Three More Ways the World Just Got More Dangerous
The war that erupted when Russia illegally and unjustly invaded Ukraine in February 2022 almost immediately became a proxy war between rival imperialist powers, when the U.S. and the Western military alliance NATO stepped up the vast amounts of military support, weaponry, and training they had already been providing Ukraine.1
For months, both the Russian and Ukrainian militaries have been feverishly preparing spring offensives which are likely to begin in the coming weeks. Both sides feel strategic, even existential, stakes in winning this war. What happens this spring could go a long way in determining what happens. But either way, it is likely that a huge escalation of the scale and amount of violence looms—in a conflict that has already taken tens, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives. Through this, the danger of nuclear war grows.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, U.S. and Chinese forces play “nuclear chicken” on the high seas, and gird themselves for a possible war on and around the island of Taiwan, and the South China Sea.
Imperialism is putting all life on this planet in peril. Major imperialist powers—the globally dominant U.S., the increasingly assertive Russia and China—are facing off around the world like big gangsters.
All these imperialist powers are driven by the basic compulsion of capitalism-imperialism—expand or die. The U.S. is on top in the existing global power alignment—and it is fighting to maintain that domination with its empire built on the backs of the exploitation of billions of people worldwide. China is an on-the-rise and expanding power driven by the same basic compulsion, and aiming for a larger share of that exploitation. Russia aims to prevent further U.S. expansion and consolidation in countries bordering or close by Russia, and to expand its own power and influence in the division of the world by imperialist powers. Each can establish its own supremacy only at the expense of and by ultimately subduing and defeating its opponents.
Several recent developments indicate how this entire situation is getting even more perilous to humanity. The escalation has been continual, and the danger it of “going nuclear” grows. Each move by one side is countered by the other. The stakes keep rising. A “hair-trigger” environment prevails. Escalations in one part of the world could rapidly expand to engulf other countries, and possibly trigger global conflict.
ONE: Finland Joins NATO
On April 4, Finland officially joined NATO. NATO is a military alliance which originated in 1949 with 12 members from western Europe and North America, but has aggressively expanded eastward (towards Russia) since the 1989-1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, despite vows by the U.S. that it would not do so. It now has 31 members, many of them on Russia’s western border.
Finland’s population is about 5.5 million, but its strategic significance as a NATO member outweighs its size. Before Finland became part of NATO, a group of U.S. military analysts wrote that its entry “into NATO will permanently reshape the European security architecture, which Moscow [Russia’s capital] is likely to see as a threat to its own security.”
NATO bases and weapons, including nuclear weapons, can now be placed in Finland. Finland shares a border of over 800 miles with Russia and puts NATO in proximity to Russia’s Northern Fleet, a section of their military which has “central importance to Russia’s national security.”
Finland also adds considerable “conventional” firepower to NATO. According to a report from the Wilson Center, a U.S. “think tank” in Washington, DC, Finland, “with some 1,500 artillery weapons, including 700 Howitzer guns, 700 heavy mortar, and 100 rocket launcher systems… has more artillery firepower than the combined militaries of Poland, Germany, Norway, and Sweden can currently muster.”
Joe Biden sent a message to the ceremony admitting Finland to NATO saying that NATO, “strengthened by our newest ally Finland… will defend every inch of NATO territory, and meet any and all challenges we face.”
A spokesman for the Russian government responded that Finland’s entry into NATO will force Russia to “take counter-measures to ensure our own security, both tactically and strategically.” In a 2016 interview, when asked about the possibility of Finland joining NATO, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, replied, “When we look across the border now, we see a Finn on the other side. If Finland joins NATO, we will see an enemy.”
TWO: Belarus to Get Nuclear Missiles from Russia
In late March, Putin said that Russia is preparing to station “tactical” nuclear weapons in Belarus, a country which has long borders with both Russia and Ukraine. Belarus, with a population of about 9 million, has been a close ally with Russia for several years.
Russian troops were stationed in Belarus prior to its invasion of Ukraine, but Belarusian troops have never participated in the war in Ukraine. In any case, the U.S. and the European Union imposed harsh sanctions on Belarus after Russia invaded Ukraine, and a U.S. diplomat called Belarus “a co-aggressor” that allowed its territory to be a launching pad in “a vicious, barbaric attack on a neighboring state.”
A week after Putin’s announcement, Belarus President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko said of the NATO countries that border Belarus, “They are trying to drag Belarus into the war. Our neighbors are especially zealous. You can’t hide these facts.” He added that “a third world war loom[s] on the horizon with nuclear fires.”
