The Biden administration and the Democratic Party are waging a war campaign against Russia that is bringing the entire world to the brink of World War III.
During CNN’s “State of the Union” television interview show, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and leading Republican on the committee, James Risch of the ‘Idaho, appeared side by side to demonstrate the bipartisan unity of the two big business parties against Russia.
Menendez dismissed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s warning that US talk of an imminent Russian invasion of his country was unwarranted. “He wants to create some semblance of calm when it comes to his economy,” the Democrat said, “so I understand that.”
He hailed bipartisan legislation authorizing the Biden administration to impose “the mother of all sanctions…that would ultimately crush the Russian economy, and the continued lethal aid we’re going to send, which means Putin has to decide how much body bags of Russian sons and—the sons are going back to Russia…
“It’s beyond Ukraine,” Menendez warned. “We can’t have a Munich moment again. Putin won’t stop at Ukraine if he thinks the West won’t respond. The leading foreign policy Democrat in Congress was just one of dozens of Democrats comparing Putin to Hitler and advocating measures that lead inexorably to a military confrontation between Russia and the United States, the countries that possess the two largest arsenals of nuclear weapons.
Two interrelated political and social processes are at work in the increasingly hysterical campaign against Russia: 1) The disintegration of the anti-war Democratic Party faction that emerged during and after the Vietnam War; and 2) the pro-imperialist evolution of the affluent middle class, which, beyond Wall Street and the military itself, forms a primary social base for the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party has always been a party of the American capitalist class. A Democrat served as president and commander-in-chief during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the first half of the Vietnam War. But as the mass anti-war movement grew in strength during the 1960s, the Democratic Party assumed the role of co-opting and containing anti-war sentiment within bourgeois politics.
A sizable faction of the Democratic Party has spoken out against the Vietnam War, associated with such figures as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman James Fulbright (Arkansas); Indiana Senator Vance Hartke; Minnesota Senator and 1968 presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy; Idaho Senator Frank Church; Connecticut Senator Abe Ribicoff; and Tennessee Senator Al Gore, Sr. In 1972, South Dakota Senator George McGovern won the Democratic Party’s nomination for president on an anti-war agenda.
Senator Church headed the Church Committee, established in 1975 to investigate abuses and illegal activities by US intelligence agencies around the world. Even in the 1980s, most Democrats opposed US military intervention against the Nicaraguan revolution and other radical movements in Central America. As recently as January 1991, 45 Democrats in the Senate voted against the resolution authorizing George HW Bush to launch the first Gulf War against Iraq, just enough to ensure its passage by a 52-47 margin.
The administration of Bill Clinton (1993-2001) marked a significant turning point. Clinton chose Al Gore Jr., one of ten Democratic senators who had voted for the Gulf War, as his running mate, and his administration used military force aggressively in Bosnia, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, in Sudan, Somalia and Haiti. When Gore became the Democratic presidential nominee in 2000, he chose another hawkish senator, Joe Lieberman, as his running mate.
In 2002, when the Authorization to Use Military Force was introduced in the Senate to authorize the administration of George W. Bush to wage a second American war against Iraq, the balance within the Democratic Party shifted. was reversed.
The vote among Senate Democrats was 29 to 21 in favor of the resolution, down from 45 to 10 against the equivalent resolution in 1991. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which backed the resolution and managed its passage, was Joe Biden of Delaware. – now the US President. When mass anti-war protests erupted, in America and around the world, the Democratic Party turned its back on them and embraced the war campaign of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell.
Two more important steps to the right followed. During the 2008 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama repeatedly attacked Hillary Clinton over her 2002 vote for the war in Iraq. He kept quiet about his own close ties to US intelligence agencies, which personified the deep ties between the Democratic Party and the Wall Street-military-intelligence complex.
President Obama quickly abandoned Candidate Obama’s anti-war rhetoric, using American military power just as aggressively as previous administrations. He escalated the war in Afghanistan as he withdrew from Iraq at the pace imposed by Bush, and launched new wars through NATO in Libya and through Islamic proxies in Syria and Yemen. Obama then sent US forces back to Iraq against ISIS. US forces have waged drone missile warfare on an ever-widening geographic scale, from Pakistan to Central Asia and the Middle East and across North Africa.
The Obama administration was part of a larger rise within the Democratic Party of candidates drawn from intelligence agencies and the military, that the World Socialist Website call the CIA democrats.
The latest chapter in the Democratic Party’s abandonment of any pretense of opposition to war came during the Trump administration. The main, if not the only, axis of Democratic opposition to Trump was the anti-Russian campaign, based on the false claim that Trump was either a Russian stooge or an outright agent of Vladimir Putin. That campaign led to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which turned up no evidence, and then Trump’s first impeachment, based on his pressure on Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Bidens. by withholding a shipment of American weapons, which has long disrupted the execution of American plans to escalate the conflict with Russia.
Parallel to and linked to the transformation of the Democratic Party is the pro-imperialist turn that has taken place in the middle class, in particular in its most privileged strata. As it emerged in the 1960s, the anti-war movement was dominated by sections of the middle class, especially on campuses. The end of military conscription in 1973 was part of a broader strategy by the ruling class to integrate parts of the middle class into the political establishment, including by cultivating identity politics.
Beyond the corporate and financial aristocracy, part of the upper middle class – the wealthiest 5 or 10 percent of American society – grew wealthier during the four decades of the Wall Street boom, which depends on the dominant global position of American capitalism. The Balkan war of the 1990s, promoted by the Clinton administration as a war for “human rights”, marked a turning point. As the WSWS wrote at the time:[begin indent]
The objective modus operandi and social implications of the protracted stock market boom have enabled imperialism to recruit among sections of the upper middle class a new, dedicated constituency. The reactionary, conformist and cynical intellectual climate that prevails in the United States and Europe – promoted by the media and adapted by a largely servile and corrupt academic community – reflects the social vision of a highly privileged layer of the population which is not not in the least interested in encouraging a critical examination of the economic and political bases of his newly acquired riches.[end indent]
These social processes find their reflection in all the official institutions of the ruling class. In the media, there is not a single voice questioning, let alone opposing, the official government lies used to justify the war on Russia from a leftist perspective. There is no equivalent to CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, who declared his opposition to the Vietnam War following the Tet Offensive in 1968. In well-paid media thinkers, as well as in the privileged strata of the university milieu, imperialism finds an absolutely devoted public.
Pseudo-left organizations like the Democratic Socialists of America play a central role in supporting US imperialism and channeling opposition behind the Democratic Party. The Liberal Magazine American perspective reported this weekend that in response to questions about US policy in Ukraine, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib declined to answer or not. did not return calls.
Such transformations are a worldwide phenomenon. In Germany, the Green Party, formed by environmentalists and anti-war activists in the 1970s, finally came to power as part of a coalition government in 1998, and Green Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer a former radical “street fighter”, led the dispatch of troops into the former Yugoslavia in the first deployment of German forces outside the country since the Third Reich. Similar political metamorphoses took place in France, Great Britain, Italy, Canada, Australia, Spain and other countries.
The opposition to the war is and must be centered on the working class. Opinion polls show overwhelming popular opposition to US intervention in any military operation in Ukraine or Eastern Europe. But this opposition finds no expression in the official American two-party system. The struggle against imperialist war cannot be led by the Democratic Party or by any of the institutions of the capitalist political establishment. It requires the independent mobilization of the working class, on the basis of a socialist and internationalist program.