Against all borders, against all empires, against all wars!

Flugblatt der [iL*]-Frankfurt
There is war in Europe again. Looking at the past weeks, in the end it was only a matter of time which exact date this war would choose and which side, Russia or NATO, would start it. On the night of Thursday, 24 February 2022, Russia militarily attacked Ukraine.

The official Russian justifications are familiar to all. They include security (NATO's constant eastward expansion), economic (the unfulfilled neoliberal market promise of prosperity for all) and ethnic aspects, which establish a timeless Russian identity beyond its own borders and deny Ukraine the right to exist. Some of these justifications spring from a deeply reactionary box of ideas, others correspond to naked reality. By no means is it a matter of restoring the Soviet sphere of power. Ukrainian nationalism and NATO's expansionist policy are contrasted with Great Russian nationalism of Tsarist provenance. The anti-communism propagated by Putin yearns for a time before the communist revolution of 1917.

A war of aggression, such as Russia is currently waging, is never justified. It is contrary to international law. Russian President Putin is using the same reasoning as his Turkish counterpart Erdoğan did in January 2018 when NATO partner Turkey launched a war of aggression against Syria. In both cases, there were no "armed attacks" against Russia or Turkey that would trigger the right of self-defence under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. For the masters of this world, no chartered international law applies. Their power, which is lawless in it, subjugates the law, which is powerless. The lawless power only knows history when it is put in the light of its own interests. Everything else is forgetting. Who still remembers the war drive in the 1990s when the German government, of all states, was the first to recognise the newly formed separatist Slovenian republic in the course of the disintegration of Yugoslavia - and thus made itself the accelerant of the war in the interior of Europe that was ignited shortly afterwards.

Just as it was four years ago, it is clear today that the warlike action stems from an imperialist policy that violently seeks to annex territories and populations. The territories and people affected by war will find themselves in a thoroughly militarised reality. Imperialist wars also serve to either conceal or remedy social, political and economic crises within their own countries. War is a lucrative business. The winners are already clear: it is the arms companies, the private paramilitary armies, the security companies, the logistics industry, and all the other companies that will start rebuilding the destroyed society through new contracts awarded by the governments. They are all those who, on both sides of the imperialist conflict, make money from the suffering of others - and are incapable of finding democratic and non-violent solutions to such conflicts of interest as well as to current global challenges (the climate catastrophe, global poverty, massive refugee movements). And so this bitter statement by Russian anarchists from the Autonomous Action network fits like a glove: "Don't doubt it: the yachts of Russian oligarchs won't get smaller, but everyone else will start living worse.

The fact of the incapacity of the rulers, who can neither solve the problems nor want to solve them, is something we must constantly bear in mind. They are chained to their toolbox of reactionary political instruments and ideas. From a position and history of power, rarely if ever has anything good for all come out of it. It is not surprising that Kenya's UN Ambassador Kimani against a backdrop of colonial exploitation and oppression, spoke plainly at a special session of the United Nations Security Council on 21 February: "Had we decided at independence to create states on the basis of ethnic, racial or religious homogeneity, we would still be fighting bloody wars many decades later. Instead, we agreed to leave the borders as we inherited them - but to pursue continent-wide political, economic and legal integration. Instead of forming nations that look backwards into history with a dangerous nostalgia, we chose to look forward into a greatness that none of our many nations and peoples have ever known."

Violent conflicts, above all warlike ones, have always tried to limit the choice of possible actions to an either-or, to being either for them or against them. This is bullshit, an imposed choice between two false sides! One cannot be for Russia. You cannot be for NATO. Ignored in this are all those who fear for their lives in the zones now riddled with war - and will be forced to flee. Invisible remain those who stand up against the warlike activities of their governments within the countries. Let us make them visible and stand with them!

In a war that is the result of the confrontation between two imperialist powers, there is no good or evil, black or white. There are no shades of grey in it either. There is only one decision to be made: how do we prevent the continuation of this war? Despite all the ambiguity in the face of a situation made even more confused by war propaganda from all sides, we can be guided by some questions that will ground our anti-war stance: what solidarity do we give to those affected by war? What empathy do we need to show in order to see reality through their eyes? What is the position of those who oppose the war in Ukraine as well as in Russia, risking everything? What is the position of those who are fighting, who are resisting the war, and who are standing up for a left, radical left and humane politics? And how will we react when new refugee movements out of Ukraine set out on a hard road of survival towards the West? We are not bound by the actions of our governments, we are free to decide. Their actions are not ours. These governments will now and in the near future increasingly try to win servants for their false cause. We must say to them: you have had it!

And last but not least, we must also ask ourselves such a question, which plays on our own role and responsibility: what contribution is the German state making in this war? What are the new Bundeswehr stations in Lithuania aiming at? What are the current functions of the US military camps here? Where and by what means can we oppose the war drive in the FRG as well? How the war will develop is far from clear. In fact, the eastward expansion of NATO to the borders of Russia has been a preparation for this war: the port of Nordenham near Bremen has been modernised for the loading of US troops; the Defender manoeuvres have been rehearsing the rapid deployment of large troop contingents through Germany for years; the US airbase at Erbenheim near Wiesbaden is currently being upgraded to an operations centre in the current crisis. It is the same base from which the US global torture and secret prison system was coordinated in the midst of the so-called War on Terror.

At the beginning of February, the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement published a call that could have prevented the current war if it had been heeded and implemented in time. Even now, parts of it are still valid and correct in order to achieve a policy of de-escalation and anti-militarism, in order to achieve a policy of peace: 

  • there is a need for global de-escalation and disarmament, the dissolution of military alliances, the abolition of armies and borders that separate people;
  • Withdrawal of all troops, cessation of all deliveries of weapons and military equipment, cessation of the total mobilisation of the population for war, cessation of propaganda for war and enmity between civilisations in the media and social networks;
  • Conduct open, comprehensive and inclusive negotiations on peace and disarmament in the form of a public dialogue between all state and non-state parties to the conflict, with the participation of peace-oriented civil society actors;
  • Ensure the human right to conscientious objection (including refusal to train for military service) in accordance with Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and paragraphs 2 and 11 of UN Human Rights Committee General Comment No. 22.

War is a crime against humanity. It needs a clear, irreconcilable stance of peace that takes no wrong side. It needs an unconditional and uncomplicated reception of fleeing people and the facilitation of safe escape routes. Open the borders! For the end of wars between nations and empires. Disarmament and demilitarisation instead of arms exports and war rhetoric. Stab the rulers in the back! Every military action and every arms supply that fuels war from here and is not obstructed and sabotaged contributes directly to the death and suffering of thousands of people. 

interventionistische Linke Frankfurt, 24. Februar 2022