Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Ukraine Is Going To The Dogs - Part 3

How exactly would a Russian invasion of Ukraine differ from
the US invasion of Grenada, its role at the Bay of Pigs, and its
continued occupation of Guantanamo in Cuba, its invasion
of Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, its attacks on Libya etc.?
Marxists cannot and do not support any Russian intervention in the Ukraine, including into the Crimean, just as we would oppose any use of force by Ukraine to prevent the people of Crimea or South-East Ukraine from seceding. But, the condemnations by western imperialism, and by the US and UK, in particular, are empty and hypocritical. The model for Russia's actions, has in fact, been provided for it ready made by the US and UK over the last few decades. Russia's claim that it is coming to the defence of Russians in South-East Ukraine is no different to Britain's claim that it was doing precisely that when it went to war in the Falklands. When Cuba got rid of the gangster regime of Batista, the US did everything but actually invade, for example, providing military support for rebel forces for the Bay of Pigs invasion. It did the same thing in supporting extreme right-wing groups of terrorists in Nicaragua.

In Grenada, despite it being a UK territory, the US actually did invade when it established a left of centre government to which the US objected. The US and UK bombed the hell out of Serbia, as a sovereign state, and then, of course, they launched an illegal war against Iraq on far less grounds than Russia has for moving in to the Crimea.

The crisis in Ukraine was actually prompted by the EU itself, which gave Yanukovitch a stark choice – either the EU or Russia, you can't have both! Given that the economic deal on offer from the EU, like the deal offered to Greece, Portugal, Ireland etc. not even enough to meet its needs, and came with a series of demands for massive austerity etc., that would have simply made Ukraine a vassal state, it is no wonder that Yanukovitch decided to go with the deal offered by Russia, which came with no such strings, and offered the possibility of the continuation of the same kind of extremely preferential terms, for gas supply, that Comecon countries always enjoyed from the USSR in the past.

Nor can it be missed that John McCain, who has turned himself into a caricature of someone out of Dr. Strangelove, did not let the opportunity of trying to provoke WWIII go to waste, by his visit to Kiev last December. As part of its strategy of “The New American Century”, the US has had a policy of hemming in Russia with its alliance with all sorts of unsavoury dictators in the “stans” of Central Asia, as well as its policy of drawing into NATO the countries on Russia's European borders, where it then stations nuclear missiles, similar to the siting of nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962, that nearly provoked war.

What all of this does, as it has done in Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Syria etc. is to provide the headroom for the various fascistic militia to thrive. In many ways it is very similar to the situation described by Trotsky in relation to the Balkan Wars. There, the Liberal interventionists encouraged the peoples to pursue bourgeois nationalist objectives, which would necessarily lead to wars that divide rather than unite the working class of the various nationalities within each state and between nation states. They encouraged the orthodox Christian populations, oppressed by the Muslim rulers of the Ottoman Empire, to rise up on the back of veiled promises of support from the Tsarist Russian Empire.

The result was, of course, tragedy, which ultimately led to WWI. But, even had that not been the case, as Trotsky pointed out, the working-class cannot sub-contract these historic tasks to our class enemy, certainly not in the shape of some external imperialist power.

"But it is not at all a matter of indifference by what methods this emancipation is being accomplished. The method of “liberation” that is being followed today means the enslavement of Macedonia to the personal regime in Bulgaria and to Bulgarian militarism; it means, moreover, the strengthening of reaction in Bulgaria itself. That positive, progressive result which history will, in the last analysis, extract from the ghastly events in the Balkans, will suffer no harm from the exposures made by Balkan and European democracy; on the contrary, only a struggle against the usurpation of history's tasks by the present masters of the situation will educate the Balkan peoples to play the role of superseding not only Turkish despotism but also those who, for their own reactionary purposes, are, by their own barbarous methods, now destroying that despotism...

Our agitation, on the contrary, against the way that history's problems are at present being solved, goes hand in hand with the work of the Balkan Social Democrats. And when we denounce the bloody deeds of the Balkan 'liberation' from above we carry forward the struggle not only against liberal deception of the Russian masses but also against enslavement of the Balkan masses.” (On The Balkan Wars p 293-4)

Given the history of Ukraine, Marxists support the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future free from external threats. But, by the same token we support the right of Ukrainian minorities, including the Russian minority to be free of domination too. But, we seek to defend those rights by the actions of the working-class itself, and in opposition to the attempts of the great powers to intervene to shape the situation to their own interests.

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