Russia, Crimea, Ukraine, Venezuela and U.S. Imperialism
By JAAN LAAMAN
United States imperialism’s contradictions with Russia have drastically increased in the past two months. Ukraine, Crimea and Russia are prominently and regularly featured on all platforms of the corporate media in the United States.
Russia is portrayed as the enemy, the intruder and belligerent country. The U.S. government and its European Union (EU) imperialist allies are put forth as supporters of democracy and legal order. This is almost the complete opposite of what has actually taken place in the Ukraine and Crimea. But if the U.S. corporate media repeats its version loudly and frequently enough, it starts to be accepted by viewers and listeners. 4SM is printing a more insightful and critical report of Ukraine and Crimea, put out by the Workers World newspaper (the WW article precedes this one and 4SM edited it for length). There certainly is need for more independent, objective and critical information and analysis. Most importantly there is the need for concerned and intelligent people to analyze and evaluate what is happening.
Any analysis should start with an objective view of who the parties are and what their interests and objectives really are. United States imperialism, even with dissension in its elite ranks, is the most powerful modern-day empire in the world. The EU and especially its major players— Germany, England and France—are smaller imperialist powers who usually follow the U.S. lead.
Russia, today, is a capitalist regional and to a lesser degree world power. Russia does not automatically and routinely accept or submit to U.S. imperialism’s lead, as the EU often does. Russia is an independent nation with its own interests.
Russia was the heart of the former Soviet Union. The USSR and Western imperialism had a decades long fundamental contradiction between socialism and capitalism/imperialism. With the demise of the Soviet Union, this contradiction also ceased to exist. The contradiction between U.S. imperialism and Russia today is the contradiction between two competing capitalist powers. Both are trying to seek advantage, resources and power for the benefit of their respective ruling elites. Capitalist powers mostly compete and collude with each other. But we should be very clear—some of the worst wars in modern times have been the result of capitalist countries fighting for markets and resources (e.g., WWI, WWII).
Since the end of the USSR and its socialist system, the USA, in its drive for world hegemony, has been trying to curtail Russia’s strength as a regional power. United States imperialism has continuously expanded NATO into East Europe. It has also attempted to install pliant regimes through a series of color “revolutions” in former Soviet republics. The U.S. government has established bases on Russia’s periphery, in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, to militarily encircle most of Russia.
On the other hand, Russia is the world’s biggest producer of oil and gas. It also still has a large nuclear arsenal and a sizable military. Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and has the power to, at times, block U.S. moves, such as when Obama threatened to attack Syria last year.
While events in Crimea and Ukraine have dominated corporate news in the U.S., there have been reports of demonstrations and struggle in Venezuela. There have also been minor news reports of U.S. citizens and embassy officials being accused of organizing activities against the Venezuelan government and president.
United States imperialism basically lost its control and domination over Venezuela and its very large pool of oil with the 1998 election of Hugo Chavez as president. When Chavez died last year, a leader of his party, Nicolas Maduro, was elected to replace him. President Maduro has continued Chavez’s revolutionary and socialist policies, but he is perceived as more vulnerable to a renewed imperialist and local right-wing assault. Somewhat under the cover of news about Russia and Ukraine, there is an ongoing imperialist effort to destabilize and subvert the popularly elected government of President Maduro in Venezuela.
Events in Ukraine, Crimea and Venezuela are serious. The confrontation with Russia, in particular, has the potential for unimaginable consequences. By all measures, much of the American public is sick and tired of U.S. government wars, invasions, bombings and drone attacks. Despite this, U.S. imperialism and the USA government have not stopped their machinations and attempts to gain control over other countries and their resources, or to lead the United States into a new war. This makes it so important for us—the people, and particularly activists and organizers—to evaluate and analyze developments and struggle independently, and not simply follow corporate news and government versions of events.
One very significant and clarifying issue to hold on to is understanding who our primary enemy really is. What is the main obstacle in our struggle for greater peace, freedom and economic justice? What is the principle or primary contradiction? Understanding this and keeping it firmly in mind as we examine developments makes it much less likely that we will get swept away with government pontifications of who we should consider our enemy. Dialectical materialism is the scientific revolutionary method of analysis that allows any situation to be broken down and examined. In issue 11 of 4SM, we printed an entire short booklet (“A Basic Introduction To Dialectical and Historical Materialism”) that lays out this method.
As people in the United States, we must always keep in mind that whatever the government does, it acts in our name. We may not and probably do not have any control or voice in what the government does, which country they declare an enemy and/or attack, but it is done in our, the people’s, name. This makes it crucial that we determine for ourselves what is correct and real or propaganda. If we do not accept the government’s plans for war, we must loudly and clearly make known to the government and the world that we oppose, and will try to stop, what the U.S. government does in our name.
The country of Russia is not our, the American People’s, enemy. Crimea has been part of Russia since the 1700’s. In late March, for the first time in its history, the Crimean people got the opportunity to vote on whether they wanted to be part of Russia, and they overwhelmingly voted to join the Russian Federation.
The elected President and parliament in Venezuela may not be the leaders who U.S. imperialism and the USA government approve of, but it is the right of the Venezuelan people, not Washington politicians and Wall Street bankers, to decide who leads Venezuela’s government. The people of Venezuela, Russia, Crimea or Ukraine are not our enemies. We should make that clear to politicians in Washington and to the world, and we must not let the USA government launch any wars or attacks against these people, their governments and countries.