The world today is a very dangerous place. The Russian invasion of Ukraine marks a new threat level of a possible world war. It is a pre-World War I moment, with NATO troops massed in Poland and eastern Europe and more U.S. forces on alert, and more than 200,000 Russian troops on the move in Ukraine. The threat of prolonged fighting that could spill over into NATO countries like Poland, is very real. As in recent conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, many will die and many more will be displaced. As recent U.S.history shows, invasions are easy getting in, and very hard getting out.
For a good explanation of the complicated background that got us to this point, we recommend Bryce Green’s, “What YouShould Really Know About Ukraine.” (FAIR, 1/28) Suffice it to say that this conflict has its roots in the eastward expansion of NATO after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The cast of characters includes the IMF, World Bank, fascist militias, and US weapons manufacturers who secured billions of dollars in weapons contracts due to the NATO expansion. You might also check out Thomas Friedman’s piece, “This Is Putin’s War. But America and NATO Aren’t Innocent Bystanders,” (NYTimes 2/21).
And as for a “free and sovereign Ukraine,” Olga Rudenko, a Ukrainian journalist and the chief editor of The Kyiv Independent, wrote of the Ukrainian President Zelensky, “Despite his campaign promises, no progress has been made in fighting corruption. According to Transparency International, Ukraine remains the third-most-corrupt country in Europe, after Russia and Azerbaijan.” (NY Times, 2/21) So the only thing the 2014 “Maidan Revolution” accomplished was replacing a pro-Russian autocrat with a pro-US one.
It’s important to note that since the “Maidan Revolution,” when AFT President Randi Weingarten and U.S. Senator John McCain stood on the barricades while the flames were still burning, the U.S. has racked up about $3 billion in weapons sales to Ukraine alone, and as Andrew Cockburn notes in his new book, “The Spoils of War,” “By 2014, the 12 new [NATO] members had purchased close to $17 billion worth of American weapons…as of late 2020, [NATO’s collective military spending] had hit $1.03 trillion, or roughly 20 times Russia’s military budget.” What would the U.S. response be if Russia tried to place $1 trillion in weapons in Canada or Mexico? Anyone remember the Cuban Missile Crisis?
All that said, one of the most striking aspects of this conflict has been the totally one-sided beating of the war drums by the major corporate press, The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN, MSNBC, et al. It has all the familiar trappings of the run up to the invasion of Iraq which has left Iraq, Syria and Libya as failed states, with millions killed and displaced. The “WMD” Big Lie was spread largely through the NY Times. With a payroll full of retired Generals, CIA and National Intelligence Directors, the major media has acted as an arm of the State Department and Pentagon in trying to whip up war fever in the U.S. There were no tears over “national sovereignty” when the “Maidan Revolution” overthrew an elected pro-Russian government, just as they have supported every US invasion and US-backed coup of the past 100 years.
Another striking feature is the continued support for Putin by Trump and his minions. Remember, it was an attempt by Trump to hold up an arms shipment to Ukraine that brought about his impeachment.
In a word, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was unprovoked and indefensible. Almost 30 years of NATO expansion (and billions in weapons sales) to Russia’s border is at the root of the conflict. There are no “good guys” in this drama between Russian oligarchs and US arms dealers. As the threat of war escalates, and the calls for flag-waving nationalism are the loudest, the need for international solidarity and unity among all workers against all the war-makers is the greatest.