China, Ukraine and Expanding Imperialist War


At a time when the world must come together to find solutions to the existential climate crisis, conflict is instead intensifying and we find ourselves rushing headlong towards the precipice of catastrophic global war. The driving force behind this potential disaster is the United States government, which has made its central priority crushing China and Russia in its drive to dominate the world unimpeded.

For women around the world, this is devastating. Nothing drives back progress and the standard of women’s lives like war. In the course of the conflict in Ukraine, millions of Ukranians have been displaced and families torn apart while hundreds of thousands of Ukranians and Russians have died in the fighting. Countless livelihoods have been destroyed, education stopped in its tracks and aspirations extinguished. Vital grain supply chains have been disrupted, triggering hunger crises in Global South countries reliant on Ukrainian exports. Even in the United States, a world away from the actual fighting, massive resources are being diverted to fuel the war, while urgently-needed social programs are cut. 

The United States justifies this war to its people by pushing a narrative that it is intervening on the side of justice, when the opposite is true. The United States wants this war with Russia. It wanted it to start and it wants it to keep going. The war in Ukraine is but one manifestation of the United States’ general outlook on the world. Indeed, as the U.S continues to pump weapons into Ukraine and prepares for conflict with China, it is also ramping up military aid to Israel’s apartheid regime. In October 2023, Palestinian resistance forces mounted an unprecedented counter-offensive against Israeli occupation. The U.S responded by rushing munitions to Israel so it could wage a genocidal war on the two million Palestinians trapped in Gaza. The U.S’ drive towards global war is ever-expanding. 

Why the United States is really funding the war in Ukraine

The United States’ warmongering policy is not driven by concern for humanity. While well-meaning Americans place the Ukrainian flag in their windows, the reality is that the best thing for Ukrainians would have been to avoid this catastrophic war. The best thing now would be negotiation and an end to the fighting. But the United States’ war planners don’t want that.

The United States has long characterized Russia and China as enemies — and these characterizations have nothing to do with morality. The official doctrine guiding U.S. foreign and military policy is called “great power competition.” This strategy holds that U.S. domination of the world is threatened for the first time since the end of the Cold War by “great powers” — namely Russia and China. Although the U.S. government ascribes great power status to both Russia and China, there are important differences between the two countries. China is led by a communist party that organized the expansion of economic productivity, eradicated severe poverty and improved literacy rates significantly. On the other hand, Russia is a large and potentially economically powerful country, led by a capitalist class that has enjoyed great profits off the sale of formerly public institutions and expanding exploitation. 

For U.S. foreign and military policy-makers, the ultimate goal is the same in the case of both Russia and China: to contain these countries and put enough pressure on them that their governments are eventually overthrown and replaced by a regime friendly to the U.S. empire. This takes the form of a massive Pentagon military buildup, a trillion-dollar upgrade to the U.S. nuclear arsenal and sanctions imposed on nations around the world. 

After the Soviet Union was overthrown in 1991, the U.S. government hoped that Russia would assume a subordinate role in the world economy and world politics. For a period of time, under the leadership of President Boris Yeltsin, Russia did just this and the country was open for unrestricted exploitation by western capital. The state was weak and individual capitalists — foreign or Russian — were able to openly disregard the law. When Vladimir Putin replaced Yeltsin in 2000, Russia remained capitalist, but the state moved to reassert its authority in society and the country adopted a more independent foreign policy.

In April 2022, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to Kiev and openly stated that the United States was waging its proxy war because “we want to see Russia weakened.” This was a surprising moment of honesty. The U.S. government hopes that by dragging out the war in Ukraine, the Russian government will eventually become destabilized to the point that the current leadership will be overthrown — returning Russia to the subordinate position it had occupied during the Yeltsin years.

All the while, the war profiteers are cashing in. Over $100 billion of military aid has been allocated by the U.S. government for the proxy war in Ukraine, and this number is likely to dramatically grow. As weapons are taken out of the stockpiles of U.S. and European militaries to be sent to Ukraine, the big arms manufacturing corporations like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin make enormous profits from contracts to produce replacements.

