OPPOSE NATO, RUSSIAN INTERVENTION IN CRIMEA, AND THE IMF
March 10, 2014
Dear Friend of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy,
As the U.S. sends fighter jets and military personnel to Lithuania and announces plans to increase its military presence in Poland, and as Russia tightens its grip on Crimea and arrests anti-war activists in Moscow, we are writing to call your attention to two important documents about the Ukrainian crisis, “The British anti-war movement should be standing with anti-war protesters in Russia,” by Mike Marqusee, and a statement by the Ukrainian Left Opposition.
We also want to alert you to messages the Campaign for Peace and Democracy is sending to the following individuals, and we urge our supporters to do the same: (If possible, please send us copies of your messages.)
- To Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling on him to release anti-war protestors from prison in Moscow and to withdraw Russian armies that have been recently deployed to Crimea, whether or not they are wearing Russian insignia. [Please send letters to http://eng.letters.kremlin.ru/ ]
- To U.S. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, calling on them to cease their escalating response to Moscow. Rather than sending weapons and personnel to the Baltic countries and Eastern Europe, the U.S. should withdraw from NATO, and call for its dissolution. NATO stands as an ongoing military threat not only to Europe but to countries targeted in "out of area" missions in the Middle East and elsewhere -- a threat that is used to justify Russian aggression in Ukraine, Georgia, and throughout Russia's "near abroad." [send to http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments and http://contact-us.state.gov/app/ask/]
- To Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, calling on the IMF to aid Ukraine without demanding neo-liberal "reforms" that will impose the kind of harsh austerity on the Ukrainian people that has already wreaked such havoc on people in Greece and other countries. [send to firstname.lastname@example.org ]
- To the Ukrainian parliament, the Rada, urging it to take measures to foster a peaceful and democratic future for their own people, and to promote peaceful relations with Russia and Europe as a whole, allowing linguistic freedoms for people throughout the country, and refusing to acquiesce in punishing "reforms" that will result in unfair hardship for millions of Ukrainians. Send to Oleksandr Turchynov, Chairman of The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Turchynov.Oleksandr@rada.gov.ua ]
- To the IMF, the U.S., the European Union, and Russia, calling on them to offer economic assistance to Ukraine without demanding retrograde economic conditions or alignment with Western or Russian blocs. [Email addresses for the IMF, the U.S. and Russia are above; for the European Union, write to Presidency of the Council of the European Union: Konstantinos Koutras, Spokesperson in Athens, email@example.com ]
The first document we are sending, entitled “The British anti-war movement should be standing with anti-war protesters in Russia,” was written by Mike Marqusee for the British left journal Red Pepper. Marqusee argues that “It really should be easy enough to condemn Russia’s action in Ukraine while at the same time rejecting and campaigning against US-EU military intervention. Sadly, there are some in the anti-war movement who see this as an awkward proposition…. At this moment, in relation to Ukraine, imperial hypocrisies, Western and Russian, seem boundless. We won't be able to offer an alternative to this hall of mirrors by matching one double standard with another. It's always a corrupting practice, as a left wing version of realpolitik takes the place of a politics of solidarity.”
Marquesee’s argument applies equally to the American anti-war movement. The United States government, in spearheading the expansion of NATO to nine East European countries and to Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, bears enormous responsibility for the ongoing militarization of Europe after the Cold War. We must oppose that expansion and call to roll it back, immediately. But we reject the Cold War logic that justifies aggression by one side by invoking the crimes of the other: we in the peace movement must unambiguously condemn the Russian intervention in Crimea.
As the socialist Left Opposition in Ukraine says in the second document cited below, “We are for the self determination of Crimea only after the withdrawal of the Russian armies that are carrying out this flagrant intervention.”
While supporting the Maidan uprising against the corrupt and authoritarian Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovitch, the Left Opposition is critical of the leaders of the Maidan movement, noting that “The justification of Putin’s aggression is the nationalist hysteria that the leaders of the Maidan have ignored. Aggressive xenophobic jokes were treated as normal, and even today on anti-war pickets we are still hearing provocative slogans like ‘Glory to the nation! Death to its enemies!’”
But the Left Opposition goes on to say that “the Maidan was not uniform – radical nationalists really bespoiled the protest with xenophobia, but fortunately they did not determine the Maidan’s demands. The population of Eastern and Southern Ukraine, as well as the members of ethnic minorities should know that there stood on the Maidan many representatives of those forces who uphold internationalist, left and democratic positions.” The statement declares that “citizens of Western and Central Ukraine should press the new [Ukrainian] government not to allow linguistic discrimination, destruction of monuments or the incitement of unnecessary hostility. Ukrainisation led by the oligarchs can be realised only in a chauvinist key. It is necessary to review language policy and to broaden the right to use the native language in those regions where it is needed.”
