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

NATO Military Escalation

Mar 11, 2024

This article is translated from the March 8 issue, #2901 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary worker’s group of that name active in France.

The largest military exercise organized by NATO since the days of the Cold War with the USSR has entered a new phase called Nordic Responses. It is set far north in Lapland. Swedish troops will participate, even though Sweden has not yet formally joined the military alliance.

A total of 90,000 troops from over 30 countries will participate in the exercise over four months. It’s intended to simulate a response to an attack from the east and will be reinforced by U.S. troops. NATO plans to organize this kind of exercise twice a year with more firepower. NATO considers 40,000 European soldiers to be “highly prepared” but wants to raise this number to 300,000. This large-scale mobilization shows how the great powers are preparing more and more for war and are dragging in the small countries they have coerced into being their allies.

For now, the U.S.—the most decisive military power by far—aims to avoid uncontrolled escalation. The U.S. gives Ukraine considerable military and financial aid, without which Ukraine couldn’t resist the Russian army. But the U.S. also doesn’t want the war to enter any new phase without its seal of approval. Yet the U.S. already has gone well beyond what was initially announced.

Two years ago, American and European leaders ruled out supplying Ukraine with heavy tanks and jet fighters. But they did it anyway. Belgium, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands will deliver around 60 F-16 fighters to Ukraine in the coming months. Great Britain and the U.S. will coordinate the training of Ukrainian pilots. And NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Ukraine will have permission to use these warplanes to attack targets in Russia.

A dispute was aired, intended to be kept hushed among the top ranks of the German Air Force. The news was intercepted and broadcast by the Russian army. Germany’s chief air force commander was speaking with two generals about supplying the Ukrainian army with long-range Taurus missiles to destroy the bridge linking Russia to Crimea. German chancellor Olaf Scholtz immediately declared his opposition to delivering these missiles.

We do not know how long the West’s relative restraint will last. European leaders worry about Russia’s favorable position today and the increasingly evident weariness of Ukraine’s army. Casting about for a solution, they waste no opportunity to assert that they are Ukraine’s best supporters and that under no circumstances will they let Russia win. They also question how determined U.S. leaders are to continue bankrolling the war.

The conflict drags on with its own logic. The leaders of the great powers are not entirely in control of this war.