The NATO alliance continues to sell itself as a force interested in “security.” This is supposedly what the imperialist powers are discussing at their summit in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 11 and 12. For the working class and oppressed people of the world, and especially in Ukraine and Russia, security couldn’t be further from what this summit has to offer.
As NATO gathers, the war continues in a stalemate of brutal trench warfare. The much anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive has brought few, if any advances for the regime of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the imperialists who back him. Russia has also been unable to advance its reactionary invasion, a factor which contributed to the Wagner mutiny which has exposed weaknesses in President Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Faced with a stalemate on the battlefield, the conclusion NATO’s leaders have drawn is that the way to bring the war to “a diplomatic end” is to demonstrate to Putin that Russia cannot win the war. This means providing even more brutal weapons to mercilessly kill large amounts of workers and fighters in the most nightmarish ways possible.
Ahead of the NATO summit, the Biden administration has moved to send cluster munitions to Ukraine. These are weapons designed to indiscriminately cover a large area in munitions. More than 120 countries, including some of the most unapologetic imperialist powers like France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, have banned the use of these weapons. For a taste of what impact cluster munitions will have on Ukraine and Russia, we can look to Laos, which remains covered in unexploded munitions from U.S. bombings during the Southeast Asia War. These munitions have killed 20,000 Laotians after the end of the war, with a high percentage of victims being children. This devastation is the “security” that NATO powers envision for Ukraine.
The violent “security” that will be discussed at the summit is not confined to plans for the war in Ukraine. Last year’s NATO summit in Madrid was the first time that the alliance set its sights on China, designating the country as a “security challenge.”
The alliance will once again discuss how to contain China’s rise as a global capitalist power. They plan to do this through economic “de-risking” which is really just decoupling at a slower pace.
In other words, after decades of the United States and other Western imperialist powers using the highly exploitable Chinese working class for cheap production, the United States is trying to revitalize its own industrial capacity through protectionist measures and a more exploitable domestic workforce. In order to accomplish this and reduce the country’s reliance on China, Biden needs to win and maintain the support of U.S. businesses and the other imperialist powers, many of which have a lot to lose from such a policy and will resist this pressure.
Along with economic maneuvers, Biden and other imperialist leaders are working to contain China with a military strategy in the Asia-Pacific region. The alliance seeks to open an office in Japan, though the move has temporarily been vetoed by France. However, Japan is still playing a greater role bringing NATO to the Asia-Pacific. Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese announced in June that his country would take up a “much more ambitious” partnership with NATO. The leaders of South Korea and New Zealand are attending the summit along with Albanese and Japan’s Fumio Kishida. The militarization of the Pacific risks inciting a more direct confrontation, with Taiwan as a likely flashpoint.
Workers and Leftists should have no illusions that the emerging China/Russia capitalist bloc is pursuing the interests of the working class. But it is just as essential that workers and the Left see clearly how the aggressive moves of NATO and other imperialist alliances are pushing the capitalist competition towards greater confrontation. These confrontations will bring only more suffering, economic insecurity, and war for workers and oppressed people around the world.
While the NATO leaders smile and shake hands and talk about “security,” we should not be afraid to call a spade a spade, or in this case, a gathering of bloodthirsty class enemies a gathering of bloodthirsty class enemies. NATO has nothing to offer the Ukrainian working class, and the alliance has no way out of the crises and wars that are ingrained in the logic of their vicious capitalist system.
The working class needs to unite against the continuation of this war, across borders and countries, independently of the capitalists and their institutions. If not, it’s more cluster bombings and instability on the agenda.