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

A Military Alliance to Protect Capital, Not Freedom

Feb 28, 2022

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is presented by authorities as if it protects the U.S. population through the military might of the U.S. and its allies. But this description mirrors only the big capitalists’ agenda and interests.

They also focus on Russia as being an enemy of the U.S. population. But the real roots of the conflict between Russia and the U.S. state go back to the successful workers’ revolution in Russia in 1917. When the working class took power in Russia, the response of the U.S. government and other capitalist governments was to send in military forces to try to overthrow this revolution.

A devastating civil war ensued inside Russia. The workers’ state established by the revolution was able to hold on and defeat the capitalist armies. Workers in several countries rose up in demonstration, strikes and revolutions to carry revolution forward and in support of the Russian Revolution. This was the power that kept the bourgeoisie from destroying the new workers’ state. But, as the revolutionary wave fell, the workers state in Russia became more isolated.

This isolation led to the rapid degeneration of the revolution in a country that was already bled dry by World War One and by the capitalists’ civil war. The Russian working class became less active in the running of this workers’ state and a bureaucracy developed to make decisions. But while this bureaucracy became more and more a dictator over the Russian working class, they never dared to overturn the fundamental gains of the revolution. The capitalists had been kicked out and the imperialists of the capitalist world were not able to get back in to make profits off Russian natural resources and off the labor of the Russian working class. The capitalist class of the wealthiest countries want to dominate the entire globe, but the Soviet Union remained a brake against their expansion. And therefore, the Soviet Union has been a target for world capitalism ever since.

In World War Two, the Soviet Union was the main enemy aimed at by Nazi Germany. The U.S. and Britain had economic conflicts with Germany, and they were allies with the Soviet Union in the war. Most of this war was fought inside the Soviet Union after Germany invaded. The Soviet Red Army was mainly responsible for the defeat of Germany, inflicting 80% of the casualties suffered by the German military forces in the war. The Soviet population paid by far the biggest cost for the defeat of Germany, with more than 20 million people, civilian and military, who died in the war.

At the end of the war, the U.S. had emerged as the strongest capitalist power. Only the Soviet Union had comparable military forces. U.S. and Soviet leaders met in Yalta to divide up the world, establishing “spheres of influence” over countries they would control. For the Soviet leaders, those countries were in Eastern Europe, giving them a buffer zone to protect against any future invasions.

But as soon as the ink was dry on the Yalta agreement, the capitalist “allies” of World War Two redirected their military plans and turned them against the Soviet Union. In 1949 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed, organized by the U.S. government. NATO was an agreement among the U.S., Canada and 12 western European countries to form a military alliance, which was explicitly aimed against the Soviet Union.

Under the NATO agreements, the U.S. kept military forces in Europe right on the borders of those Eastern European countries controlled by the Soviet government. During the “Cold War” between the U.S and the Soviet Union, the U.S. had basically surrounded the Soviet Union with ground troops, air force bases, missile sites and navy warships, not just on the Soviet Union’s western border, but also on its eastern border with military forces in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and the Pacific Ocean. When the Soviet Union retaliated by putting missiles in Cuba, 90 miles from Florida, the U.S. threatened war in 1962 until the missiles were removed.

When the Soviet Union formally dissolved in 1991, the countries of Eastern Europe that had been under Soviet control became independent, leaving Russia standing alone. At that point, there were some inside the U.S. government who favored ending the Cold War and ratcheting down the NATO threat toward Russia. In 1990, President George Bush made a deal with Soviet President Gorbachev. Russia agreed that East and West Germany would be reunited. In exchange, the U.S. promised that NATO would not expand “one inch eastward”, meaning into the former Soviet states and Eastern Europe. This would have meant that Russia would have retained a barrier around its perimeters.

But within a few years, U.S. policy returned to its hostile line against Russia. In 1998, under the Clinton administration, his foreign policy team said, “we’re going to cram NATO down the Russian’s throats because Moscow is weak…. The cold war is over for you, but not for us.” In 2001, the U.S. government pulled out of the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty and began planning a new missile system in Eastern Europe. And NATO began to break its previous promises in order to “expand eastward.” Between 1999 and 2004, NATO expanded to 14 more countries, most of which had formerly been part of or allied with the Soviet Union. The U.S. has since stationed troops in some of these countries, including Poland and Romania. Today, Russia is facing a situation where U.S. and NATO military forces and weapons surround it and are stationed on its very borders. And that means from East to West, all along its vast borders. Imagine if the U.S. government was facing this same situation, with Russian troops and armaments stretched East and West across its borders with Canada and Mexico! Likewise, they would never tolerate it.