Interview with Carlos Martinez: The US aims to weaken Russia and further its long-term project of containing China

Carlos Martinez talks to Papagiotis Papadomanolakis of the The Press Project about the conflict in Ukraine, the persistent attempts by the US to divide Russia and China, and the rise of a multipolar world. The interview took place in English and was first published in Greek.

Our discussion is taking place while a special military operation is taking place to denazify and demilitarize the Kiev regime, which came to power with the support of Washington and the neo-Nazis. How is the current conflict in Ukraine linked to the broader strategy of the United States against a multipolar world?

The US has been escalating the conflict in Ukraine in a very cynical way. If it were in the slightest bit interested in ending tensions and establishing a stable peace in Europe, it would have encouraged the Kiev government to implement the Minsk Agreements and to respect the legitimate national rights of the ethnolinguistically Russian section of the Ukrainian population, particularly in Donbas. It would furthermore have stated explicitly that Ukraine would not be invited to join NATO – as opposed to saying, as President Biden did in December 2021, that “the decision on Ukraine’s accession to NATO is the decision of the Ukrainian people.”

Instead, the US has actively fomented tensions in order to consolidate its geopolitical hegemony over Europe. The US and its allies provided significant resources for the Maidan coup in 2014, because they understood that the Maidan leadership was unambiguously pro-West and anti-Russian in orientation, unlike the Yanukovych government, which aimed to have good relations with both Russia and the West.

The US in particular has been vehemently opposed to a federal solution to the crisis in Southeastern Ukraine, as this would potentially give Donetsk and Lugansk veto power over Ukraine joining NATO and becoming fully inserted into the US’s so-called rules-based international order. That’s how the national oppression of the peoples of the Donbas became a question of geostrategic significance; that’s the basis for the tactical alliance that’s been formed between the US, its supposedly liberal friends in Kyiv and Lvov, and the assorted ‘ultranationalist’ (that is, fascist) militia that have been waging a campaign of terror for the last eight years.

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BRICS indispensable for the collective interests of developing countries

The following article by Carlos Martinez is a slightly expanded version of a piece written for Global Times and published on 20 June 2022.


The 14th BRICS Summit, to be held virtually on 24 June, comes at a crucial moment, as the US is escalating and expanding its New Cold War. While waging a proxy war in Ukraine with a view to inflicting a heavy blow against Russia, the US and its allies are also stepping up their anti-China rhetoric, recklessly undermining the One China principle, sending warships and spy planes to Chinese waters and airspace, and reviving their despicable slanders about the human rights situation in Xinjiang.

The Ukraine crisis has exposed important fault-lines in the so-called rules-based international order. The US has been able to persuade its European and Anglo-Saxon allies to impose unprecedented sanctions on Russia – at significant cost to ordinary people in those countries, who now face a cost of living crisis that threatens to drive millions into poverty. These sanctions, and the provision of heavy weaponry to Kyiv, are aimed not at resolving the conflict but prolonging it.

However, most countries of the developing world have rejected the West’s strategy of division and escalation. China’s principled opposition to unilateral sanctions and its emphasis on a negotiated solution to the crisis are well known. India, which the US has long sought to cultivate as a stable ally and stalking horse against China, has also been firm in its opposition to sanctions against Russia. South African president Cyril Ramaphosa incurred the wrath of the Western media when he stated the blunt truth that the Ukraine war was primarily a result of NATO expansion. Even Brazil, while tending under its current government to side with the US, is taking a position of neutrality in relation to Ukraine.

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China’s long war on poverty

In late 2020, the Chinese government announced that its goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2021 (the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China) had been met. At the start of the targeted poverty alleviation program in 2014, just under 100 million people were identified as living below the poverty line; seven years later, the number was zero.

To eradicate extreme poverty in a developing country of 1.4 billion people – which at the time of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 was one of the poorest countries in the world, characterised by widespread malnutrition, illiteracy, foreign domination and technological backwardness – is without doubt “the greatest anti-poverty achievement in history”, in the words of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.1

What does it mean to not suffer extreme poverty in China? The most easily measurable aspect is having a daily income higher than the World Bank-defined international poverty line of 1.90 USD per day. But according to the Chinese government’s definition, a person can be considered to have left extreme poverty only if the “two assurances and three guarantees” have been met.2 The two assurances are for adequate food and clothing; the three guarantees are for access to medical services, safe housing with drinking water and electricity, and at least nine years of free education. Meanwhile, the land ownership system in China means that the rural poor have rent-free access to land and housing – putting them in a very different category to the rural poor elsewhere in the world.

