The war in Ukraine is ushering in a new period of heightened danger in world politics and the threat of a global conflict that would devastate humanity. Socialists and people who want peace need to recognize that the entire U.S. foreign policy and military establishment is now organized around “great power conflict” against Russia and China as the defining strategy for decades to come. It is essential to recognize that Russia, China and other countries are not being targeted fundamentally because of human rights, or this or that military action, but because they no longer accept the U.S.-dominated world order.
We must stand in opposition to this new Cold War-style period of confrontation. This major power conflict is not in the interests of the great mass of people in the United States or worldwide. The logic of it will only produce severe economic pain, climate disaster and ultimately catastrophic war. The working class has no interest in being dragged into such a conflict in the name of preserving the dominance of Wall Street and the Pentagon.
In the run-up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and ever since, the corporate media in the United States has been working overtime to spread misinformation and confusion. They hope that inundating people with non-stop anti-Russian content will manufacture the consent necessary not just for a short-term military escalation in Eastern Europe, but so as to sign people up for a whole new Cold War. Against this, the Party for Socialism and Liberation is advancing five basic points that can serve to unite those who oppose U.S. imperialism and support peace.
- NATO provoked the war between Russia and Ukraine
The U.S. government has been intentionally escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine for years. From continuing NATO’s eastward expansion, despite promises not to, to supporting the pro-Western coup in Ukraine in 2014, to heavily arming the Ukrainian government, NATO’s aggressive actions set the stage for the war. The U.S. was determined to bring Ukraine into a western sphere of influence, and so refused to acknowledge Russia’s legitimate security concerns about NATO expansion and advanced missiles being placed on its borders. Russia’s “red lines” were well known for decades and NATO did all of this knowing it could potentially lead to intervention. In some respects, it appears NATO set a deliberate trap that Russia fell into.
- The solution to the crisis is to dissolve NATO
NATO’s drive to turn Europe into a staging ground for its military threats against Russia means that not only is Ukraine militarized, but that all of Europe is. Currently, the principal obstacle to establishing a peaceful Europe is the polarization of the continent around NATO as a de facto anti-Russian alliance. NATO is a relic of the Cold War, and needs to be dissolved; its only purpose is to maintain U.S. military hegemony. The only way to have discussions about the many issues causing conflict between European nations (borders, languages, economic relations, etc.) without raising the possibility of war is through the dissolution of NATO, the demilitarization of Europe, and the removal of U.S. troops, missiles, and nuclear weapons. Russia should follow suit with their own demilitarization, step by step.
- Defend the sovereignty of nations as expressed in the United Nations Charter
The UN Charter of 1945 was written, and agreed to, to protect against a “might makes right” world order where stronger, more powerful countries can do whatever they want while smaller, less powerful nations have no guaranteed rights. This sovereignty-based international system has never been fully realized, and in many ways has masked the imperialist reality and deep power imbalances of the global order. The UN Security Council, the only body empowered to authorize sanctions and military action against another country, functions in a completely undemocratic way by concentrating power into the hands of just five permanent members that can veto any resolutions. The Security Council should be abolished. What should be defended, however, is that the UN Charter creates a legal and political baseline to counteract abuses of power perpetrated by more powerful nations against lesser powers — and insists on the sovereignty and independence of formerly-colonized nations in particular.
While the whole world is crying out for an end to the U.S.-dominated unipolar world order, “multipolarity” would not be progressive if it means becoming simply a competition of “unilateral” initiatives. Many left-wing and anti-imperialist governments believe that adherence to the UN Charter is an instrument to defend what is positive about “multi-polarity” — the space for counter-hegemonic projects to grow.
While Russia has legitimate security concerns about NATO expansion, we do not support the decision to invade Ukraine and violate its sovereignty, which tragically makes the peoples of former sister republics into enemies of war, catalyzes far-right forces across Europe under the banner of “patriotism,” and strengthens the projection of NATO power in Europe. It also undermines Russia’s long-standing defense of independent countries from unilateral U.S. measures.
- Fight anti-communism, fight fascism
For decades politicians and the corporate media, liberal and conservative alike, have pushed a false equivalency between fascists and communists. At the end of the day, this anti-communist slander is also a sleight of hand that lets fascists in through the back door. In Ukraine, where the Communist Party is banned, the rapid and dangerous normalization of Nazi Germany and its collaborators has taken place. Ukraine has integrated outright Nazis and Nazi-adjacent forces into the armed services and police. Now the U.S. media, which just a few years ago noted the neo-Nazi presence in Ukraine, assists in their rebranding as “patriots.”
The mainstream equation of communists to fascists is also pervasive in the United States. This idea must be confronted head-on and vigorously combated. Humanity is calling out for an alternative to capitalism, and we cannot allow the idea of socialism — of working-class power and international unity — to be taken off the table. Doing so just strengthens the appeal of far-right “alternatives” of extreme nationalism, chauvinism, racism and sexism.
Putin has also defamed socialism as the cause of current antagonisms between Ukraine and Russia — a familiar position of the right-wing in Russia. We defend the legacy of the Soviet Union, for all its imperfections and problems, as a heroic attempt to build a system that would be people-centered rather than profit-centered, with an intense focus on multi-national unity.
- Socialism is the ultimate and only answer
The underlying cause of this conflict, beyond NATO, is that we still live in a world that is divided into states run by capitalist elites who prioritize their own wealth and power above all else. The only way to build a world that allows for global cooperation and peace between all peoples, the elimination of poverty, the abolition of nuclear weapons, and the implementation of real democracy that puts the power in the hands of the people, is through socialism.