War is an inhuman abhorrence and can never be justified. As our Italian Constitution fathers and mothers had wisely understood, war cannot be considered a solution to resolve international disputes. Problems must be solved differently and we are committed to that. Firstly, because the level of suffering produced by the war is inhuman and is paid above all by the weakest people, from the elderly to children and women, to whom gender-based violence is added to that of armed conflict. Secondly, because in addition to suffering and terror, war generates hatred, it tends to reproduce itself, destroying politics, democracy and freedom. War generates war, and it is the greatest aberration produced to humans, a kind of cannibalism on an industrial scale. War is the negation of humanity. That’s why we are against war, always. War must be fought at its root, but it must be analysed in its causes – causes, not reasons – and in its multiple effects. Understanding war to build peace, a lasting, perpetual peace, is our goal. With this look we look at the ongoing wars.
Putin’s War and his Accomplices
On 24 February 2022, the Russian army invaded Ukraine militarily. As we have repeated a thousand times, this is a wrong and criminal choice that has dramatically aggravated the problems of the area and that opens the risk of the Third World War.
This war, guilty of Putin’s Russia, is unjustifiable. This crime turns other subjects into saints, as the Western propaganda would like: Putin has many accomplices because the problems in the area have worsened and have been deliberately rotted by the West: firstly, the President of the United States, in the company of the leading group of Nato, the European Union and the governments of the western nations.
In 1989 the United States won the Cold War and in 1991 – against the explicit guarantee by the US government not to extend Nato to the East – the Warsaw Pact was dissolved. In violation of the agreements, in 1997 Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic joined Nato and in March 1999, with a new qualitative leap, the first military operation carried out by Nato, with the bombing of Serbia, was carried out. An action carried out in total violation of international legality, without authorization of the UN Security Council and on the basis of the international legal concept of “humanitarian interference”.
From that turning point, the United States, after the Vietnam war, once again attacked sovereign countries militarily outside any international legality, building its own consensus on the manipulation of reality. Just think of the aggression against Iraq based on the lie of the possession of weapons of mass destruction by Tony Blair and Colin Powel. Similarly, Nato continued to absorb the countries of the Old Warsaw Pact and Ukraine’s entry into Nato (included in the Constitution after the 2014 coup) would be the last piece of a real military encirclement of Russia. That this situation undermines the security of the area, even a child understands it. That is, the United States and Nato won the cold war but did not seek peace, did not want to build a new world balance, but used the collapse of the Ussr only to dominate the whole world. It is clear that this situation is a source of conflict.
Putin’s second group of accomplices are successive Ukrainian governments and presidents after 2014. The Minsk Agreements, which were supposed to guarantee a precarious coexistence between the separatist republics of Donbas and the Ukrainian State, have been constantly violated by the military aggression of the Ukrainian army and, in particular, of the Nazi militias. The different presidents who have succeeded in these years have never had the will to stop the military actions against the Donbas and even the Azov Battalion has been incorporated within the Ukrainian Republican Guard. This military aggression – it cost more than 14,000 dead – added to the outlawing of several opposition parties – from the Ukrainian Communist Party that had more than 15% of the consensus – to violent action by Nazi squads across the country and the abolition of Russian as the country’s official language. The Ukrainian governments, after the coup of 2014, have fueled a civil war that is dragging against the inhabitants of the eastern part of the country and penalizing the populations of native Russian speakers.
The reaction of Western countries
Let us now look at the characteristics and objectives of the war unleashed by the United States and the West in reaction to Putin’s. Indeed, it is clear at this time that there are two wars. The war initiated by Putin challenged the power of the United States, but it could be addressed and managed as a regional conflict. The knots relating to the security of Russia, Ukraine and the solution of the civil war that has been going on for years in Ukraine could and can be composed through mediation, as we and the Pope have maintained throughout these months. On the other hand, Germany tried to reach a compromise in December, which proposed a negotiated solution, rejected by the United States and Ukraine. A compromise can and must be sought today to end the war.