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No to a new Monroe Doctrine in the Pacific

This article by Carlos Martinez first appeared on Friends of Socialist China.

The Anglo ruling classes have gone into a state of frenzy over a recently-signed security agreement between the People’s Republic of China and the Solomon Islands. Various people who had barely heard of the Solomon Islands just a few weeks ago are now expressing grave concern that this small sovereign nation could be used as a pawn by an aggressive and expansionist China in its bid for world domination.

The deal itself appears to be entirely ordinary, allowing for China to “make ship visits to, carry out logistical replenishment in, and have stopover and transition in the Solomon Islands,” in addition to providing the Solomon Islands police with training and – on invitation – support. Indeed, the Solomon Islands already has similar security cooperation arrangements with Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Fiji; as such, the deal with China simply represents a desire to “seek greater security partnership with other partners and neighbours.”

Responding to criticism of the deal by Australian and US politicians, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare assured that it was signed “with our eyes wide open, guided by our national interests”, and that it has been developed not as a means of power projection but of addressing the island nation’s security needs.

Nonetheless, Western politicians and media have reacted with an anxiety bordering on the hysterical. Indeed the Australian government made repeated attempts to prevent the deal being signed in the first place, and its failure has prompted bitter recrimination. Allan Gyngell from the Australian Institute of International Affairs commented to BBC News that “the objective had to be to stop something like this happening. You can’t read it any other way – this is a failure of Australian diplomacy.” Meanwhile, opposition leader Anthony Albanese described Australia’s failure to prevent the agreement going through as “a massive foreign policy failure” and “a Pacific stuff-up”. The Australian Labor Party is now promising that it will “restore Australia’s place as the partner of choice in the Pacific” if it is successful in the coming federal elections.

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US leverages Ukraine crisis for NATO expansion, to push Europe further into chaos

The following article by Carlos Martinez, on the aggressive and expansionist nature of NATO and the importance of dismantling the military architecture of the New Cold War, is a slightly expanded version of an article originally published by Global Times on 15 April 2022.

NATO was formed in 1949, just four years after the end of World War II, to provide military infrastructure for the US-led Cold War alliance. Its existence allowed the positioning of American troops and weaponry in Europe, ready for rapid deployment against the Soviet Union and the newly formed People’s Democracies in Eastern and Central Europe.

NATO’s purported raison d’être was to protect its members from Soviet aggression and expansion. Yet when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Warsaw Pact dissolved in 1991, there was no serious discussion about disbanding NATO. Indeed NATO only became more aggressive.

In 1999, NATO forces launched an illegal bombing campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, bypassing the UN Security Council and committing numerous war crimes. Hospitals, schools and market places were targeted, and depleted uranium bombs were dropped. Notoriously, even the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was attacked, resulting in the death of three Chinese journalists.

Between 2001 and 2021, NATO led a sustained assault on Afghanistan, causing tens of thousands of civilian casualties, holding back the country’s development, and achieving precisely nothing of value for the Afghan people.

In 2003, NATO countries launched an illegal war on Iraq, resulting in the death of an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis. Then in 2011, stretching the definition of a ‘no-fly zone’ beyond the limits of imagination, NATO led a regime change operation in Libya, leaving the country in ruin and chaos.

Nobody can seriously argue that NATO is fundamentally defensive in character. It is an aggressive, nuclear alliance designed to enforce US hegemony.

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Responsibility for Ukraine crisis lies in Washington and Kyiv, not Moscow

The following article by Carlos Martinez, giving an overview of the causes of the escalating crisis in Ukraine, was originally published by CGTN on 26 February 2022.

Contrary to the superficial analysis in much of the Western media, the escalating crisis in Ukraine is not a product of any psychopathology on the part of Vladimir Putin. Nor has it emerged out of thin air. It represents the culmination of a storm that has been brewing for many years.

There are two key components of this situation that are crucial to understand.

