, but confusion reigns as to who might be responsible.

        Paired with Putin’s recent declaration of his willingness to use nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory—including, apparently, the conquered Ukrainian lands—the destruction of this essential lifeline for both the Russian economy and European energy security gravely escalates the danger that the Ukraine war could spiral into an even larger conflict.

        Votes used to justify nuclear escalation

        As predicted, the votes orchestrated by Moscow resulted in overwhelming numbers of people in the regions of Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Luhansk, and Donetsk supposedly casting ballots to be absorbed by the Russian Federation. Officials in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, denounced the referendums as illegal and rigged, an expected conclusion given the circumstances in which they were held.

        A ballot marked as ‘Yes’ is seen at voting station in Luhansk, Sept. 27, 2022. | AP

        Armed Russian soldiers accompanied election officials collecting ballots at residents’ doorsteps over the course of five days. Conducted in the middle of an armed conflict and in a war zone, the referendums stand no chance of gaining widespread international recognition. The Ukrainian foreign ministry called the balloting a “propaganda show” and said Russia was “forcing people in these territories to fill out some papers at the barrel of a gun.”

        Nevertheless, Russian-installed authorities in the regions pushed ahead with declarations that people in eastern Ukraine overwhelmingly desired union with Russia. Counts published by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti claimed a “yes” vote of 93% in Zaporizhzhia, where a nuclear power plant has been repeatedly shelled by both sides; 87% in the devastated city of Kherson; and 98% and 99% respectively in the self-declared “People’s Republics” of Luhansk and Donetsk.

        Participation in the referendums was a lose-lose situation for Ukrainians living in the disputed territories. Pressure to vote by occupying Russian forces provided an incentive to cast a ballot that could not be ignored, but the simultaneous threat of retaliation by Ukrainian troops and militia raised fears of reprisals should the regions ever return to Ukrainian control.

        Putin has called up 300,000 more reservists and retired military personnel in recent days, and the Russian parliament passed harsh new measures to punish deserters and anyone who refuses military service. Long lines have formed at Russia’s borders with Georgia and other countries as young men attempt to flee conscription. Protesters demonstrating against the war, meanwhile, have faced repression in Moscow and other major cities.

        The resort to outright annexation, rather than simply continued economic and military support to the separatist areas, comes as the Russian Army’s offensive in Ukraine appears to have stalled. Taken together, the measures suggest the Russian high command faces major difficulties in continuing its campaign in Ukraine.

        The danger of wider escalation was raised, however, by Putin’s recent statement that he stands ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory. With the Kremlin now considering the annexed eastern regions to be part of Russia, this would allow him to characterize any Ukrainian counteroffensive as an attack on Russia itself.

        The U.S. has warned of “catastrophic consequences” if Putin uses nuclear weapons, even while at the same time admitting it does not believe Russia truly has any such intention. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Sunday that the U.S. will “respond decisively” in the event of a nuclear strike against Ukraine.

        Given the presence of the U.S.’ own nuclear weapons in several NATO countries in Europe and the stationing of nuclear-capable delivery systems in countries on the Russian border, the situation threatens to spin further out of control and endanger the whole world.

        Sabotage under the sea

        Meanwhile, the blowing up of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines beneath the Baltic Sea injects more volatility into the mix. Built jointly by Russia and Germany to deliver natural gas to central Europe, the two pipelines have been a major, if often little-discussed, factor in the Ukraine conflict.

        Confusion reigns and accusations are swirling as to who could be responsible for the detonations that crippled both lines, with multiple countries having motives. As methane continues to billow from the ruptured pipes, a closer investigation remains impossible for the time being.

        Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov said the incident “looks like some kind of terrorist attack, possibly at the state level.” NATO on Thursday formally declared it an act of sabotage, with ambassadors saying, “Any deliberate attack against Allies’ critical infrastructure” would be met with a “united and determined response.”

        Gas billows from under the Baltic Sea off the coast of Denmark, Sept. 27, 2022, following a series of explosions inside the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. | Danish Defence Command via AP

        Member state Poland, which just opened its own new pipeline to get gas from Norway the day before the explosions, immediately blamed Russia; the Ukrainian government did the same.

        Forbes, one of the main outlets of the U.S. business class, joined them. In an article published Thursday morning, the magazine alleged that Russia was determined to strangle Europe ahead of winter while dodging its own contractual obligations to deliver energy. It echoed the analysis of many commentators who said Russia was out to squeeze Europe into accepting the current lines of demarcation in eastern Ukraine as permanent borders.

