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Testing New Weapon Systems: Meaning of the Russian Military Intervention into Ukraine

Do CoounterPunch, Março 2, 2022
Por HORACE G. CAMPBELL


“Now we have a situation that is unique in modern history when they are trying to catch up to us. Not a single country has hypersonic weapons, let alone hypersonic weapons of intercontinental range.”

“At this time in history Russia is now leading the world in developing an entire new class of weapons unlike in the past when it was catching up with the United States.”

– Vladimir Putin 2019

Introduction

This boast of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, in 2019, with respect to the hypersonic weapons capacity of the Russian Federation provides one of the back stories for understanding the present conflagration that has escalated in the Ukraine theater of the European war. The Russian capabilities in relation to Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP) warfare along with the cyberweapons have never been tested in an all-out military/information/financial confrontation. The entanglement of non-nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons and their enabling capabilities is exacerbating the risk of a global war, especially in the face of the US fear of the closer technological and financial cooperation between China and Russia. The Ukraine invasion and the escalation of that war has brought to the forefront the questions of disarmament so that both the leaders of NATO and the leaders of the Russian Federation do not bring humanity to the brink of violence and deaths that will come out of a protracted war.

Numerous press reports have drawn attention to the reality that the United States is threatened by international opposition to the weaponization of the dollar. Drawing from the drip drip story of World War 1, this analysis argues that the progressive forces and peace elements internationally must equip themselves with the knowledge of the information warfare that is being waged by both NATO and the Russian Federation in a war between two distinct branches of global capitalism. It is imperative that sober elements in the world intervene before this adventure in Ukraine metastasizes into a greater tragedy for all humanity. The conclusion will draw from the lessons of Rosa Luxemburg and those anti militarists who fought for a new social system and who fought for the acceleration of the self-determination projects internationally. The capitalists in Russia are just as racists, homophobic and Islamophobic as the white supremacist elements of France, Hungary, Poland, Britain, Germany, Ukraine and the United States. A progressive left opposition to the Russian war in Ukraine must be linked to the anti-racist and anti-imperialist struggles in the world.

Wars are never prosecuted in a neat fashion

When World War I started in July 1914, the immediate combatants were Germany and Austria on one side and France and Russia on the other side. The nature of the European economy in 1914 was that although Germany was the more industrialized economy at the time, the British dominated world trade and access to raw materials. The British currency, the Pound was the currency of international Trade and the Anglo Saxon Alliance between the North Americans propped up the British, even though the British were industrially far behind the Germans. When the shooting of the Archduke of Sarajevo occurred in June 1914, it was a trigger for the deepening of the Franco-German rivalry that had come to the fore after the Germans humiliated the French in 1871. The German and Austria alliance in 1914 was faced with the Franco-Russian alliance. The Generals and Diplomats could not foresee what was to come of what they considered a regional skirmish. Austria declared war on Russia at the end of July and Germany invaded France. The German plan of invading France through Belgium brought in the British who waved a 75-year-old agreement to guarantee Belgian neutrality. Within a space of less than three weeks, a small festering sore in Europe brought in the entire world with the atrocities of trench warfare, the bog of the field of Flanders, the use of biological and chemical agents (mustard gas), and the global reach of the military struggles. The history of the First World War has been recounted often but few drew attention to the writings of W.E.B. Dubois who pointed out that the war was also a component of the unresolved questions of the Berlin Conference, 1884-1885 (W.E.B. Dubois, The African Roots of War).

War, Revolution, and Self-determination projects

The United States entered the First World War in 1916 when the stalemate of the war exhausted the principal European combatants. US capital drew from the vast human and industrial capabilities to precipitate the kind of diplomatic impasse that was written as the Versailles Treaty. Germany was punished by the French and the British dividing up the German and Ottoman empires between themselves. The Versailles Treaty strengthened the apartheid state of South Africa and created the Mandate System of the League of Nations to strengthen British, French and US capital. The redivision of the world, temporarily strengthened the British and the French at the expense of the Austrian and the Ottoman empires. The British Mandate in Palestine is one of the unresolved issues of that war. The October Revolution in 1917 that removed the Tsarist regime of Russia was one of the most significant consequences of the First World War. This outcome was and is important because many of the territories that were to become part of the USSR were formerly under the Ottoman empire. The independence of Finland and the neutrality of Finland outside of NATO emanated from the clarity of Lenin and the Bolshevik revolutionaries in 1917. Self-determination projects proliferated after 1919. Among the German opponents of war, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were prescient enough to elaborate on the implication of German militarism and the capitalist decay that could unleash fascism on humans. These revolutionaries paid with their lives to oppose militarism and capitalism. World War I speeded up the innovations of warfare, especially the tank, machine guns and later the use of aircraft. In this sense World War 1 speeded up the application of science and technology to warfare. In the interwar years 1918-1939, there was the sharpening of the technological tools for warfare.

