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Sender: owner-imap@webmap.missouri.edu
Date: Wed, 28 May 97 10:54:03 CDT
From: Workers World <ww@wwpublish.com>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: Behind NATO's expansion
Article: 11749

The battle for eastern Eruope: behind NATO's expansion

By Fred Goldstein, Workers World, 29 May 1997

The Pentagon/Clinton administration plan to expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a controversial phase of the worldwide capitalist counter-revolution. The imperialist powers, driven by the United States, are collecting the spoils of their Cold War victory by consolidating the enslavement of strategic Eastern European countries as military and economic satellites.

Above all, it is a thinly disguised Great Powers move to drive to the east--following the pattern of Hitler and, before him, of the Hohenzollern empire.

By announcing its intention to bring Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia into NATO by 1999 and to ratify this move in Madrid this July, Washington humiliated the comprador capitalist regime of Russia's Boris Yeltsin--which is itself a U.S. creation. Washington first presented Moscow with a fait accompli. Then came tedious negotiations over how to find a face-saving formula--which NATO Secretary General Javier Solana and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov finally agreed to on May 14 in Moscow.

NATO refused to pledge not to base nuclear weapons in the new NATO countries. Instead it used the soothing phrase that it had no current intention, no plan and no need to deploy nuclear weapons on the soil of new members.(New York Times, May 15)

But this backhanded refusal was strictly formal since NATO's planning no longer relies on land-based tactical nuclear weapons, like nuclear artillery and mines. Bombs and missiles, which can be delivered from long range, are now the nuclear weapons of choice.

NATO refused to put any numerical ceiling on the number of troops to be deployed in the new member countries--again declaring that it has no permanent intention to deploy `substantial' foreign forces there, according to the Times.

The Yeltsin regime was pushing for some form of veto power on military matters. But NATO made sure there were no illusions about this.

Russia will have no say in NATO's military decisions. A joint NATO-Russia panel was cooked up to give Russia a voice in some deliberations. But if NATO does not agree, it can do what it wants.

NATO refused to make the agreement legally binding in treaty form. Of course, the imperialists will break any agreement when it suits their purposes. But this was another aggressive statement.

The bottom line is that U.S. and Western European imperialism are moving east on the ground. They will now have the military forces, territory and other resources of the more industrialized countries of Eastern Europe at their military disposal.


The agreement to expand NATO into Eastern Europe must be viewed as part of a post-war settlement imposed by the victors.

The Cold War was a class war between imperialism and the socialist camp, whose material fortress was the USSR. It was a brutal 75-year war. During it, the USSR tried to build socialism in the face of military, economic and political pressure, invasion, subversion and boycott, and was fatally weakened by the internal deterioration this pressure brought about.

In that war the Eastern European countries were contested territory in the class struggle.

As the Red Army drove the Nazi arm ies from Soviet territory at the end of World War II, it continued into Eastern Europe and destroyed the fascist regimes and the occupying Nazi forces. During the entire war, from 1941 to 1944, the USSR's allies-the British and U.S. imperialist governments-had watched as Hitler drove deeper and deeper into the USSR and wreaked havoc.

Hitler's forces killed some 20 million Soviet people, destroyed industry, cities and towns, and left 25 million people homeless. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill concentrated on defending the British empire in Africa and conquering southern Europe. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt was busy fighting to conquer Asia from the Japanese imperialists.

Once the Red Army crushed Hitler and began to push into Eastern Europe, Churchill and Roosevelt hastened to open up negotiations and slow the Red Army down so that the United States and Britain could get into Europe. This was the background to the Yalta agreement.

With that pact Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt agreed to what was already a fact--that the Red Army was in command in Eastern Europe. They got language in the agreement about democratic elections--but by this Churchill and Roosevelt meant keeping capitalism.

The Red Army--in collaboration with the remaining working- class parties and liberation forces that had not been exterminated by Hitler and his puppets--began to divide up the great landed estates among the peasants and nationalize the banks, industries and communications media. But by 1947 the Cold War was raging.

Faced with an atomic threat and the need for emergency reconstruction of the whole physical plant at home, the Soviet leadership unfortunately failed to carry through a thoroughgoing revolutionary transformation in Eastern Europe. In several countries, bourgeois social democratic parties were allowed into the socialist state structure in an effort to soften the intense class war directed against the new regimes.

This attempt to compromise with bourgeois elements had long-term consequences on social policy, making them more vulnerable to capitalist desta bilization. Decades later in Poland, for example, the counter-revolution was able to organize in the guise of being a workers' movement.

But in the West, Yalta was already being attacked from the right as a betrayal. A great campaign was launched to free the captive nations of Eastern Europe.

The United States used nuclear terror, created NATO and spent billions of dollars to prop up European capitalism. It opened and maintained a steady campaign of subversion in Eastern Europe.

It used the CIA and Radio Free Europe. It made connections with the remaining members of the former Eastern European ruling classes. Many had had their businesses expropriated but remained in the East. The CIA also established links with the bourgeois intelligentsia, which was oriented toward imperialism and from whose ranks arose the Vaclav Havels, champions of counter-revolution.


For centuries Eastern Europe had been contested by great powers--from the Ottoman Empire to the Hapsburg empire, Prussia, Austria and czarist Russia. These struggles, with the exception of the period of the French Revolution, had no class significance for the masses.

But now, for the first time in history, the masses of Eastern Europe were freed from the domination of the landlords and the bosses. Washington led the imperialist camp in the campaign to get back Eastern Europe for exploitation.

This strategic territory was so significant to the United States and Germany that when Mikhail Gorbachev was in an advanced phase of appeasing the West in 1989, he could only do so by virtually agreeing to let imperialism have a free hand in the area. This began the undoing and eventual collapse of the USSR.

The new proposal to expand NATO is a phase in reversing the liberation of Eastern Europe. It is going to make these countries truly captive nations--captives of the capitalists, of the Western imperialist powers' military.

The workers and the oppressed in the United States should know that this act of aggression will deeply affect them. It means more Pentagon spending; greater prosperity for the arms industry; greater sway of U.S. corporations over the peoples of that region; greater opportunity to super-exploit the workers of Eastern Europe at low wages.

This expansion is a blow directed at all workers everywhere. That's why it must be fought.