Revolutionary Worker #1008, May 30, 1999
In the thousands of raids in NATO's one-sided war against Yugoslavia, high- tech bombs are pounding people, factories, barracks, bridges, military installations, oil refineries and storage tanks, hospitals, markets, villages, government ministries, television stations, trains, and buses, day and night. The Yugoslav government has reported that a thousand people died in the first month alone. In the second month, the bombing has been sharply intensified.
It has become impossible for the U.S. and NATO to pretend that their "smart bombs" only hit military sites. Two U.S. cruise missiles missed the whole country of Yugoslavia completely . One landed in the capital city of neighboring Bulgaria, shocking the people there and deeply embarrassing the Bulgarian government, which had just given NATO permission to "fly over" Bulgaria on their bombing raids. The world has seen U.S. jets attack Kosovo refugee columns. Journalists have documented attacks on Serbian hospitals, miles from military targets. Everyone has seen the righteous anger of the Chinese people after the deadly U.S. May 7 attack on China's embassy in Belgrade.
Since then, NATO has been forced to admit to further atrocities:
On May 20, four U.S. F-16s attacked in and around the small village of Korisa in southern Kosovo. Journalists reported that at least 100 dead civilians were found amidst the charred tractors and shattered houses. Many of the dead were Albanian refugees who had gathered in the town.
In the early hours of May 20, NATO bombed the Dragisa Misovic Hospital in Belgrade, killing at least four people and wounding dozens. Dr. Branislava Mrsulja said, "We thought we were safer here than at home. And why are these patients guilty of anything?" One of the dead patients, Branka Boskovic, had just celebrated her 75th birthday in the hospital's ward. Nearby, residences of the Spanish, Norwegian and Swedish ambassadors to Yugoslavia were damaged. NATO's spokesman Jamie P. Shea said that a laser-guided missile "failed to guide correctly," and added "We will continue our practice of striking those military targets with great accuracy and precision and we will continue to take every conceivable measure to avoid damage to civilian property and harm to civilians." NATO jets also hit a Yugoslav prison at Istok, killing 19 people.
This air campaign follows the "American Way of War" which has always considered the masses of people a key target of its violence. The people of the world are seeing NATO battering a small, poor country mercilessly--while the war alliance makes demands about how this part of the world should be run. Many millions of people are getting a close new look at the "ugly American." The word "imperialist" is being heard over and over again.
Victory has not come quickly to NATO. The imperialists are not as all-powerful and terrifying as they thought they would be.
As the war continues, cracks have appeared in the NATO alliance--between the various imperialists who, all along, had somewhat different interests and opinions of the war. These differences are playing a role in the dance-of-negotiations that now involves NATO and the Yugoslav government--with Russia's government acting as an intermediary (with interests of its own). Yugoslav president Milosevic agreed to talks based on the demands of the G-8 (the summit conference of the world's top imperialist powers). He insisted that the bombing stop while the many disagreements got discussed.
This talk of negotiation and cease-fire has stirred disagreements within NATO (and was designed to do that). The Greek ruling class, already the most reluctant participant in NATO's war, openly called for a bombing halt. The Italian government (which has supplied the second largest contingent of NATO war planes, after the U.S. air force) called for a three-day bombing halt, and a shift of discussion to the United Nations. These proposals have been crudely rejected by the U.S. and NATO's other dominant partners.
Meanwhile, the 800 delegates of Germany's Greens only narrowly voted down a resolution calling for an unconditional end to NATO bombing. The bitter debate left the party badly split. Germany's coalition government of Greens and Social Democrats may still come unraveled if this war on Yugoslavia drags on or intensifies. The war is controversial in Germany both among the masses and within the ruling class. While Britain's government called for preparations for a land invasion of Kosovo, Germany's government announced that it could never support such an invasion.
For now, the U.S. government has held the NATO unity together by insisting that the war will continue along the track that all the NATO imperialists have agreed to: pursuing the brutal air war on Yugoslavia--while preparing a ground force of 48,000 troops to occupy Kosovo once a battered Yugoslavia agrees to withdraw its troops and allow foreign imperialist troops in. A top American NATO war-planner remarked to the New York Times that this method might create "a desert in Kosovo" while NATO waits for Milosevic to agree to their terms.
Hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians have fled their homes and now live scattered in camps on the borders surrounding Kosovo, or just hiding in the forests near their home villages, hoping that the situation will improve. The U.S. media and government have used the suffering of the Kosovar Albanians to justify their continuing war and to paint themselves as armed "humanitarians" bringing a little justice and security into a badly troubled part of the world.