World War II started in Ethiopia in 1935

Behind the hype about the roaring twenties and the reckless forms of accumulation and gangsterism of the industrialized societies was also the frenetic competition between the former warring parties. Competition and rearmament inspired innovations in warfare in the interwar period and the crisis of capitalism that sharpened the depression and fascism speeded up preparations for war in Europe along with inter-imperialist rivalries in Asia. The Italian invasion of Ethiopia in October 1935 opened the gates for the aggressive militaristic campaigns: Japanese war in China, the Spanish fascist turn, and the German rearmament culminating with the invasion of Poland and Czechoslovakia in 1939. The entire globe was drawn into this inter-imperialist war. It was one of the most barbaric wars with the industrialized genocide of the modern concentration camps and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. All the primary fighting nations involved in World War II had tanks and airplanes. they differed radically, however, in the way they used them together and the doctrines they used to guide them. The scientific innovations deepened with the capitalists investing more into weaponry.

The refinement of weapons after WWII accelerated with the technological revolution involving computers, laser technology, space technology and biological agents. WWII speeded up the application of military technology with the innovations of radar, rockets, nuclear warfare, microwave technology and computers. Among the technical changes that are still with us are: computers, Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), a dynamo-powered flashlight for the troops, jet engines, 1942 rockets, V-2 Rocket, 1941 aircraft carrier, 1945 atom bomb, helicopters, etc. It was in the areas of nuclear weapons where the world saw a clear demarcation between states with nuclear weapons capabilities and those without. Cyberwarfare, information warfare, hypersonic weapons and the weaponization of finance transformed the weapons of war for the 21st century.

Enter the Era of Hypersonic Weapons (HSW)

In the field of new weapons, the USA stood out with its massive investments in the military, aerospace, drones, killer robots, hypersonic technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and lethal autonomous weapons. After the United States rolled out its Star Wars project and invested heavily in fighting on all fronts including outer space (full spectrum dominance), the Russians (especially after 2001) invested heavily in hypersonic weapons, cyber capabilities, and artificial intelligence. Hypersonic Weapons (HSW) are normally defined as fast, low-flying, and highly maneuverable weapons designed to be too quick and agile for traditional missile defense systems to detect in time.

“Hypersonic weapons incorporate the speed of a ballistic missile with the maneuvering capabilities of a cruise missile. Hypersonic weapons refer to weapons that travel faster than Mach 5 (~3,800mph) and have the capability to maneuver during the entire flight. As a pentagon report stated, “While the designed speed of the hypersonic missile is faster than that of sound, its advantage lies in its enhanced maneuverability and smooth flight path, which is much harder to track than that of traditional missiles.” Roxana Tiron,“Hypersonic Weapons: Who Has Them and Why It Matters, Bloomberg News, October 27,2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-27/hypersonic-weapons-who-has-them-and-why-it-matters-quicktake

According to Bloomberg News, “China, the U.S., and Russia have the most advanced capabilities, and several other countries are investigating the technology, including India, Japan, Australia, France, Germany and North Korea, which claims to have tested a hypersonic missile.”

The extent of the Russian AI and cyber capabilities were displayed in the US in the period between 2015 and 2020. Though no one has claimed credit for the cyber-attack against the Ukrainian electrical grid in 2015, the tensions in Ukraine intensified after the Russian intervention in Crimea and the declaration of the mainly Russian speaking areas of Ukraine — Donetsk and Luhansk as autonomous parts of Ukraine.