First is the issue of Russia’s security. During talks with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and his team about the reunification of Germany in 1989-90, Western leaders made firm commitments that NATO would not seek to extend its borders eastward and that Russia’s legitimate security concerns would be taken seriously. Yet in the event, as Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying has commented, “the U.S. drove five waves of NATO expansion eastward all the way to Russia’s doorstep and deployed advanced offensive strategic weapons,” in a clear breach of the commitments made by George HW Bush and Helmut Kohl. Since the 1990s, 14 states in Central and Eastern Europe have joined NATO.

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Sanctions in the New Cold War on China

The following article by Carlos Martinez features as a chapter in the forthcoming book Sanctions Kill – The World Stands Up. The article provides a detailed analysis of the sanctions imposed by the US and its allies on the People’s Republic of China and exposes the role they play within the escalating New Cold War.

Sanctions Kill – The World Stands Up will be published by World View Forum in early Spring 2022.

Background

The instinctive attitude of the United States towards the Chinese Revolution was of course one of hostility. In a protracted war between progress and reaction, between the future and the past, the governments of the US and the People’s Republic of China were, and are, are on opposite sides of the barricades. Hence shortly after the formation of the PRC in 1949, the US maintained a strict embargo on China.

With the move towards rapprochement in the early 1970s and a tacit agreement to ‘peacefully coexist’, the embargo was finally removed. Then with China’s strategic shift to integrate into the global economy, the trickle of trade and investment gradually expanded into one of the largest and most important economic relationships in the world, with bilateral trade volume currently standing at just over half a trillion dollars annually. Thousands of US businesses have generated enormous profits from their investments in China and (particularly in recent years) from selling to a vast and growing Chinese market.

Ruling classes in the West were, to a considerable extent, comfortable with incorporating China into globalised capitalism, to the extent that China’s role was limited to providing cheap, competent and well-educated labour. However, it was never the intention of the Chinese leadership to remain permanently at the lowest rung of the global economic ladder. China has pursued a patient strategy of welcoming foreign investment, setting up joint enterprises with Western companies, learning the latest technologies and management techniques, and building up its own advanced industry. Meanwhile it has invested very heavily in education and innovation. China’s R&D spending reached 378 billion USD in 2020 – 2.4 percent of its GDP and nearly three times the figure for the US.

As a result, China is on its way to becoming “a moderately developed socialist country by the middle of the 21st century”, as Deng Xiaoping predicted some 35 years ago.1 China has become a world leader in network technology, in renewable energy, nuclear energy, high-speed rail, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, and several other important areas. It is increasingly competing with the US in spaces that the US is used to dominating, such as cloud computing and industrial automation.

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China plays a crucial role supporting progress and sovereignty in Latin America

This article by Carlos Martinez, which first appeared in the Morning Star of 4 December 2021, discusses China’s economic engagement with Latin America in recent decades; debunks claims that this engagement is a form of neocolonialism; and concludes that China’s solidarity with Latin America is an important support for sovereign development in the region.


In the last two decades, economic links between Latin America and the People’s Republic of China have been expanding at a dizzying rate. Bilateral trade in 2000 was just 12 billion USD (1 percent of Latin American’s total trade); now it stands at 315 billion USD. In the same time period, China’s foreign direct investment in Latin America has increased by a factor of five.

Since the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, 19 of the 33 countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region have signed up to the China-led global infrastructure development strategy. Infrastructure projects have been a particular focus for Chinese firms. Writing in Foreign Policy in 2018, Max Nathanson observed that “Latin American governments have long lamented their countries’ patchy infrastructure.” China has “stepped in with a solution: roughly $150 billion loaned to Latin American countries since 2005.”

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Preparing for War: Industrialization and the Fascist Threat – Lessons of Soviet History

In the third part of the new BreakThrough News series on the Soviet Union, Carlos Martinez is interviewed by Brian Becker about the period from 1929-39, specifically covering collectivisation, fast-track industrialisation, the shift in the global communist movement from ‘class against class’ to the United Front, attempts to form an anti-fascist alliance with the Western democracies, and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The 80-minute video is embedded below.

The rise and fall of the Soviet Union – lessons for socialists

In the first part of a new series on BreakThrough News, Carlos Martinez was interviewed by Brian Becker about the Russian Revolution; the popular basis for the revolution; the war of intervention; the extreme backwardness of pre-revolutionary Russia; and the world-historic achievements of the Soviet Union. The 70-minute video is embedded below.