Gen. Austin threatens war with Russia

The Biden administration faces two big problems regarding the war it provoked in Ukraine by expanding NATO to Russia’s border. 

The first is the collapse of the Ukrainian military under the pressure of the Russian military. The second is its inability to get additional funding from the U.S. Congress for Ukraine based on internal conflict with the Republican Party. Behind this resistance is the hostility to this war from much of the U.S. population.

Defense Secretary Gen. Lloyd Austin voiced the administration’s response to these problems as February ended, telling Congress: “If Ukraine falls, I really believe that NATO will be in a fight with Russia.” (Newsweek, Feb. 29)

That is a war threat. In decades of fighting against imperialist war, we have often written editorials that made the point: “Imperialist officials talk peace, make war.” When they threaten war, however, they don’t make peace. 

Even if Gen. Austin’s sole objective was to pressure Congress into allocating another $80 billion to arm Ukraine, his statement threatens Russia. He’s telling Moscow: “You win the war with Kiev, and you’ll be fighting NATO.” 

The U.S.-led military alliance, NATO, since 1999 has attacked and destroyed Yugoslavia and Libya. NATO helped occupy Iraq and Afghanistan. NATO recently added Sweden and Finland as members. Finland has an 832-mile border with Russia.

To increase the weight of this threat to Russia, French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking publicly, refused to rule out sending ground troops from NATO into Ukraine. Later, when pressed by reporters’ questions, he defended this statement.

To show that he took the threat seriously, Russian President Vladimir Putin reminded his NATO adversaries that Russia possesses nuclear weapons and delivery systems. 

So far U.S. strategists have sabotaged any attempts by the Russian and Ukrainian governments to end the war through negotiations. Washington has appeared satisfied with using Ukrainian youths as cannon fodder, sending tens of thousands of them to die in the hope of weakening Russia. But now the well of sacrifice in Ukraine has dried up.

Do Macron and Biden plan to send Romanian, Bulgarian, Latvian and Lithuanian troops to fight Russia? Or are they really considering sending Swedish, Finnish, French, German and Italian youths or U.S. youths? Does Gen. Austin believe he can order U.S. troops into a war with Russia without inciting a rebellion in the United States — including among those troops?

We remind Austin, Biden and Co. that hundreds of thousands of young people inside the U.S. consider the current administration complicit with Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza. Young veterans have burned their medals and uniforms in solidarity with Aaron Bushnell, whose heroic sacrifice focused attention on the U.S. military’s role in genocide. 

We in Workers World can counter Gen. Austin’s predictions. If Biden orders U.S. youths into a war with Russia, we predict widespread resistance among the working class will challenge these orders. The young people who already consider this administration criminal will lead that resistance, and it will spread to the U.S. military.

It is up to the anti-war movement in the U.S. to prepare for that challenge.

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