It was in 2019 when the President of the Russian Republic boasted that “Russia now has a new kind of strategic weapon.” He was then referring to the successful test of the Kinzhal hypersonic missiles by the Russian military. Russian had tested some of its Precision Guided Missiles (PGM) weaponry in Syria and changed the dynamics of the US deployments in Iraq and Syria. The US had retreated from its primary fighting role in Syria because of the Russian capabilities. According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu, Russia has tested the Perevest secret laser weapon in Syria and hundreds of other strategic stability new weapons. Russian capacities neutralized the lead that the US had assumed in relation to PGM weaponry and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

In 2021, Asia news sources reported that the Russian army took deliveries of advanced command and control, reconnaissance, electronic warfare and weapon systems. Two systems were noted, the advanced Poseidon unmanned underwater vehicle and the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile. The news report noted that the crews of MiG-31 planes armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles have already performed more than 380 air patrol flights over the Black and Caspian Seas. “In order to boost the strike capabilities, maneuverability and autonomy of combined arms formations, work is underway to create principally new types of the armor based on the standardized Armata, Kurganets and Bumerang combat platforms,” Russia’s military chief said at a briefing for foreign military attaches (Asia News Monitor; Bangkok [Bangkok]. 13 Dec 2021).

The unveiling of the Russian hypersonic weapons capability unleashed great consternation in the NATO and US military establishment. Language on “bilateral strategic stability ” entered the diplomatic discussions of the USA so that US could equivocate of preventing a new arms race. The extent of the alarm in the US can be gleaned from reports such as the “Hypersonic Weapons: Background and Issues for Congress,” CRS Report No. R45811 (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2020), and R. Jeffrey Smith’s, “Hypersonic Missiles Are Unstoppable. And They’re Starting a New Global Arms Race,” in the New York Times Magazine, on June 19, 2019. In June 2019, Michael Klare added his considerable weight as a peace activist in an article entitled, An ‘Arms Race in Speed’: Hypersonic Weapons and the Changing Calculus of Battle, on Arms Control Today, Vol. 49, No. 5.

Michael Klare had noted that in a situation of what he called ‘warhead ambiguity,’ “the mere possession of such weapons might induce leaders to escalate a military clash at the very outbreak of a crisis—believing their early use will confer a significant advantage in any major engagement that follows—while reducing the chances of keeping the fighting limited.”

The conclusion from scholars such as Klare speeded the requirement for a new security architecture in Europe. This kind of analysis of war that excludes the destruction of NATO in Africa and the weaponization of finance, trade and information by the military powers constrains proper response from the left and progressive forces internationally.

Panic In Washington over Chinese and Russian Hypersonic capabilities

Last year, the insiders in Washington were asking, “[T]he US system created the world’s most advanced military. Can it maintain its edge in the changed economic power equations?” (Ryan, 2021). The very nature of the financial/military/industrial organization that former President Eisenhower had decried had now come to haunt the USA with its follow-on system that has brought a generation of aircrafts. Insiders in Washington were concerned that the US was no longer the world’s undisputed military superpower. For forward planners, the objective was for the USA to be able to maintain its technological lead over Russia and China. The military planners claimed in public that the Chinese leadership were boasting of China’s progress in satellites, ballistic missiles, bombers, fighter aircraft, submarines, and naval vessels.

While Russia, China and the United States are the three countries with hypersonic weapons capabilities, it is only the Russians who have tested elementary PGM systems in real battle conditions. The other challenging aspect of the hypersonic weapons is the need for sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) systems to be able to determine the nature of future missile attacks and select the appropriate response. In the military parlance, the human mind is not equipped to observe, orient, decide, and act (ODAA) in a manner consistent with the speed of hypersonic weapons. Although the depth of Russian technological capabilities was no match for those of the Pentagon (and the Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Meta systems), the Russian leadership had invested in the leading technologies that will become major disruptors by 2040: data, artificial intelligence (AI), autonomy, space capabilities, hypersonic weapons, quantum, biotechnology and human enhancement, and novel material and manufacturing (NMM). The prospects of the combination of Russian and Chinese resources terrified the forward planners for war in the United States.

Russia and the USA are also leaders in the development of hypersonic weapons and EMP weapons. EMP weapons enhance the weaponization of electronic warfare and cyberwarfare. In the past five years Russian tests for advanced weapons placed the USA on notice that Russia was investing in advanced command and control, reconnaissance, electronic warfare and weapon systems. It is my analysis that the Russian political leadership wants to test their military capabilities and challenge the USA to an all-out competition in EMP warfare.

For some time, there were only three countries with EMP capabilities, Israel, Russia and the USA. Both the USA and Russia have tiptoed around each other with small tests in this new form of Blackout War. Blackout War is so called because of its effects on all electronic devices. EMP attacks will be carried out at such high altitudes they will produce no blast or other immediate effects harmful to humans. Instead, three types of EMP waves in seconds damage electronics and the strikes are regarded by adversaries as not an act of nuclear war. The Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is, in fact, an electromagnetic shock wave that threatens modern digitized power grids. There are two kinds of EMP weapons: nuclear EMP and non-nuclear EMP. Non-nuclear EMPs are considered among the high-impact low-probability (HILP) weapon of mass destruction (WMD) and weapon of mass effect (WME) events. One should pay close attention to the deployment of non-nuclear EMP (NNEMP) in the current Russian campaign in Ukraine.