On the contrary, the United States, followed by the Western ruling classes, did not seek an agreement that would put an end to the conflict, but unleashed a world war – economic, media, military – which risks leading every day to a direct – and therefore nuclear – confrontation between Nato and Russia. This war moves mainly on three levels:
– Trade sanctions. They are very broad and aim to bankrupt Russia, reducing the standard of living of the population in order to provoke a massive uprising against the government or even its dissolution. Famine is to stir. These measures are based mainly on the indefinite interruption of economic relations between Europe and Russia. Europe is thus the spearhead of this economic offensive and is destined to pay the highest prices, with strong recessive effects on its economy.
– The information war. The major Western media were recruited just like the Russians. The abandonment of all professional ethics is the rule of shameful regime information. On the one hand, any statement by the Ukrainian government and Nazi militias is repeated by the Western press without any verification. On the other hand, Russia’s request to form an independent UN commission of inquiry into the Bucha massacre was blocked by Britain without any problem in the militarized press. The information became a fairly centralized propaganda system based in the United States. Anyone who thinks differently is criminalized in the name of democracy.
– The armed war. To date it is carried out by proxy, with the Ukrainian government employing adult men as soldiers under martial law, often under the supervision of Nato instructors. The supply of arms is on the rise and has already crossed the border of Nato’s direct engagement – and incidentally, of Italy – in the conflict. The US strategy, announced by Clinton since early March, is to turn Ukraine into a new Afghanistan, bogging Putin in a very costly war of attrition. It is a criminal choice, first of all, against the Ukrainian people, which are used as slaughter meat in a proxy war.
It seems clear to me that while the war unleashed by Putin could be averted with compromise and can be stopped with a negotiation, the war unleashed by Biden is made to last, as demonstrated by America’s huge arms allocations. America’s goal is not peace, but the continuation of a non-nuclear war that uses the willingness of the Ukrainian government to use its people and its country to bleed Russia into blood.
Biden’s War to Maintain American Rule
It is a question of understanding why the United States and its allies have adopted this position. It is clear to me that the United States has wanted this escalation because it does not accept that its sovereign power be questioned. We have seen how, after having achieved the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the United States has conquered military leadership at the global level. They obviously do not tolerate Russia calling this situation into question. But it is not just about that. The point is that in these 30 years that separate us from the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world has become much more multipolar: in economic, technological, financial and military terms. The United States remains the greatest power, but in no way can they be considered the hegemonic power or endowed with a position of effective domination over others.
Thus, the decision of the United States is, for all intents and purposes, the aggressive decision of a superpower that sees its global leadership decline. If the world after World War II was bipolar and after the fall of the Berlin Wall was unipolar, it is evident that today it is multipolar. Biden’s war represents the attempt of the United States to restore a role of absolute sovereignty on a global scale in a new objectively polycentric context. It is therefore a deliberate act of force that Biden summed up on March 21: “There will be a new world order and we must guide it”.
Biden’s tactical objectives
Biden’s war has Putin’s Russia as its immediate competitor, but its strategic objective is the confirmation and restoration of America’s unipolar command over the entire world. This restoration of unipolar domination is articulated in the attempt to destabilize Russia, to turn Europe against Russia, to contain and threaten China. All this by making Europeans pay for human sacrifices, destruction and the economy.
As for Russia, there is no doubt that Biden’s line is that of its far-reaching destabilization, which can range from the removal of Putin to the disintegration of Russia itself. This objective is not the only one. We see the other objectives better.
– Threaten China and put pressure on it. After the phase of economic confrontation opened by Trump, the new US administration accentuated the elements of military confrontation. Let’s look briefly.
The Heads of State and Government forming the Nato Council, at the request of the United States, on 14 June 2021 in Brussels, for the first time in history have decided to include China “among the great systemic challenges for global security”.
As if that were not enough, at the meeting of Nato Foreign Ministers from 6 to 7 April last, the ministers of the United States’ main allies in the Pacific were also invited – Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea – and in the statement of the Secretary General at the end of the meeting, the Chinese danger was given a space of little less than that of the war with Russia…
Also on that occasion, President Stoltenberg affirmed that Nato would consider China for the first time in its new defense strategy to be made public at the end of June 2022 in Madrid. The Nato summit extended to the countries of the Pacific that are not part of it, was repeated on April 26, 2022 while we closed this editorial, always with the aim of putting pressure on China. It is clear that China is today considered the main enemy by the United States, which is working to deploy the entire Nato in this position.
