The current conflict in Georgia shows just how dangerous it is in this 21st century world to pursue political goals by military means. In an era when war — and nuclear weapons — can easily spread and bring unimaginable devastation, it is imperative that conflicts between states be resolved peacefully. Unlike the last century, war cannot be the continuation of politics by other means.

In order to remain dominant as China and other powers rise, and to contend with a burgeoning economic crisis, the established capitalist powers (first of all the U.S. ruling class) must maintain a stranglehold on the world’s oil and energy supplies. Hence the grand plan for Iraq and the Middle East, and the emerging U.S. and European policy of isolating and now provoking Russia.

In the background is the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) following the fall of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries. This military expansion has pushed for new missiles on European soil, promoted ethnic separatist movements in the former Yugoslavia and now actively supports anti-Russian political movements in Georgia.

NATO’s expansion has also led to greater Russian-Chinese military cooperation in a potentially endless cycle of military moves and countermoves. The conflict is clearly timed to drive a wedge between Russia and China when the latter proudly holds the world’s spotlight with the Olympics.

Georgia’s current president, a reckless autocrat allied with U.S. right-wing forces, has thrown his support to imperialism in the struggle over oil.

The drive for Georgia to join NATO is like waving a red flag in Russia’s face. Moscow has said repeatedly it will never accept a NATO country on its borders. Such policies by Washington to isolate and provoke Russia are neither in our nation’s interest nor in the interest of world stability and peace, and should be opposed.

An immediate cease-fire on all sides is urgent along with the withdrawal of troops and further negotiations of the outstanding issues. Russia’s call for such should be encouraged.

This conflict in the Caucasus has brought into further relief the need for a new U.S. foreign policy encouraging real global collective security and emphasizing diplomacy over raw military power. Under such a policy, our country will work to overcome the global problems of nuclear weapons, climate change and poverty. If the U.S. policy of encirclement and isolation continues then tensions will persist and periodic confrontations are inevitable.