[Marxism] Crisis in Ukraine: Imperialism pushes to the East (Fwd from Workers World)

Octob1917 at aol.com Octob1917 at aol.com
Tue Dec 7 17:47:57 MST 2004

> By Fred Goldstein
> The political crisis in Ukraine is not about electoral fraud. It is not
> because the Ukrainian presidential election runoff on Nov. 21 "did not
> live up to international standards," as U.S. Secretary of State Colin
> Powell declared. If capitalist elections had to live up to such
> standards, Bush would not have been president in 2000; he would not have
> won Ohio and a host of other states in 2004.
> The political crisis in Ukraine is about Western imperialism, headed by
> the U.S. ruling class, manipulating the political process and
> maneuvering among the different factions of the Ukrainian bourgeoisie.
> The goal is to open the floodgates for U.S. and European corporations to
> exploit this rich and strategically located country, to weaken Russia by
> breaking up its political and economic ties with Ukraine, and to
> accelerate Kiev's movement towards NATO.
> On a broader political and strategic level, this election dispute is
> about imperialism's relentless march to the East, the encirclement of
> Russia and the attempt to reduce it to a neocolony. It is a dangerous,
> incendiary, aggressive move that is being orchestrated far beyond the
> Bush administration. In fact, when the list of institutions involved in
> this subversive putsch is laid out, it constitutes a broad section of
> the mainstream bourgeoisie, many of whom were opposed to Bush and his
> adventurist foreign policy.
> The Carnegie Institute for International Peace, George Soros's Open
> Society Institute, Freedom House and the National Endowment for
> Democracy (CIA) are in it, among others. The subversive organizations of
> the European imperialists must be also be added to the list.
> They have created PORA, the so-called "student" organization on the
> model of Otpor in Serbia and Kmara in Georgia. They mobilized thousands
> of "poll watchers" and agitators and propagandists to prepare for the
> election. They organized a strategy of "exit polls" which put their man,
> Viktor Yushchenko, ahead by 11 percent; this then became the media event
> and the axis of all sorts of destabilizing accusations. They organized
> election campaign slogans, logos, campaign squads, and so on. 
> Yushchenko's Our Ukraine movement and the Kiev Press Club are both
> funded by Washington's National Endowment
> for Democracy, which in turn is a conduit for the CIA. This and more has
> been documented by Michel Chossudovsky (www.globalresearch.ca) and by
> Ian Trainor in the British newspaper Guardian of Nov. 26.
> The imperialist "moderates" are saying to Bush, look what your adventure
> in Iraq cost and look where it got us. We will show you how to take over
> a rich, strategic country of nearly 50 million without creating such a
> mess. The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld group are completely preoccupied with
> Iraq, Iran, the Middle East in general and Korea, and how to salvage
> their situation. Colin Powell, their connection to the mainstream ruling
> class, is managing the Ukraine situation as his last act before leaving.
> Imperialist move to the East
> The movement to the East began with the overthrow of the Polish
> socialist government by the CIA, which created the Solidarity movement
> through its stooge, Lech Walesa. It climaxed with the destruction of the
> USSR and all the socialist countries of Eastern Europe. 
> It then continued with the Yugoslav war of 1999, followed by the
> "peaceful" overthrow of the government of Slobodan Milosevic and the
> takeover of Serbia. Washington then moved to oust its former ally,
> Eduard Shevardnadze, in Georgia and put in a completely U.S.-educated
> puppet, Mikhail Saakashvili. It failed in its attempt to overthrow the
> government of Belarus. And now the imperialists are on to Ukraine.
> Ukraine borders on Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Moldova,
> Romania, the Black Sea and the Sea of Avov. It has 48 million people. It
> was a colony during the tsarist empire. 
> Its eastern portion emerged from the civil war after the Bolshevik
> Revolution as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. It became part of
> the original Soviet Union, formed in 1922. 
> The western Ukraine was part of capitalist Poland until 1940; it was
> invaded and occupied by the Nazi imperialists as part of their offensive
> against the USSR in 1941. It lost 7 million people at the hands of the
> Nazis. Resistance developed after the initial Nazi invasion destroyed
> large units of the Red Army.
> Under the planned economy of the USSR, Ukraine was transformed from a
> primarily agricultural and mining region to an industrial power second
> only to Russia within the framework of the USSR. The planned economy
> made it possible to recover from the vast devastation of World War II.
> After the collapse of the USSR and the restoration of capitalism, the
> new bourgeois leadership declared it "independent" and moved towards
> dependence on the West. Production collapsed by over 50 percent. Over 30
> percent of the population was soon living in poverty. Social benefits
> were trimmed and Ukraine, like all the post- Soviet countries that fell
> victim to capi¬talist restoration, became a land of insecurity for the
> workers and the peasants.