We hope you find these documents useful.
In peace and solidarity,
Joanne Landy and Thomas Harrison
Campaign for Peace and Democracy
The British anti-war movement should be
standing with anti-war protesters in Russia
By Michael Marquesee
An anti-war protester being arrested on Sunday in Moscow
It really should be easy enough to condemn Russia’s action in Ukraine while at the same time rejecting and campaigning against US-EU military intervention. Sadly, there are some in the anti-war movement who see this as an awkward proposition.
Russian imperialism is as unacceptable as US-EU imperialism. In this region it has a long and brutal history. The British anti-war movement should be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with anti-war protesters in Russia, who face serious dangers, not equivocating about Putin.
The Maidan movement cannot be reduced to an imperialist plot. There were more than enough good reasons for people to be angry at the Yanukovich government; it didn’t need ‘outside agitators’ of any kind. There were and are various elements within the Maidan movement, including, but certainly not restricted to, far-right nationalists. Their actions in recent weeks have been frightening and their role in the new government does indeed make a mockery of Western claims to be defending human rights.
Nonetheless, the demand of the Maidan for an end to corrupt oligarchic government was just and necessary. That claim is not vitiated by the fact that at the moment a particular branch of the ruling class (as venal as those they have replaced) has reaped the spoils. Like other protest movements in recent years, the Maidan’s politics and ideology were and are ambiguous and inevitably still in formation.
Outside interference, from either Russia or the West, blocks or distorts this necessary process of political development. It solves nothing and generates only further problems.
The main enemy?
Those who want the anti-war movement in Britain to condemn Russia’s actions have been reminded that ‘the main enemy is at home’. The assumption seems to be that condemning Russia’s crime will undermine opposition to war. But what will undermine us far more are unreal descriptions of events, evasive positions and ‘special pleading’. If people are led to believe by our own behaviour that we are not really an anti-war movement but Russian apologists, ‘the main enemy’ will be strengthened.
It is perfectly possible to challenge Western imperialism without justifying the Russian variety. Making your own government the immediate focus of campaigning does not entail ignoring the rest of the picture. Yes, Western imperialism poses more dangers to more people, globally, but that does not make Russian imperialism any more acceptable or Ukraine’s right to self-determination any less urgent.
We will be asked in public, by the public: ‘What about Russia?’ In this context, to answer simply that ‘the main enemy is at home’ will be seen as stonewalling.
There’s a patronising notion that we can’t do ‘two things at the same time’, that we can’t handle complexity, that there must be a hierarchy of identifiable good guys and bad guys. The anti-war movement is seen as a fragile ensemble. Actually, it’s more robust and more sophisticated than that.
The need for unity is cited as a reason not to dwell on Russian misbehaviour. But will evading or exonerating the Russian action really enhance unity in opposition to US-EU war-making? It’s an approach that many are bound to find objectionable.
Western military intervention in Ukraine seems unlikely, but the rhetorical indignation of Western leaders plays an insidious role: part of a long-term effort to repair an imperial ideology discredited by Afghanistan and Iraq. When liberals lament the ‘impotence’ of the West, they’re setting the stage for a reassertion of Western ‘masculinity’ – as and when convenient. Mirroring Western rationales, Moscow characterizes its military intervention as a humanitarian mission of protection. At this moment, in relation to Ukraine, imperial hypocrisies, Western and Russian, seem boundless.
We won’t be able to offer an alternative to this hall of mirrors by matching one double standard with another. It’s always a corrupting practice, as a left wing version of realpolitik takes the place of a politics of solidarity.
The argument against Western imperialism can only be strengthened by a firm opposition to other imperialisms. This is a common human cause, isn’t it?
Ukraine will be saved from intervention by solidarity
INTRODUCTION FROM LEFTEAST, WHICH POSTED THIS STATEMENT IN ENGLISH: The socialist union “Left Opposition” offers its assessment of the Russian aggression in Crimea and the destructive role of Ukrainian nationalists. The intervention of Russian armies was made possible as a result of a split in Ukrainian society. Its unity is impossible with the oligarchs and chauvinists in power. Only solidarity will save Ukraine.
1) We are for the self determination of Crimea only after the withdrawal of the Russian armies that are carrying out this flagrant intervention. We are for the self determination of the people, and not of the mercenary elite who “self determine” so as to protect themselves from Crimeans with the muzzles of Russian automatic weapons. The outcome of separatism in Crimea will become the rebirth of the Russian empire, which threatens a world war.
