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. Proxy War Against Russia Intensifies

Sep 12, 2022

On August 24, President Biden announced 3 billion dollars in fresh military aid for Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. had "demonstrated that we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes." Two weeks later, Ukraine launched a military offensive against Russian forces. Blinken all but took credit for it, saying: "I think we can say that Ukraine is proceeding in a very deliberate way with a strong plan and critically enabled by the resources that many of us are providing."

For U.S. imperialism, this war has many advantages. They got Putin to launch a war he cannot win and cannot get out of. This has the potential to destabilize the Russian state, the U.S.’s longtime enemy. Whatever deals and accommodations the U.S. has made with it at various times, and however much the ruling Russian bureaucracy long ago turned its back on every shred of progress left over from the workers’ revolution of 1917, the Russian state is still a distant product of that revolution. And so far, U.S. capitalism and its European partners have not been able to completely swallow Russia in the way they have swallowed the former eastern bloc. Perhaps this war will open up that possibility, though how that might unfold no one can say. And yet, so far, no U.S. troops are involved. So, unlike the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, there is little danger that the current deaths and injuries of war will provoke a reaction from the U.S. population.

On top of that, this war has militarized the European continent, which means that increasing amounts of government money are flowing from European countries—especially Germany—into the pockets of U.S. arms manufacturers. And to add the cherry on top, these European countries are being transformed from customers of Russian oil and gas companies into customers of the giant U.S. oil companies.

While this war has been an enormous boon for U.S. imperialism and the giant companies it serves, and a political problem for Russia’s ruling bureaucracy, it has been a disaster for Russian troops and especially for the Ukrainian population. The Russian military has been shelling cities with no regard for the people who live in them. Thousands have been killed or wounded, many more driven from their homes. And of course, both sides have carried out atrocities, including the abuse of prisoners. The UN’s monitoring team in Ukraine reported they had "documented a range of violations against prisoners of war" by Russian troops, as well as "cases of torture and ill-treatment” carried out by Ukrainian forces. All this has dug a ditch of blood between two peoples who have shared a common history for centuries.

On top of its atrocious present, armed conflict also has the potential to spread. U.S. imperialism has gained an advantage so far—but there is no obvious endgame to this U.S. proxy war. No one knows what might result from backing the Russian state into a corner. Who could be surprised if this turned out to be the opening act of World War III? The heads of the U.S. state are certainly aware of the possibility that this war could spread: the rhetoric issued from every level of U.S. government is clearly aimed at preparing the U.S. population for a long fight that might more directly involve U.S. forces at some point.

We have seen similar proxy wars against Russia before. In the 1980s, the U.S. gave enormous amounts of military aid to the mujahideen forces fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Ronald Reagan called the mujahideen "freedom fighters," language that sounds very similar to Biden’s: "Ukrainians have inspired the world with their extraordinary courage and dedication to freedom."

Twenty years later, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan itself, fighting forces that came out of those the U.S. had supported against the Soviet Union. Forty years later, the U.S. finally withdrew from an Afghanistan that has been laid waste.

The U.S. working class paid a heavy price for the ruling class’s Afghan policy, in our tax money wasted, in the lives of our daughters and sons ground up in war, and also in the moral cost of accepting to help ravage an entire population in the name of “freedom.”

U.S. imperialism may be able to maneuver and gain even when its policies lead to the destruction of entire countries, entire regions. But whether or not U.S. troops are directly involved, we have no interest in backing the extension of this U.S. proxy war against Russia, which, finally, threatens the safety of our entire species.