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Nuclear-Armed Imperialist Powers Face Off Worldwide—Three Ways the World Just Got More Dangerous

Joe Biden, Xi Jinpeng, Vladimir Putin


The U.S. capitalist-imperialist ruling class have been creating public opinion—for imperialist war.   

Rising tension in East Asia between the U.S. and China, and continuing war in Ukraine between the U.S./NATO (using Ukrainian people and troops as cannon fodder) and Russia, puts into sharp focus the fact that all life on this planet is in peril. Major imperialist powers—the globally dominant U.S., the increasingly assertive China, and heavily nuked Russia—are facing off around the world like big gangsters.

All of these imperialist powers are driven by the basic compulsion of capitalism-imperialismexpand or die. The U.S. is on top in the existing global power alignment. It is fighting to maintain its domination of a global empire, an empire built on the backs of the exploitation of billions of people worldwide. China is an on-the-rise and expanding power driven by the same basic compulsion, and aiming for a larger share of that exploitation. Russia aims to prevent further U.S. expansion and consolidation in countries bordering or close by Russia, and to expand its own power and influence in the division of the world by imperialist powers. Each side can establish its own supremacy only at the expense of and by ultimately subduing and defeating its opponents.

Nothing is certain in this highly volatile situation.

In the past week, three developments indicate how this entire situation is getting even more dangerous to humanity. There is a dangerous trajectory and a tit-for-tat dynamic in which neither side can give in to the other, the escalation is continual, and the danger of this “going nuclear”—even if not intentional—grows.

One: Top Chinese Leader Xi Jinping Goes to Moscow

Last week, China’s president Xi Jinping traveled to Moscow and met with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, for several days. The two declared and renewed their “no-limits” friendship for each other and their countries. China had issued a 12-point plan for ending the war in Ukraine in advance of Xi’s visit. Both Xi and Putin called for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.

Whatever the intentions of Xi and Putin, Xi’s 12-point plan was dead on arrivalthe U.S. and the imperialist bloc it heads dismissed the calls as soon as they were announced, claiming they are a flimsy attempt to “distract” from China’s alleged (and unproven) intention to sell “lethal weapons” to Russia. Antony Blinken, U.S. secretary of state, previously had warned China not to even “consider” supplying weapons to Russia. (Meanwhile, the U.S. and its allies have sent tens of billions of dollars-worth of modern weaponry to Ukraine.) Blinken said the "world should not be fooled by a potential Chinese-Russian peace plan for Ukraine.” The U.S. media “covering” Ukraine simply echoed the dismissal of China’s proposal and didn’t even seriously examine it. The fact is that at this point the U.S.-NATO alliance is committed to inflicting a major setback on Russia and is not about to entertain any peace plan, “legitimate” or not.

Xi and Putin did not establish a formal military alliance between China and Russia, as the U.S. has with its NATO partners, and Xi said nothing indicating China’s direct support for Russia’s war in Ukraine. But they signed a series of agreements and documents to further develop and expand “strategic cooperation” between the two countries. Ten of them are economic agreements worth tens of billions of dollars that will bind the two countries closer together through at least 2030.

As his visit to Moscow came to an end, Xi said that China and Russia are deepening their “strategic partnership and … entering a new era." Putin said this “new era” would shape “a more just multipolar world order based on international law rather than certain ‘rules’ serving the needs of the ‘golden billion’” (meaning, people who live in the U.S., Japan and Western Europe). Just as the U.S. is trying to cast its naked power play as “upholding democracy against autocracy,” Putin has his own cover—part of which is to appeal to the global South on the basis of the historical and present-day injustices wreaked by the U.S. and Europe/Japan, and their privileged position in the world.

Shortly before Xi arrived in Moscow, the International Criminal Court (ICC), an institution dominated by Western imperialist powers, issued an arrest warrant for Putin. As Xi prepared to leave Moscow, he showed the world his disdain for the ICC, the U.S., and western imperialism. He invited Putin to China, in a symbolic display of support for the man he calls his “dear friend.”

Two: Ukraine—Spring Offensives, Replenishing and Upgrading the Tools of War

For several months, Russian and Ukrainian forces have been locked in brutal combat in the eastern and southern parts of the country, with neither side able to make significant advances. Both sides are feverishly preparing spring offensives they think they must win, a point underscored by recent highly publicized trips to battlefields by both Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president.

Both sides are using up massive amounts of ammunition and other military gear, and the human toll has been horrific. The efforts to break the deadlock are putting enormous pressure on both sides to increase their weaponry. Ukraine’s former defense minister recently said that “If production remains at the same level or slightly higher, we will run out of shells this year.” The U.S. has been pressuring European NATO countries to step up production. Recently Estonia, a NATO country that borders Russia, made a proposal to other NATO members to increase artillery shell production seven-fold, to 2.1 million shells a year.

The U.S. is also ramping up not only the quantity, but the qualitymeaning the lethality, range, and battlefield effectiveness—of the weapons it sends to Ukraine. While Xi and Putin were meeting, the Pentagon announced that it is accelerating shipment of state-of-the-art battlefield M-1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. These were not expected to be deployed in Ukraine for another year or two. But with an ongoing stalemate on the battlefield, severe losses of personnel and equipment on both sides, and the need to win in this fight, the U.S. has mounted aggressive preparations for a spring offensive by its Ukrainian proxies.