It is only within the specialized agencies of the USA such as the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER), where one can find real preparations of the US government for ‘the risks posed by electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) and highest extreme geomagnetic disturbances (GMDs). David Sanger in his book, The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage and Fear in the Cyber Age, brought out the hesitancy of both the US and Russian leadership in the deployment of nuclear EMP. There is however no agreement on the deployment of non-nuclear EMP capabilities. The EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security of the USA in 2021 noted that, “[p]otential adversaries understand that millions could die from the long-term collateral effects of EMP and cyber-attacks that cause protracted black-out of national electric grids and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures.” https://emptaskforce.us/

EMP attacks are regarded by enemy military planners as a relatively easy, potentially unattributable means of inflicting mass destruction and forcing opponents to capitulate. EMP strikes can be adjusted in the size of the area and the intensity of the wave by detonating at different altitudes. The closer to the earth the more powerful is the pulse. The higher the altitude, the wider the area of impact.

One should follow the NASDAQ report on electronic warfare to see how investors are tracking these trajectories for warfare.

Meaning of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine 2022

The invasion means Russia wants to show its military advancement, but it has miscalculated. While the media makes a lot of noise about the largest military invasion in Europe since 1945, many are looking at the emplacement of tanks, aircraft carriers, bombers and missiles. The reality, however, is that current warfare is being fought away from such spectacles as one saw during the war against the peoples of Iraq. The weapons of choice in the current warfare are cyber weapons, EMP capabilities, information war, weaponization of finance, energy communications and biological agents.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has incorporated the German techniques of Blitzkrieg strikes along with the deployment of the new technologies that the Russian rolled out in missile technologies. The hubris of the Russian military leadership had motivated them to adopt a Nazi type of military offensive when the logistics and supply lines of the Russian military were not adequate to ensure the quick victory and encirclement that the Russian military leadership anticipated. Instead, it is the people of Ukraine who are now preparing themselves to withstand the Russian military occupation. (Note that in France in the first part of WWII, the German army had deployed the use of a rapid, overwhelming force concentration that may consist of armored and motorized or mechanized infantry formations, together with close air support, with the intent to break through the opponents lines of defense, then dislocate the defenders, unbalance the enemy by making it difficult to respond to the continuously changing front, and defeat them in a decisive battle of annihilation.)

Putin’s boast about an entire new class of weapons concealed the reality that even with these hypersonic and cyber weapons, there must be capabilities in relation to supply lines of food, fuel, medicine and storage, distribution, maintenance, evacuation, and disposition of materiel.

From Drip Drip to occupation to spill over warfare

The comparisons between the folly of WWI and the present Russian invasion of Ukraine are inevitable. In that war, both the Germans and the French were the principal economic rivals, but the British held back until they saw that the German control of Europe would threaten their global economic interests. Currently, Russia is not a formidable industrial economic power that can sustain a war beyond several months. The strategic goals of Russia were spelt out in a series of proposals that were presented to the United States and NATO. Russia’s draft “Agreement on Measures to Ensure the Security of the Russian Federation and Member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization” and draft “Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Security Guarantees” were dismissed out of hand by US and British policy makers and think tanks.

The strategic questions relating to the future of NATO have been on the international agenda since the unification of Germany. Then, the duplicitous negotiating tactics of the Europeans and the USA obfuscated the question of the future expansion of NATO. James Baker, the then Secretary of State of the USA, gave an undertaking to the Russians that NATO would not expand to include the former Warsaw Pact countries. Bill Clinton and later George W. Bush ignored this promise and countries in Eastern and Central Europe like Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia joined NATO. The US sponsored neoliberal forces in eastern Europe and provided the political cover for the rise of anti-democratic elements in Europe. The stewardship of Victoria Nuland and the US State Department in destabilizing the politics of Ukraine has been well documented.

This author does not usually read and quote Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, but even this scion of the US establishment had to admit the folly of the expansion of NATO. In his opinion piece, “This Is Putin’s War. But America and NATO Aren’t Innocent Bystanders,” Friedman quoted from George Kennan, “I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else.”