> But it is a land still coveted by the transnational corporations. A
> description of Ukraine by an internet think tank, globalsecurity.com,
> tells a lot. 
> "Endowed with good natural resources, superb agricultural land, a
> well-educated population, ethnic peace and a strategic location in
> Europe, Ukraine was positioned to be one of the most successful of the
> former Soviet states in attracting foreign investment needed to
> restructure its economy," reads the study.
> "Ukraine is rich in natural resources. It has a major ferrous metal
> industry, coke, mineral fertilizers and sulfuric acid. Manufactured
> goods include airplanes, turbines, metallurgical equipment, diesel
> locomotives and tractors. It also is a major producer of grain,
> sunflower seeds and sugar and has a broad industrial base, including
> much of the former USSR's space and rocket industry. Although oil and
> natural gas reserves are small, it has important energy sources such as
> coal, and large mineral deposits, and is one of the world's leading
> energy transit countries, providing transportation of Russian and
> Caspian oil and gas across its territory."
> This description is enough to have stockholders, CEOs, Wall Street
> brokers, bankers and the entire global fraternity of profit-seeking
> capitalist parasites drooling at the mouth. After all, these resources
> and all the economic infrastructure developed and built up over
> generations by the working class under the socialist system are now
> there for the taking.
> But so-called "oligarchs" in Ukraine are not cooperating fast enough.
> Many of them are trying to take all the loot for themselves. And therein
> lies the axis of the crisis in Kiev.
> The term oligarchs has come to mean the robber capitalists who have used
> their political connections to lawlessly appropriate formerly socialist
> property, usually at bargain-basement prices. It is a term of opprobrium
> used in the capitalist press. And it is fitting. But it ill behooves the
> biggest oligarchs of all to use that term-the ones at Citibank, J.P.
> Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and the Fortune 500, who not only use
> political influence to steal the resources of entire countries, but use
> the CIA and the Pentagon to get by subversion and military force what
> they cannot get legally and peacefully.
> Imperialism vs. indigenous capitalists
> The fierce struggle for the post of president between the present prime
> minister, Viktor Yanukovych, and the former prime minister, Viktor
> Yushchenko, cannot be understood on a strictly national, Ukrainian
> scale. The big business media are trying to cast it in terms of

> democracy versus corruption and the nationalist Ukrainian west versus
> the Russian-speaking east. But the struggle can only be understood in
> terms of the intervention of imperialism.
> The giant corporations and the political strategists of Wall Street,
> London, Paris, Rome and Brussels are seeking to break the strength, if
> not the back, of the national, protectionist, counter-revolutionary
> bourgeois factions that have feasted off the privatization process and
> are trying to amass industrial empires. These indigenous capitalists are
> busily engaged in dividing up the fruits of 70 years of socialist
> construction built up by the workers and peasants of Ukraine, but they
> have resisted sharing them with outsiders.
> President Leonid Kuchma, whose second five-year term is expiring, picked
> Yanukovych to be his successor. Yanukovych had been governor of the
> coal-rich Donets region. Later, as prime minister from November 2002 to
> December 2004, he tried to solidify his base in this industrial and
> coal-mining region of the east, raising wages, pensions and social
> benefits to counterbalance the suffering of the workers from capitalist
> restoration and privatization.
> Yanukovych's demagogy was meant to offset the fact that he was part of
> the Kuchma grouping that was enriching such capitalists as Rinat
> Akhmetov, the owner of System Capital Management, Ukraine's biggest
> corporation with large holdings in metallurgy. Also in his camp are
> Viktor Pinchuk, Kuchma's son-in-law, who owns Interpipe and three
> television channels and is reportedly Ukraine's second-richest man,
> worth $3 billion. Also behind Yanukovych is the Dnepropetrovsk-based
> Privatbank, a powerful capitalist grouping. And he was close to Serhiy
> Tyhypko, chairperson of the National Bank and other business interests
> who have tried to grab the lion's share of industry. (Kyiv Post, Nov.
> 29, and globalsecurity.com)
> Unfortunately, there does not seem to be an independent, working-class
> voice in this struggle. But that is what is desperately needed to expose
> both camps and revive the struggle against capitalism and exploitation
> and for a planned economy with workers' rights.
> Yushchenko, during his term as Kuchma's prime minister from 1991 to
> 2001, made "progress" in privatization for the imperialists. 
> In the Russian Independent Internet Digest (RIID at putinru.com) of Oct.
> 29, the journal pondered the paradox that the Russians might be worse
> off under the allegedly "pro-Russian" Yanukovych.
> "'Yanukovych is for regional protectionism, there is no doubt about it,'
> said Myron Wasylyk, head of the Ukraine office of PBN, a consulting and
> public relations firm.