Provoking Military Conflict with China 

The Chinese revolution broke a century of humiliation when it announced victory on October 1, 1959. The U.S. imperialists, the reigning imperialists since World War II, couldn’t believe it. “Who lost China?” was their primary question. Since the revolution, U.S. policy towards China has been one of trying to bring China back into the sphere of imperialist influence and profit-making for U.S. banks and corporations. Since the Obama administration announced the Pivot to Asia in 2012, U.S. foreign policy has paid particularly close attention to its strategy of encircling China and reasserting dominance in East Asia. The Trump administration expanded the attacks on China rhetorically and economically. After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump escalated demonization of China, Chinese people and Chinese-Americans. His administration also more intensely targeted China’s economy through sanctions, unreasonable tariffs and more. The Biden administration, while using less blatantly xenophobic rhetoric has arguably further advanced the provocations against China by increasing military aid to Taiwan and refusing to uphold the One China policy that has governed diplomatic relations with China since 1972. Biden continues to position China as the greatest economic threat to U.S. hegemony. In true establishment Democratic Party form, the Biden administration has relied on false human rights discourse to make claims about rights abuses in China, mischaracterizing China’s policies toward ethnic minorities, women’s equality and more. But the U.S. foreign policy makers do not actually care about democratic or human rights; they are engaged in a shortsighted and incredibly dangerous drive to maintain U.S. economic, political and military control over the world. 

While the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations have escalated tensions with and demonized China in different ways, the goal — regardless of whether they are Republicans and Democrats — is the same: The warmakers want working-class people in the United States to view Chinese people as our enemy and fear China in preparation for expanding the U.S. war drive into Asia. Each administration has carried out threats of censure, deportation, and legal attacks on Chinese and Chinese-American workers, especially in academia, suppressing the free exchange of ideas. The alleged violation or crime is most often supporting peace. Efforts to drum up war and prepare the U.S. population has led to an uptick in anti-Asian violence particularly against Asian and Asian-American women. The tragic Atlanta Spa shooting in 2021, in which six Asian women were casualties of a racist and sexist massacre, is directly linked to the intensification of U.S. aggression against China, which draws on a long history of U.S. imperialist tactics including anti-Asian racism and the hypersexualization of Asian women. As the United States persists in its hostility and hatred towards China, Chinese and Asian women will suffer exceptional consequences in both the U.S and in Asia. 

For their wars, the U.S. seeks to divide us

We know from history that the imperialists use not only physical and economic violence to advance their war aims, but also wage war ideologically. The major media outlets serve as echo chambers for the Pentagon, endlessly repeating the justifications for war while shutting out opposing voices. 

A central part of U.S imperialist propaganda efforts is to obscure who the real aggressor is. They don’t talk about how the NATO military alliance — established with the purpose of waging a nuclear war against Russia! — gradually expanded its membership right up to Russia’s borders despite assurances at the end of the Cold War that it would not move into Eastern Europe. They repeat false accusations against scientists, researchers, and service members of Chinese descent, labeling them “Chinese or foreign agents” without a shred of evidence, simply for being peace advocates. And they refer to Palestinian freedom fighters as “terrorists” for resisting occupation, an occupation that the U.S funds with $4 billion each year. 

The managers of the U.S. empire know that it will be much harder to pursue their war policy towards Russia and China without significant popular support. Imperialism, as a system, will make every effort to sever any bonds of friendship or solidarity among the international working class while justifying their war efforts with xenophobia, racism, sexism and other forms of division designed to weaken the power of the people. We also know from history that maintaining an anti-imperialist stance can be isolating in periods like ours. For example, courageous revolutionaries like Rosa Luxemburg, Alexandra Kollontai and Alice Paul (to name a few) were persecuted for their opposition to the First World War.

The fight against war can change history

But imperialist wars also transform consciousness and have historically been a key catalyst for socialist revolutions and national liberation struggles. Revolutionary women leaders and thinkers have historically been a decisive factor in building the consciousness required to seize a revolutionary moment in the midst of capitalist crisis and imperialist war.

History is filled with examples. The women of the Paris Commune rose up amid a devastating war with Prussia. Women textile workers protesting World War I launched the Russian Revolution. Harriet Tubman helped turn the Civil War into a revolutionary war for the abolition of slavery. Haydée Santamaría and Melba Hernández heroically participated in the assault on the Moncada barracks that began the Cuban Revolution. 

But there is no guarantee that expanded imperialist war will create a revolutionary situation—and expanded imperialist war would be deadly for working people around the world and the planet as a whole. Our task is to fight against any efforts by the United States and its allies to escalate the war drive—to struggle fiercely in the battle for ideas, while also building the revolutionary consciousness necessary to seize a revolutionary moment and fight for socialism—the only way to assure lasting peace. 

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