In the past weeks, a lengthy escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine devolved into armed conflict as Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The crisis in Ukraine is not a singular act of aggression, but the boiling-over of a conflict that has simmered not just for months or years but for decades. This conflict has been repeatedly stoked by the US imperialist order for its own benefit since the collapse of the Soviet Union. This has taken many forms: repeatedly pushing NATO expansion despite promises that this would not happen, interfering in elections, influencing political and civilian life — including stepping into the Euromaidan protests — and providing weapons and material support to right-wing extremists. The possibility of this conflict becoming entrenched, expanding outward, or evolving into a multipolar power struggle should alarm us all. As such, Red Star joins calls for a swift end to these hostilities, and urges in the strongest possible terms against any US or NATO-backed escalation.
The great promise of the end of history — liberal capitalism’s triumph over the threat of global communism — was that once and for all, the threat of a cataclysmic global war had finally been mitigated. However, liberal capitalism and the global capitalist order that emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union could not and cannot continue to manage the fragile balance of world powers without resorting to covert statecraft, occupations, bombing campaigns, and all-out wars.
Because socialism in the United States is still a marginal force, it can be hard to resist the draw of the war machine and articulate a forceful position against it. But condemning the war machine is what we, as socialists, must do. War is foundational to the United States — it is a subterranean fire which has fueled this country’s growth from a settler nation to a globe-spanning empire and the nerve center of global reaction. War surrounds us — rotting out our supposed democracy, poisoning our civil society, and operating with impunity in broad daylight on every continent. Hedging our opposition to the US war machine in this moment with qualifications about which parties bear guilt or primary responsibility only gives it oxygen, and provides an opening for interventionists and their euphemisms for imperial violence: “targeted sanctions”, “lethal aid”, “precision strikes”, “regime change”, and so on.
Anti-imperialism as a frame for opposition to war, far from being a naive or simplistic position, considers the whole long, bloody, and ongoing history of violence from the US-ian pole. The end of the Cold War, instead of resolving once and for all the violence that sprung up as a result of the global war against communism, in actuality expanded its footprint, and serves as the backdrop for any conversation about US-led or US-backed intervention in any country. This is not to absolve various leaders of various states of wrongdoing, but to accept the fact that US intervention has only ever made bad situations worse. One need only look at the wake of destruction left in recent memory — Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Honduras, and, yes, the Russia-Ukraine conflict — to recognize our bloody handprint every single time. In any conversation about intervention, imperialism, or international conflict, we must recognize that so long as the US is involved, that outcome is on the table. The urgency of this matter only increases as the strength of the US-ian pole wanes.
So we must oppose US involvement in any war — unconditionally, systematically, and without hesitation. We must not waver even as the bourgeoisie, with help from politicians and the press, drum up a new Red Scare against historical memory. We must demand absolute restraint, take all measures to de-escalate the threat of US intervention, and stop adding fuel to this fire. Our greatest hope for a lasting peace is not the retrenchment of a unipolar order — one that is hardly “peaceful” at all — but rather its destruction; for the workers of all nations to rebel against the atrocities committed in their name. Resisting our own war machine is our most urgent and primary task. Building up international solidarity between mass movements against war is our only hope for survival.