        Without evidence, Forbes claimed the pipeline attacks were also an effort by Putin to lock in domestic support by giving oligarchs no outside sources of income. Writer Ariel Cohen claimed: “Russia’s economy is faltering, its military is sub-par, and Putin’s grip on power may weaken in months, if not weeks.”

        A number of officials in Washington and European capitals tried to slow the rush to blame Moscow on Wednesday, however. It was pointed out that the Russian company Gazprom spent billions to build the pipelines and would likely hope to resume shipments through them when hostilities someday end in Ukraine and relations are repaired with Europe. The damage to Russia’s economy from these explosions could be just as significant as that caused to European countries.

        According to the New York Times, U.S. officials and experts on Eastern Europe even speculated that Ukraine or one of the Baltic states—Lithuania, Latvia, or Estonia—which have long opposed the pipelines, might have tried to destroy them. All these countries saw their revenues as middlemen for the land-based transport of Russian energy threatened by the direct link between Russia and Germany.

        A number of critics of U.S. foreign policy wondered whether Washington could have had a hand in the explosions. U.S. fracked gas companies’ sales to Europe were flat, with little hope of growth, before the Ukraine war; Nord Stream represented a permanent block on their plans to expand their position in the continent’s energy markets.

        Some reports point to statements by President Joe Biden in February in which he declared, “There will no longer be a Nord Stream 2” if Russia invaded Ukraine. “We will bring an end to it,” Biden said. When asked by journalists how the U.S. would do that, since it was a German-Russian joint venture, he responded, “I promise you, we’ll be able to do it.”

        Regardless of who is responsible for the pipeline attack, it is sure to send Europe into recession, cause energy prices and inflation to soar further, and deny Russia future gas sales. The economic fallout will hit many of the actors in this conflict, but it will also leave openings for increased profits to others.

        Back to Minsk?

        With the Russian military facing major challenges, the referendums and nuclear threats could be part of a strategy by Putin to permanently cement the status quo when it comes to territorial acquisitions and military positions. If the costs of continued war become too high for all involved, his calculation may be that the U.S. will slow arms shipments to Ukraine, Kiev will halt attempts to recover its territory, and plans for NATO expansion will be shelved to avoid further danger.

        It’s not a result that either Ukraine or its backers in the U.S. or Europe would be eager to accept, nor would it mesh with long-term NATO strategy of encircling and containing Russia.

        Is there a way back to Minsk? Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko shake hands as French President Francois Hollande, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel look on during a meeting in Minsk, Belarus, on Feb. 11, 2015. The leaders agreed to a deal that would have ended fighting in eastern Ukraine and granted autonomy to the Russian-speaking regions of the Donbass. For years, successive Ukrainian governments refused to implement the accord. | Andrei Stasevich / BeITA via AP

        Regardless, the fallout from the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines could sink that possible outcome anyway. The trading of accusations further inflates tensions, especially between NATO and Russia, and Western multinational energy corporations look set to be the initial beneficiaries. They—along with weapons dealers—have profited immensely these last seven months and will undoubtedly see their revenues grow fatter.

        A ceasefire and negotiations between Ukraine and Russia—and ultimately talks between the U.S. and Russia—remain the only actions likely to truly defuse the danger that this war could explode into a wider global conflict.

        The Minsk Accords of 2015—which would have continued economic cooperation between Russia and Europe, allowed autonomy for the eastern regions of Ukraine but maintained the country’s integrity and independence, and provided security guarantees by preventing NATO expansion—could have prevented the current war.

        They were never implemented though, and after seven months of the Russian invasion, thousands upon thousands of people are dead who didn’t have to die, economic ties have been needlessly but perhaps permanently ruptured, tons of methane have been dumped into the atmosphere from beneath the sea, and billions of dollars have been wasted on all sides which could have gone to public needs.

        The question now: Is there any way back to Minsk? Talks are the only path that will ever lead to peace.


        C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People’s World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left. In addition to his work at People’s World, C.J. currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director of ProudPolitics.

        People’s World, September 29, 2022, https://www.peoplesworld.org/

        Decolonizing the mind / by Margaret Kimberley

        Queen Elizabeth II in Barbados on November 1, 1977. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images/Black Agenda Report)

        Originally published in Black Agenda Report, 09.14.2022

        It is vital to free ourselves from belief in the systems of white supremacy and imperialism that are inculcated in the educational system and are affirmed and amplified by the media and establishment opinion. The recent death of Queen Elizabeth II puts the need for political and psychological liberation in high relief. We are encouraged to admire an anachronistic monarchy, and are exhorted to join in mourning an individual and a system that have caused great harm to Black and other oppressed people around the world.

