We’re against Putin and the imperialist war mongers

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
March 7, 2022

Twelve days of war, hundreds of deaths, one and a half million refugees fleeing the bombs: the images of the war in Ukraine are dreadful. The French population’s emotion and indignation are sincere, as are the growing number of their gestures of solidarity. But there’s nothing sincere in the propaganda from political leaders and the media. Macron has thrown on his “Supermediator” costume again to proclaim that the Western powers didn’t want this war. But, even if dictator Putin was the one to launch a military invasion, the imperialist powers played a large part in the escalation that led to it. NATO, the military alliance created in 1949 under the authority of American imperialism against the USSR, has been building up military pressure, even since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Between 1997 and 2009 twelve additional states along Russia’s Western front were integrated into NATO.

On the other hand, Putin, who came into power after ten years of the country being in a state of collapse, re-established an authoritarian state and brought dissenters into line. When he started a second war in Chechnya in 2004 to suppress any attempt at independence – a war that left at least 150,000 dead – there was no reaction to this dictator from Western powers. And last January, the major so-called democracies showed no more indignation when Putin sent his army to Kazakhstan to bloodily crush the workers’ revolt against the high cost of living. Kazakhstan possesses a large part of the world’s reserves of petrol and uranium. The reality of the interests of American, British and French trusts held more strength than any posturing or lies about grand democratic principles!

In this fratricidal war, Putin is the aggressor and is playing with the lives of the populations. He is digging a blood-filled ditch between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples, despite their being closely linked, and is pushing the Ukrainians into the arms of ultranationalist leaders.

But the major Western powers are impervious to what happens to any population. Their policies across the globe make this quite clear: if you’re not killed by bombs, you starve from underdevelopment because your country has been and is still being pillaged.

Through the worst abuses of power, the imperialist side has always claimed to be working for peace. France, a second-rate power, has a long history of doing this. Putin has now forbidden the use of the word “war” in Russia. In much the same way, France, up until 1999, used the term “peace-keeping operations” when describing the eight years of colonial war – in which hundreds of thousands were killed – against the Algerians fighting for their independence.

Deprived of its colonial empire, the French state nevertheless continued its military interventions in Africa – in Chad, Mauritania, Central African Republic, etc. Claiming to save local populations, they were always acting to keep control of the riches that were being pillaged by Total, Bolloré and the like. Too bad if that meant bloody military intervention to uphold or install the worst possible “friendly” dictators. As for the interventions in Mali, supposedly to protect the population from terrorist abuse, they only served to strengthen the jihadists while simultaneously consolidating the domination of corrupt regimes.

The leaders who serve those who exploit us, those who make our living conditions worse, claim to be acting in our interest. But they don’t suddenly become benefactors of the people when they intervene outside our borders, whatever the reason they give! They’re already using the war in Ukraine to prepare us for more sacrifices. So, we mustn’t follow Macron’s attempt to have us line up behind the Western powers and their institutions.

In the name of the fatherland, whether Ukrainian or Russian, workers are turned into cannon fodder so that oligarchs, whether Russian or Ukrainian, can keep their yachts and their billions, so that the shares in Thales, Total and all the other war profiteers, continue to increase.

If they don’t want to lose their lives due to the rivalry between the capitalists of the major powers or to their race for the highest profit, workers from all countries must fight to overthrow the system. And they should start by opposing the power of capitalists in the one place where they have the means to do so – in their own country.

Nathalie Arthaud