The First Casualty of War is the Truth 

Since the failure of the 2024 Ukrainian counter-offensive, leading politicians and military figures in NATO countries have been busy shaping public opinion for war with Russia within the next few years. Donald Tusk in Poland describes the present situation as “pre-war” and barely a week goes by without some politician or general explaining how “Europe” must build up its military and prepare the public for the inevitable war against Russia. 

This comes as no surprise to anyone who understands Lenin’s analysis of imperialism as a specific stage of capitalism. War, and the threat of war, is part of the DNA of imperialism. Rivalry between the imperialist powers led to the 1st and 2nd World Wars. Since the end of  WW2, war was largely absent from Europe, until the Russian invasion of Ukraine: largely but not totally. Britain was involved in a military campaign in the 6 counties and its agents also bombed Dublin and Monaghan. It was also involved in a military campaign in Cyprus. NATO was up to its neck in destabilising Socialist Yugoslavia and carried out the 1st aerial bombing of a European city since 1945 when it bombed Belgrade for 10 weeks in 1999. NATO and the EU also orchestrated the 2014 coup in Ukraine which led to the present war. 

However, even when war was absent from Europe, European powers were still engaged in war. Britain, France and Portugal were involved in wars to hold on to their colonies. Up to 1990 the US had been constantly at war in order to impose and then maintain its domination of the non-socialist world. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union the US military has extended its reach in tandem with its economic and political expansionism.     

The US and its vassals have poured billions into Ukraine and Israel in order to maintain their “Rules Based International Order”. They had hoped that by now Russia would be defeated. Anything short of a clear Russian defeat will be seen as failure by the US. Despite the hysterical ranting of those who claim that if Russia is not defeated it will attack the EU, the US doesn’t really believe that. Russia had no problem with Ukrainian independence until the 2014 coup. The US is more concerned with the knock-on effect any failure to militarily and economically defeat Russia in Ukraine will have in the Global South. Already US imperialism’s dominant position is being challenged by the People’s Republic of China. Failure to defeat Russia will further undermine US hegemony. To offset that possibility, the US and the UK are pouring more and more money into the conflict. They are also preparing their public for a direct war against Russia and eventually against the People’s Republic of China. The possibility of a nuclear war draws nearer as a result. 

How should we in Ireland respond? In an opinion piece in the Business Post, friend of the Black and Tans Charlie Flanagan called for increased military spending to defend the state against potential enemies1. In a world where warfare seems likely it makes sense to build up the states’s defences to ward off any possible aggressor. After all, Fianna Fáil did that during WW2 in order to maintain Irish neutrality. However, Charlie is opposed to neutrality. He wants to militarily join the Anti-Russia front.  He stated that there is no need to join NATO immediately in order to support the anti-Russian front because of the state’s integration into the EU military structures. 

Increased military spending will be paid for by reducing spending on health, housing, education and social services. Having sacrificed Ukraine in an attempt to defeat Russia, imperialism is preparing European public opinion for war.  The Irish left must oppose this drift to war by defending the triple-lock on the deployment of Irish troops abroad and campaigning for the closure of the de facto NATO base in Shannon. We must use the June local and EU elections in the South to support anti-war and pro-neutrality candidates.