        It is important to point out that British prime ministers are heads of government while the monarch is head of state. Elizabeth bore responsibility for every UK government action during her 70-year long reign. The concentration camps and torture in Kenya during the independence struggle were her responsibility. So was the U.S. backed decision to undermine the commonwealth nation of Australia, and dispatch Gough Whitlam, the elected prime minister, who strayed too far from the imperialist consensus. The Windrush scandal which deprived Caribbean immigrants of their rights happened under her reign, as did Britain’s invasion of Iraq and support for the destruction of Libya.

        Yet anyone who questions the monarchy’s role as part of the western axis of domination is rarely given access to media, making it difficult to be free of propaganda that is used to elicit fealty to monarchs, presidents and the people and institutions who empower them. From childhood we are taught that invaders of other nations, enslavers, and colonizers are worthy of respect and admiration. Centuries of criminality are passed off as benign and we are admonished to remember that the criminals in question were “products of their time” and are to be thought of with fond reverence.

        The corporate media didn’t begin lionizing the queen of England just this week. Her private life and that of her ancestors are the stuff of endless histories that permeate popular culture. Eras in British history are directly identified with past monarchs and called Elizabethan or Victorian or Edwardian. The idea that Americans should also be interested in the royals is the result of heavy-handed indoctrination.

        This columnist was the recipient of a Eurocentric education, beginning with an emphasis on European history in high school. College continued this unstated belief in the superiority of the people being studied, that is to say white people who either were from the ruling classes or worked to further their interests. History lessons were full of emphasis on the blood lines of monarchs, and stories of which king or queen did what to whom were staples of the curriculum. It is a somewhat interesting factoid that the monarchs of Great Britain, Russia and Germany in the early 20th century were all related but that information doesn’t reveal anything about the causes of World War I. The lede was buried under historical fluff but teachers and professors don’t announce that they are brainwashing students.

        Of course that is why the very deliberate confusion continues. The narrative that the U.S. and Britain have a “special relationship” is based on manufactured sentimentality rather than the fact that the founding state acts in concert with its settler colony. The indoctrination process can be like a sledgehammer, as it will be for the next few days, but can also be more subtle. None of my teachers said that the deaths of white people were worse than the deaths of people of color, but the only time I heard the word genocide in a classroom was if the Nazi killings of Jewish people were discussed. I was taught nothing of Belgian King Leopold’s personal theft of the Congo’s resources or of the killing of some 15 million people there. Nor was the word genocide used to describe the trans-Atlantic slave trade or chattel slavery as practiced throughout the Americas or the deaths by invasion, slaughter, and disease of indigenous people which also took place in this hemisphere. The elevation of one group as the sole victims of genocide and the erasure of others as not being worthy of the designation sends a subtle message that seeps into the mind and is imprinted in memory.

        Decolonization is hard work and serious business. It requires a rejection of what passes for news and conventional wisdom. Of course, its meaning can be changed at an opportune moment, as recently happened when the neo-conservative fantasy of breaking up Russia was reimagined as decolonization. That sort of trickery is proof that political education is key.

        Our political education must take place within revolutionary educational structures. If it doesn’t, we will believe that World War II started in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. It actually began in 1937 when Japan attacked China. What ought to be a simple and commonly known fact is lost because white supremacy centers the European experience. When we learn new information and unlearn falsehoods, the process of decolonizing begins. At that point no one has to direct us to ignore royal weddings or funerals or unveilings of Barack and Michelle Obama’s new portraits. We know the truth and free ourselves from believing in state propaganda.

        Decolonized people know that the prestigious universities they are told to admire receive funds from the Defense Department and the military industrial complex. They know that think tanks that are treated as oracles not to be questioned are also an extension of the state. Corporate media are also compromised. The publisher of the Washington Post played a key role in Operation Mockingbird, the CIA’s plan to control the media. Of course the current owner, Jeff Bezos, has CIA contracts through Amazon so little has changed. The decolonized know that the media act as scribes for police departments as much as they do for the state department.

        Most importantly, radical and independent media, like Black Agenda Report, are a must for anyone who wants to free their thinking. BAR is one of the few publications, even left publications, which seriously analyzed the NATO attack on Libya, or the coups against the people of Haiti, or the U.S. role that began the current crisis in Ukraine. Reading BAR on a regular basis is an antidote to mental colonization.

        So beware when a narrative is spun 24 hours per day, seven days per week. In all likelihood it is one that must be opposed, and in the best decolonized fashion possible.


        MR Online, September 17, 2022, https://mronline.org/