A Belarus spokesman said the Russian tactical nuclear weapons will be “moved up close to the Western border of our union state,” which would put them in striking distance of several NATO countries, as well as Ukraine. Lukashenko added that “strategic” nuclear weapons—meaning deadlier and longer-range—may also be deployed in Belarus.
THREE: Republi-fascist McCarthy Provokes China
On April 5, Republi-fascist Congressional leader Kevin McCarthy met Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan, at the Ronald Reagan library in Southern California. Taiwan is an island off the coast of China which China has long considered part of its sovereign territory, a reality formally recognized by almost all countries in the world, including in official U.S. policy. But the U.S. imperialists have never stopped maintaining their independent economic, political and military connections with Taiwan. They consider it to be strategically vital to them, and have highly militarized it with U.S.-supplied weapons.2
Last year McCarthy’s predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, made a provocative trip to Taiwan that set off a series of dangerous military exercises by both the U.S. and China in the South China Sea. McCarthy’s session with Tsai was similar to Pelosi’s, in that he essentially treated Taiwan as an independent country. CNBC described Tsai’s talks with McCarthy as part of a week-long visit with a “packed schedule of high-level meetings with U.S. lawmakers [that] would rival that of any official visit by a world leader.” China’s Foreign Ministry said it “firmly opposes and strongly condemns” the talks between Tsai and McCarthy, and that “China will take strong and resolute measures to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity.” The U.S. warned China not to use the Tsai-McCarthy talks as a pretext for “hostile action.”
The U.S. ruling class as a whole has identified the rising capitalist-imperialist power of China as a main strategic challenge to their dominance, in the Asia-Pacific region and globally. Even as bitter divisions tear apart the Republi-fascist and Democrat wings of the ruling class over just about every issue, their united antagonism toward China continues. This was forcefully expressed in a statement by Nancy Pelosi about the meeting between Tsai and McCarthy, her long-time adversary: “[The] meeting … is to be commended for its leadership, its bipartisan participation and its distinguished and historic venue.”
While Tsai was in the U.S., the U.S. Navy conducted a “freedom of navigation operation” in the South China Sea—which borders China! The U.S. Indo-Pacific command said this was part of an effort to challenge what it called China’s “unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea”, which “pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including freedoms of navigation and overflight…” This would be like China sending military ships to the Gulf of Mexico to ensure that the U.S. wasn’t claiming maritime dominance!
Soon after, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense reported that China had sent 20 planes and three naval vessels near Taiwan, notably increasing the Chinese military’s “daily fighter runs in the Taiwan Strait.” On April 9, The Guardian reported that China “sent 70 war planes, including fighter jets, reconnaissance planes, and refuellers, into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.” It reported that this is part of three days of Chinese military drills near Taiwan.
This Imperialist System Urgently Needs to Be Overthrown
The U.S. and Russia war in Ukraine and the conflict between the U.S. and China could quickly spiral into open warfare between these nuclear-armed imperialist powers. An escalation in Ukraine is highly possible in the weeks ahead, and the games of “nuclear chicken” that keep recurring in the South China Sea could become the real thing, deliberately, or by accident or miscalculation by either side. An escalation in either conflict could break beyond its own geographic focus and trigger a wider, even global, conflict. The stakes for humanity, and for life on planet Earth, could not be greater.
And for what?
For empire. For empire based on the exploitation and oppression of billions of human beings, including young children around the world—people who are savagely exploited in the mines, fields, and factories of the global South, or “Third World.” For empire based on plundering and despoiling the Earth, to the point where life itself on this planet is in danger.
All the contention, the threats, the actual combat and the preparation for further war,all thisis in service ofempire. These clashing imperialists are risking humanity, and the planet, to sustain this capitalist-imperialist system of global exploitation, and to establish their domination of that foul and blood-soaked system. In just the past 70 years, the U.S. has killed nearly 10 million in its wars to defend this empire; and during that same time, 350 million children have died of preventable disease and starvation.
As Bob Avakian recently said in The Bob Avakian Interviews:
We can no longer afford to allow these imperialists to dominate the world and to determine the destiny of humanity. They need to be overthrown as quickly as possible.
2. See the Revolution article, “A Year of U.S. Economic Warfare, Military Threats, and Provocations Against China” for an overview of U.S. aggression against China. [back]