All around the world, people of conscience have watched the Russian invasion of Ukraine with justifiable horror. People are rightfully appalled by the mass displacement of Ukrainian civilians, the senseless loss of life, and the targeting and destruction of hospitals, apartment buildings, and other infrastructure. Within Russia itself courageous people have stood up to state repression and opposed the war.
Within the United States politicians and the media are tripping over themselves to proclaim their support and sympathy for the Ukrainian people, and demand further US intervention in the crisis. It’s often the very same people who have cheered for and participated in decades of intervention by the US and its NATO accomplices in every corner of the globe. While we unite with sympathy of regular people for the Ukrainian people, it’s clear that many of the loudest voices are hypocritical elites hungry for war shedding crocodile tears.
To live up to the urgent tasks of building an anti-imperialist resistance worthy of the name, we have a responsibility to understand the situation on a deeper level, and to identify and oppose the role of the US in creating the crisis in Ukraine. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States and its European accomplices have expanded the NATO military alliance right up the edge of Russia, absorbing several former Soviet republics into NATO. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, which rendered NATO’s role as an anti-Soviet alliance irrelevant and gave it a free hand, NATO began to carry out collective punishment against countries who in some way defied the US-led world order. NATO’s legacy is one of brutal and bloody intervention in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Libya ripping countries apart, and leaving an uncountable death toll.
While NATO was expanding in an effort to constrain Russia and maintain permanent hegemony of the US-led world order, the US continued to intervene in Ukraine, playing a role in the 2014 overthrow of the government, and arming some of the most fascistic and far-right forces within the Ukrainian military, including the openly Neo-Nazi Azov battalion. These US armed fascists are now welcomed as freedom fighters in the US media, in a grim echo of the history of US intervention in Afghanistan and other countries.
This ongoing US intervention in the region, including NATO expansion clearly precipitated the Russian invasion. While the Russian invasion is a clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, the conflict between Russia and the US/NATO is an inter-imperialist conflict in which the people of the world have no side to cheer for. People who live in the United States have a responsibility to first and foremost oppose the US empire- including any ongoing or future US intervention and belligerency in this conflict.
The horrors wrought by the unjust Russian invasion of Ukraine was both precipitated by decades of US intervention and NATO expansion and are the same horrors carried out ten-fold by the US empire and its accomplices around the world: in the US-Saudi destruction of Yemen, the US backed occupation of Palestine, in drone strikes in Somalia and Afghanistan. The responsibility of people of conscience who live in this country is to betray the imperial consensus and refuse to accept the legitimacy, normalcy, and permanence of the empire, and build common cause with the people of the world.