a strange alliance

Image: Anthony Beck


The desirability of an alleged “progressivism” that aligns with the interests of the US and NATO Falcons

In normal moments, in moments of peace, we see them parading on television programs, taking selfies with their fans, attending “talk shows” [1]. Being recognized as references by some supporters of Latin American social democracy, at various times so colonized by the Eurocentric and Anglo-Saxon matrix. Jacinda Ardern, Justin Trudeau and Pedro Sánchez are generally highlighted by the hegemonic press as some of its youngest representatives at the international level.

However, during the final days of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, that harmless air has been tossed aside. The last three leaders, as well as some of the Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Finland, which are so commonplace in our countries as “examples to follow”, quickly aligned themselves with the bellicose and imperialist line of NATO and the interests of the United States . The only official discourse seemed to be condemning "Putin's madness" against the "reasonableness of people in the rest of Europe". Or, as Sánchez points out, who, by invading Ukraine, Putin “at bottom, attacks Europe” [2].

But why do we focus on these actors? Precisely because they are the ones that tend to go unnoticed due to their anodyne style; for its supposed progressivism in ideological terms or for its charisma. At the same time, due to the proximity in terms of speech by President Gabriel Boric, of Chile, to some of them (Trudeau and the former government of Podemos among them). This week Boric condemned the Russian and Putin invasion via Twitter, in a tone that recalls, once again in his words, the ideological line of the international right-wing media.

This leads us to question what kind of progressivism will be launched in the next conjunctures. The latter also remind us that a “progressivism” that is not anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist has serious limitations in its transformative pretensions. This has already been said by Michael Parenti about Bernie Sanders: that he was a well-intentioned politician, but limited himself to a merely localist discourse and did not question the capitalist model as a whole. In terms of foreign policy, let us not forget that Bernie (another icon of social democracy; an interesting figure within the US electoral conservative universe, but without forgetting its complexity), supported the invasion of Yugoslavia in the nineties, which left between 489 and 528 civilians killed as a result of that war [3], which caused, at that time, the resignation of his adviser Jeremy Brecher and his definitive distancing from Parenti. Sanders, “although it is true that he voted against the Iraq War, he voted in favor of authorizing funds for that war and the one in Afghanistan.

More recently, [in 2015] he voted in favor of a billion dollar aid package for Ukraine's coup government and supported Israel's takeover of Gaza. So, in a talk, she admitted that Israel may have "overreacted" but blamed Hamas for the entire conflict. Then, when an audience member asked him why he refused to condemn Israel's actions, he told his critics: “Sorry! Shut up! The microphone is not with you”.

Well, let's review these new leaders case by case: The most extreme case is that of Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister recognized as "liberal" by international social democracy, but very close to the interests and ideas of conservatism and Washington's Falcons [4].

Let us not forget that Trudeau was one of the faces behind the so-called “Grupo de Lima”, a Pan-American interstate attempt that sought to promote free elections in Venezuela, internationally sanctioning the figure of Nicolás Maduro and promoting Guaidó as an interlocutor validated by the international community, generating the perfect regional and ideological platform for sanctions against the country plainsman and even opening up the possibility of an eventual US invasion for this purpose.

In the case of Ukraine, Trudeau directly combined a war strategy with economic sanctions against Russia. According to Infobae, “Canada will subsidize Ukraine with anti-tank weapons systems and improved ammunition, and will ban all imports of crude oil from Russia (…) this aid will be in addition to three previous shipments of lethal and non-lethal equipment. Canada announced last week that it would send new shipments of military supplies, including bulletproof vests, helmets, gas masks and night vision goggles. In addition, Trudeau announced Monday that his country will ban "all imports of crude oil" from Russia. [5] and today announced the closure of Canadian ports and seas to Russian ships. All this, complemented by a speech he called for at the end of the war. But if weapons are sent to end a war?

