The NATO proxy war against Russia grinds on with the capitalist “news” media full of stories and analysis of the expected Ukrainian offensive. Absent from all imperialist commentary are proposals for ending the war other than by the military, economic and political defeat of Russia. The peace proposals put forward by the People’s Republic of China were quickly removed from political discourse and calls for a ceasefire have been equated with appeasement. The ruling classes within the US, the EU and the UK are determined to bleed Russia in Ukraine, irrespective of the cost in Ukrainian and Russian lives. All this to maintain the hegemony of US imperialism and to strengthen its hand as it prepares to militarily confront the PRC.

The war has had consequences for the people of Europe and the wider world. The US has strengthened its military and economic position in Europe. NATO has increased in numbers and the US has achieved its long sought increase in “defence” spending by NATO members. The war has filled the order books of US armaments companies as NATO countries send weapons and ammunition to Ukraine. European countries are set to become more dependent on US energy supplies as they cancel contracts with Russia and the US bombs pipelines. Even Macron worries about the increased dominance of US imperialism within Europe.

Censorship has increased, with the closure of Russian news outlets in Europe and the complete absence of any criticism of the dominant pro-NATO narrative in the capitalist media. There has also been an increase in state violence against anti-war demonstrations which is ignored by the capitalist press. Sections of the liberal and social democratic left have flocked to the banner of “liberty” and “democracy” as a cover for their support for NATO, which is and always was a vehicle for US foreign policy and domination of Europe.

Here in Ireland the war continues to benefit the ruling class. The genuine opposition to the war felt by the majority of Irish people is being manipulated in an attempt to abandon what remains of Irish neutrality and take the country into NATO or an EU NATO- lite army. The government have appointed an “independent expert” Dame Louise Richardson, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and supporter of the US invasion of Iraq, to chair the body tasked with “impartially” accessing Irish neutrality before calling for its removal. The Irish airwaves are populated with “independent” military and international relations experts with links to US and UK government-funded “think-tanks” explaining how “our”forces are fighting for democracy in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world. The last time an Irish political leader urged Irish troops to fight for “democracy and civilisation” was in 1914 when Redmond said it was the duty of Ireland to defend the British empire. Tens of thousands of Irish died and less than 5 years later the Empire showed its contempt for democracy by waging war against the decision of the Irish people to establish an Independent Republic.

Irish progressive and democratic forces must rally to the defence and the deepening of Irish democracy. We must call on the Irish government to cease its attempts to abandon neutrality and instead call for an end to hostilities and genuine peace negotiations. As Connolly said, “the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour”, and the cause of labour will not be served by Ireland supporting or joining NATO. Neutrality is a class issue, money spent on war is money diverted from social services. Those that die, kill and are wounded in wars are the working class, not the sons and daughters of the ruling class.

Our tradition of neutrality was forged in our long struggle for independence and that struggle will not be advanced by now joining the oppressors. We must campaign for a united, independent and neutral Ireland.