But this whole story turns reality upside down. The simple facts are that the U.S. bears great responsibility for the current suffering of the Albanian people of Kosovo--and the U.S.-NATO attack on Yugoslavia will not help solve the problems of the people.
It is the workings of capitalism within Yugoslavia (and the machinations of imperialist powers outside Yugoslavia) that pulled that multinational federation apart during the '80s and '90s--causing the rise of reactionary nationalism and the years of mutual warfare among former neighbors. German imperialism (with eventual U.S. backing) triggered Croatia's withdrawal from Yugoslavia--and that caused the outbreak of Serb-Croatian wars.
The U.S. supported Milosevic during his rise to power and worked closely with him to open up Yugoslavia's economy even further to takeovers by international banks and corporations. The U.S. has all along (even now) supported the Serb nationalist demand that Kosovo must remain part of Serbia--regardless of what the inhabitants of that region need or want. After 1989, the Yugoslav government increased the oppression of Albanian people in Kosovo--they drove Albanian people out of the local government, forced them out of working class jobs in the mines and factories, and forced Albanian students and professors out of the university. When various Albanian groups formed village militias to fight against Serbian mistreatment, the U.S. ambassador in Belgrade pointedly called them "terrorists"--giving a green light to the first Yugoslavian military sweeps in 1998 against Albanian villages that backed the Kosovo Liberation Front.
It is perverse for the U.S. now to posture as the savior of the Albanian refugees--when imperialism caused their suffering and the U.S. itself played such a key role.
It is important to see the complete hypocrisy of the U.S. pretending to be morally outraged by the "ethnic cleansing" of Kosovo--the use of force by the Yugoslav military and Serb nationalist forces to drive Albanian people from their homes. The U.S. ruling class is not an opponent of ethnic cleansing. This whole last spring, the Turkish government has continued its attacks on Kurdish people with the full military and political backing of the U.S. and German imperialists--in a war that has involved the brutal removal of Kurdish people from hundreds of their villages.
People sometimes ask: Since there is no one but the U.S and NATO capable of helping the Kosovo Albanians, shouldn't we support them? If they don't intervene, who will?
In fact, the national oppression of Albanian people in Kosovo would not be lifted when (and if) U.S.-NATO forces take over this region. The people of this region would face a new, heavily armed and ruthless occupying force. It is an illusion to think that these armed forces will be there to "protect" the Albanian people. Those armed forces would be there to protect the interests of the great powers who sent them.
U.S. commanders of the Apache helicopter force are already talking about future operations against any armed Albanian forces that do not accept future agreements between NATO and Yugoslavia.
Who will save the people of the Balkans? Only the masses of people can emancipate themselves. Difficult as it may appear at times, this is the only road. Relying on imperialist powers to intervene and control the politics and economics of this region will only mean more suffering. The long-term unity and liberation of the people of the Balkan region can only be established through a multinational revolutionary movement uniting the oppressed people who live side by side in this region--uniting them to fighting for their common interests, uprooting the capitalist relations that created inequality among their various nationalities, overthrowing the reactionary nationalists who fan national hatreds to seize this or that patch of soil. Such a revolutionary movement can only be built by fighting the imperialists who have their fingers stretched out for the whole Balkan region--the U.S., the other NATO powers, and the Russian imperialists who are waiting restlessly in the wings.
In the final analysis, this is not a war "about Kosovo"--The imperialist system has driven the people of this region into war against each other--and now the imperialist powers of the world portray themselves as "the solution" to that warfare. But their purpose, their interests in this war have to do with solidifying U.S. control over strategic parts of the world--all the better to exploit, oppress and threaten hundreds of millions of people.
This war is a major power grab by the U.S. and NATO--it is about consolidating NATO as an alliance of imperialists that can together impose their will on other countries. It is about stabilizing the whole Balkan region (under imperialist domination) so that the U.S. and its allies can press forward their plans in neighboring regions--including systematically seizing the most valuable pieces of the former Soviet empire, such as the oil fields of the Caspian Sea.
It is important for people everywhere to raise their consciousness, to expose the lies of U.S. war propaganda, to rip away the "humanitarian" mask to reveal the truth about U.S. imperialism's bloody motives and goals. And it is important to support and build the resistance against this NATO aggression.
A victory for the U.S. and NATO means tighter domination of this part of the world by the imperialist states that make up NATO. That is against the interests of the people of the whole world--including all the many peoples in the Balkan region themselves.
Nothing good can come out of a U.S.-NATO victory in this war. Nothing can justify this war, or justify support for this war.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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