Serious diplomacy and negotiations about the Russian invasion of Ukraine cannot evade the realities of the destabilizing effect for world peace from the enlargement of NATO. In my book, Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya, I had called for the dismantling of NATO because the original mandate of NATO expired at the end of the Cold War. NATO’s enlargement and its alliances today constitutes a force for the protection of US finance capital and all peoples of the world are threatened by NATO. Despite the vaunted cooperation between the EU and the USA in the current Ukrainian invasion by Russia, the French and the Germans have been working on the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) process to break the military dominance of the USA in Europe. Both the European Initiative Intervention (EII) and PESCO are the European efforts to wean themselves from NATO.

The Dollar as a Weapon of War

As this war metastasizes in the coming days and weeks, it will be possible to discern that it is not only hypersonic weapons and cyber capabilities that are being tested. In the past twenty years, the weaponization of finance and the struggles to maintain the dollar as the global currency for trade has elicited military and diplomatic confrontations with Russia, Iran, Venezuela, China, and Germany. Barry Eichengreen, author of the book Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary system, argued in 2020 that the principal challenge to the dollar is coming from the Europeans and not the Chinese. Eichengreen noted that, “the challenge to the dollar will come from Europe, not China. Indeed, that is my view. China has a long way to go in terms of developing deep and liquid financial markets, an open capital account, and rule of law. Observers contemplating alternatives to the dollar would do well to look toward Brussels and Berlin, not to Beijing and Shanghai”

(Is the World’s Reserve Currency In Trouble? Anonymous. The International Economy; Washington Vol. 34, Iss. 1, (Winter 2020): 11-29)

Both Jack Rasmus and Michael Hudson have gone further than Barry Eichengreen to illuminate how the current war can also be understood as a war against Germany and the EU. The clash between the Euro and the dollar is one hidden aspect of this war and most diplomats from North America and Britain do not openly admit the challenging question of the weaponization of trade, finance, information, and the dollar by the United States. The media has made a lot of the seeming cooperation of the Europeans, the Canadians in the adoption of the sanctions against Russia, especially the exclusion from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication Society (SWIFT) system. Swift is an international payment system used by thousands of financial institutions. The move aims to hit the Russia’s banking network and its access to funds via Swift, which is pivotal for the smooth transaction of money worldwide.

The testing of this dollar weapon is fraught with blowback for the US and British financial eco systems. Iran had been excluded from SWIFT for the past 12 years and the Germans have been seeking to refine the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called INSTEX to ensure that the Iranians have access to international banking and financial systems. The postponement of the certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Western Europe will backfire for the current alliance railed against Russia. When the sanctions were announced on Saturday February 26, the key Treasury waivers allowed “energy-related” transactions to continue with five of the sanctioned Russian banks until June 24. “The waiver gives an extremely broad definition of “energy related,” listing the extraction, production and refining of any petroleum products as well as other commodities capable of producing energy, such as coal, wood, agricultural products for biofuels, uranium, and electricity of all kinds.” (S&P Global Commodity Insights, February 28, 2022,

The delicacy of the sanctions against Russia is best manifest in the differing interpretations of the future of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Western Europe. As recounted in the energy publications, this pipeline is only one of the many pipelines coming out of Russia to Western Europe. The first stage of this particular project called Nord Stream pipeline carried Natural gas from Russia through Ukraine to the rest of Europe. This second phase will transport natural gas into the European Union to enhance security of supply, support climate goals, and strengthen the Nord Stream Pipeline. Texas and US oil magnates have always opposed this second pipeline. President Joe Biden and the US media has used the term ‘cancelled’ in relation to the future of the pipeline while the Germans have used the more precise formulation of ‘postponing certification’ of the $11 billion Russia-to-Germany natural gas pipeline. This delay is challenging for the Germans since the German government phased out their nuclear power generating capabilities after the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan in 2011.

This gas pipeline had the potential for the Germans and the Russians to index the price of gas in the Euro. Those who understand the changes in the world economy since 1971 when the dollar was no longer backed by gold, understand the fact that the pricing of oil and gas in the dollar strengthens the dollar. Just as how the US politicians and journalists were amazed at the quick decision of the Germans to support the sanctions against Russia and provide military support for Ukraine, it will be an equal surprise if German interests to preserve their energy supplies supplant the US strategic goals in Europe.

Diplomacy, demilitarization, and double standards

It must be stated quite firmly that the only way to end the Russian invasion of Ukraine is through diplomatic efforts and compromise. The Russian military were exposed in their attempted lightning invasion, but the sufferings of the peoples of Ukraine must come before the calculations regarding strategic power. President Xi Jinping of China has called for a “balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism through negotiations.”

