From Ukraine to Venezuela: U.S. Wages Dirty Wars
BY FRED GOLDSTEIN
Excerpted from workers.org
Destroying the Ukraine government through an armed insurrection is part of a broader strategy by U.S. imperialism to colonize the former Soviet republics and encircle Russia. The right-wing forces now running Kiev would let the Ukrainian masses become debt slaves to U.S., French and German banks.
Washington has escalated its global campaign of reactionary subversion from Ukraine to Venezuela. A takeover in Ukraine would bring the Pentagon and Wall Street to the borders of Russia. In Venezuela, the Bolivarian Revolution is crucial to the bloc of countries resisting U.S. imperialist domination in Latin America.
The U.S. ruling class would like nothing better than to weaken Russia and return it to the semi-colonial status it was heading toward immediately after the collapse of the USSR, when Boris Yeltsin was president. It would also like to return to the era of Yankee imperialist domination of Latin America that prevailed until the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
Right now the big imperialist powers in Washington, Berlin, Paris and London, who preach democracy to the skies, are hailing the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Victor Yanukovich in the Ukraine.
To be sure, the Yanukovich government was corrupt and no friend of the working class. It was an instrument of a section of Ukrainian oligarchs. But the same can be said of the forces that overthrew him. The corrupt character of Yanukovich has nothing to do with why Washington joined in his overthrow.
The destruction of the Yanukovich government by armed insurrection and the installation of pro-Western puppet politicians is part of a broader strategy by the European Union (EU), in cahoots with the U.S. imperialists, to colonize the former Soviet republics and encircle Russia as part of a new Cold War.
Phony Call for “Democracy”
Yanukovich was overthrown by a combination of illegal political scheming by the pro-imperialist parties in the parliament, weeks of demonstrations by right-wing, pro-West forces and by threats and violence from fascist shock troops who took command of the streets and spearheaded the takeover.
The big business media portrayed this as a contest between the western Ukrainians, who want to align with “democratic” Europe and the West, versus the eastern, Russian-speaking Ukrainians, who want to align with autocratic Russia.
This is a completely superficial view that conceals the essence of the conflict. With Ukraine facing imminent bankruptcy, Yanukovich was vacillating over whether to align the country’s economic relations with Europe or Russia. The EU offered paltry loans that would impose conditions of austerity and privatization and hinge on the release of right-wing, pro-EU billionaire politician Yulia Tymoshenko from prison.
European Union, United States, International Monetary Fund
Russia, on the other hand, offered a $15 billion loan, a one-third reduction in the price of gas and favorable trade relations. Yanukovich, whose base is in the Russian-speaking East and South of the country, decided to accept Russia’s terms. This infuriated the EU, Washington and all the oligarchs, bourgeois and middle-class elements who wanted to integrate with Western capitalism and imperialism.
The right-wing forces who now prevail in Kiev preferred to put Ukraine in the position of becoming a debt slave to German, French and U.S. bankers and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This is the same agenda imposed on Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, as well as several countries in Eastern Europe.
This is not to say that the capitalist, expansionist Putin regime, in making its offer, was guided by anything other than a desire to retain its sphere of influence in the former Soviet republics for the benefit of Russian oligarchs, bankers and industrialists who are living off the spoils they plundered when they broke up the economy of the Soviet Union.
But in the struggle between Russian capital and Western imperialism, the worst outcome is for Washington, Wall Street and the Pentagon to extend their reach to the borders of Russia and gain domination over the former Soviet republics. United States imperialism is a far more dangerous enemy to the people of the world than Russia.
The political victory of Western imperialism was carried out with fascist intimidation and without a shred of capitalist democracy. Laws were passed and the Ukrainian Constitution was changed by a rump parliament. Members opposed to the right-wing takeover were physically attacked or intimidated by the anti-Semitic, ultra-nationalist Svoboda Party inside the Parliament and by the anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi forces of the Right Front in the streets.
The Parliament took charge of the police and ordered them to retreat from the battle in Independence Square just as the fascists were getting more and more aggressive. The withdrawal of the police from the square—the site of government buildings, including the presidential quarters—set the stage for fascist squads, under the command of the Right Front, to take charge of the entire area.
As shown by the now infamous “f… the EU” phone call between U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, Washington was vying with the EU for control of the situation and discussing who to pick to lead the new government, while relying on the fascists to get rid of the elected government of Yanukovich.
Once the government was overthrown and Yanukovich fled from Kiev, Yulia Tymoshenko, who led a similar pro-Western coup in 2004 (the so-called Orange Revolution), was released from jail. She rushed to the platform in the Maidan and harangued the crowd, promising to integrate with Europe, among other things.
Her first phone calls were “with Angela Merkel as well as with Stefan Fule, a top European Union official, and with Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., and Richard Durbin, D-Ill. Tymoshenko also met with ambassadors from the United States and EU countries.” (New York Times, Feb. 24)
Clinton: “Re-Sovietize” the Republics
As to imperialism’s broad strategy, it was to keep Ukraine from joining the Russian-sponsored Customs Union, an economic alliance of Russia with Belarus and Kazakhstan. Last November, the EU tried to get Ukraine to join the so-called Eastern Partnership. Yanukovich, along with leaders of several other former Soviet republics, turned it down, and the whole scheme to absorb the republics into the EU fell apart.
Venezuela Under U.S. Attack Again
In the Western Hemisphere, Washington is also fighting to set up a “democracy” for the capitalist oligarchs in Venezuela in much the same way they are bringing “democracy” to Ukraine—by organizing and financing a right-wing mobilization in the streets of Caracas, San Cristobal and other cities. Fortunately, the masses in Venezuela, unlike in Ukraine, are mobilized to defend the Bolivarian Revolution established by Hugo Chávez.
Furthermore, the politics of the struggle are clearly understood by the Venezuelan masses and the entire progressive population of the world. The goal of Washington is to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution and restore the domination of U.S. imperialism in the country.
Washington lost that domination when Chávez came to power in 1998. He took control of the oil revenues and created institutions to empower the masses and improve their health, education and living conditions on a wide scale, eventually declaring socialism as the goal of the revolution.
The pro-U.S. right-wing was defeated in a coup attempt to oust him in 2002, and has lost election after election, by large margins, since then. It has been unable to regain political power by democratic, parliamentary means. Thus the CIA, the counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie, working with the reactionary regime in Colombia, embarked on a new campaign of subversion and destabilization to destroy the government of Chávez’s successor, President Nicolás Maduro.
Washington has unleashed aggressive right-wing forces led by Harvard-educated Leopoldo López. López has ties to Colombia’s former president, Alvaro Uribe, who ruled by death squad.
The masses in Venezuela are in a more advantageous position than the working class in Ukraine. They are far more organized, politically conscious and determined to defend the revolution, which has brought real gains for the people. But given the U.S. record of counterrevolutionary subversion in Chile, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and many other countries in Latin America, this campaign must be taken deadly seriously.
Goldstein is the author of “Low-Wage Capitalism” and “Capitalism at a Dead End,” which has been translated into Spanish as “El capitalismo en un callejón sin salida.” The books are available on Amazon.