At its 2019 convention, Democratic Socialists of America voted that its International Committee (IC) should produce for members a quarterly newsletter of news and analysis about international events. In our first newsletter of 2022, we discuss the organization’s stance on Ukraine and NATO and how they compare to the global left.
IC Quarterly Analysis – Q1 2022
Period: January–March 2022
Volume 2, Issue 3
The Democratic Socialists of America condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and demands immediate diplomacy and de-escalation to resolve this crisis. We stand in solidarity with the working classes of Ukraine and Russia who will undoubtedly bear the brunt of this war, and with antiwar protestors in both countries and around the world who are calling for a diplomatic resolution.
This extreme and asymmetrical escalation is an illegal act under the United Nations Charter and severely threatens the livelihoods and well-being of working-class peoples in Ukraine, Russia, and across the region. We urge an immediate ceasefire and the total withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine.
There is no solution through war or further intervention. This crisis requires an immediate international antiwar response demanding de-escalation, international cooperation, and opposition to unilateral coercive measures, militarization, and other forms of economic and military brinkmanship that will only exacerbate the human toll of this conflict.
DSA reaffirms our call for the US to withdraw from NATO and to end the imperialist expansionism that set the stage for this conflict. We call on antiwar activists in the US and across the world to oppose violent escalations, demand a lasting diplomatic solution, and stress the crucial need to accept any and all refugees resulting from this crisis. Much of the next ten years are coming into view through this attack. While the failures of neoliberal order are clear to everyone, the ruling class is trying to build a new world, through a dystopic transition grounded in militarism, imperialism, and war. Socialists have a duty to build an alternative.
No war but class war.
Where Does the Global Left Stand on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine?
The Left in the European Parliament, whose co-presidents are Manon Aubry of La France Insoumise and Martin Schirdewan of Die Linke (other member parties include Sinn Fienn, Podemos and Portugal’s Left Block), issued a “strong condemnation of Russia’s invasion as a war of aggression and a grave violation of international law” while also stressing “NATO is not the solution—de-escalation and dialogue is.”
The European Party of the Left, whose members include Die Linke, Portugal’s Left Block, the Austrian Communist Party, and the French Communist Party, stated “The Party of the European Left strongly denounces this decision, which bears a huge threat to the security of not only Ukraine but for Europe and the world. The EL rejects any military threat or aggression against a sovereign state. Ukraine’s territorial integrity and independence should be protected[…] This new war in Europe shows the destabilizing nature of NATO, whose aggressive presence in Europe must be opposed. Russia’s military attack comes as unprovoked aggression that can not be justified in any way.”
Diem 25 said “The solution exists and is simple: No NATO expansion into Ukraine. And an immediate return of Russian troops to Russian soil.”
In the United Kingdom, Keir Starmer threatened members of the Labour Party, including John McDonnel and Diane Abbott, who had signed a Stop the War statement opposing NATO expansion with losing the whip unless they withdraw their endorsements and has similarly threatened any members of the Parliamentary Labour Party who may criticize NATO. Starmer canceled Young Labour’s conference and slashed their funding due to their criticism of NATO.
Jeremy Corbyn, who currently sits as an independent in the House of Commons after Starmer took the Labour whip from him, has continued to back the Stop the War Coalition. Corbyn also tweeted, “Russia’s shocking invasion of Ukraine will inevitably lead to more fear, misery and death. It is a frightening escalation of the ongoing crisis. Russia must withdraw its troops and return to diplomacy. If it does not, dark days are ahead for Ukraine, Russia and all of Europe.”
In Russia, anti-war protesters have taken to the street and been brutally repressed by Russian police.
Why Does DSA Oppose NATO?
DSA’s opposition to NATO has been attacked by everyone to the White House to Keith Olbermann. In fact, the New York Post published three articles about us in one day. And newspapers in the UK and Turkey have also picked up this story.
NATO does not function as a defense pact; it is a conscious effort to integrate European countries into a military structure dominated by the US and regional powers like the UK, France and Germany, oftentimes at the expense of member states’ sovereignty. It has emboldened hardline and rightwing elements within its member states’ own security apparatus and entangled its members in the military adventurism of the US. Its belligerence and continued expansion place working people across continents at grave risk. The United States must withdraw from NATO.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military and political alliance formed in 1947 between 13 primarily Western European countries, the United States and Canada. It was created as a collective defense force to guard against alleged external threats, to undermine the spread of communism, and for the US, to assert military, political and economic predominance in Europe. In 1955, the Soviet Union and other socialist republics in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) formed the Warsaw Pact as an answer to NATO. During the dissolution of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact in 1990, the US Secretary of Defense, James Baker, promised Mikhail Gorbachev, and later Boris Yeltsin, that NATO would not expand into the former socialist republics in CEE, famously stating “not one inch eastward,” in exchange for the reunification of Germany.
