Double Dealing over Kosovo:
Bombers and Imperialist Ambitions

Revolutionary Worker #978, October 18, 1998

As we go to press, the U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke is in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, to deliver "an offer you can't refuse." Like the killers and godfathers they are, the U.S. ruling class is demanding that all forces in the Balkans accept the U.S. plans for the future borders and power relations of the region. These negotiations involve the future of Kosovo.

Holbrooke's political demands are backed by threats and military preparations. The U.S. has been loudly calling for an escalating series of air strikes on Serbian military targets if U.S. demands are not met. NATO, the imperialist military alliance headed by the U.S., has drawn up and approved a military plan. A strike force of 430 warplanes is being assembled that includes 269 U.S. planes. Among them are F-117 stealth attack jets and the new B-2 bombers that the Pentagon is eager to test on real targets.

The U.S. government is seeking support for its threats and power moves by playing on the sympathy many people feel for the people of Kosovo, many of whom have been persecuted and driven from their homes. The notorious methods of "ethnic cleansing" are in full effect. The Serbian armed forces--including thousands of regular army troops and militarized police--have been systematically marching through Kosovo, burning many peasant villages, killing livestock and brutalizing the population. This is done in the name of hunting down so-called "terrorists" (by which they mean the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army--KLA). There have been massacres of Albanian people by government forces. Many hundreds of people have been reported killed. Hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes into the mountains--where many face serious suffering from the approaching winter. Death squads of extreme Serb nationalists, including the mass murderers of the notorious "Arkan's Tigers," have been unleashed in Kosovo to kill the Albanian population.

The U.S. and NATO portray themselves as defenders of these Kosovo Albanians. But in fact they are acting to enforce U.S. power over this whole region--and to make sure that any future arrangements in this region serve U.S. interests and don't destabilize the U.S.-dominated pecking order in the surrounding areas.

It is extremely important for people to understand, expose and oppose the U.S. plans, threats and any future U.S./NATO attacks.

What People Often Don't Know

The U.S. is demanding that Serbia withdraw only some of its troops and police from Kosovo, while suggesting that the Milosevic government leave 12,500 of its regular troops in Kosovo. This shows that the U.S. supports continued Serbian domination of Kosovo. The U.S. is demanding that the Serbian army stop driving the people of Kosovo from their villages--but (less publicized in the U.S. media) the U.S. envoys have also demanded that the people of Kosovo accept rule from the Serbian capital of Belgade, abandon attempts to free themselves, disband their armed forces, and trust the pressure of the imperialist powers to "protect" them from future "ethnic cleansing."

After 1989, an extremely reactionary Serbian nationalist government came to power within the federation called "Yugoslavia." Under its president Slobodan Milosevic, this "Yugoslavia" became, in effect, a "Greater Serbia"--and backed genocidal attacks in neighboring Bosnia. A key part of Milosevic's program was asserting that Kosovo is "Serbian," even though over 90 percent of the 2 million Kosovars are of the Albanian nationality. Albanian people were forbidden to speak their language in schools and were driven out of any positions of power in Kosovo.

Not surprisingly, the Albanian people of Kosovo believe that they will never be safe under such Serbian domination. All observers agree that the masses of people in Kosovo want independence and support the idea of a new state they call "Kosova."

If a revolutionary internationalist movement was built in this region, it would be possible to radically change the situation, to unite the working people of the many Balkan nationalities, to wage armed struggle against the ethnic cleansers and imperialists--and to create a new federated form of people's power in this Balkan region.

The KLA is not such a revolutionary or internationalist force. It is a nationalist movement seeking to defend the interests of one nationality by setting up an independent state. It does not have a vision of a radically different society.

However, regardless of the non-revolutionary nature of the forces now prominent in the Kosovo independence movement, given the existing political situation in Kosovo and the Balkans, the struggle of the Kosovars for self-determination and independence is understandable and just.

