Consideration by Tibor Zenker, chairman of the Party of Labour of Austria
Rather incidentally and as a sideline, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned at a press conference in Belvedere Palace on the occasion of his visit to Vienna on 14 August that Austria would in future participate in the “State Partnership Program” (SPP) of the US Pentagon. Austrian Defence Minister Klaudia Tanner later confirmed this assertion. The announcement came as a bit of a surprise and raises some questions.
The strategic military cooperation programme SPP is being carried out under the leadership of the US National Guard. Its purpose is to connect “friendly” states and territories to US imperialism and militarism. 80 countries worldwide participate in it, in Europe there are 22 so far – all of them states with a socialist past and counter-revolutionary present, most of them former members of the Warsaw Treaty. By the way: Organizationally, the National Guards of certain US states are assigned to the individual SPP contracting states: The Czech Republic has got Nebraska, Kosovo Iowa, Ukraine at least California and Georgia – well, Georgia (and if you can make a wish: please let it be Hawaii for Austria!). – The orientation towards the former socialist countries is of course self-explanatory, because the states of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe are supposed to serve as new allies of the US as front states against Russia and as geostrategic bases of the US Army and Navy. In most cases, of course, SPP participation was and is the preliminary stage to NATO full membership. But how did Austria get involved? Since 1995 Austria has been a participant in NATO’s so called”Partnership for Peace” (PfP), an appendage of the North Atlantic Treaty. The absurd title is of course intended to conceal the opposite: it is about military cooperation – and ultimately about war alliance policy. At the instigation of Erdogan-Turkey, the Austrian Armed Forces are somewhat blocked in the PfP exercises, which is why the SPP is apparently now to serve as a substitute. It is obvious, however, that neither one nor the other is conducive to Austria’s constitutional “permanent neutrality” anyway.
Accordingly, some political actors among the Social Democrats and the Greens are somewhat outraged about the upcoming participation in the SPP. However, this has more to do with loss of reality and hypocrisy than with sincere concern for neutrality and pacifism. It should not be forgotten that it was SP-led federal governments that signed Austria’s membership of NATO-PfP and backed the militarisation of the EU. That is only natural: the Social Democratic Party is the expression of a part of Austrian capital which is also pursuing its imperialist interests: It is true that on an economic and financial level, it has been able to invade everywhere in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe (and beyond) with its banks and corporations since the beginning of the 1990s, but militarily the possibilities of the Austrian army are limited. It was only with the help of the EU, NATO, Germany and also the US that Austrian soldiers made it as far as the Hindu Kush, and in the Balkans they were even able to establish themselves as a main occupying power, although only with the backing of the EU and NATO. In any case, there is nothing to rock this close cooperation.
Of course, Austrian neutrality has long since ceased to be worth the patient law gazette paper on which it was once printed. Although the Neutrality Act of 26 October 1955 was staged as a national fetish for decades, in reality the conservative People’s Party, the Social Democrats andthe right-wing Freedom Party neveradmitted to it. It was the Austrian communists who were the first to propose neutrality based on the Swiss model in order to end the occupation period 1945-1955 and to maintain formal distance from both the US/NATO and the USSR/Warsaw Treaty. Admittedly, at that time this only earned them the accusation of high treason for the time being, before People’s Party and Social Democrats recognized the benefits after all, because a real neutrality between capitalism/imperialism and socialism cannot exist anyway. For this reason, Austria succeeded in 1955-1990 in becoming a clear part of the “West” and all NATO plans, but at the same time in doing good business with the East. This would indeed not have been possible without its neutrality status. But it is completely naive to believe that this was a matter of ultimate substance, which is why the Austrian Armed Forces always had to prepare for the tank battle in the Morava Field against the enemy from the East.
After 1989/90, however, the Austrian halo had become somewhat obsolete and impractical. In order to fully participate in the EU (accession in 1995), which has long since also had its military structures (most recently PESCO), neutrality had to be constantly undermined and “reinterpreted” – in principle there would already be a certain incompatibility within Austria’s EU-membership. At the beginning of the new millennium, conservative Chancellor Schuessel even went so far as to make the self-unmasking statement that Austrian neutrality really only has the staged importance of the Lipizzan horses and the Mozart balls (the “real” ones, by the way, are produced by a US company). The Social Democrats didn’t have anything against this – and didn’t want to: it is too deep in the twisted EU imperialist “integration” ideology, even parts of the left are backing EU-compliant cosmopolitanism. And that is why we stand where we are. The damage has long since been done, the SPP is hardly a significant increase in general, but in relation to the US: The fact that they want to collaborate even more closely with the Trump administration is a devastating testimony to the contemporary conservative-green federal government.
And yet, especially in the present times, one could well use real neutrality and non-alignment: The US and NATO are acting as unrestrained warmongers towards Russia, China and Iran, the aggressions, interventions and blockades contrary to international law have been gaining the upper hand for years, the NSA is spying on “friendly” states etc. – under these conditions one should not allow oneself to be drawn into current and upcoming conflicts or even major wars. Rather, one would have to stand up for the right of self-determination of nations, for peaceful conflict solutions, disarmament, compliance with international law and against hegemonic, unilateral power politics. But imperialism does not work like that, and the limited Austrian imperialism is clearly on the side of Germany and the US, thus the EU and NATO (even if their relations are not frictionless). Austrian capital and its political henchmen – all parties represented in parliament – do not want to change this, because power politics, intervention, occupation and finally war for the purpose of monopoly capitalist profit maximization are also its business model, although only as a free rider. The cooperation with the SPP of the US National Guard is just another ride along.
As much as imperialism and militarism represent the business of the ruling classes in Austria, it is clear at the same time: the working class and the working popularstrata have nothing to do with it – they are always just supposedto pay the bill and in case of doubt to serve as cannon fodder. They have objectively no interest in the economic, political, “diplomatic” and military aggressions and wars of imperialism, and certainly no interest in collaboration with the US, the greatest war criminal and robber of the present time and the most massive global threat to peace. On the other hand, independence and self-determination, anti-militarism and anti-imperialism, internationalism and friendship among nations, peace with Russia and China and the scrapping of nuclear weapons would be in the interest of the working class. But all this will not occur if the rulers of capitalism are not forced to do so. You have to break the rule of capital, the dictatorship of banks, corporations and the military in order to achieve true peace policy, democratic sovereignty and equal international relations. And only the revolutionary organized working class of the world is capable of this – as the ruling class of socialism it creates not only a world without exploitation and oppression, but also one without imperialism and war. Peace politics is class struggle – and there is no neutrality in this either.
Source: Party of Labour via Solidnet / RedGlobe