Like any revolution, the one led by Thomas Sankara aroused strong opposition. Just as its example inspired activists elsewhere, it stirred animosity among established rulers who feared that their own citizens might want to emulate the Burkinabè. The US, France, and other European powers did not hide their alarm at the National Council of the Revolution’s (CNR) radical foreign policy and its solidarity with liberation struggles in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Their African client states, especially in neighboring Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Togo, attempted to destabilize the Sankara government by helping dissident military officers conduct bombings. In 1986 Mali even waged a brief war against Burkina Faso. Within the country, those political and social circles that saw their interests threatened resisted the CNR’s programs and policies. They included: merchants linked to illicit commercial networks or smuggling rings, senior officers and bureaucrats removed from powerful positions, corrupt personnel no longer able to pilfer state resources, and traditional chiefs who lost some of their control over land or other prerogatives to young activists in the Committees in Defense of the Revolution (CDRs).
The moment the presiding judge of a military tribunal read out guilty verdicts against eleven accused killers of Burkina Faso’s revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara, the courtroom audience burst into applause. As news spread across the capital, Ouagadougou, drivers honked horns and youths danced in the streets. Some chanted: “La patrie ou la mort, nous vaincrons!” (Homeland or death, we will win), the slogan of Sankara’s revolutionary government. A procession of activists and youth groups laid flowers at a memorial site dedicated to Sankara and the twelve aides slain with him in the 1987 military coup.Many thought the day would never come. Not least because the chief accused was Blaise Compaoré, who crushed Sankara’s revolution and then ruled the country with an iron hand—and with complete impunity—for the next 27 years. But Compaoré’s own overthrow in a popular insurrection in 2014 left him exposed to the possibility that he might one day have to answer for his crimes. So he fled to neighboring Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), beyond the reach of Burkina Faso’s judicial system, which thus had to try him in absentia. Still, the life sentence for Compaoré and sentences from three years to life for the others convicted, brought some satisfaction to the many, many Burkinabè who revere Sankara.
This interview first appeared in the on-line journal Spectre on April 11, 2022. World-Outlook is publishing it because it provides information that will be of interest to our readers. Yuliya Yurchenko is the author of Ukraine and the Empire of Capital: From Marketization to Armed Conflict. She is also a Senior Lecturer on Political Economy at the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom and Vice-Chair of the Critical Political Economy Research Network. At the time of the interview, Yurchenko was in Vinnytsia, Ukraine. The interview offers valuable insight into the struggle to defend Ukraine’s right to self-determination after centuries of Russian domination. It includes information on the establishment of the “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk with Russian government support following Putin’s seizure of the Crimea in 2014. Yurchenko also discusses the role of far-right forces in Ukraine. Her description of the way capitalism was re-established in Ukraine following the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991 is persuasive.
This is a resolution adopted by the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) in November 1919. Russian revolutionary leader V.I. Lenin drafted the original text. The resolution can be found in Vol. 30 of Lenin’s Collected Works under the title “On Soviet Rule in Ukraine.” World-Outlook is publishing it because it is relevant to the world-wide discussion and debate on Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. Moscow’s brutal attack on a sovereign neighboring republic smacks of the Great Russian chauvinism prevalent under the czars, the barbaric monarchy that ruled the Russian empire for centuries before it was overthrown by workers and peasants in 1917. That same chauvinism animated the reactionary policies re-established by the late 1920s in the former USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) during the counterrevolution led by Joseph Stalin—a regime Russian president Vladimir Putin faithfully served decades later as an officer of the KGB, the secret police. The resolution illuminates the stark contrast between the position of Putin and Russia’s capitalists today, with that of the workers and peasants’ government Lenin led after the Russian revolution.
This is a statement by Russian freediving champion Olga Davydova opposing Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The athlete posted the statement on her Facebook page on March 2, 2022. Sonja Franeta, a writer who has frequently traveled to Russia, translated Davydova’s statement from the original text in Russian and introduces it to World-Outlook readers.
This is a statement the Vienna State Opera issued on March 21, 2022. World-Outlook is publishing it because it addresses an important issue in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as U.S. and NATO sanctions against Russia. We agree with the Vienna opera’s call to reject demands to exclude Russian artists from performing “as well as a world view that classifies people as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ only on the basis of their origin.” We should note that during the long U.S. war against Vietnam 50 years ago, and during many other acts of aggression by Washington since, such a policy against artists from the U.S. would have been wrong for the same reason. It would also have deprived the world of many outstanding voices opposing that aggression. Any denial of the stage to Russian artists today only makes it more difficult for Russian artists to emulate that example now.
March 28, 2022—In the face of fierce and effective resistance by Ukrainian forces, signs are appearing that the Russian military may be adjusting the goals of its brutal invasion. “Russia says its main goal is Donbass, suggesting scaled-back ambitions in Ukraine,” Reuters reported March 25. Russian president Vladimir Putin originally aimed a substantial military convoy at Ukraine’s capital city with the goal of capturing it and, if possible, installing a compliant regime that would accept his false assertion that there is no Ukrainian nation; that Ukraine is nothing other than a “creation” of Russia. Achieving that goal has proven impossible, for now. Frustrated by the inability to score a quick, decisive military victory, Putin intensified a brutal air and artillery assault on the Ukraine, one that is intended to terrorize the civilian population. That offensive has created an enormous humanitarian crisis, but it has not broken the will of the Ukrainian people despite the fact that one in every four Ukrainians have been forced from their homes.