This alignment of Canada with NATO and against Russia is not new, as a note from September 2016 warned about what we said earlier: “Canada – under Trudeau’s government – ​​also led NATO’s confrontation with Russia, sending a thousand-strong peacekeeping force to Latvia near the Russian border, putting the nation on a war footing.” On the occasion, when explaining the measure, the Minister of Defense, Sajjan, told journalists that it was about “sending a correct message of cohesion within NATO, giving confidence to member states and showing how important deterrence is so that we can return to to a responsible dialogue [6].

In the case of Spain, Pedro Sánchez during the last few hours “recified” and indicated that Spain will send arms to the Ukrainian resistance, due to the inequalities that exist in the country in the face of the invasion of a power, in his own words. This generated a fissure in his own cabinet, in the face of opposition from Unidas Podemos [7] and outside the governmental level, of the Basque party EH Bildu in relation to Sánchez's warmongering postures.

According to Sánchez: “This is what Putin really fears. It fears the construction and strengthening of a geopolitical power, the European Union, at its borders. Putin fears Europe because he fears democracy. That is why he attacks Europe ”– he maintained. The bombs over Ukraine, therefore, symbolize the “fierce struggle between two antagonistic models of being in the world”. But Putin found in the face of his aggression a Europe "more united and determined than ever".

In the previous fragment, the polarization and binarization between good and bad is evident. At the same time, it is clear that democracy would be on the side of the European Union; clearly anti-Russian thesis on the part of the President and from which a certain racism and denial of the other, so characteristic of war, can be deduced.

At this point, nothing justifies the warlike invasion of the Russian oligarchy, however, it is necessary to make some precisions. Indeed, several of the most conservative actors in US politics have recognized, over the hours, that the Russo-Ukrainian conflict could have been avoided if the US and NATO had refrained from their expansionism towards Russia [8]. This is even pointed out by Henry Kissinger, the famous Nixon Secretary of State behind the coup against Salvador Allende, who in 2014 pointed out that “The US needs to avoid treating Russia as an aberrant entity that needs to be taught the rules of conduct that are established by Washington”.

Well, the last case mentioned: Jacinta Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand. Its alignment with Washington's discourse, although somewhat more subtle than that of the Canadian and Spanish cases, is located within what Vijay Prashad called "hybrid wars", that is, not opening fire directly against other countries, but promoting sanctions against them, an issue that, in the case of Iran or Venezuela, clearly affected the poorest population, as well as in Cuba or Nicaragua. It should be remembered that it had already been documented that Ardern did not entail a major change for the New Zealand working class, in terms of domestic politics. [9].

Thus, for the case of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, according to the network Swissinfo, Ardern noted that his government “will impose travel bans on an as-yet-undetermined number of Russian officials and others linked to the invasion of Ukraine, as well as ban exports of inputs to the country’s military and security forces” [10], which, she says, “sends a clear signal of support for Ukraine.” The New Zealand Prime Minister, as can be attributed to Trudeau, within a certain pragmatism, had already been approaching the US positions for some time and showing distance in relation to China – as long as these did not intervene in her commercial interests [11], unilaterally mentioning the problems of this country in terms of Human Rights, but not doing the same in relation to the USA.

All that has been said forces us to question the desirability of a supposed “progressivism” that aligns with the interests of the US Falcons and NATO. An anti-imperialist vision of the 2007st Century, in this sense, clearly cannot claim that well-being resides only in certain national territories, while at the same time supporting open war or hybrid wars in terms of foreign policy. For more doubts, compare the reaction of socialist countries – with all their imperfections – with this other range of self-proclaimed “progressive” governments. Thus, faced with the invasion of Iraq and the possible execution of Saddam Hussein in XNUMX, the Cuban government said, for example, the following: “it is political nonsense, an illegal act, in a country that has been led to an internal conflict in which millions of citizens went into exile or lost their lives” [12]. At the same time, he also argued that “it is time that hundreds of thousands of young Americans stopped dying or suffering the consequences of war”.

