Following are excerpts of remarks by Sara Flounders, co-director of the International Action Center, at the “What Is Driving the ‘New Cold War’” teach-in held at New York City’s Riverside Church on May 10. Go to workers.org to read articles on the teach-in and the May 9-26 anti-war actions.
The people of the U.S. can be a mighty force when aroused, mobilized and organized. That is why we are here today with many voices. We urgently need to begin to mobilize.
The very policies of endless wars that the U.S. military imposes around the world are now coming home in austerity, cutbacks and low wages. This changes the material basis of our struggle.
People in Ukraine, at the grassroots, gave a monumental surprise to the coup organizers in Kiev. Washington’s plan was to terrorize the population into silence. The role of fascist shock troops was to overturn the elected government and seize the armed power of the state.
The fascist forces thought they only needed the backing of U.S. imperialism. They had an immediate invitation to the White House and a few billion dollars promised in International Monetary Fund loans. It was a done deal, facts on the ground. Or so it seemed.
U.S. imperialism, in its arrogance, always, always underestimates the ability of people to resist.
The workers in Ukraine did something wholly surprising, unexpected. They rose up! They resisted! They are fighting back. They seized government and administrative buildings and established their own security force. Through roadblocks and with literally thousands in the streets, they stopped the military.
The Ukrainian military disappeared. They melted away and refused to fight their own brothers and sisters. They abandoned their tanks and took the clips out of their guns. It was a humiliating defeat for the coup organizers.
Now imperialism has only the fascists to lean on.
First armed uprising
What is happening in eastern Ukraine this month is the first armed rebellion of this period, against the banks, the IMF and the whole neoliberal austerity program.
It is an armed and organized Occupy-Wall-Street-type movement. Workers all over the world will learn an enormous amount from this heroic effort, however it turns out.
This is why Kiev, the capital, is now suddenly flooded with CIA, FBI and Blackwater/Greystone mercenaries. Corporate power in the U.S. is frantic that its plans are going totally awry.
The U.S. government is issuing ultimatums right and left. The decibels of war propaganda and demonization have been turned up. It is all media hype about so-called Russian agents, Russian terrorists.
The U.S.-engineered, violent, high-risk coup in Ukraine was part of the ruling class’ continuing plan for the dangerous expansion of NATO.
The biggest war games and troop maneuvers in NATO’s history are taking place right now and larger ones are scheduled. This is a calculated escalation and deliberate provocation. These war criminals are determined to lure Russia into a trap.
Key to NATO’s plans was ousting Russia from its military and naval bases in Crimea, turning them into NATO bases facing Russia. This is crucial to the total conquest and recolonization of Russia.
Wall Street is determined that no competing powers arise. For Russia and for China, the plans include military encirclement and political and economic destabilization through sanctions, threats and funding reactionary opposition groups.
Wall Street especially wanted to seize control of key industries and factories in Ukraine that export critical engines and parts to Russia. Forty percent of Ukraine’s exports to Russia are armaments and related machinery for heavy industry and for oil and gas development. Of course, the bosses also want control of vital oil and gas lines from Russia to Europe that cross Ukraine.
The Wall Street oligarchs had lots of plans. They had plans for the people of Ukraine too, austerity plans that loot pensions, double the cost of fuel, cut wages and sell off industries. Their first priority is to pay the banks and help make Ukraine safe for McDonald’s.
In response the forces in the People’s Republic of Donetsk have raised surprising demands, including returning industries to nationalized ownership, stopping the sale of industries and, most important, a say in economic and political decisions.
Their fight is our fight. Isn’t this what we need here? Building solidarity with those fighting fascism in Ukraine raises the struggle here.
Democracy for oligarchs
Washington and Wall Street always speak in the name of democracy, but they fear democracy everywhere.
This is a plutocracy. The richest oligarchs are on Wall Street. Court decisions now place no limit on campaign funding, whether to the Democratic or Republican Party, at the very time that voting rights of Black voters are under unrelenting attack.
Washington is more than willing to support and give billions in funding and diplomatic recognition to fascist ultra-right forces who overturned the elected government in Ukraine. Yet the oligarchs oppose a referendum in Crimea that voted overwhelmingly to join Russia, and they are determined to stop a referendum in East Ukraine.
This is true around the world. The U.S. gave crucial support to the brutal military coup in Egypt that overturned the first truly democratic election in Egypt’s 5,000 history.
In Syria the U.S. government and its secret agencies are arming thousands of mercenaries and the most reactionary jihadists to overturn the government. This mercenary invasion has left one-third of the population dislocated and homeless, but it has not succeeded.
Washington is mobilizing the most reactionary and privileged forces in Venezuela and in Ecuador in an effort to destabilize progressive democratic governments there.
Throughout Africa, AFRICOM — the U.S.-NATO command in Africa — is now organizing an operation a day to destabilize countries throughout the continent.
Sanctions, terror tactics, drone attacks are used against elected governments around the world, while supporting the most reactionary dictatorships and feudal monarchies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco and Colombia.
Our role here is to link these struggles, expose the corporate interests and build solidarity with the many forms of peoples’ resistance in this period. We cannot bemoan the small size of the movement now. We have to think what we can do with our resources and how we can mobilize and show resistance.
The very policies the U.S. military imposes around the world now come home in austerity, cutbacks and low wages. That changes the material basis of every struggle. This dying, corrupt capitalist system has no solutions except even worse cutbacks and increasing militarism and repression.
The overwhelming majority of the U.S. population is against another war. This is confirmed in poll after poll; whether it’s a Wall Street Journal poll, a USA Today poll or a Pew poll. The numbers run three to one, and up to five to one, against any military action in Ukraine, Russia, Syria or anywhere, for any reason.
We know that the overwhelming majority of the population is against the wars. We know conditions here are increasingly desperate. The people united will never be defeated!