US and EU Imperialism “looking for Lebensraum”

Writing in Britain’s socialist daily the Morning Star, Communist Party international secretary John Foster warns what happens when western imperialism, in the form of the EU-USA, looks East. This article first featured in the Morning Star 02/08/2014.

On July 31st the lead editorial of the Financial Times called for a systematic strengthening of NATO ahead of its summit in Cardiff this September.

The alliance’s Article 5, its collective defence guarantee, needed to be given backbone and the alliance’s headquarters shifted to one of the “eastern countries” to give credibility to the alliance’s determination to intervene, if necessary, on Russia’s borders. The alliance’s Rapid Reaction Force should be systematically strengthened. 

The FT is not usually a bellicose rabble-rouser. It is the paper that reflects the strategic thinking of the Anglo-US financial elite. 

The editorial went on to talk of the need to overcome divisions within Nato — induced, it claimed, by the energy dependence of some countries on Russian oil and gas. It mentioned Italy but not Germany. It made no mention of Ukraine at all.

Yet Ukraine is, of course, where the story starts.

The US Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia is Victoria Nuland. Previously Dick Cheney’s foreign policy adviser, she also happens to be married to Robert Kagan, the co-founder of the Project for a New American Century.

This project was the blueprint for the reconfiguration of world politics that was put together the year before George W Bush came to power and which inspired his interventions in the Middle East and central Asia.

On February 19, just five days before the February 24 coup in Kiev, the Wall Street Journal, house magazine for US neocons, carried an opinion piece quoting State Department sources. 

It claimed that the successive defeats of US policy by the alliance of countries led by Russia, culminating in the failure of the US initiative for armed intervention in Syria, had finally stiffened resolve to take the offensive.

The opportunity now existed, so its sources argued, for exploiting a “policy asymmetry” in eastern Europe. 

By intervening in Ukraine, the West could inflict a mortal blow on Russia’s plans for an economic union at little cost to itself. 

Two weeks before, Nuland was recorded talking to the US ambassador in Kiev attacking Germany and the EU for compromising on Ukraine. 

Her language was no doubt even stronger when EU leaders signed an agreement on February 21 with the then Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych for early elections and a de-escalation of protests. 

Two days later, right-wing and fascist forces went on the rampage, invaded parliament and precipitated a coup immediately recognised as legitimate by the US.

This is the geopolitical background to the tragedy now unfolding in Ukraine — as well as to the divisions opening up in the ranks of the post-coup government in Kiev. 

At the beginning of last week the UN commissioner for human rights estimated civilian deaths in the Donbas region at 1,129 and 3,442 wounded. 

Since then fighting has intensified. CNN reports ballistic missiles being fired into Donetsk city. The French news agency AFP estimates that refugees are fleeing at over 2,000 a day. There are now 515,000 across the border in Russia and 4,000 in refugee camps. 

And as the Kiev regime forces take territory, right-wing death squads move in. Over the past week, two elected local government leaders, both communists, have been abducted and murdered. 

In Kiev itself the coup government passed a law on July 31 permitting the “preventive detention” of suspects without trial. It also imposed a “military tax” on all citizens and increased income tax to pay for its military campaign in the east. 

At the same time splits are opening — splits that reflect the rancorous divisions in Ukraine’s oligarch-dominated politics and also those between Germany and the US.

The pro-EU Udar party and the ex-fascist Svoboda party pulled out of the Fatherland-dominated government last week — precipitating an election in the autumn. 

The government is now solely run by the Fatherland party, which honours the nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. 

It would appear that these moves represent an attempt by the “chocolate king” President Petro Poroshenko to bolster his position against Fatherland. 

An election is likely to lead to increased support for Udar, for Poroshenko’s own newly created party Solidarity and for Svodoba. 

Back in 2006, Poroshenko, then a government minister, was blamed by the US for framing the pro-US Fatherland leader Yulia Tymoshenko on corruption charges. 

Her imprisonment led eventually to the demise of the 2004 Orange Revolution. Leaked emails indicate the State Department had evidence of Poroshenko’s own corruption. 

Today this gang of racists, bigots and thieves dominate what is left of the Kiev parliament, where only 240 of the original 450 deputies survive. 

Last week they came together to dissolve the parliamentary representation of the Communist Party and to ask the courts to outlaw the party altogether.

The Communist Party gained 2.6 million votes in 2012, 14 per cent of the total. It is the only party that has stood out against oligarch-dominated politics, calling for a parliamentary republic and end to presidential power. 

Long before the present crisis it called for federal autonomy to protect the rights of all linguistic minorities and for open democratic referendums on issues such as EU membership. 

It stood out against privatisation, against fascism and for the protection of what remained of Ukraine’s now totally destroyed welfare state. 

Despite the coup, it has steadfastly defended the territorial integrity of Ukraine, called for the protection of minority rights and for a peaceful resolution of differences. Now it is banned.

It is unclear how deep the divisions between the US and Germany are on the issue of Ukraine. In imposing sanctions after the MH17 crash, the EU made certain that its own fell most heavily on banking transactions through the City of London, mainly US banks, exempting French naval orders and German engineering.

Germany and its allies are far more dependent on Russian markets than the US — half their energy supply also comes from Russia.

Germany certainly wants Ukrainian markets and resources for the EU. But Germany and its allies need Russian markets and energy even more and don’t want the EU’s struggling economy saddled with the vast costs of a failed Ukraine. 

The US, and its satellite Britain, on the other hand, want to move forward with their geopolitical plans and end Germany’s dependence on Russia. 

As the FT says, the priority is to toughen up Nato’s eastern flank.

For us in Britain the tasks are clear. The left has to speak out far more unanimously against the war hysteria, urgently defend the Communist Party and other democrats in Ukraine and to expose the deadly dangers of an expansionist, aggressive Nato. 

The Project for a New American Century has already caused untold suffering in the Middle East. We have to stop a repetition in eastern Europe.

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