By David Sole
The Group of 7 (G7) largest capitalist economies in the world (excluding Russia) met in Hiroshima, Japan from May 19 to May 21. The G7 includes the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom. The European Union is also considered part of the organization.
Most reported in the mass media was the appearance of Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky seeking more weapons to continue the proxy war against the Russian Federation at the bidding of the western imperialist powers. U.S. president Joe Biden as well as the other nations’ leaders present pledged further billions of dollars’ worth of military hardware. Biden also reversed his previous position and announced that U.S. made F-16 jet fighters would be transferred to Ukraine.
The promise of F-16s, however, is more symbolic than substantive. These advanced fighter aircraft require extensive training for pilots as well as repair and maintenance personnel. Ukraine’s expected Spring or Summer Offensive cannot benefit from this pledge. In fact the military situation may not give enough time for Ukraine to even deploy any such airplanes into combat. Russia’s air superiority and the depletion of Ukraine’s anti-aircraft missile systems, widely reported, ensure that F-16s cannot be a “game changer” for Ukraine in the war.
The final communique from the G7 Hiroshima summit stated they would “support Ukraine for as long as it takes” despite setbacks on the battlefield, such as the fall of the city of Bakhmut to Russian Federation forces. No sentiment was expressed for a negotiated settlement. Perhaps the G7 leaders are pinning their hopes on a successful “Spring Offensive” for which they have trained tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops and delivered tens of billions worth of tanks, armored fighting vehicles and other armaments.
The military equipment sent to Ukraine was accompanied by a requirement not to use it outside Ukraine’s borders. But on May 22 a reported seventy commandos from Ukraine attacked the Belgorod region of Russia. Photos released by the Russian Defense Ministry, after Russian troops destroyed the attackers, clearly show U.S. made Humvee and MRAP armored vehicles had been used in the raid.
While President Biden and the other G7 leaders appear united to pursue the Ukraine war to the last Ukrainian, a deepening rift is growing among the U.S. ruling class. Some forces have been expressing concern that Ukraine cannot prevail in the war or that Ukraine is diverting U.S. attention to confronting China.
The most recent indication of this was a full page ad in the New York Times on May 16 titled “The U.S. Should Be a Force for Peace in the World.” The ad was signed by fourteen individuals including numerous retired military officers, a former U.S. Ambassador to the USSR and several others.
These officials made perfunctory denunciations of Russia throughout their letter. But their deeper observations deserve close attention. Here are some excerpts:
As Americans and national security experts, we urge President Biden and Congress to use their full power to end the Russia-Ukraine War speedily through diplomacy, especially given the grave dangers of military escalation that could spiral out of control.
The plans and actions to expand NATO to Russia’s borders served to provoke Russian fears. And Russian leaders made this point for 30 years. A failure of diplomacy led to war. Now diplomacy is urgently needed to end the Russia-Ukraine War before it destroys Ukraine and endangers humanity.
U.S. troops were among an Allied invasion force that intervened unsuccessfully against the winning side in Russia’s post-World War I civil war. Russia sees NATO enlargement and presence on its borders as a direct threat.
We consider President Biden’s promise to back Ukraine “as long as it takes” to be a license to pursue ill-defined and ultimately unachievable goals. … We cannot and will not endorse the strategy of fighting Russia to the last Ukrainian.
Deliberate provocations delivered the Russia-Ukraine War. In the same manner, deliberate diplomacy can end it.
U.S. and Western European leaders assured Soviet and then Russian leaders that NATO would not expand toward Russia’s borders. “There would be no extension of…NATO one inch to the east,” U.S. Secretary of State James Baker told Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990. Similar assurances from other U.S. leaders as well as from British, German and French leaders throughout the 1990s confirm this.
Since 2007, Russia has repeatedly warned that NATO’s armed forces on Russian borders were intolerable – just as Russian forces in Mexico or Canada would be intolerable to the U.S. now.
In 1997, fifty senior U.S. foreign policy experts wrote an open letter to President Bill Clinton advising him not to expand NATO, calling it “a policy error of historic proportions.” President Clinton chose to ignore these warnings.
Why did the U.S. persist in expanding NATO despite such warnings? Profit from weapons sales was a major factor. Facing opposition to NATO expansion, a group of neoconservatives and top executives of U.S. weapons manufacturers formed the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO. Between 1996 and 1998, the largest arms manufacturers spent $51 million ($94 million today) on lobbying and millions more on campaign contributions. With this largesse, NATO expansion quickly became a done deal, after which U.S. weapons manufacturers sold billions of dollars of weapons to the new NATO members.
None of these observations are new. But these influential people didn’t express themselves for the first year or more of the Ukraine War, until the prospects for Ukrainian victory faded on the battlefield.
The New York Times also kept the truth from the public as long as possible. The first anti-Ukrainian War commentary didn’t appear in the Times for the first three months of fighting.
The entire U.S. ruling class planned and hoped the fighting would seriously weaken the Russian Federation. Instead the Russians have proven stronger militarily while the U.S. and NATO are struggling to keep up their support for their puppet Zelensky regime.
Economically the sanctions against the Russian Federation have failed and ties between Russia, China, Africa and other nations have strengthened. Meanwhile the U.S. and Europe have been seriously injured by the runaway inflation rate caused in part by these same economic and military war policies.
When factions of a ruling class strongly disagree it often allows the public to take a peek behind the curtain. The letter in the Times shows that the split in the ruling class goes back at least 30 years. The open naming of “a group of neoconservatives and top executives of U.S. weapons manufacturers” by this group is a clear warning that some at the top levels of the ruling class are very worried about a possible catastrophe that could provoke a mass revolt right here at home.
Only such a mass movement, independent of both wings of the ruling class, can assure that the failed policies of capitalism, imperialism and militarism will not continue to ruin the lives of billions of people here and around the world.