In major escalation in war, Biden sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine
Abrams tank on the way to Ukraine to fight Russians. | U.S. Dept. of Defense

Less than two hours after leading atomic scientists moved the world nuclear clock closer to midnight than it has ever been in history President Biden announced yesterday that the United States is sending Abrams tanks to fight the Russians in Ukraine.

The tanks will “enhance Ukraine’s capacity to defend its territory and achieve its strategic objectives because they are the most capable tanks in the world,” Biden declared. For months Biden has opposed sending the tanks because he wanted Germany to send its Leopard tanks first.

The Pentagon’s cover story for the last few months differed from what Biden said yesterday, with the U.S. claiming the Abrams tanks would be too difficult for the Ukrainians to service and maintain. The Biden about-face yesterday followed the cave in by Germany with its announcement that it would send its Leopard tanks to fight the Russians. The Germans had been resisting doing that for months.

The war hawks in Germany were dealing with a situation where at least half the country opposed sending in German tanks and the government wanted to be able to say that it was only following the U.S. decision to send American tanks with its decision to send German tanks. The idea is that by waiting for the U.S. to act first they would insulate Germany from any Russian retaliation — economic, political, or military in nature.

Germany and Russia have had several decades of cooperation with Germany purchasing Russian gas and the Russians a major customer for German exports. It has long been the aim of U.S. corporations and arms dealers to end that cooperation and replace Russian gas, for example, with fracked gas from the U.S.

The sending of the U.S. and German tanks, according to pro-peace and left lawmakers quoted in this article, accomplishes the strategic aims of the U.S. much more than it does the strategic aims of Ukraine. There is no guarantee that Ukraine can win because of the tanks but it is guaranteed that the Russians will see the German tanks, in particular, as a provocation by Germany, the U.S., and NATO. The deal practically ensures for the foreseeable future that the long post-WWII period of Russian- German cooperation is dead. That cooperation was a major contributor to peace on the European continent and, now gone, there is an increased danger of catastrophic war with Germany in the hot seat.

Peace activists in Europe note that the same war hawks who have been saying Russian President Putin is a war monger for his refusal to rule out the use of nuclear weapons are now taking the risk that a major escalation of the war by them will not result in Russia being provoked enough to think again about using nuclear weapons. At one point U.S. war hawks also said Putin is crazy enough to use such weapons and now, defending the decision to send tanks that obviously constitute a major escalation that will provoke Russia, they tell us Putin is too reasonable to ever really use them. It is difficult to believe foreign policymakers who double talk that way.

Condemn the Russian invasion

Peace forces in Europe condemn the brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russia despite the fact that they say the war has been provoked by NATO and the U.S. They note that even a provoked war cannot cross the lines the Russians have crossed but they put primary blame for the danger of conflagration that the world faces on the long-term attempts by NATO and the U.S to get Europe to weaken Russia so the U.S. can focus on weakening China. They demand a ceasefire and they have declared that opposition to a ceasefire until Russians entirely leave Ukraine is equivalent to never achieving a ceasefire.

The Stop the War coalition in the UK last week emphasized that they are not excusing Russia’s war. “A war can be provoked,” they said – “Russia’s fear of NATO is real enough – while remaining unjustified: claims it is defensive are belied by Putin’s imperial rhetoric and annexation of vast areas of Ukraine and his brutal bombardment of civilian infrastructure as savage as NATO’s destruction of Belgrade in 1999.”

The peace coalition noted, however, that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has delivered key dividends for the United States, dividends the organization said in a statement, that “It may even have anticipated.”

The organization noted that U.S.’s warnings that Russia was likely to attack Ukraine were not accompanied by any effort to stop it from doing so — “indeed it contemptuously rejected Russian de-escalation proposals including the withdrawal of NATO nuclear weapons from many locations around Russia,” the peace coalition said.

The pro-peace Morning Star newspaper, a socialist daily in the UK, noted in an editorial that NATO member states are spending more on arms and more of their military units are now organized in NATO, and thus U.S.-controlled, command structures. This helps the U.S. concentrate on its acknowledged main rival, China.”