The U.S. representatives in Belgrade have repeatedly referred to the armed Kosovo independence movement as "terrorists." This was widely seen as a wink to the Serbian government--an unofficial and subtle endorsement of their right to hunt down and break up the separatist KLA. For seven long months, the U.S. and its allies have watched as Serbian army and police troops systematically reoccupied strongholds of the KLA. The KLA units were largely dedicated to defending their own particular villages--a strategic approach that has led to their defeat in one area of Kosovo after another.

Only now, after the Serbian army and police have largely defeated the KLA and badly brutalized their base of support, is the U.S. stepping in to demand that both sides accept the U.S. plan for the region--continued Serbian domination of Kosovo with outside monitoring to protect some limited autonomy and rights for the Albanian people of the region.

Less well known is that the U.S. spokespeople have suggested that the U.S. will only provide military-protected overland relief convoys to the Kosovar refugees after a negotiated settlement has been reached--meaning that the U.S. is threatening to withhold food and medicine from the refugees if their political forces refuse to accept continued rule by the Serb-dominated Yugoslav federation.

U.S. Goals:
Influence in Belgrade and Stability for U.S. Alliances

"NATO has no intention of going to war with Serbia, on behalf of an independent Kosovo."

"Senior NATO official" quoted
in the New York Times (Oct. 9)

"NATO's aim is not to destroy Mr. Milosevic but to persuade him to comply."

New York Times reporter
Steven Erlanger (Oct. 9)

U.S. moves in the Balkans are based on two basic assumptions: first, that Serbia is the strongest Balkan country, where the U.S. wants to focus its influence. And second, that the key U.S. interest in the area is to prevent a spread of instability--particularly to prevent the heightening of tensions between Greece and Turkey, two U.S. allies in the region.

The NATO plans for airstrikes were not designed to force the Serb army out of Kosovo, but to intensify conflict between the Serb military high command and the Yugoslav President Milosevic. They want to work with and through the genocidal Milosevic government. They want to encourage forces within the Yugoslav government, especially in the military, to consider replacing Milosevic with some new reactionary who might be more in tune with Washington's desires.

While carrying out this pressure and intrigue, the U.S. has been careful not to directly oppose key goals of Serbian nationalists--and specifically, not to question their right to dominate Kosovo against the will of its people.

The U.S. ruling class does not want an independent "Republic of Kosova" because they believe its existence would increase Albanian separatist sentiments in western Macedonia. The U.S. wants Macedonia stable (even if the Albanians there are badly oppressed) because instability in Macedonia might disrupt U.S. alliances in the eastern Mediterranean.

The U.S. plan for Kosovo--for continued Serbian domination of Kosovo, with foreign monitoring of Albanian rights--is extremely dangerous for the people of Kosovo. It places their future safety in the completely unreliable hands of the U.S. and its NATO allies. And it hands the U.S. and NATO another ongoing excuse to intervene and scheme in this region.

The U.S. Can't Do Any Good

Some people might be tempted to say, "Well, of course the U.S. is acting out of its own reactionary interests. But the U.S./NATO threats against Serbia might still do some good, by causing the Serbs to back off and give the Kosovar people some relief."

In fact this is not true. And the whole history of U.S. intervention in previous Balkan conflicts shows that it is not true. The U.S. is applying military threat and pressure in this region for its own cold-blooded interests--and it will cynically use, abuse, and betray the Kosovo people whenever that serves those interests.

U.S. attacks and pressures in the world are intended to accomplish one thing--increase the ability of the U.S. imperialists to dominate, exploit and bully people. When the U.S. acts as "global policeman" it strengthens its control and serves its interests. In the Balkans, like everywhere else, those interests are sharply opposed to the interests of the masses of people. The U.S. is the most powerful pillar of the world capitalist system. Its control of different parts of the world means only that the people there can be more deeply exploited and their countries plundered and restructured to serve U.S. profits.

U.S. Hands Off the Balkans!

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