> "'Yanukovych has basically blocked off the Russians and the Westerners
> and has given everything to the Ukrainians,' Wasylyk said.
> "During Yushchenko's tenure as prime minister, from 1999 to 2001,"
> continues the RIID, "the prospect for foreign firms was much brighter,
> said Dmitry Tara¬ bakin, director of Dragon Capital, Ukraine's biggest
> brokerage by volume."
> Auction of steel mill shows what's what
> Despite Yanukovych playing the "Russian" card at home, preparing to
> promote Russian as a second official state language and leaning
> politically toward Russia, "he approved the results of a privatization
> auction for the country's biggest steel mill, Kryvorishstal, earlier in
> this year. Global steel majors, including Russia's Severstal, were all
> anxious to bid, but parliament's privatization committee revised the
> terms of the tender essentially to ban them, driving down the sale price
> in the process."
> In the end, the auction was won for just $800 million by a Ukrainian
> company founded by Pinchuk and Akhmetov, even though Severstal said it
> was willing to pay $1.2 billion. (RIID)
> What the RIID did not mention, because it was only concerned with
> Russian capitalist interests, was mentioned by Business Week Online,
> Nov. 8, about the same auction. Viktor Pinchuk won, complained the U.S.
> financial magazine, "even though the winning bid of $800 million was far
> less than a $1.5-billion offer from U.S. Steel Corp."
> Business Week shares RIID's assessment of Yushchenko. "If Yushchenko, a
> strongly pro-Western politician who jump-started Ukraine's boom when he
> was prime minister . pulls off a victory, Ukraine could see major
> reforms that will put the country on the international investor map like
> never before."
> And Business Week has a prescription for how to begin the investment
> boom. "What's really needed are big manufacturers" who will be drawn by
> "a highly educated, cheap work force. Labor costs are below $160 a
> month, including all taxes and social levies, vs. around $400 a month in
> Poland. And as wage costs in European Union accession countries [former
> Soviet republics-F.G.] spiral upward, nearby Ukraine looks ever more
> tempting. 'EU enlargement has brought the borders of Europe to Ukraine,
> so from a strategic point of view, a logistical point of view, and a
> cost point of view, it makes much more sense right now to manufacture in
> Ukraine,' says Jorge Intriago, partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers in
> Kiev."
> Knowing the opportunistic nature of both camps in the struggle inside
> Ukraine, Business Week, the authoritative organ of the biggest U.S.
> capitalists, is not too worried. It quotes Garry Levesley, Ukrainian
> director for the Arlington, Va.-based power company AES Corp., which has
> two Ukrainian power distribution companies. "Whoever wins, the country
> will continue to move forward economically, reform and normalize. The
> only question is the pace of improvement," says Levesley.
> The U.S. and European imperialists are huddling now. They have
> threatened Russia, whose economy, military and space program are heavily
> integrated with Ukraine. They are backing the candidate, Yushchenko, who
> wants to bring Ukraine into NATO, and have pushed the Parliament to
> reject Yanukovych. They inflamed the situation in order to get a
> beachhead in Ukraine. Now they will try to stabilize the dangerous and
> incendiary state of affairs they have created so they can have a smooth
> transition to a breakthrough in imperialist exploitation of Ukraine.
> The push into Ukraine is, in the last analysis, an expression of the
> crisis of world capitalism and imperialism. It is no accident that
> German imperialism forced the Bolshevik government to sign away Ukraine
> in the Brest-Litovsk Treaty of 1918, which allowed Russia to get out of
> World War I. Ukraine was a valuable and strategic territory that the
> German capitalists needed and they thought such a monumental loss would
> cripple the Bolshevik government. After Germany collapsed, the
> Brest-Litovsk Treaty was nullified.
> It is also no accident that Hitler, when planning his offensive against
> the USSR, made the capture of Ukraine, with its agriculture and
> minerals, a principal military objective. To Hitler, Ukraine was
> "lebensraum," living space, a place to colonize, invest in and enslave
> the Ukrainians. This was essential to Hitler's plan for world conquest. 
> His mad adventure in the USSR was an expression of German imperialism's
> need for colonies. It had few, but possessed the most advanced, most
> productive capitalist industrial machine in the world. It was a matter
> of life and death for the German imperialists to grab new markets, new
> sources of raw material and new wage slaves.
> While the social crisis in the United States bears no comparison to the
> one that Hitler sought to solve, nevertheless, the present relentless
> and dangerous push to the East, which could also eventually target
> China, is driven by the same capitalist/imperialist forces that made for
> his sudden grab at Ukraine.
> The movement in the United States must expose the dangerous and
> aggressive maneuver of the U.S. ruling class and demand that Wall Street
> and Washington keep their hands off Ukraine.

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