Labor and its community partners should demand: “U.S. hands off Ukraine! End all support — military, economic, and poltical — for the Kiev regime!”
As U.S. intervention in Ukraine escalates, the danger of a wider war increases by the day. This is a crisis of the greatest magnitude. We in the Labor Fightback Network urge unity of labor and community forces to demand “U.S. Hands Off Ukraine!” The working class at home has no interest in having Washington involve us in yet another war, at a time when we are supposedly concluding the decades long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What is the argument for justifying the U.S. going head-to-head with Russia over differences involving Ukraine? A major difference is over the issue of the Kiev regime, which seeks to consolidate its hold over Ukraine. The U.S. government is an uncritical supporter of that regime, despite the fact that it is anti-working class to the core and has four neo-Nazis in its cabinet. As soon as the billionaire Poroshenko became president of Ukraine, he announced an austerity program that targeted workers and the poor, slashing the country’s already meager social programs and ending support for Ukraine‘s basic industry. Wealthy tycoons have been given top posts in Poroshenko’s government. Fascist storm troopers are being widely used in an attempt to exterminate dissidents in the civil war that has erupted.
It is beyond dispute that the U.S. spent five billion dollars to overthrow the elected Ukraine government that formerly held power. Why wasn’t that money used instead to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure here at home, for renovation of public schools, for continuing benefits for the long-term unemployed, and for strengthening the social safety net?
The other claim advanced in an attempt to justify U.S. intervention in Ukraine is that it’s necessary to counter Russia‘s role in the region. But whatever one’s opinion of Russia‘s actions, there is a big difference between being in the region (Russia borders on Ukraine) and being 6,000 miles away, as is the case with the U.S. And it is important to keep in mind that the U.S. incorporated eastern European countries into NATO, after promising that it would not do so, thereby creating a siege mentality in Russia.
Let’s keep in mind the U.S.‘s long history of intervention and aggression in eastern Europe parallels its intervention and aggression in this continent, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Throughout that history, the U.S. government has actively intervened both militarily and/or with covert operations in Chile, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia and other countries. From the days of the Monroe Doctrine on, while hypocritically preaching that every nation in the world should be free to work out its own destiny without outside interference, Washington’s policy, in fact, has been to trample on the right of self-determination by waging wars against governments in this and other areas of the world that are not sufficiently submissive to the dictates of Big Business in the U.S. Short of wars, the policy has been to organize coups to overthrow independent regimes by spending billions building anti-labor, reactionary movements that could topple elected governments and then become loyal vassals under U.S. control. Boycotts, blockades, sanctions and other such tools have helped to accomplish the desired goal.
All of this has been part and parcel of U.S. foreign policy. It is designed to expand Washington’s influence in this hemisphere (and extending around the world) so that the multi-national corporations could reap ever greater profits and seize the natural resources and raw materials that enrich the few here at home while subjecting workers in other countries to poverty wages, unsafe working conditions and few or no benefits.
None of the named countries above constituted a threat to the American people which would justify U.S. interventionism. But as a result of U.S. policies and actions over the years, untold numbers of people have been killed or wounded and trillions of dollars expended in this, the age of unending wars and occupations.
The overwhelming majority of the American people have had it with these constant interventions. A war with Russia would, of course, be catastrophic for all concerned. Yet the step-by-step U.S. escalation in Ukraine runs the risk of a widening conflict.
A resolution adopted by the recently held convention of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) declared:
RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will stand in solidarity with the workers of Ukraine in their fight for a free, secure, democratic and pluralistic country, free from outside interference; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT oppose the IMF austerity plan for Ukraine, with its harsh measures driving down workers’ living conditions; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT support Ukrainian teachers’ demands for higher wages, a shorter workday, better working conditions and a full right to strike; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT will work with Education International and Public Services International in our joint efforts to build the capacity of independent teachers’ unions and other public sector unions in Ukraine.
Glenn Kissack, AFT Local 2334, arguing for a substitute resolution, while referring to some of the WHEREAS clauses, stated:
“I move to amend by substitution. The substitute resolution has been submitted. Our delegation feels that the substitute resolution captures more of the complexity of the conflict in Ukraine, that it’s a more accurate description of the obstacles to democracy, that it’s more balanced in its criticisms of outside interference, and is pro-active in its recommendations for AFT assistance to Ukrainian teachers.
“We note, for instance, that the substitute resolution is more accurate in describing how Ukrainian political life is dominated by billionaire oligarchs with their own agendas, a tremendous barrier to democracy.
“The substitute resolution also more accurately describes the dangers of far-right political parties in the new government in Kiev. One of those parties, Svoboda, has been labeled as ‘neo-Nazi’ by the World Jewish Congress. The leader of Svoboda is Olah Tyahnybok, who called for the liberation of Ukraine from the ‘Muscovite-Jewish mafia.’ Svoboda is anti-Semitic, anti-ethnic Russian, anti-gay and anti-union. Yet Senator John McCain shared the podium with the Svoboda leader, and Assistant Secretary of State Nuland had a widely publicized friendly meeting with him.
“The substitute resolution calls attention to the IMF-imposed austerity plan that is reducing the standard of living of Ukrainian teachers and others. Imagine what would have happened in 2009 if the U.S. federal government had slashed spending at the height of the recession. This is what’s happening in Ukraine, and we should oppose this austerity regimen.
“Ukraine is a new site of conflict between the great powers and there is a real danger that it could lead to war. For years, the major powers have been jockeying for influence in Ukraine and have allied themselves with one set of oligarchs or another. There has been plenty of interference from a number of countries and the substitute resolution recognizes that.
“As well-informed educators we’re aware of the history of U.S. interference in the internal affairs of other countries. We know about CIA complicity in the overthrow of elected governments in Iran, Guatemala, the Congo and Chile. And of course we’re aware of the disastrous interventions in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Let’s not go down that road again.”
If the U.S. government is concerned about violations of the arms treaty by Russia, the solution is to engage in a dialogue with Russia, not resort to a military response. The sanctions imposed by Washington and its allies against Russia are an attempt to bolster support for the Kiev regime and, as far as Washington is concerned, promote the goal of establishing U.S.’s unfettered domination in the region. The sanctions should be lifted.
What is needed now are more resolutions passed by labor organizations and community groups, along with mass actions in the streets demanding “U.S. Hands Off Ukraine!” “End All Support—Military, Economic and Political—For the Kiev Regime!”