This is a selection of writings by Russian revolutionary leader V.I. Lenin on internationalism, fighting national oppression, and the need for a voluntary union of soviet socialist republics. In recent posts, World-Outlook has referred to the fight Lenin carried out at the end of his life for a genuinely internationalist approach to ensuring such a voluntary union in the early years after the Russian Revolution of 1917. Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine this year, and Vladimir Putin’s distortions of Russia’s and Ukraine’s revolutionary history, give renewed importance to these issues.
March 16, 2022—Moscow is escalating its savage assault on Ukraine in the face of worldwide opposition to the invasion ordered by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Any idea that Russia’s military could score a quick victory and rapidly impose a successful occupation of the country has proven false. Ukrainian resistance has been stiff and determined. Inside Russia, demonstrations against Putin’s war have occurred in over 150 cities leading to more than 13,000 arrests by Putin’s cops. The population of Ukraine is engaged in a war for national independence against a regime in Moscow that aims to restore in Ukraine the situation that existed under the Russian Tsar, when the Russian empire was a prison house of nations. This explains the fierce resistance that has clearly come as a surprise to Putin, as well as others. Ukrainians will not easily become the subjects of efforts to establish a new Russian empire.
This is a letter signed as of March 5, 2022, by 7,500 students, graduates, and teachers and other staff of the prestigious Moscow State University, Russia’s oldest university, stating they “categorically condemn the war that our country unleashed in Ukraine.”
This exchange includes a slightly edited version of a letter Pete Seidman, a leader of the U.S. Hands Off Cuba and Venezuela coalition in Miami, sent to Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and Codepink: Women for Peace, and Nicolas (Sandy) Davies, a journalist and researcher for Codepink. Seidman is responding to the article by Benjamin and Davies “How the US Started a New Cold War with Russia and Left Ukraine to Fight It.” The latter appeared on February 28, 2022, in CommonDreams and is republished after Seidman’s letter. Cassia Laham, a leader of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), published an article on March 1, headlined “No To NATO,” which expresses views similar to those in the CommonDreams piece. It is also republished at the end of this exchange for the information of our readers. World-Outlook is publishing this exchange of views because of the importance of the issues involved for antiwar fighters and others. The editors of World-Outlook share Seidman’s views.
Moscow’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is an anathema to humanity. Russian troops, tanks, air force, and other military hardware should get out now. The Ukrainian people defending the country’s independence deserve international solidarity—already shown by protests condemning the invasion inside Russia, Georgia, and elsewhere. It is also necessary to clearly see Washington’s hypocritical claims that it tried to avert war through diplomacy. We should demand that U.S. and NATO military forces pull out of Eastern Europe and the broader region. The Pentagon has doubled the number of U.S. warships in the Mediterranean, redeployed an aircraft carrier there from the Pacific, and increased the number of U.S. troops in the region. It is opening up new NATO bases in Eastern Europe. The newest, a “highly sensitive U.S. military installation” according to the New York Times, located near the village of Redzikowo, in Poland, is only about 100 miles from Russian territory. These moves are aimed at expanding U.S. military domination in Europe and countering Russian economic interests. They pose a genuine threat to world peace while offering Putin a pretext for his brutal invasion.
On October 11, 2021, a trial opened in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, of 14 men accused of plotting the murder of Thomas Sankara 34 years ago. Sankara, 37-years-old at the time, was president of Burkina Faso and leader of its popular revolutionary government from 1983 to 1987. This is the second of two parts of a speech Sankara gave at the UN in 1984. Under Sankara’s leadership, the revolutionary government of Burkina Faso in West Africa mobilized peasants, workers, craftsmen, women and youth to carry out literacy and immunization drives; to sink wells, plant trees, build dams, erect housing; to combat the oppression of women and transform exploitative relations on the land; to free themselves from the imperialist yoke and solidarize with others engaged in that fight internationally.
On October 11, 2021, a trial opened in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, of 14 men accused of plotting the murder of Thomas Sankara 34 years ago. Sankara, 37-years-old at the time, was president of Burkina Faso and leader of its popular revolutionary government from 1983 to 1987. This is the first part of a speech Sankara gave at the UN in 1984. Under Sankara’s leadership, the revolutionary government of Burkina Faso in West Africa mobilized peasants, workers, craftsmen, women and youth to carry out literacy and immunization drives; to sink wells, plant trees, build dams, erect housing; to combat the oppression of women and transform exploitative relations on the land; to free themselves from the imperialist yoke and solidarize with others engaged in that fight internationally.
Washington’s setback in Afghanistan is only the latest in a long list of examples pointing to the decline of U.S. imperialism, signaled in 1975 by its defeat in Vietnam.
The chaotic withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops from Afghanistan, which has had deadly consequences for many Afghans and some U.S. troops, is another sign of the decline of U.S. imperialism. While Washington remains the number one military power in the world, its domination and influence are diminishing.