The Morning Star also noted that “The Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany, long opposed by the U.S., has been mysteriously blown up. The threat to U.S. corporations of a coherent Eurasian trading bloc with Germany and China at either end has been staved off.”

“The U.S. is determined that there should be no rapprochement between Berlin and Moscow. Europe must be thoroughly entangled in the Ukraine war to ensure that. But the risks being taken by European countries on behalf of the U.S. ruling class are extreme. They are being brought close to a direct war with Russia,” the editorial warned.

Voices in the British press — Simon Tisdall in the Observer, for example — openly advocate the type of war the Morning Star has warned about with apparently little concern about turning Europe and perhaps the world into a nuclear wasteland.

Boris Johnson says not to worry because the Russians would never use nuclear weapons. The same war hawks claiming Vladimir Putin is too crazy to negotiate with, simultaneously maintain that he will be rational when it comes to nuclear war. “Maybe, but it is a foolish risk to run,” the Morning Star said.

The Stop the War conference placed the war in Ukraine in the context of a world where tensions with both Russia and China are being worsened because of a “U.S. quest to be top dog.”

They warned of a scenario where Ukraine could become the first battlefield of a third world war. They said the recent deployment of U.S. and British naval forces on the coast of China proves that this is a dangerous possible outcome of U.S. and NATO policy in Ukraine.

There would be no winners in such a war. In a best-case scenario, the destruction and loss of life would be immense; in a worse, but not unthinkable, one it could spell the end of human civilization,” the editorial concluded.

Lays it out in stark terms

In an interview with Berliner Zeitung last week, Sevim Dağdelen, a Left Party member of the German Parliament since 2005, laid out in stark terms the horrible spectacle of new, powerful German tanks rumbling across the Ukrainian landscape to fight Russians.

“Even though Ukraine will presumably paint over the iron crosses on the German battle tanks, many Russians, especially those who lost loved ones in the war of extermination and colonization waged by the Wehrmacht, will see in these weapons a renewed German military campaign against their country,” she said. “In short, those pushing for German tanks to be supplied will reap a massive mobilization of Russian public opinion in favor of the war against Ukraine.

“Berlin is to be sent into the line of fire, to conclusively destroy German-Russian relations and turn them into open war for others’(the U.S.) benefit,” she declared.

She also noted for Berliner Zeitung, a week before Germany and the U.S. both decided to send their tanks, that Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, “wants to prevent Germany from coming into Russia’s crosshairs and is hiding behind the United States. Only in tandem with the United States, would he be prepared to act.”

The Left Party Bundestag member then clearly explained Biden’s about-face a week before he made the about-face. The precondition for Germany sending its tanks was that the United States supply its heavy tanks to Ukraine.

“The next thing will be missiles, followed, when that does not work either, by our own soldiers,” Dağdelen said.

She called for an immediate ceasefire but warned “Anyone still refusing to freeze the conflict with the argument that the full territorial integrity of Ukraine needs to be re-established first cannot really be interested in a ceasefire.

“On the contrary, this reveals the unscrupulous attitude of someone betting on conducting a NATO proxy war against Russia with the lives of Ukrainians. Just as it was part of an upside-down world to claim that war loans would lead to peace in the first world war, so it is today with regard to supplying German and U.S. battle tanks.

Dağdelen says that now Germany faces “the greatest security threat since the Second World War. The United States,” she said, “has achieved one of its long-term strategic objectives, namely to prevent cooperation between Germany and Russia forever.”

She tied the sending in of tanks by the U.S. to overall U.S. policy toward both Russia and China: “In the context of a policy of confrontation with the Eurasian bloc, Germany and Japan are to become front-line states for the U.S. with limitations on their own sovereignty.”

She noted that if the German and U.S. tanks are delivered, the door will be open for more weapons. Calls for combat aircraft have already been voiced by German Bundeswehr Professor Carlo Masala and NATO’s former supreme allied commander in Europe, James Stavridis. Stavridis has already used his position as an MSNBC commentator to call for the sending in of combat aircraft as the war hawks in Germany now demand that the next thing their country needs to do is send in more warplanes.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.