– Relaunching Nato by changing its objectives and forcing European countries to pay for arms… After years of discussions between Trump and European leaders, in which even the utility of Nato was questioned, Biden used Putin’s war to practice a decisive turn in order to revitalize Nato as a global gendarme – also against China – forcing Europeans to finance the whole operation. The Nato created as a defensive alliance in opposition to the Warsaw Pact does not exist for a long time and today it is relaunched as an instrument of global domination over the planet and is characterized by being the main instrument of integration and “discipline” of European countries to the hegemonic will of the United States.
– Weakening Europe economically and politically. It is not today that the United States considers Europe a competitor, just think of Trump’s polemics with the European Union and in particular with Germany because of its persistent trade imbalance with the United States.
Similarly, only a few months ago the United States piloted a “theft of orders” of 3 nuclear submarines that France was to build for Australia and that were “passed” to the most faithful Britain. The good Macron has nothing left to complain but without raising his voice too much because this dragged conflict is covered by rivers of rhetoric. For the United States, Europe must take its place, without any desire to act autonomously in the world, even if only to protect its interests.
– To point out to all the countries of the world that there is only one superpower and that it is capable, today as yesterday, of intervening, economically, financially and if it serves militarily, to discipline the riotous.
The first effects: Europe’s suicide
Biden’s most notable success was in Europe, which readily enlisted in the war against itself. The first symbolic act was the definitive installation in the attic of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, followed by a policy of economic boycott that essentially deprives Europe of the background of hydrocarbons and raw materials hitherto represented by Russia. Thirty-three years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the European Union has agreed to build a wall along the entire eastern border, which represents a considerable economic and political weakening.
This choice of European ruling classes, in a few days has seriously compromised – if not cancelled – the objectives of political, economic and financial autonomy that, after the Covid pandemic, Merkel and Macron had indicated as necessary.
If Trump was sometimes arguing with Merkel, Biden has so far found only obedient executors, particularly in the Italian government which has a position of shameful submission to the United States. The European Union has committed suicide because instead of trying to stop Putin’s war it has accepted to be part of the Biden war in which it has everything to lose.
The President of the United States has achieved a double success, on the one hand by subjecting the European Union to his will to restore world domination and – at the same time – by structurally weakening it both economically and politically. It is no coincidence that Boris Johnson, at the beginning of April, was praised for “this European Union”, with which “now you can talk” because it has nothing to do with the previous one, from which the United Kingdom came out.
This choice – if confirmed in the coming months – would constitute Biden’s main geopolitical success. For the moment, the minuscule signs of European rethinking are clearly flooded by military supply options at risk of World War III. The European subordination, in addition to the strategic repercussions, is destined to produce a strong recession in Europe, with risks of reducing the size of the productive apparatus. If there is no change in this direction, the breakdown of economic relations with Russia and the strong risk of a reduction in relations with China, it would also roll back the role of the euro as a reserve currency. The European regression and the social crisis that will arise from it is, therefore, until today, the main objective realized by the open war by the United States.
The boomerang effect of Biden’s war on the rest of the world
If Europe put its helmet on itself, much of the rest of the world was frightened by the American choice. This situation has given rise to a gigantic boomerang effect and the main players worldwide are making decisions very different from those expected by Uncle Sam.
First, the US action has led to a clear rapprochement between Russia and China. Although China condemned the Russian invasion, it strongly underlined the role of the United States and Nato in destabilizing the area and did not join in any way the Biden war in economic, financial, informative or military terms. It is clear that the Chinese Government thinks that the United States, having settled its accounts with Russia, intends to regulate them. The common interest in self-defense against US aggression is therefore the basis of an unprecedented convergence between China and Russia. This rapprochement is unprecedented in history and finds its basis precisely in the global threat posed by the U.S. with its determination to maintain by authoritarian and military means an income position that no longer has any basis in world economic and geopolitical reality.
This mutual defensive interest is destined to expand because the complementarity of China and Russia is very strong: Russia has intercontinental atomic missiles and raw materials while China has factories and technologies. Looking up you can glimpse the relation between geopolitical data and a decisive phenomenon for humanity: climate change.