Therefore, it will not be a single discourse, much less the sending of weapons or sanctions, impregnated with a rhetoric of imperialist justification, which will help in disarmament and peace, but anti-imperialism and class solidarity with those who suffer the most consequences. of wars: the poor of the world. Putin will not be the most affected by the sanctions, just as Zelensky will not be the most affected by the bombings. Therefore, any self-respecting progressive speech or figure does not deserve this epithet as long as it proposes to feed the military-industrial complex of NATO, the European Union or the USA; or promote sanctions that affect working-class citizens of other countries.

It is therefore urgent, from the Latin American left and the Global South in general, to promote a different vision, one that reconciles anti-bellicism and anti-imperialism at the same time and that is an alternative to this type of leadership and practice. It has been written about Scandinavia's role in global imperialism [13], sustaining small oases of equality and social democracy “inside” its countries and militarism “outside”; We hope, along these lines, that Ardern, Trudeau and Sánchez cease to be a reference or are seen as representatives of any type of left. As in the case of Bernie, what is the point of promoting a free healthcare system for the US if you support the invasion and continuation of imperialism in other countries?

The postures of China or Cuba, of not supporting either the invasion or the sanctions, accepting the sovereignty of both peoples, establishing, at the same time, that the main responsibility for the outbreak of the conflict lies with the United States and NATO, seems an alternative sensible to human-faced imperialism; so committed to maintaining the status quo and the maintenance of power differences on the international scene.

*Camilo Godoy Pichon holds a degree in sociology from the University of Chile.

Translation: Francisco Prandi.



[1] Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Explains Why The UN Laughed At Trump – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYsZv9JXmio

[ 2 ] Finland and Sweden insist on their right to join NATO – https://www.niusdiario.es/internacional/finlandia-suecia-insisten-derecho-entrar-otan_18_3290445083.html

[ 3 ] Bernie Sanders' Troubling History of Supporting US Military Violence Abroad – https://www.alternet.org/2015/05/bernie-sanders-troubling-history-supporting-us-military-violence-abroad/

[4] Justin Trudeau Is Not Your Friend – https://jacobinmag.com/2016/09/justin-trudeau-unions-environment-arms-saudi-arabia

[ 5 ] Canada will send more weapons to Ukraine and ban the import of Russian oil – https://www.infobae.com/america/mundo/2022/02/28/canada-enviara-mas-armas-a-ucrania-y-prohibira-la-importacion-de-petroleo-ruso/

[6] Justin Trudeau Is Not Your Friend – https://jacobinmag.com/2016/09/justin-trudeau-unions-environment-arms-saudi-arabia

[ 7 ] We can accuse Sánchez of contributing to the war escalation – https://www.elperiodico.com/es/politica/20220302/podemos-acusa-sanchez-contribuir-escalada-belica-rusia-ucrania-13310533

[ 8 ] EU and Europe downplayed warnings about the crisis in Ukraine – https://www.jornada.com.mx/notas/2022/03/02/politica/eu-y-europa-desestimaron-avisos-sobre-la-crisis-en-ucrania/

[ 9 ] Jacinda Ardern Is Not Your Friend – https://www.jacobinmag.com/2021/02/jacinda-ardern-new-zealand-labour-prime-minister

[ 10 ] New Zealand announces sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine – https://www.swissinfo.ch/spa/ucrania-guerra_nueva-zelanda-anuncia-sanciones-a-rusia-por-la-invasi%C3%B3n-de-ucrania/47379230

[ 11 ] Ardern's Foreign Policy Address Was Pro-US, But Not Necessarily Anti-China – https://thediplomat.com/2021/07/arderns-foreign-policy-address-was-pro-us-but-not-necessarily-anti-china/

[ 12 ] Cuba considers the execution of Saddam Hussein to be a “political nonsense” and claims the end of the war in Iraq –  https://www.europapress.es/internacional/noticia-cuba-considera-disparate-politico-ejecucion-saddam-husein-reclama-fin-guerra-irak-20070101203046.html

[ 13 ] Scandinavia's Covert Role in Western Imperialism. By: Carlos Cruz https://www.europapress.es/internacional/noticia-cuba-considera-disparate-politico-ejecucion-saddam-husein-reclama-fin-guerra-irak-20070101203046.html

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