The war against Russia and cold war with China are both escalating – the US does not want peace

British military escalation - Challenger 2 tanks to fight Russia & Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier sent to South China Sea

By Charlie Wilson

NATO’s latest escalation of arms commitments to Ukraine have to be seen in the light of proposals for dramatic increases in military spending by NATO countries, and other US allies like Japan and Australia.

These are not defensive measures. The US is relentlessly pushing its allies to step up their arms supplies to the war against Russia now and to also increase their military capacity to engage in war with China in the future.

Most immediately the US has dragged the German government further into NATO’s conflict with Russia with the agreement to supply Leopard tanks. Since February last year, the US has been overseeing a steady stepping up of the scale of weapons supplied by NATO states. At each stage more powerful and more deadly NATO armaments are being deployed.

There is no talk of peace negotiations because the US is determined to continue escalating the conflict with Russia, so will persist in exploring further ways of getting even more weapons deployed. So following the recent decision about tank supplies, NATO states are currently discussing the supply of fighter jets, which would be another big escalation if and when it happens.

The proposals for military spending increases of the US and its allies are huge.

  • The US has raised spending to $858 billion this year, up from $778 billion in 2020.
  • In France President Macron has announced an increase from E295 billion for the next seven years to E413 billion.
  • In Germany, spending is already rising sharply, from E53 billion in 2021 to E100 billion in 2022.
  • Japan is set to double its military spending by 2028, the biggest build up since World War 2, which started in Asia in 1931 when Imperial Japan invaded Manchuria. Japan is also debating abandoning its stance against deploying nuclear weapons.

In the UK, the public commitment to increase military spending from 2.1% of GDP to 3% by 2030 from the short-lived Truss administration may have been put on the back burner because of the crisis that administration created. However, the Sunak administration is also committed to raising military spending and it is expected to increase in the next budget. It is already the case that the per capita burden of UK military spending is the third highest in the world.

The Tory government is shifting resources from our crumbling public services to the military. It is in the interests of the overwhelming majority that this shift is opposed.

Unfortunately, the TUC at Congress in October backed a motion supporting an increase in military spending. The congress was almost evenly split on this issue with support for increased military spending squeaking through with a tiny majority (2,556,000 votes for, 2,469,000 against) on a card vote, with some supporting unions like UNITE doing so with “reservations”.

Transferring resources from public services to weapons not only cuts the services, but also cuts the workforce’s wages. It is important to build support for CND’s ‘Wages Not Weapons’ campaign and similar initiatives that explain how the drive to war is contributing to the cost of living crisis.

The current increases in military spending are coming at a time in which European economies are being put under immense strain from the inflation wave created by the US and from the loss of cheap Russian gas and its replacement by expensive US LNG.

Europe’s imperialist states are having to attack the population’s living standards to finance the increases in military spending. The Danish government has decided to scrap a Bank Holiday for workers, to pay for weapons. This decision is opposed by 70% of the Danish electorate and supported by only 17%. A petition against it has been signed by 500,000 people (out of a population of just under 6 million) and it is opposed by the largest trade union confederation, which has 1.3 million members, as well as by churches and others.

It should, by now, be clear, particularly to the entire left, that NATO is fully engaged in a proxy war against Russia. Plus Jens Stoltenburg’s admission that “The reality is also that we have been preparing for this since 2014,” confirms that NATO has been planning this conflict for many years. Whilst Ukraine has not been officially in NATO, for many years NATO has been making war preparations inside Ukraine.

At the beginning of the Ukraine war US writer Meehan Crist noted in the London Review of Books “One of the worst outcomes of the war in Ukraine would be an increasingly militarised response to climate breakdown, in which Western armies, their budgets ballooning in the name of “national security” seek to control not only the outcome of conflicts but the flow of energy, water, food, key minerals and other natural resources. One does not have to work particularly hard to imagine how barbarous that future would be”.

NATO’s war against Russia in Ukraine and military preparations for conflict with China are already undermining the possible action to tackle climate change. The more the US and its allies increase their military aggression and prepare for even greater conflicts, the more dangerous the situation becomes.

The US is leading both the intensification of the current hot war against Russia and also the intensification of the cold war against China. It is in the interests of humanity that everything possible should be done to oppose this war drive. Socialists need to treat this as a priority.

Images used in graphic: 1) HMS Queen Elizabeth, by US Navy photo by Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Bethany Fults /Commander, US Naval Forces Europe-Africa/US 6th Fleet, licensed under Public Domain Mark 1.0, and 2) A Challenger 2 tank on Castlemartin Ranges in Pembrokeshire, Wales fires a ‘Squash-Head’ practice round, by Cpl Si Longworth RLC (Phot)/MOD, licensed under the Open Government Licence version 1.0.