First, Russia is by far the largest country in the world in the northern hemisphere and is already the world’s largest wheat producer. Under climate change, Siberia is becoming progressively cultivable, giving Russia the chance to conquer absolute leadership in food production worldwide. Since Russia has arable land and China population and capital, it is easy to imagine what can happen in a context of positive relations between these two giants.
Second, global warming is making navigable the sea routes that pass through northern Russia. For China, this is a fact of enormous interest. This is not just a drastic reduction in transit times from South-East Asia to Europe – of the order of 40% – but the acquisition of a route removed from US military control that completely ignores the Indonesian funnel, true bottleneck of Chinese shipping traffic.
Therefore, Biden and the US administration have provided a symbolically decisive reason – the Russian and Chinese interest in the mutual defense against American aggression – to build a never-realized cooperation between the two giants. The United States in a single blow has convinced the ruling classes and the public opinion of China and Russia about the opportunity of a cooperation that is probably destined – in case humanity does not commit suicide with the third world war – to radically change the balance of the world and its own centre of gravity.
Not only has China distanced itself from the United States. It is emblematic that the vote on the resolution adopted at the UN General Assembly on 2 March saw the abstention of India and South Africa with half of the African countries. From the point of view of the world’s population, the governments that have aligned themselves with the United States represent only 41% of the world’s population. This is an alarm signal that received an even more striking response at the UN General Assembly on 25 March. In that case, on a motion put forward by South Africa – and which Ukraine asked not to vote – Saudi Arabia with all the Gulf countries and Brazil also spoke out against the Ukrainian indication supported by the United States and the EU. Most Latin American countries abstained. On 3 April, on the exclusion of Russia from the Human Rights Council – presided over by Saudi Arabia, a country notoriously respectful of human rights, as well as being a protagonist for years of a war against Yemen -, disagreement with the US position has been further expanded.
These are new cuts and not small ones, which have greatly worried the United States that – for now – have responded with the usual carrot-and-stick system and a whirlwind round of “Anglo-American” visits to various recalcitrant countries, starting with India. In any case, India will not have been pleased to be cited by the United States as a country that does not respect human rights and be threatened by the fact that greater alignment with Russian positions would bring “significant and long-term consequences”. In this context, however, India has speculated on an increase in Russian oil imports that would be paid in rupees instead of dollars. I do not go any further in the analysis of geopolitical changes in order not to overload this already large editorial. In short, the American action not only scared China, but also other nations, which resulted in a significant narrowing of its sphere of consensus.
I may be wrong, but I believe that this fact is not a contingent and is not linked solely to the fate of the war in Ukraine. If the Atlantic Ocean was the world’s centre of gravity in the XIX century and since the end of the same century it has become the Pacific Ocean, it is not said that in the next phase, in a polycentric world, a significant role cannot be played by the continent and in particular that Asia, which has strong connections with Africa and – potentially – with Europe and gives life to that gigantic set of emerging lands that geographers call the “Ancient Continent”.
He who of coin wounds…
A further boomerang effect that the US war has had on the very important field of monetary relations.
As is well known, the US dollar acts as the world’s reference currency in terms of trade and – to a lesser extent – in terms of foreign exchange reserves. This function is carried out by the dollar since 1944 when the United States imposed it in the Bretton Woods agreements after defeating the position of Keynes who wanted to introduce an international “autonomous” currency, called Bancor. Over the decades, the ways of exercising this function have been different (in 1971 Nixon abolished the fixed conversion rate between the dollar and gold), but the central role of the fiduciary currency has remained indisputable.
In a world in which the US economy is weighing less and less, the pressures to overcome this situation have increased. Biden’s war struck a decisive blow to destabilize this system. In fact, if the blockade with which the United States has strangled Cuba for more than 60 years or the theft of gold from the Venezuelan Central Bank by the Bank of England have been criminal acts that, however, have not questioned the system, the magnitude of the actions carried out in recent months have a much more important systemic effect.