Between 1999 and 2020, 14 CEE countries signed onto the Treaty. Article 5 of the Treaty, constituting an attack on any member state as an attack on all, was invoked only once in 2001 in response to September 11. Nevertheless, NATO has engaged in destructive wars outside of its purported mandate, notably in Yugoslavia in 1999 and Libya in 2011, in defense of its members’ strategic interests—Western military expansion, regime change, market liberalization and control over natural resources, primarily energy. DSA opposes NATO, a democratically determined position, for the following reasons:
NATO will lead Americans into foreign wars on Europe’s behalf and has already dragged Europeans into the US’s Forever Wars
By invoking Article 5 after the September 11 attacks, the US involved all 30 member states at the time in the disastrous, 20-year War on Terror in Afghanistan.
NATO waged two deadly wars in which no member state was under attack. In both conflicts, death tolls multiplied due to intervention. Framed as a “humanitarian” intervention in 2011, NATO led the destruction of Libya from which the country has still not recovered. Years later, slaves are sold in open air markets in Libyan port cities. NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 was also premised on humanitarian pretexts. In a 78-day bombing campaign, illegal under international law, NATO committed war crimes against civilians. NATO forces used tons of depleted uranium, irradiated land and caused an environmental and health disaster for tens of thousands.
NATO encourages the militarization of Europe with the “2% rule”
NATO requires that member countries spend 2% of their annual GDP on defense—which is an enormous part of national budget spending. This artificially high floor for a minimum of military spending is dangerous—it encourages militarization of countries that could spend public funds on necessary goods and services that benefit the material needs of their citizens.
NATO is far from a defender of the liberal democratic order
Its membership has included at times military dictatorships in Portugal, Greece and Turkey, in direct contradiction to its purportedly democratic principles. In 1990, judicial inquiries into far-right terror attacks revealed that NATO under the guise of setting up a “stay behind network” had helped establish “clandestine parallel intelligence and armed operations” outside of parliamentary control, and the potential to unlawfully interfere in the domestic politics of member states. The European Parliament passed a resolution criticizing these clandestine NATO services for their undemocratic nature.
The founders of NATO were the principal colonizers in Africa, and NATO contributed to undermining the post-war decolonization efforts by, among other things, stewarding the proliferation of military bases (AFRICOM being a direct continuation), and colluding with apartheid South Africa through clandestine operations and arms sales.
Opposition to NATO is not a new trend
Renowned leftists in the US and Europe, including Noam Chomsky, E.P. Thompson, Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn, Pablo Iglesias and Yanis Varoufakis, have supported abolishing NATO for decades. Numerous former officials in the US military, as well as both conservative and liberal foreign policy experts, have especially opposed its expansion due to the threat to US-Russian relations. They include former CIA Director Robert Gates, former Deputy Secretary of Defense and international relations expert Paul Nitze, veteran diplomat and intellectual father of “containment,” George F. Kennan, and prominent political scientist John Mearsheimer, among many others. Today, the following prominent European leftist parties and anti-war groups oppose NATO:
What Comes After NATO?
Among the parties and anti-war groups that support dismantling NATO there is no consensus on what structures should replace it. Unidas Podemos in Spain and Lewica Razem in Poland advocate replacing NATO with the creation of a standing European Union Army through Common Security and Defense Policy. Die Linke in Germany advocates replacing NATO with a pan-European security architecture that includes Russia.
The DSA IC favors a mutually agreed upon security arrangement between European nations including Russia, and suspects that a European Union Army could reproduce many of the same tensions and conflicts. As mentioned, NATO currently functions as a US-led war machine, enabling Western European powers to wage war over strategic interests, and outside of a defensive mandate. Thus the US should effectively withdraw from NATO, respect European security as a regional matter and work toward constructive diplomacy with Russia.
See Also DSA IC says “No to NATO”
The War in Yemen
The Democratic Socialists of America International Committee (DSA IC) strongly condemns recent Saudi-coalition airstrikes on the Yemeni cities of Hodeidah and Saada, which initial reports indicate have left 87 dead and 266 wounded, in addition to disabling internet access across the country. Several children are among the dead and wounded in the port city of Hodeidah. Our demand to the Biden administration is clear: immediately end all U.S. support for this catastrophic war against the Yemeni people.
Despite public posturing that implied an end to U.S. collaboration in these atrocities, the Biden administration recently completed a deal that delivered $650,000,000 worth of weapons to the Saudi government. Socialists in the United States must bear the responsibility of compelling elected officials in Washington, DC to abandon their support for the wholesale destruction of Yemen and its people.
An Attempted Coup In Honduras?
The Democratic Socialists of America International Committee (DSA IC) stands in solidarity with the democratically elected government of Honduras in their fight against an opposition-led parliamentary coup attempt. Last November, Hondurans went to polls in overwhelming numbers and gave a resounding mandate to a government coalition led by the democratic socialist Partido LIBRE, ousting the post-2009 coup government of the conservative Partido Nacional. DSA IC stands in solidarity with the Honduran people as they call for respect for their democratic institutions and to respect the will of their people.
The DSA IC stands in solidarity with Partido LIBRE, as well as democratically elected president Xiomara Castro de Zelaya in their rightful election of Luis Redondo as president of their National Congress and denounces the cynical attempt from the right wing Partido Nacional to coerce members of the congress to install their own candidate as president of the National Congress. We reject any attempt from outside forces to push Xiomara and Partido LIBRE into any sort of “negotiation” premised on both-sides-being-equal framing.