Above photo: Bahman Azad (left) and Ajamu Baraka (right) at the Hanoi Peace Congress.
This is a speech given by Bahman Azad, President of the U.S. Peace Council and Coordinator of the Global Campaign Against US/NATO Military Bases at the World Peace Congress’ Hanoi Peace Conference on November 25, 2022.
Fraternal greetings to all of our comrades and friends. Thanks to the World Peace Council and our respected sister organization, the Vietnam Peace Committee, for organizing this important and timely Peace Conference in Hanoi. I am deeply honored to be given the opportunity to address this Conference.
We are holding this important Conference at the time when our world is going through fundamental transformations and, as a result, is witnessing dangerous military confrontations, as marked by the current crisis in Ukraine. This crisis, more than anything else, is a direct result of the U.S. and European imperialisms’ effort to encircle Russia by the eastward expansion of NATO to the Russian borders, turning Ukraine into another military base for NATO, and thus causing an existential threat to the security of the Russian Federation.
Unfortunately, many have fallen for the imperialism’s propaganda of one-sided condemnation of Russia alone for violating the United Nations Charter. There is no doubt that global peace and security of all nations depends on creation of an international order based on the principles outlined in the UN Charter. But to blame Russia alone for the violation of the UN Charter is to ignore the most important aspects of the history of the world since the destruction of Socialist state in the USSR in 1991 and the resulting collapse of socialist camp.
Since then, our world has been witnessing constant violations of the United Nations Charter by the U.S. and European imperialist powers in their effort to impose their hegemonic domination over the world. Let us look as some of the examples among the many:
- In 1998 for 78 days, NATO attacked, dropped 28,000 bombs, and shattered Yugoslavia into pieces without the consent of the United Nations.
- In 2001, as a response to the 9/11 attack, S. declared an indefinite “war on terror,” affecting at least 60 countries, including seven targeted for illegal regime change.
- In 2003, S. and the members of its “coalition of the willing” illegally attacked and invaded Iraq in defiance of the UN Security Council.
- In 2011, S., UK, and France unilaterally and without the consent of the UN Security Council attacked Libya and killed its leader, Moammar Qaddafi.
- Starting in 2011, S., NATO, and regional allies started a proxy war in Syria by arming and funding terrorist groups, a war that is still taking innocent lives.
- In 2014, the S. staged a coup with the help of neo-Nazi forces in Ukraine and established a pro-NATO government there, which led to the massacres of the Russian and ethnic Russian population in eastern Ukraine.
- Throughout this period, the S. and its European allies have imposed illegal unilateral economic sanctions on more than 40 countries of the world, causing the death and debilitation of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
- And, of course, one should mention the illegal occupation and annexation of Syrian and Palestinian territories by Israel with full support of the United States.
In short, by the beginning of 2022 U.S. imperialism and its allies had already turned the world into a lawless wild west. Since the September 11, 2001, attack on New York, the U.S., at the instigation of its military-industrial complex, put its war machine into high gear, attacking one country after another and bringing death and destruction to many countries of the world, especially to those in Southwest Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. This period has witnessed the eastward expansion of U.S. and NATO military bases into 13 more European countries and even a south and westward expansion of NATO into Latin America by making Colombia a global partner of NATO. According to the New York Times, U.S. military personnel are present in 173 countries of the world. And on top of all this, is a trillion-dollar military and war budget to fund U.S. imperialism’s “full spectrum dominance” project for economic and political control of the whole world.
In addition to these militaristic policies, decades of imposition of neoliberal capitalist economic models on other countries — outsourcing of production to developing countries at poverty-level wages, forced economic restructuring, massive privatization of their healthcare and other social services, removal of their market and environmental regulations, etc., etc. — has created massive poverty, health crises and environmental disasters at the global level.
All these point to the fact that imperialism has been pushing the world toward a very dangerous global military, economic, environmental and humanitarian catastrophe — a catastrophe which demands urgent, extraordinary steps on the part of progressive humanity if an irreversible disaster is to be prevented.
However, with the rise of China as a global economic power, and Russia as an independent powerful actor on the world scene, it is becoming more and more clear that U.S. imperialism is losing its hegemonic control over the direction of world events. The failure of Neocon policy to prevent the emergence of another contending power to unilateral domination by the U.S. is becoming more and more evident. The decline of U.S. global power, now exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, shows that the existing international order under the hegemony of U.S. imperialism is coming to an end.
Today, it is no longer a secret that our world is transitioning from a unipolar world under the exclusive domination of imperialism with the U.S. making the rules to a multipolar world based on international laws and regulations and respect for the national sovereignty of countries. The emergence of China as an alternative economic power to the United States and the tendency of more and more countries in the world to approach and exchange with that country instead of with America and the West, has challenged the economic interests of American and European imperialists. Additionally, the gradual revival of Russia’s independent power during the two decades after the dismantling of the socialist state in the Soviet Union, and Russia’s independent entry into world politics as an effective actor in international relations, has changed the power equation globally to the detriment of imperialist governments, especially the United States. The expansion of Europe’s economic ties with Russia and Europe’s increasing reliance on Russia for supplying its energy needs was an important part of this process.
