As US Foreign Policy Turns More Aggressive, Much Stronger Peace Movement Needed in West

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In the build-up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the USA was on the one hand provoking Russia in numerous ways to attack and on the other hand saying to its European allies and other countries—Look how dangerous is Putin’s Russia—attacking its weaker neighbor so aggressively. Unfortunate as such conduct was, it could be understood by those who had followed the Ukraine policy of the USA during recent years, and anyway, the focus just then was more on the actual invasion.

However in subsequent months the extent of the military support of the USA for Ukraine, scuttling by it of an early peace initiative and indeed of the overall peace option, the willingness to supply ever more deadly weapons, imposition of unprecedented sanctions, the settling in for a prolonged proxy war (which may not always remain a proxy one)—all these have given rise to more disturbing questions regarding how far the USA is willing to go to risk a direct confrontation with Russia. There are indications that it appears to be more willing to proceed further on escalation than before.

These concerns have increased since the USA has appeared to be willing to even provoke China at the same time, that too in the context of sensitive issues relating to Taiwan.

Such provocative actions on two fronts would appear to bring China and Russia even closer to each other, while the previously accepted objective of US policy has been to avoid such a coming closer of its two main rivals. So is the USA foreign policy being just too reckless, or is there a less obvious agenda, a method in madness?

The use of Ukraine in a proxy war to weaken and expose Russia is well understood and has been very visible. However the hidden prize, the big prize that the USA foreign policy may be aspiring for is to weaken Russia or to create many diverse problems for it to such an extent that there is a backlash in Russia, also helped more directly by the USA to the extent possible, which can remove Putin from power and a Yeltsin like figure can be found to work under the influence of the USA and to break the close links with China. This the USA had hoped to achieve by not just involving Russia in a costly proxy war in which very destructive western weapons are provided to Russia’s opponent, but in addition also by imposing unprecedented sanctions against Russia, by trying to isolate it as much as possible internationally and by mounting a big propaganda blitz worldwide against the leadership of Putin in particular. With a combination of all this, the USA hoped to greatly weaken Russia, to either remove Putin as president or to weaken his position considerably and to either break Russia-China strong ties or to pave the way for this. So far things have not worked to the plans and desires of USA foreign policy, but it is not for lack of trying!

Another aim of USA foreign policy has been to change the ground situation in such a way that its allies and key NATO members can be much stronger in their support with increasing military and financial commitments, at the same time destroying any possibilities of them developing better relations with Russia. In the process if the USA achieves economic benefits as well, with more sales of higher prized US oil and reduced financial burden for the USA in NATO, this would serve US even better.

In this context the USA policy has been more successful in achieving short-term and narrow objectives at least, although this too has not been without costs. Sweden and Finland are now the latest entrants to NATO, considered an important gain. Germany’s growing economic relations with Russia, based on gas imports, have been given the biggest blow possible, all the more now with the damaged Nord Stream pipelines, where sabotage is widely suspected. For Europe as a whole too, prospects of a mutually beneficial future with close ties to Russia and its oil, gas and other resources have been badly damaged.

However this gain is achieved by the USA at the cost of greater opposition among people of Europe, particularly Germany, at the denial of best energy and resource choices to them, as well as to the weakening of their economic and industrial strengths ( while the USA gains in some important contexts). Sooner or later, this will lead to more questions being raised regarding the rather meek acceptance of the course of actions imposed by the USA, the reasons for this.

In the case of Japan also, the USA aim of achieving more loyal following appears to be achieved in the shorter term at least. Two economic powerhouses Japan and Germany are also potential military powerhouses as was seen in the first half of the 20th century.In the post-World War II phase they prospered on an agenda of much lower military profile, but there has always been a constituency here for renewed militarization. The Russian invasion of Ukraine may become a pretext for this, but this militarization will be allowed by the USA only if it is under the overall umbrella of USA and its military alliances. How happy are the people of Germany and Japan with the prospects of their countries being junior partners of the USA in its overall highly aggressive agenda, which potentially carries heavy costs and dangers as well, is an important question, while another one is whether USA’s most trusted ally Britain will be happy with a new big thrust to militarization of Germany, with all the past memories.

As a part of various efforts of understanding the increasing aggressiveness of US foreign policy, one view that has emerged is that given the increasing gains by China in terms of its economic growth and its ability to edge past the USA, and economic base being so important for military strength too, the USA may have thought of more aggressive actions while the balance of power is still in its favor. However this is easier thought of than actually done, given the huge nuclear arsenal of Russia, the smaller one of China and the close ties of the two. So somehow removing Putin in Russia and installing a pliant regime (as well as breaking close Russia-China ties) may now be regarded as the most prized goal of the USA in the short term ( with the Ukraine conflict one of the many ways of achieving this) which paves the path for other aggressive actions.

A declining economic power which remains by far the biggest military power of the world can be expected to behave in dangerous ways to use military strength to artificially bolster economic prospects, all the  more so when this power is very sensitive and aggressive about maintaining its currency privilege while not hesitating to misuse and even weaponize it. It is a very worrying situation on the whole, and unless countervailing forces and efforts of peace are strengthened and become more active with continuity, inherently dangerous situations can spiral out of control with consequences too destructive to contemplate.

In this context there is clearly an urgent need to strengthen the peace movement in the USA as well as at a broader level in the west, establishing the unity of various social movements with a commitment to peace with justice. Apart from working to check the increasingly aggressive nature of US foreign policy with all its destructive potential, this movement should also question this policy from the point of view of enlightened self-interests of the people of USA and its close western allies. At a time when millions of people in the USA face increasing problems in the context of meeting housing and health needs, in fact even more basic food and water needs, where is the justification for squandering billions after billions on avoidable, dangerous military pursuits? If people are well-informed about the realities of increasing militarism, they are unlikely to support the increasingly aggressive trends in foreign policy.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now within a framework of Justice, Peace and Democracy. His recent books include Planet in Peril, A Day in 2071, Protecting Earth for Children and Earth without Borders.

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