On the one hand, the embargo of more than 600 billion dollars that the Central Bank of Russia has in its bank accounts abroad greatly mortgages the credibility of the use of the dollar as a reserve currency. Similarly, the set of embargoes and sanctions determines the practical impossibility of Russia using the dollar as an international currency. For example, Russia is obliged to sell its gas in rubles simply because, otherwise, any payments made in dollars or euros at Western banks would be immediately seized. This would be tantamount to Russia giving away its own gas.
In other words – in a situation where economic and financial power relations were already crunching the monopolistic role of the dollar in international trade – the measures taken by the United States in the war produced a real crisis of the previous situation.
The United States thought it could “bend” the Russian government by this decision. The effect is that Russians are forced to look for alternatives to the use of the dollar and those who did not support the dollar’s income position have shown interest in reaching agreements with Russia. In other words, in my opinion, the United States have overestimated its economic – financial strength (which for years is based on the monopoly of military force worldwide) and risk losing the enormous advantage of having the official currency of international exchanges. To be clear about what the United States runs, just keep in mind that by issuing a currency that is assumed by all as stable, they can print as much as they want and – ultimately – they do not have to pay their debts. If the people of the United States can live far beyond their real possibilities, if the United States can have had a deficit trade balance for decades, it is because the rest of the world finances them. In the new millennium, China financed them by selling goods to the United States and buying – with the dollars received in exchange for the goods – US state bonds. The war has introduced a radical crisis factor of this mechanism. The tendency to reduce the monopoly of the green note in the management of international trade – a role that will not end overnight – has been accelerated by sanctions against Russia, and this trend will negatively affect the standard of living of the people of the United States.
This is not a phenomenon destined to take place in a few months, but the dynamics of the Biden war has produced the rupture of an unstable balance and the new point of equilibrium will not be in continuity with the old but qualitatively different. From this point of view, the sale of Russian oil and gas in rubles or the fact that Saudi Arabia is speculating to sell oil to China in yuan (25% of Arab production is bought from China) may be the snowball that determines the avalanche. The Bretton Woods era is coming to an end and with it questions the privileged position that the American people have had by appropriating the fruits of the work of others. A situation is opening up which destabilises that country and increases its danger on a global scale. Let us not forget the convulsions experienced by the United States in the Trump case, but I cannot here open this other chapter.
I finish this long editorial summarizing the basic thesis. To the criminal regional war launched by Putin, the United States has responded with a global criminal war. This situation threatens every day to lead to the Third World War.
The context in which this happens is the attempt of the United States to maintain the unipolar domination of the world in a situation in which this domination no longer has military, economic, financial or technological justification. The Biden war has achieved the desired objectives on the European side, both as regards the breakdown of relations between the European Union and Russia and as regards the radical questioning of European autonomy.
In the rest of the world, on the contrary, the action of the United States has generated a significant boomerang effect, determining a major strategic convergence between Russia and China and a strong distancing from the United States by countries we had once called “non-aligned”. Biden’s strategy has so far failed to pull the United States out of its declining global power. The risk of the Third World War is implicit in the protection with which the United States does not want to renounce its position of domination.
Indeed, it is clear that the foreseeable failure of Biden’s attempt to maintain a situation of domination and of imperial-type standard of living – in a context in which it no longer has the structural elements on which to rely – greatly increases the risks of world war and highlights that today the United States is by far the greatest danger to world peace.
Four pillars seem to me to be the basis for our political and cultural action.
1. First, for us, the world must be governed by multipolar cooperation. We do not want American unipolar domination, nor do we consider a world divided into two opposing economic-imperial blocs positive. In this context, it is necessary to clarify the disengagement of Europe from the subordination to the United States, aware that a balanced world must see a balance between macro global areas.
Our goal is a multipolar world based on cooperation. Only a new humanism, founded on the equal development of humanity in its relationship with nature, can enable the human species to civilly overcome the goal of the twenty-first century. On the basis of this new humanism, we must redefine adversaries and allies. I hope not to scandalize anyone by highlighting how militarism, in its nationalist or “humanitarian” versions – constitutes the greatest adversary and that the humanist zeal of Pope Francis I consider it part of this great prospect of transformation.
The struggle for equal economic cooperation, peace and the protection of nature are three aspects of a single objective. They cannot be solved separately. That’s why we think that capitalism has exhausted its driving force and that socialism today is a necessity. That’s why we think that overcoming capitalism is a necessity to guarantee a future for humanity.
