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As the U.S. Faces Setbacks in Ukraine:
Death, Duplicity, Ruling Class Divisions… and the Danger of Far Worse

A house in Ukraine hit by rocket-fire


Smoke rises from a house hit by U.S.-supplied missiles fired by the Ukrainian army into Donetsk, a city held by Russian-aligned forces. There is no reliable death count in the proxy war in Ukraine, but massive shelling and bombs from both sides have killed at least tens of thousands.    Photo: AP

As the war in Ukraine grinds on, momentum at this point appears to be turning in Russia’s favor. The New York Times wrote on June 11 that “A war in Ukraine that began with a Russian debacle as its forces tried and failed to take Kyiv has seemingly begun to turn, with Russia now picking off regional targets, Ukraine lacking the weaponry it needs and Western support for the war effort fraying in the face of rising gas prices and galloping inflation.”

For their part, the rulers of Russia see an opportunity to turn Ukraine into a strategic setback for the U.S. At an economic forum in Russia on June 17, with the theme “New Opportunities in a New World,” Russia’s President Putin declared that the current division of the world reflects “obsolete geopolitical illusions,” and that “the era of a unipolar [U.S.-dominated] world order has come to an end.”

This “world order” that the U.S. and Russia are contending over is a world order of slums and sweatshops, body and soul crushing oppression, and environmental devastation enforced through systemic brutality and war. And to advance their interests in that contention, both have turned Ukraine into a hellish proxy war—a war that in form is Russia vs. Ukraine, but that quickly evolved into a war that is in essence a proxy war between the U.S. and its “allies” and Russia in which Ukraine does the fighting with U.S. arms, advice, and money.

A Debate Over Dangerously Reckless vs. Wildly Reckless Escalation

Recent developments in the war have heated up debate among strategists in the service of the U.S. empire including within the Biden administration over how much weaponry to pump into Ukraine fueling the carnage; how fast; and how close to come to the edge of setting off World War III between nuclear-armed powers.

So far, the Biden administration has pumped billions of dollars of explicitly military “aid” into Ukraine including heavy artillery and hundreds of thousands of artillery shells; drones; hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles; military helicopters; radar; almost 30,000 missiles and 50 million rounds of ammunition. There are credible reports that Ukraine has already fired missiles that hit a target 40 miles inside Russia.

Among the provocative statements from the administration, Biden essentially demanded regime change in Russia (with statements like how Putin “cannot remain in power”). The U.S. Director of National Intelligence testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that further expanding the U.S.-dominated NATO military alliance that has been encircling Russia, and escalating the flow of U.S. weapons into Ukraine could “see us moving along a more unpredictable and potentially escalatory trajectory” in the war. Yet the Biden administration did exactly both of those things. It facilitated fast-tracking the admission of Finland and Sweden into NATO, and has been ramping up the quantity and destructive power of arms headed for Ukraine.

Ukraine: Smoke rises from. shelling of Russian controlled oil facility.


Smoke rises from an oil depot after U.S./NATO-supplied missiles struck the facility in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Makiivka, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, May 4, 2022.    Photo: AP

The ruling class think tank characterized this reckless policy of rushing into a “more unpredictable and escalatory trajectory” in a war between nuclear-armed powers as the “prudent approach”(!) within debate raging in the Biden administration.

Then there are the “hawks” in the debate, among them Max Boot, a columnist for the Washington Post with a long and high-level background as a ruling class political and military strategist. In We can’t let Ukraine lose. It needs a lot more aid, starting with artillery, he writes: “Even a limited Russian victory will send a dangerous signal to the world that the West is weak and aggression [meaning, by rivals to the U.S.] pays. We must send lots more aid to Ukraine now to avert the loss of Donbas [a region on the Russia-Ukraine border largely controlled by Russia] and to enable a counteroffensive to retake ground already occupied, but not yet fortified, by the invaders.”

Boot demands “hundreds of howitzers and multi-launch rocket systems, thousands of rockets and hundreds of thousands of artillery rounds” including missile systems with a range of 186 miles, which would allow strikes deep into Russia. Boot even demands the U.S. send advanced U.S. fighter jets into Ukraine, which, he insists, could be maintained and piloted by so-called “foreign volunteers” who just happen to be trained to pilot advanced U.S. military planes. That would essentially do away with all but the thinnest pretense that this is not a war between two nuclear-armed powers.

BAsics 3-8 English


Two things emerge sharply from the terms of this debate:

First, this war, on the part of both Russia and the U.S., is over a dominant position in a world of exploitation and oppression and has nothing to do with “liberating” the people of Ukraine.

Second, there are real and even fierce differences in the U.S. ruling class, and loud and influential voices demanding extremely reckless escalation. But between the “hawks” and the so-called “prudent” approach, there is a recognition that there is no apparent “off ramp” for the U.S. in Ukraine. And at this point, either going all out for a decisive victory or aiming for less decisive objectives requires continuing and escalating massive U.S. weapon deliveries to Ukraine, with all the dangers, predictable and unpredictable, that intensifies.

These developments demand seriously confronting where all this is headed, as analyzed in the article WORLD WAR 3 AND DANGEROUS IDIOCY by the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian (BA):

In this war—where the Russian imperialists have invaded Ukraine, and on the other hand the U.S. imperialists (and their NATO “allies”) are backing and heavily arming Ukraine—both sides are deeply committed to a “win” in this situation. On the part of the U.S. imperialists, their aim, and what for them constitutes a necessary “win,” is to bring about a defeat of Russia in Ukraine and thereby significantly weaken Russia and its ability to challenge the dominant position of U.S. imperialism in the world. For the Russian imperialists, their objective is precisely to challenge that U.S. dominance, and a key and immediate aim is preventing Ukraine from joining NATO and ensuring that Ukraine does not become part of the U.S./NATO “encirclement” of Russia, which is already very far along (with a number of countries close to, or actually bordering on, Russia already members of NATO). With each side seriously committed to its objectives, and having become seriously involved in war in pursuit of these objectives (with Russia directly at war in Ukraine and the U.S./NATO now indirectly but deeply involved), this means that, so long as the terms are set by these contending imperialists, neither side can easily back down. (Again, so long as the terms are set by these contending imperialists, and the people, on all sides, do not effectively act, in their masses, in such a way as to force things onto different terms, which are in their interests, in opposition to those of the imperialists on either side.)

In that same piece, BA walks through how the stakes for each side, countries with thousands of nuclear weapons each, with one side (the U.S.) having used nuclear weapons against civilians, have the potential to escalate into a nuclear war with catastrophic implications for humanity.

The Interests of Humanity

The situation highlights what BA calls for in WORLD WAR 3 AND DANGEROUS IDIOCY as what is urgently needed:

All this emphasizes why it is vitally important for the masses of people, in this country, and other countries aligned with it, as well as in Russia—for people everywhere—to finally and fully wake up now, recognize the real, and profoundly heavy, stakes involved, and act in accordance with our actual interests—the interests of all of humanity: demanding that this war in Ukraine, and the involvement (direct and indirect) of the imperialists on both sides in this war, be STOPPED, before it not only causes even greater suffering for the people of Ukraine but possibly escalates into a far more terrible conflict which causes massive destruction and death, on a whole other level, and even possibly poses a threat to the very existence of humanity itself.

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