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G20: the drive to war

Illustration © Chris Bird

The G20 summit in Australia marked a dangerous point in the drive to war, led by the US–EU axis…

The G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, in November made good TV: Russian President Putin as the naughty boy isolated by the other 19 countries, which took it in turns to call him names, forcing him to leave early. But it wasn't like that at all.

The summit marked a dangerous point in the drive to war by a US-led axis. This includes the EU and its military wing NATO, a now belligerent Canada plus Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Saudis and the Gulf despots.

The leaders of countries representing over 85 per cent of the world economy were supposedly there to discuss economic and financial issues. Instead we witnessed a bunch of political buffoons attempting to bury the stated objective of their meeting by hurling public insults at Putin.

David Cameron told Putin in a “robust” exchange that he was at a crossroads and about to be hit with more sanctions and become more “isolated”. Canadian Prime Minister Harper complained he had to shake hands with Putin. Meanwhile Australia’s Tony Abbott threatened to “shirtfront” Putin. (A fierce body check in Australian Rules football, in case you’re wondering.)

This theatre overshadowed the business being done by the US and its allies. Obama, Abbott and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to “increasing military cooperation and strengthening maritime security” in the Pacific against China.

The Brisbane show also detracted from the BRICS summit in Brazil last July, a meeting of the five members of G20 who did not join in the buffoonery – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. At the suggestion of Brazil, the BRICS group agreed to step up cooperation. In particular they are pushing ahead with the BRICS development bank as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund.

BRICS cooperation

China said that BRICS cooperation would not only boost the global economy but also ensure global peace. “Make trade, not Tomahawks” urged Chinese President Xi. He reminded the group that the 120 member nations of the Non-Aligned Movement – beggars at the G20 table – were paying close attention.

Largely absent from British media coverage is a US Congress resolution, H. Res. 758, passed on 4 December, a couple of weeks after G20. This effectively calls for regime change in Russia. It wants the return of Crimea to Ukraine, Abkhazia and South Ossetia to Georgia, Transnistra to Moldova and so on. It calls on NATO to increase
preparedness for war and refers to Ukraine as a US ally, despite the country not being a NATO member.

How did we get to this situation and why should we be concerned?

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, the US, EU and NATO assumed they could acquire and control whatever remained of the wreckage of the USSR. Their placeman Boris Yeltsin had his orders: dismantle the structure of the USSR and outlaw the Communist Party.

The plan was that NATO and its political wing, the EU, would then expand eastwards to gobble up all the Eastern European and former Soviet states into the US-EU military alliance. This proved more difficult than they had expected. A number of countries resisted these US-inspired advances, particularly Belarus, Ukraine, most of former Yugoslavia and Russia itself.

New leadership

Within 10 years Yeltsin was gone. A new leadership emerged in Russia determined to reverse this push, though Putin did also try to reach an accommodation, but the EU and NATO wanted to press on to bring more countries into their orbit.

In the first decade of the new century, the EU and NATO along with the US attempted to encircle Russia because of its stubbornness in not recognising a world run by and for the US.

The US thought it was now the sole major power in the world. It tried to force a free trade agreement onto the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean except Cuba. It then invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, threatened Syria and Iran. All the while Britain meekly followed in the footsteps of the US.

The US and EU used foreign-funded NGOs to try to undermine the governments of both Ukraine and Russia. A puppet government was already installed in Georgia on Russia's southern flank.

‘The US thought it was now the sole major power in the world.’

Inevitably Russia passed a law requiring foreign-funded NGOs working in Russia to register as agents of a foreign power, similar to a law passed in the US. Russia also strengthened ties with Latin America, China, Iran and its long-standing ally Syria.

China also felt threatened by the US. Along with Russia it formed the Shanghai Pact, an organisation for economic and military cooperation along with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and with a close relationship with Iran.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, Cuba and Venezuela led resistance to the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas , creating the alternative known today as ALBA. The attempt to impose the free trade agreement failed and only strengthened ties between countries in that region (excluding the USA, Canada and colonial states).

Defeated in Latin America and the Caribbean and losing the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US turned its attention back to Russia. In 2008 the US encouraged Georgia to attack South Ossetia, an area of Georgia that had broken away and which was protected by Russia. This led to a short war, in which Russia defeated the Israeli-trained forces of Georgia.


This defeat made the US more determined than ever to go for Ukraine using its EU and NATO stooges. Eventually in early 2014 demonstrators brandishing EU flags, supported by neo-Nazis and armed fascists, took to the streets of the Ukrainian capital Kiev to attack the government. This forced a coup d'état, and the elected president of Ukraine had to flee to Russia.

The US placeman Yatsenuk was made prime minister. His puppet regime broke an agreement with Russia and told them to leave their naval base at Sebastopol in the Crimea. The resistance and opposition that followed represented yet another defeat for the US/EU/NATO. The response was ever-deepening sanctions on Russia enforced by the encircling powers of the US-led axis.

Russia has been subjected to stringent sanctions for nearly a year, causing great damage to its economy. While refusing to succumb to these pressures, Russia has found alternatives. For example its trade with Iran will now be conducted in rubles, and trade with China will be in both rubles and Chinese yuan instead of US dollars. Russia has also agreed two massive trade deals with China to build pipelines and to sell Russian oil and gas.

The US sees these moves as a major threat to petrodollars and the dollar economies. It has gone to war in the past in similar circumstances. The US invasion of Iraq in 2003 took place while that country was considering trading its oil in euros rather than dollars. And in 2011 Libya had proposed a new currency for Africa to reduce trade dependence on the US dollar, the gold dinar to be backed by Libyan oil and gold.


Russia is being encircled just as was the Soviet Union in the days of the Cold War. The US 5th Fleet is deployed in the Persian Gulf with two aircraft carriers, 20 battleships and 100 strike aircraft. Some of the most advanced US warships capable of firing missiles with nuclear warheads are in the Black Sea and 30 NATO warships recently carried out exercises in the Baltic Sea.

Syria and Iraq are now in chaos due to the US-led axis interference. There are US military bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Oman as well as its military complex on the British colony of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. There is a new US military pact with the Philippines. Japan is rearming and along with Australia is cooperating militarily with the US.

Capitalism is experiencing a dire economic situation that shows few signs of lifting, no matter what the G20 politicians say. In this context, warning of the drive to war by the US-led axis is not scaremongering.

Capitalism has nowhere to go. It is in absolute decline. Without a working class response taking responsibility for its own future, war is always a potential outcome. Now, more than ever, it’s time for the working class to make a stand against war.