2. Secondly, we must be carriers of a pacifism founded both in the ethical-moral instances and in the material and social instances. We must build an anti-war movement based both on the humanist zeal of moral ethics and on the intransigent defense of the material interests of the popular strata. War kills and war impoverishes, war is death, war is hunger and poverty.
The contrast – propagated by the universe of the main media – between the head and the belly, according to which the confrontation of ideas would be guided by noble ideals but then the harsh material reality forces us to inhumane choices to meet our needs. It is baseless nonsense. Today humanity is capable of producing much more than what is needed to live and of doing so in ways compatible with the protection of the environment. It is capitalist relations that artificially provoke a polarization between scarcity for billions of people and mad waste for millions of rich people in a context of environmental destruction. Lawrence’s textile workers asked for bread and roses in the demonstrations in which they opposed the bosses’ power in the early 20th century. The bread and roses we want today because the nutrition of the body and the spirit as well as the positive relationship with our natural habitat are not a luxury for the few but the necessary possibility for all.
In the struggle to avoid World War III it is necessary to return to the foundations, to the simple but understandable slogans at the mass level as with which Lenin made the revolution in Russia: peace and land to the peasants.
In this perspective, it is therefore necessary to open a mass struggle against war, pollution, the increase of military expenditures, that is, the famine against capitalism. The effects of war are not only the deaths in Ukraine, but also the hardship, poverty, social suffering of other peoples. Against the war and its consequences, it is necessary to build a mass movement, starting from Italy that will pay hard for the unfortunate elections of the ruling class itself. Against the banker with the helmet and his acolytes we must build a popular social alignment against war, inequalities and the destruction of the environment. Ethical pacifism and environmentalism must merge in the fight against war based on social justice.
3. Thirdly, it must be stressed that the interests of the Italian people and the peoples of Europe do not coincide with those of the American leaders and Nato, from which we must emerge. In this context, it is necessary to open a frontal confrontation in Europe in order to build an economic, political and geostrategic autonomy. Europe’s destiny does not end in the Atlantic dimension, but must look to the Urals, to the Middle East, to Africa. In this context, the proposal for a neutral Europe, capable of developing international dialogue, is the fundamental point on which our political proposal. It is not an easy process and it is not conceivable that it should be a linear process: today it is necessary to counter and boycott the process of militarisation of Europe under the aegis of Nato and, to that end, every unilateral act by each country is welcome. The priority today is to prevent the closing of the circle of an enlisted West behind the imperialist command of the United States. It would be the worst reactionary, barbaric, dangerous and destructive aggregate that humanity’s history has ever seen.
4. Fourthly, we must make a thorough fight against the manichaeism of the dominant ideology which reduces everything to a football match: by which of the two supporters? So, the war is presented as the need to choose between Putin and Biden as if those two criminals were not simply two sides of the same coin. They want to enlist all of us in the war, convincing us that it is necessary to take sides when, instead, the only real option is to defect and build the alternative, peace, negotiation, dialogue. This typecasting of reality and alternatives within the options that their lords like is one of the fundamental problems of the political imaginary of our time. For years politics has been kidnapped and reduced to a pure simulation of itself in the construction of a bipolarism of convenience that always expels the issue of the alternative. They want you to believe that you have to choose between right and left center when they share almost all of the background options. The Covid case has also been used to produce a manichean division in the country, which goes far beyond the contingent situation, identifying a part of the population as “internal enemies”, all while multinationals have been disproportionately enriched, public health is destroyed and vaccines remain a mirage in poor countries.
Between killing and dying there is a third way, living. And this approach is a decisive point on which to sustain the possibility of change. The dichotomous alternatives that power gives us are always false alternatives. They are always the choice between frying pan and ember. Our cultural autonomy is based on the ability to ask the right questions, the right alternatives, without accepting the organization of the imaginary made by our adversaries in order to perpetuate their power.
Paolo Ferrero, director of Quistioni, is vice-president of the Party of the European Left. He was national secretary of Partito della Rifondazione Comunista in Italy, and Minister of Welfare in the second Prodi government.