The word imperialism has been used and misused often as the crisis in Ukraine continues. An understanding of its meaning is important in any analysis.
Disinformation and misdirection abound. Why? To sell the public U.S. imperialist wars. The mislabeling as “imperialist” towards any enemy of U.S. imperialism is one tactic used to deceive. This especially occurs when a country is trying to defend itself or assist in the defense of an ally against a nation that actually is imperialist. We’re told by the U.S. government that the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979 was an imperialist "invasion." But the newly formed revolutionary government of Afghanistan in 1978, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, asked for the assistance of the Soviet Union, and, for good reason. The Carter Administration, ten months before the Soviet intervention, began a covert war arming a small grouping of local warlords known as the Mujahideen. State Department documents released three years ago show that this war of millions turned into billions of dollars in weapons and training.
The U.S. successfully pulled the Soviet Union into Afghanistan, then National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brezenski said that this was the point, to get the Soviet Union bogged down in a Vietnam type scenario. Sound familiar? The al-Qaeda network emerged from the Mujahideen, and the effort to fight them and the Taliban began a 20-year long war with the U.S. that took thousands of lives. That's what happens when the U.S. “wins.”
The Soviet Union, then, and Russia now is not an imperialist country in the scientific and practical sense of the term. The technological development of its productive forces are qualitatively below that of western Europe and the U.S. Meaning, in global trade they lose out when trading with imperialist countries. They export raw materials, not capital. They're economy is closer to a neo-colonial economy than to an imperialist one. Their GDP is smaller than South Korea's or India's.
That's an important distinction because it allows us to understand the motivations of Russia without the "good guy, bad guy" distortions. Although Russia is no longer a socialist country, it is aligned with Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Syria and other targets of U.S. imperialism because they have no choice. And, their alliance with these forces alleviates the economic damage of U.S. sanctions and limits military interventions by the U.S. and its imperialist cabal. It would be tremendously harmful to our working class globally and domestically, if NATO is successful in winning this proxy war in the Ukraine.
In spite of what Biden claims, this war is not about the sovereignty of Ukrainians. Even if that were true, a sovereign country cannot endanger the entire world by promoting World War III, as President Zelensky of Ukraine did when he not only wanted membership into NATO, the most violent military alliance in history, but threatened to renounce the country’s non-nuclear status, with the implication being Ukraine was ready to house nuclear weapons again. As Dr. Martin Luther King alluded, the greatest threat to humanity today is U.S. imperialism. Anything that allows continued expansion of U.S.-led NATO threatens our entire world - and must be stopped, as Malcolm X said - by any means necessary.
However, Ukraine is not a sovereign country. The National Endowment for Democracy's manipulation of elections, or Blackwater's (now Academy) military training of Nazis there, or the $22.4 billion in U.S. dollars spent since 2004 for regime change, and the jailing of journalists and criminalizing of communist parties are not acts representing the Ukrainian people's will.
Then there is the magic trick of misdirection – don’t look there, don’t speak of Donbas. The media and ruling class play a trick too familiar to people of African ethnicity - disappearing a people.
The Donbas region exists. After the 2014 coup orchestrated by the U.S. their people refused, and rightly so, to go along with reactionary Ukrainian nationalism that once collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II. When monuments to fascists began appearing and street names glorifying these folks with the introduction of Nazi battalions and Nazis in government, they decided to become independent. The independent regions of Lugansk and Donetsk were met with bombings, rapes, torture and daily terrorism for 8 years. Biden said nothing then. And, like the revolutionary government of Afghanistan, they pleaded for help, this time from Russia to save their children from being murdered by the fascist Azov Battalion - an offical wing of the Ukrainian military.
The only thing that stopped those Nazis from taking away the sovereignty of those people was the assistance by the Russian military. And, they had every right to ask for that help. And, Russia has every right to defend itself from another U.S.-led NATO member state on its borders, one which could potentially have nuclear weapons that would be in the hands of a military led by Nazis. Remember, the supreme commander of NATO is a U.S. military officer. Last February NATO announced the activation of the NATO Response Force, allowing the U.S. to arm NATO member states any way they deem necessary, preparing the way for a nuclear horror show.
We have to look at the big picture and the class perspective of who's side we are on - otherwise we might be enabling one of the most destructive, racist, violent, genocidal entities today - NATO.
John Parker is the coordinator of the Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice, West Coast Coordinator of the Socialist Unity Party and member of the Black Alliance for Peace. He accompanied former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark on many anti-war delegations abroad exposing U.S. imperialism. Parker is on the ballot in California as a candidate for the U.S. Senate on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket.