George Galloway’s NO2NATO: War cannot be opposed based on nationalism and an embrace of capitalism’s “rising powers”

The founding meeting of NO2NATO took place on February 25 at the Bolivar Hall in central London. Other venues had refused to host the event because of the group’s stated opposition to NATO’s war against Russia in Ukraine, citing fears of violent counter-protests.

The Bolivar Hall was made available by the Venezuelan Embassy, though its small size meant that the rally was broken up into four sessions of 160 attendees.

George Galloway speaking at the NO2NATO rally [Photo: screenshot of video/NO2NATO/YouTube]

George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain and the Socialist Labour Partyfounded by former National Union of Mineworkers leader Arthur Scargill but now led by witch-hunted former Labour MP Chris Williamson—were co-sponsors of the rally. Galloway, Williamson and ASLEF train drivers’ union Vice President Andy Hudd were nominated as NO2NATO’s “provisional” leaders.

Galloway’s political origins are in Stalinism and Labourism, but he has moved in right-wing circles for many years. What he retains from Stalinism, decades after the bureaucracy destroyed the Soviet Union, restored capitalism and mutated into a mafia-style oligarchy, is a fierce British nationalism.

He is ideally placed to lead a movement that opposes NATO within the context of advocating an alternative foreign policy for British and, with considerably less enthusiasm on Galloway’s part, European imperialism. Against Britain’s alliance with the US, No2NATO advocates a global alliance with the “rising powers” led by China, which will supposedly inaugurate a new multi-polar world and bring about world peace.

After a contribution from Peter Ford, the former British ambassador to Bahrain and Syria and a critic of the NATO wars in Iraq and Syria, Galloway gushed, “How I wish you were still in the foreign office and applying some of that wisdom. The purpose of a government, the purpose of a foreign office, is to protect the interests and safety of British people and British interests.”

Protecting British interests led Galloway to suggest, “The Monroe Doctrine was the enunciation by the United States of America that it would not tolerate European interference in the Americas. I say we need a European Monroe Doctrine.”

Galloway’s critique was taken up by Dr. David Miller, the academic sacked by Bristol University for criticising Israeli repression of the Palestinians on Palestine Declassified on Iran’s Press TV, which he co-hosts with Chris Williamson. He stated, “The US is engaged in a process of trying to destroy European countries. That is the purpose of it, to just destroy the economies of Europe. That was always of course the point of NATO. It was to keep Germany down and Russia out. And that remains the point of NATO—to destroy the possibility that Germany can take an independent course. And people in Europe see that it’s not just that we support ending of war in Ukraine. It is that we should be directly targeting the US imperial power, which is oppressing all of us.”

Anti-Americanism, not anti-imperialism

Facile claims that the European imperialist states are oppressed by US imperialism confirm that No2NATO is not a genuinely anti-imperialist organisation. Its advocates are opposed to the assertion of US global hegemony because this threatens the comfortable social position of an upper-middle class stratum who see their privileged existence threatened by Washington’s predatory ambitions blowing up the world. In response they propose the creation of a global alliance of rising capitalist powers, with the US, UK and Europe accepting an inevitable diminution in their global position.

Galloway insists that No2NATO’s chief distinction from the Stop the War Coalition, run by the pseudo-left Counterfire group and the Communist Party of Britain, is that his alliance does not criticise Russia, only NATO.

As the International Committee of the Fourth International has explained, the character of the war cannot be determined by the fact that Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. That decision was preceded by NATO’s extension to Russia’s borders and a long campaign to turn Ukraine into a frontline garrison state as part of Washington’s drive to secure its global hegemony, centred on destroying China as an economic rival. This has been a strategic US goal since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and was the basis for backing the Maidan coup in 2014, the real beginnings of the war now being waged by Kiev with NATO’s backing.

Ukrainian servicemen of the 3rd Separate Tank Iron Brigade take part in an exercise in the Kharkiv area, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, the day before the one year mark since the war began. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

However, this neither excuses nor justifies Putin’s nationalist response in invading Ukraine. Putin is a representative of the criminal capitalist oligarchy in Russia that emerged as a result of the Stalinist betrayal of the October 1917 socialist revolution, just as Zelensky represents its Ukrainian counterpart. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was a disastrously miscalculated attempt to pressure Washington to back down and to recognise the national interests of Russian capitalism.

To extend support for Putin’s great Russian chauvinism isa political betrayal of the Russian, Ukrainian and international working class and a political gift to the apologists for NATO. A socialist opposition to NATO’s war demands a struggle to unify the Russian and Ukrainian workers against both Putin and Zelensky.

Galloway’s blind eye regarding the Putin regime is not simply a hangover from his Stalinist past. It is bound up with efforts to be recognised as the premier advocate of a reorientation by Britain towards China, which No2NATO advances as the cornerstone of a strategy for peace.

A new multi-polar world?

Platform speaker Craig Murray, a former British diplomat, was moved by the pro-Putin apologetics he had heard to oppose presentations of Russia as “the good guys” in the Ukraine war. This prompted a public criticism by Galloway who argued that in light of the “great changes that are taking place in the world, it is not necessary for Craig or for me or for you to like or dislike the leaders of these new rising economic powers.”

Galloway expounded, “The tectonic plates have very clearly shifted, and that domination of the Earth by the imperialist club now known as NATO is in front of our eyes coming to an end. A new multi-polar world is being born.

“This is visible not just on the battlefield… it’s being demonstrated on the economic battlefield, perhaps more significantly.”

The war in Ukraine, he maintained, “has accelerated perhaps by a decade, maybe two decades, the rise of a genuinely multi-polar world” involving Russia, India, Latin America and South Africa, but with the leading position economically and politically falling to China… The days when China could be ordered around by foreigners are over, over, over, over…. The sun is rising in the east. The economic power has moved to the east.”

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