2) The justification of Putin’s aggression is the nationalist hysteria that the leaders of the Maidan have ignored. Aggressive xenophobic jokes were treated as normal, and even today on anti-war pickets we are still hearing provocative slogans like “Glory to the nation! Death to its enemies!” The Kremlin’s manipulation of these slogans has frightened the people of the East and South. However, the aggression initiated by the Russian Federation is patently imperialistic and aimed against the revolutionary republic (the genuine revolution, unfavourable for the oligarchs, only just began to unfold and it was sure to put the question of social lustration on the order of the day).
A war of liberation if led by the Ukrainian oligarchs would resolve itself in the fascisisation of society: we can expect unification around mythical national interests, an unrestrained dictatorship and the conduct of social policies aimed at concentrating wealth in the hands of the elite. Our government can claim popular legitimacy only after a social lustration has been carried out. However, our government has been legitimised by the threat of foreign intervention – we are forced to love a regime, not our country. Government in Ukraine is progressively passing directly into the hands of the oligarchs (Kolomoisky and Taruta have become governors). The oligarchs plundered our country, and now they are demanding that hungry people stand in defense of their corrupt state!
3) the Maidan was not uniform – radical nationalists really bespoiled the protest with xenophobia, but fortunately they did not determine the Maidan’s demands. The population of Eastern and Southern Ukraine, as well as the members of ethnic minorities should know that there stood on the Maidan many representatives of those forces who uphold internationalist, left and democratic positions. To support the myth of a “fascist Maidan” is to legitimise the use of force by neo-Nazis against such citizens as those noted here who disagree with them. We are very saddened to see that antifascist ideas are being exploited to justify war. |Antifascism is solidarity, not intervention!
4) the citizens of Western and Central Ukraine should press the government not to allow linguistic discrimination, destruction of monuments or the incitement of unnecessary hostility. Ukrainisation led by the oligarchs can be realised only in a chauvinist key. It is necessary to review language policy and to broaden the right to use the native language in those regions where it is needed. The national-cultural renaissance of the Ukrainian and other peoples of our country is inseparable from the resolution of social questions.
5) We are for the preservation of a united Ukraine, as a unique cultural phenomenon. The coexistence of various ethnicities only enriches universal human culture. In the event of the country splitting the rule of chauvinists will be established in both its parts. All conflicts in Ukraine are as a result of the dictatorship of the oligarchs. Ukraine can be consolidated on the basis of defeating the rule of the oligarchs – the workers of the East and South equally want social change and they should understand that inflaming conflict simply puts off the prospects for improvements to an unforeseeable future.
6) the Russian Federation government is controlled by the most conservative advocates of the interests of capital. And that is why those citizens who support a referendum on “reunification” with Russia had better prepare for a police state and for an antisocial policy. We will not allow for the precedent of a victory for Russian imperialism. Despite the claims of Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists, there are no traces of socialism at all left in Russia. The population of Ukraine will start to hate Russians even more, while among the Russian masses imperialistic and revanchist illusions will grow stronger. Hitler-style promises of a better life will culminate in a catastrophe for the aggressor nation. Let us not forget that this war is also an opportunity for Western capital to bring in its own armies and to seize part of Ukrainian territory.
7) It is necessary to appeal in the first instance to the Russian speaking population of Ukraine and to Russians who do not support war. They must sabotage the mobilisation and movement of occupying armies, while also exerting continuous pressure on the Russian government and Russian capital. Russian imperialism is using them to strengthen its domination through a referendum. It is necessary to create international brigades to maintain lawful order, to oppose mutual chauvinisms, to defend strategic facilities, to conduct propaganda among troops, as well as to oppose the disarming of Ukrainian armies. Form workers self defence detachments at enterprises for their protection from external intervention and the covetous hands of their unpropitious “owners”. Organise detachments with those you trust, or whom you are prepared to elect! The Ukrainian army should act under citizens’ control. Why die under the leadership of nationalists like Parubiy and Yarosh? They have on their conscience inept tactical mistakes on the Euromaidan and the stoking of interethnic hostilities. Why die in the interests of the Akhmetov-Kolomoiskys? The workers of all nations should learn solidarity from the Ukrainian oligarchs – they overcame all their differences and united around their common class interests.
Down with the bandit office holders who have become separatists!
Down with Russian imperialism!
Down with the Ukrainian chauvinists!
Long live the workers’ independent Ukraine!
Translation from the original (http://gaslo.info/?p=4990)
3 March 2014
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