On Friday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz flew to Washington for a secret, one-hour war summit at the White House. Scholz flew alone, without journalists, and met with US President Joe Biden in private, with no members of his staff present.
Neither the Biden administration nor the German government has explained the reason for this extraordinary trip. What agenda required the physical presence of the chancellor, in the most secure building in the world, and without any of his aides present? It is clear that the US government wanted to exclude the possibility of any information regarding the content of the meeting being leaked.
No German chancellor has participated in a meeting of this character since Hitler traveled to meet his generals in East Prussia in 1944. Indeed, one might add that the secrecy of the meeting has more in common with wartime encounters between the fascist leaders Hitler and Mussolini than between leaders of supposedly democratic states.
There is no way to avoid the conclusion that the purpose of the summit was to review with and obtain from Scholz his explicit signed approval for a massive escalation of the US-NATO war against Russia.
Under conditions in which Ukrainian forces are confronting a major debacle in the strategic city of Bakhmut, Biden and Scholz met to discuss emergency military action by the NATO powers, up to and including the deployment of NATO troops.
The coverage of the war by the New York Times and other major media has consisted entirely of propaganda, centered on sustaining the narrative of great Ukrainian resistance. But the casualties have been horrific, and the Ukrainians are now facing a major defeat in Bakhmut, a key strategic city into which Ukraine has pumped reinforcements, only to be encircled and destroyed by advancing Russian forces.
It is a general rule that the more significant the development, the less is said of it in the US media. In the case of Scholz’s visit with Biden, no serious questions are being asked, let alone answered.
Was this meeting held to coordinate joint military decision-making and action between the two countries in order to avoid the confusion and public divisions that emerged over the deployment of Abrams and Leopard tanks to Ukraine?
Did Scholz agree to the deployment of NATO troops to Ukraine or to Belarus? Did he provide Biden with a guarantee that German forces would be sent into battle? Nothing can be ruled out.
Did Scholz obtain from Biden an assurance that the United States would support a new demand that Russia evacuate Kaliningrad, which was the German city of Königsberg until being ceded to the Soviet Union at the end of World War II?
Three things are clear. First, NATO as a whole, and American imperialism, have committed their entire credibility to the war in Ukraine. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been thrown into the conflict. Given this level of commitment, a defeat in Ukraine would be viewed as nothing less than a political and strategic catastrophe for the US and NATO.
In January, the US pledged to “liberate” all of Ukrainian territory, and last month, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland pledged to “demilitarize” the Crimean peninsula.
The war has acquired an existential character for the US and NATO, which is driving the logic of escalation. Articles have begun to appear in the media floating the necessity of the deployment of ground troops in what is now clearly a NATO war with Russia.
Such an action would follow the long US tradition when faced with a military disaster to turn it into a catastrophe through reckless escalation.
Second, the decision to fly Scholz to Washington for the war summit was intended as a warning to Putin that NATO will not be held back in escalating the conflict. The Russian president will certainly interpret the meeting in this way. It also serves to send a message to Chinese President Xi Jinping and any other potential allies of Russia in the conflict.
Third, the American and European working class is being lied to and kept in the dark as to what is being planned, while it is left to the corrupt, state-controlled media to justify whatever action is decided. The widespread opposition to the war is being simply ignored by the US and European governments.
The meeting evokes disturbing and sinister historical recollections. At the end of World War II, there were elements in the US military who favored a last-minute US-German alliance against the Soviet Union. Churchill, we now know, wanted to arm 50,000 German soldiers alongside Allied forces to fight the Russians.
The war summit in Washington is also reminiscent of the secret diplomacy of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At that time, the imperialist powers concluded numerous secret treaties that contributed significantly to the escalation of the First World War in 1914. The public learned of this only when Lenin and Trotsky published the secret treaties after the October Revolution in 1917.
The war summit of Biden and Scholz, and the secrecy in which it is shrouded, underline that the NATO war in Ukraine and the danger of a nuclear catastrophe cannot be stopped by pacifist appeals to the warring governments.
They are driven by the insoluble contradictions of capitalism—the intensification of class antagonisms and the struggle for raw materials, markets and world power. The imperialist powers stagger, as they did a century ago, towards world war and dictatorship.
The objective conditions for a movement in the international working class against war are developing rapidly all over the world with the intensification of the class struggle. But subjectively, the capitalists still hold the advantage: They are aware of their interests, have the levers of state power in their hands and have a large number of auxiliary forces—from the right-wing and supposedly left-wing parties to the trade unions and the war-mongering media.
The disruption of the plans for escalation can be achieved only through the building of a massive international antiwar movement of the working class and young people.