With the Ukrainian regime in Kiev apparently on the verge of collapse, some of the governments in the U.S.-led NATO are discussing a new escalation. Working-class forces in these imperialist countries must mobilize to stop the drive to escalate. 

First, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told Congress that if Russia defeats Ukraine, it means NATO and Russia will be at war.

Then French President Emmanuel Macron signaled that France might send ground troops into Ukraine. As recently as March 14, he added on prime-time television, “If Russia were to win, … we would no longer have security in Europe.” (politico.eu)

The next day German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Macron and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk met in Berlin for a photo op to demonstrate their common hostility to Russia.

There is pressure on Scholz to send long-range TAURUS cruise missiles to Ukraine, missiles that could reach Moscow. So far, Scholz has refused. But recall that Scholz caved to pressure to join U.S. sanctions on Russian energy sources in 2022, despite the cost to German industry. 

Russian intelligence reports an intercepted discussion among German officers about how the TAURUS missiles could be used to destroy the long bridge connecting Crimea, which is part of Russia, with Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin then reminded the imperialist governments in the West that Russia is also a nuclear power and that Russian strategy allows for the use of these weapons if its existence and sovereignty are threatened.

Stiscione, Italy protest, Oct. 27, 2018. ‘No to NATO, no to war!’

Perhaps Macron finally heard Putin. Perhaps he heard the workers and farmers of France. On March 16 he walked back his threat to send ground troops. He started muttering about brokering a ceasefire in Ukraine during the Olympic Games, which begin in Paris July 26.

It may seem absurd that the governments of the Western imperialist powers would risk such a devastating war. A war to continue the aggressive expansion of NATO eastward, using a corrupt regime in Kiev built with the support of fascist elements. This would certainly be abhorrent to any worker in those same NATO countries, who would have nothing to gain and everything to lose.

But remember that only 30 years ago Washington was exploiting a subservient post-Soviet Russian regime under Boris Yeltsin, was moving U.S. industry to Peoples China to increase profits, was plotting a war to destroy Yugoslavia and planning for a 21st century in which U.S. capital ruled a world empire. 

Dream of empire fading

What is driving the U.S. imperialist ruling class and its servile allies into a war frenzy is that reality is shattering their dream of empire. Worse, their profit margins have been steadily shrinking, especially since the 2008 capitalist financial crisis. 

The imperialists’ superiority in technology, industry and finance is eroding. Their propaganda, contradicted by the genocide in Gaza — in which they are complicit — convinces fewer and fewer of the world’s 8 billion people of their superiority. They remain ahead only in weapons, and even that is declining. A growing section of the imperialist ruling class has begun to doubt the future of their ability to exploit — and that fear makes capitalists dangerous.

These privileges and wealth they would lose benefit only a small portion of the world’s people, even in the imperialist countries themselves. There is no reason for working people — for the working class in its broadest sense — to accept that the rich rulers, that the governments, put their lives at risk of nuclear war to protect a system that exploits us all.  

No more weapons to Ukraine!  Down with NATO!

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