This call by China must be carried forward by the United Nations to ensure that delicate issues of the Donbass and Luhansk status that were being negotiated (the Minsk Accords) be continued. There are those in the US security apparatus who oppose negotiations because they want to pulverize and degrade the Russian military. By February 28, the talks between Russia and Ukraine in Belarus had all of the hallmarks of the tactic of fighting while building up fighting positions. The world rejects the idea that Russia can declare the two regions of Ukraine as independent states and justify their war as a ‘peacekeeping act.’ The United Nations must be pressured to bring about the kind of negotiations where Russia and Ukraine can negotiate with each other in order to ensure that Ukraine observes the special status of the two provinces.

In the short term, the NATO forces have overwhelming sympathy in the face of the blatant Russian aggression and violation of international law. However, most of the citizens of the world are not fooled by the hypocrisy and double standards of Europe and North America. The western coverage of the Russian invasion has rekindled the worst forms of anti-black racism, Even the Washington Post had to weigh in on “Coverage of Ukraine has exposed long-standing racist biases in Western media,” H.A. Hellyer , “Coverage of Ukraine has exposed long-standing racist biases in Western media,” Washington Post, March 1, 2022

The white racism of the moment has been so blatant that mainstream imperial outlets such as the British Broadcasting Corporation has decried the racism against Africans in Ukraine. Even the servile African Union was forced to issue a statement. The African Union (AU) says it is “disturbed” by reports that African nationals in Ukraine are been prevented from safely crossing the border to flee the raging conflict in the country. In a statement late Monday February 28,, the pan-African body said: “[A]ll people have the right to cross international borders during conflict, and as such, should enjoy the same rights to cross to safety from the conflict in Ukraine, notwithstanding their nationality or racial identity.”

Those who decry the Russian invasion of Ukraine have not critiqued the Saudi Arabian war against the people of Yemen and the US military support for that war. Nor has most of the western media critiqued the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the spread of Israeli apartheid. Mainstream outlets such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have exposed in graphic detail the military policies of Israel. The repercussions of the NATO destruction of Libya are still being felt in Libya and West Africa. French colonial occupation of Mayotte and its fraudulent military activities in Africa are just as odious as the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

War and the laws of unforeseen consequences

At the outset of World War I, the Generals and Diplomats were convinced that the conflict could be wrapped up in a matter of months. The destructiveness of what was supposed to be the war to end all wars unleashed a century of warfare. Many of the issues central to the Ukrainian crisis are unfinished questions of European imperialism from the 19th century. The intellectual and political impoverishment of the Russian leadership can be grasped when they deploy the ideas of 19th century colonialism, alongside the ideas and tactics of the Nazi blitzkrieg warfare.

Occupation inspires resistance as the Russians who study history know well from the siege of Leningrad. Defensive warfare is always a higher form of warfare, and the Russians should be pressured to withdraw their forces from Ukraine. One important lesson from World War II was that while progressives opposed Hitler, they were equally opposed to the racism of the US- KKK forces and the colonial policies of Britain, Belgium, and France.

It will not be possible for NATO and Russia to manage the kind of ‘limited war’ that would confine the disaster to Ukraine. The US must begin serious negotiations and respond to the proposals made by the Russian Federation. There are sections of the US military security establishment who relish as prolonged confrontation so that the USA and Russia can test the F22 Raptor against the MIG 31. For a short while in the US, in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic and the police violence, there was heightened mobilization of the youth. Questions of environmental justice, justice for immigrants, women’s rights, the voting rights for Black people, and expenditure on childcare were at the top of the agenda. The need for universal health care, indeed international health care for all and transparency in the experimentation with biological agents are now urgent. Increased expenditure on the police and the military in the USA will be the immediate outcome of this war in Ukraine.

As in WWI, those who thought that they could contain that war were sadly mistaken. Putin and the Russian Oligarchs are wrong to invade Ukraine. The NATO forces that expanded to create Global NATO to defend finance capital will fight to maintain the US hegemony. This war will have tremendous consequences for the 21st century. It devolves to those who understand history to heed the warnings of Rosa Luxemburg about militarism and capitalism. Humanity must intensify the call for the abolition of nuclear weapons, hypersonic weapons and curb the potential use of EMP weapons. Equally important is for the end of the weaponization of the dollar.


Horace Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science, Syracuse University. He is the author of Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya, Monthly Review Press, 2013. Notes.

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