The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

U.S. Empire Threatens the World—and Us

Feb 28, 2022

The following editorial appeared in the Spark newsletters, distributed at workplaces during the week of February 21, 2022.

Three days ago, Biden declared: “Russian forces are planning to and intend to attack Ukraine in the coming week, in the coming days.”

The U.S. news media gobbled it up—then spit out headlines about the 150,000 Russian troops in the region. Or was it 190,000? The news forgot to mention that those troops are almost all on Russian soil.

Russia set off three missiles in a training exercise the other day. We heard all about that, too. What we didn’t hear about, although they exist: 1) the U.S. Navy has four guided missile destroyers on Russia’s flanks; 2) the U.S. has operational missile bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey—all near Russia—and two so-called “defensive” nuclear bases in Poland and Romania.

In fact, we hardly ever hear about U.S. troops stationed around the world, and hardly a peep about the numbers stationed near Russia itself.

But U.S. troops do threaten Russia. Today, more than 71,700 U.S. troops are permanently stationed within striking distance of Russia; 9,000 more slots are filled by a permanent rotation. And 8,500 more are on “high alert,” ready to go at any moment. Attached to the military in this region, are 64,000 so-called “civilian” forces: that is, clandestine units, spies, paramilitaries, and a few diplomats. Behind all those U.S. forces, there are another 40,000 NATO troops—NATO, which has always been an extension of the U.S. military empire. Finally, the U.S. Navy currently has 20 warships patrolling in waters near Russia, including several battleships with allied vessels. These forces wind around Russia’s borders.

While all those U.S. troops ring Russia’s borders, there are NO Russian troop installations near the U.S.; NO Russian bases ring U.S. borders; NO Russian warships make their way up the St. Lawrence Seaway threatening the Great Lakes; none sit at the mouth of the Mississippi.

So, who is threatening whom?

None of this means that Russia’s Vladimir Putin is a nice guy. No, he is a real dictator, resting on a repressive military regime, directed against the Russian people to prevent them from organizing to improve their own situation. His regime has broken strikes, driven down the standard of living of the Russian working class. And it has sent troops to reinforce other dictators in eastern Europe when their peoples revolted.

But the U.S. doesn’t focus on Russia because it is a dictatorship. (After all, the U.S. supports dictators around the world.)

The U.S. aims at Russia because it is one of the few countries standing in the way of U.S. domination of the world. The 1917 revolution in Russia—despite bureaucratic deformations and the destruction of so many of its gains—gave Russia a small possibility for independence. That’s why the U.S. ever since kept Russia in its cross-hairs.

Up until now, the stance of both Russia and the U.S. toward Ukraine has seemed more like posturing than any move to real war. But whatever happens there, and whatever incident might set off a war, the U.S. is deeply implicated in what will happen, responsible for the devastation the peoples of the area will suffer—and have already suffered.

Whatever happens there, we have no reason to support the American military empire. The U.S. has the most bellicose military empire the world has ever seen: 750 military bases in 80 other countries. (Other countries ALTOGETHER have only 70 bases outside their own borders.) Those 750 U.S. bases exist in order to make the world a safe place for U.S. corporate investment and profit taking.

We sit in the middle of this empire—and pay the price for it, an enormous price that has hemorrhaged our well-being, as well as the lives of the soldiers sent to patrol the world.

The same corporations that exploit the peoples of the world exploit us here. The wealth they control was stolen from the labor of people around the world, including here. Sitting in the “belly of this beast,” we have every reason to oppose the wars and the military empire these corporations rest on.