Based on this qualitative shift in the global relations, a flood of financial, economic, political, and military policies and agreements are being formed between the imperialist-dominated countries and China and Russia, on the one hand, and among these countries themselves, on the other. This shift leads to the political, economic and financial isolation of the camp of global imperialism. Let’s look at a list of some of these agreements that show the enormous dimensions of the changes that have occurred in the world in recent years:
- The increasing strategic closeness between China and Russia: We are now witnessing the consequences of growing cooperation between the two countries in the fields of energy; military; finance and banking that creates independence from the U.S. dollar as the foremost international commercial currency, freeing the world from the domination by the West to carry out financial transactions.
- Expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization: This organization currently covers 40% of the world’s population. Its member countries account for 25% of the world’s gross domestic product with an economic volume of about 21 trillion dollars. This year, the total trade of the member countries of the Shanghai Organization has reached 6.6 trillion dollars. The SCO is one of the few summits and organizations in which Western countries do not interfere in the structure of membership, the management processes and decisions. In this regard, we have seen that this organization rejected the proposal from the U.S. to join it in 2005.
- The BRICS group and its prospects for expansion: This group of nations (founded by Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) has a high potential to influence the world economy due to holding half of the world’s population and between 25 and 28 percent of the global economy’s capacity. BRICS is a transcontinental alliance that has redefined the shape of the global economy and politics, and its importance lies in this point. The powerful BRICS global coalition was formed without the participation of Europe and America and has the capacity to be a powerful voice in important international economic and political issues. BRICS countries account for 24% of global GDP and 16% of global trade, and the expansion plan of this group in the form of “BRICS Plus” also includes 10 other countries.
- Increasing the strength of the union of oil exporting countries in the form of OPEC and OPEC+: In recent years, the coordination of OPEC with Russia and the formation of OPEC+, as well as the conclusion of new economic cooperation agreements between China and the major oil exporting countries in the Middle East, have enabled OPEC member countries to resist the policies imposed by the United States as much as A clear example of this situation can be seen in the recent decision of OPEC+ to reduce rather than expand its oil production to the great dissatisfaction of imperialist countries.
- China’s Belt and Road Initiative: This initiative has created countless business partners for China around the world and has created the possibility of a healthier development- growth path for many countries, especially in the South.
The imperialist powers, especially the United States, have responded to these emerging and expanding regional and extra-regional agreements by focusing major efforts on disrupting them
- either by applying deadly economic pressures or by using threats of and actual military interventions in the countries participating in this The most prominent examples of these efforts have been the eastward expansion of NATO; the 2014 coup in Ukraine; the imposition of severe economic sanctions against China, Russia and countries close to them; the creation of tension with China in relation to Taiwan, surrounding China with military bases and military alliances; and now, the direct involvement of NATO in the Ukraine war. The above-mentioned sanctions cut off the European Union’s critical economic relations with Russia, particularly in energy, leading to the economic weakening and complete subjugation of the EU, especially Germany, by the United States.
Moreover, as a part of its effort to reverse this objective global process, the U.S. has intensified its unilateral coercive measures by imposing maximum economic sanctions on more than 40 countries. It has heightened its policy of forced regime change against all nations that assert their national independence by establishing close relationships with China and Russia and are participating in the newly emerging front of resistance against U.S. imperialist domination. In this regard, destabilization and, if possible, the overthrow of such states as Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Syria, the DPR Korea and most recently Iran, have become especially important for the United States.
Comrades and Friends,
With the direct involvement of NATO in Ukraine, the war in Ukraine is increasingly becoming a direct confrontation between the U.S. and Russia, with disastrous global consequences, including the ever-increasing threat of a nuclear war. But whatever is our assessment of the nature of the war in Ukraine, we cannot deny the fact that its outcome will determine the future course of all humanity. If NATO succeeds in defeating Russia in Ukraine, absent a nuclear catastrophe, we should expect to witness the evisceration of Europe as a major, competing economic power by the United States; total military encirclement of Russia by NATO and intensified attempts for regime change and partitioning of the Russian Federation; intensified economic war and military threats against China; accelerated efforts for regime change in countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and total reversal of all social gains in Latin America and the Caribbean; a complete shift in the balance of power in the Middle East in favor of Israel and other U.S. allies, and possible partitioning of Syria, Iran and other resisting nations in the region, to mention just a few. In Africa we would see unimpeded domination and recolonization. This would mean nothing but the global implementation of the U.S. Neocons’“ Project for the New American Century,” and the “full spectrum dominance” of the world by U.S. imperialism.
It is the historical responsibility of all of us in the peace and solidarity movement around the world to urgently act to prevent such an outcome. We need a globally unified, broad anti- imperialist front demanding diplomacy, negotiations, peace and sovereignty for all nations. And it is the duty for all of us in the World Peace Council to spare no practical effort to create and strengthen such a broad anti-imperialist front.
A new realignment of global forces in favor of a more equitable and democratic world order is underway, and an increasing number of the countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are joining hands to facilitate the emergence of this new multipolar order. It is the responsibility of all forces of peace, justice and social progress to mobilize massive support for this transition.