The U.S. also began evaluating Ukrainian pilots for training in highly advanced F-16 fighter jets. For months, Zelensky has been pushing for the U.S. to provide F-16s to Ukraine, but as recently as January, Biden replied “no. But these recent moves possibly open the door to the use of these fighter jets by Ukrainian pilots against Russian war planes in the coming offensives.

In any case, the battlefield dynamic over the past 13 months has steadily escalated with more (and more deadly) weapons and more troops. As each side “pushes more chips into the pot,” a “battlefield dynamic” in which one side or the other feels compelled to “go nuclear” grows more likely, especially if it is facing a catastrophic setback in the fighting.

Three: Trade Wars and Patriotic War Fever

For years, the U.S. has been implementing military, economic, and diplomatic measures to squeeze China.1 The two countries have been in a steadily intensifying and high-stakes “trade war” since 2018, when Trump was president. Biden has actually taken Trump’s economic measures to restrict and contain China and escalated them into the harshest acts yet. In particular, the U.S. has been trying to restrict or outright eliminate China’s access to advanced microchips and microchip-producing technology, which are essential to virtually “everything from smartphones to weapons of war.”2

Meanwhile, government and military leaders, and their media mouthpieces, have been whipping up a frenzy of American chauvinism and hatred of the Chinese government and, by extension, Chinese people, as part of the mindless, patriotic “war fever” for conflict with China in today’s “America First” political climate. The latest rounds of this began when a Chinese balloon floated over the U.S. before it was shot down by a U.S. Air Force jet. U.S. military leadership said it was a “spy balloon.China said the balloon was a civilian airship, used for meteorology, which deviated from its intended path. To this day, the U.S. has offered no evidence that the balloon was used for spying.  

Then, last week, an anti-Chinese lynch mob erupted, in the form of a congressional hearing on the popular app TikTok. U.S. officials claim that TikTok, whose parent company is Chinese, is being used to spy on and gather information about Americans. Last week, Shou Zi Chew, TikTok’s CEO, was called before Congress where he was “battered” for five hours by congressional representatives of both parties who, among other things, said TikTok is “damaging children’s mental health.” Whatever the truth of any of the accusations about TikTok and mental health, it’s hard to make a case that TikTok is somehow worse than Twitter, Tumblr, 4chan, etc. The main effect was to further demonize China in the minds of Americans.

Along with enflaming anti-Chinese hate, the hearing also escalates the “trade wars” and economic warfare between the U.S. and China. In December 2022, Biden signed the “No TikTok on United States Devices Act,” which had passed the Senate unanimously. It prevents TikTok from being downloaded on U.S. government devices, claiming it “opens the door for the Chinese Communist Party to access Americans’ personal information, keystrokes, and location through aggressive data harvesting.” Meanwhile, nobody was talking about the U.S. and its spying on both its citizens (as well as people all over the world)—and that those who expose it have been either imprisoned (as was Daniel Hale) or exiled (as was Edward Snowden). People in this country should be infinitely more concerned about “their own” government—which has a long and violent record of monitoring and suppressing dissent—tracking everyone’s activities through their phones.3

Wake up NOW!

Both the war in Ukraine as well as the U.S.-China conflict playing out over Taiwan and the South China Sea4 could quickly spiral into open warfare between imperialist powers. The possibility of using nuclear weapons in either of those “theaters of war” is great. An escalation in either conflict could break beyond its own geographic focus and trigger a wider, even global, conflict. The stakes for humanity, and for life on planet Earth, could not be greater.

And for what?  

Young miners haul cobalt


40,000 children dig tunnels and haul rocks from cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cobalt is an essential mineral for the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, laptops and smart phones.    Photo: AP

The “production and distribution chains” of commodities produced in this worldwide system that are the foundation for the wealth and power of imperialism rest on the actual chains of oppression of billions of humans, including young children, who are savagely exploited in the mines, fields, and factories of the global South, or “Third World.” This system plunders and despoils the Earth, to the point where life itself on this planet is in danger. All the contention, the threats, the actual combat and the preparation for further war, all this is in service of empireempire wrenched from and built on the blood and sweat of billions of people across this planet. These clashing imperialists are risking humanity, and the planet, to sustain this entire capitalist imperialist system of global exploitation, and to establish their domination of that foul and blood-soaked system. In just the past 70 years, the U.S. has killed nearly 10 million in its wars to defend this empire; and during that same time, 350 million children have died of preventable disease and starvation.

As Bob Avakian recently said in the Bob Avakian Interviews:

We can no longer afford to allow these imperialists to dominate the world and to determine the destiny of humanity. They need to be overthrown as quickly as possible. 

Palm Card Front - BA Interview - local info (color)




1. See the Revolution article “U.S. Launches Full Court Press at China” [back]

2. The punitive economic sanctions by the U.S. and its allies against Russia are beyond the scope of this article, but they are a punishing component of the proxy war. [back]

3. See American Crime Case #42: COINTELPRO—The FBI Targets the Black Freedom Struggle, 1956-1971.) [back]

4. See previous Revolution coverage, including: “Biden Threatens China Again: Nuclear Chicken Intensifies on the South China Sea” and “Aftermath of Pelosi’s Provocative Visit: More Rabid U.S. Brinksmanship, Dangerous Saber-Rattling vs. Rival China.” [back]

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