U.S. Imperialist Motives Behind the War in Yugoslavia
Revolutionary Worker #1009, June 6, 1999
The bombs of the U.S. and NATO are tearing apart the infrastructure of Yugoslavia--a poor country of 10 million people. After the outbreak of that war, hundreds of thousands of refugees were sent streaming out of Kosovo.
Meanwhile, the U.S. ruling class has mobilized their huge machinery of media reporting and official debate to build popular support for U.S. military actions and for future actions the U.S. will take in the Balkans and elsewhere. People are being told that the U.S. bombing in Yugoslavia will prevent genocide and the horrors of a wider regional war. But what is hidden are the horrors of a U.S. victory in this war--and the bitter cost of U.S. control over millions of people throughout this part of the world.
To understand what is really at stake in this war, and why it must be strongly opposed, it is necessary to look closely at the class interests of the U.S. imperialists and of other key participants in this war--and the class interests of the masses of proletarian people and all who those who want justice around the globe.
First, the U.S. ruling class has major, global interests on its planning boards for the next century. The U.S. intends to finish the work of permanently stripping the southern Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union away from Russian influence, and bring them (with all their valuable oil resources) firmly under U.S. imperialist control. For that, the U.S. needs Turkey deeply engaged in Central Asia--and it needs to keep Turkey out of any destabilizing military crises with its neighbors Greece and Bulgaria. The U.S. intends to keep its hands on the oil-jugular of the world's economies--to better control oil producers, potential imperialist rivals, and other "oil consumers" (which means almost all the countries of the world). U.S. grabs for oil represent moves for dominating and exploiting literally billions of people.
Second, the U.S. needs to reshape and affirm the NATO military alliance as a vehicle through which it and its various imperialist allies carry out strategic moves together with--but under the overall control of--the U.S. In particular, the U.S. is determined to make sure that German imperialism remains (for now) mainly an ally--rather than acting independently as a global rival. For that, the U.S. must lead NATO to act in the Balkans, an area of Europe where the U.S. itself does not have direct strategic interests (but where other imperialists, including Germany and Russia, do).
Third, the structure of alliances and future realignments that the U.S. wants across a broad swath of the globe require stability in the Balkans--which is anything but the same thing as justice or liberation for the masses of people there. The U.S. has plans for Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia--and all of these regions have ties to the events in the Balkans. The disintegration of Yugoslavia into smaller and smaller warring states carries great potential danger for U.S. imperialist interests, because various countries surrounding this Balkan region--including Greece and Turkey--could easily be drawn into military confrontation. Such a crisis could torpedo major plans the U.S. has for Turkey.
A protracted and spreading Balkan war could drive Greece out of NATO, giving Russian imperialism its first potential strategic victory in a decade. The White House has now openly suggested that Russian and Ukrainian troops may be included in the occupation force that the U.S. wants to install in Kosovo--giving the Russian imperialists a say in the future of the Balkans (under overall U.S. superpower direction). This is an attempt to diminish inter-imperialist hostilities--while the U.S. presses ahead to systematically incorporate the most valuable parts of the former Soviet Union and Soviet bloc into the U.S.-dominated world order.
Fourth, the U.S. needs to enforce its position as dominant superpower--with a public demonstration of will and weapons of mass destruction. The leading exploiter of the world feels the need to act as a bloody "Cop of the World." The U.S. imperialists have enlisted the various powers of Western and Southern Europe in an attack on an impoverished mountain country the size of Ohio.
This is not a war to attack "socialism" in Yugoslavia--because there is no socialism in Yugoslavia. This is not a war about "Yugoslav resistance to privatization"--because the road of capitalist penetration, IMF financing and international alliances with imperialism was developed in Yugoslavia--over the course of the '50s, '60s, and '70s under former Yugoslav leader Josef Tito. Yugoslavia is a capitalist country--and the idea that the brutal Serbian chauvinism of Milosevic (including its mistreatment of the Kosovar Albanians) has anything to do with genuine socialism is grotesque. The current Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic is himself a former banker with deep ties to Western finance capitalist circles and a long personal record of eager cooperation with Western corporations and banks.
This war is a case of a smaller ruling class--specifically, the capitalist rulers of Serb-dominated Yugoslavia--who have insisted on aggressively carrying out their local national interests even though they are in opposition to larger U.S. interests for this region. The U.S. follows the bloody gangster logic of capitalism: "If such a small country is allowed to defy us," they ask, "where will it stop?"
Fifth, in the name of "stability and peace," the U.S. wants to force its terms on the various states and peoples of the Balkans--which ultimately and inevitably means supporting (and imposing) all kinds of unjust and reactionary conditions for the masses of people. The core U.S./NATO demand for Kosovo is that Yugoslavia (and Serbia) could continue to rule Kosovo, as long as the Milosevic government accepted the right of NATO (and NATO troops) to decide how it is ruled. The U.S. has called for the systematic dis-arming of the Kosovo people as part of any final agreement--and the entry of NATO troops into Kosovo. This means that the Kosovo people would have little power over their own future (and safety)--and would face a new, heavily armed and ruthless occupying force.
The U.S. ruling class (and their imperialist allies in NATO) have not the slightest concern for the suffering or the security of the masses of people of Kosovo--except to the extent that the dislocation of such people may destabilize fragile governments in this region, particularly Macedonia. The U.S. supported the initial armed attacks that the Yugoslav government launched in 1998--even publicly using the word "terrorist" to describe the armed militia of Kosovar independence forces.
The U.S. is not at all eager to conquer the Balkans by force, or occupy large parts of it indefinitely. It has always been willing to act with and through a compliant Serb/Yugoslav government. If imposing a new stability on this region (which NATO will call "peace") requires the sacrifice of the Albanian Kosovars, the U.S. imperialists will sacrifice them--just like the U.S. sacrificed the Bosnian Muslims in the Dayton Agreement to "stabilize" Bosnia. And they are certainly willing to pound Yugoslavia and its people back toward the Stone Age to make an example of them before the people of the world.
However, the lesson people draw from this "example" may not be the lesson that the U.S. war-makers wanted to teach. The world is getting a close new look at the bullying, arrogant, bloodstained "Ugly American." The word "imperialist" is being heard over and over again.
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 true bloody motives of the U.S. in this war. And it is important to build the resistance against this NATO aggression.
The U.S. motives in the Balkans can be summed up as "All the better to eat you with, my dear!" The U.S. and NATO have attacked the Yugoslav federation in order to impose their interests in the Balkans. And the U.S. wants to impose its terms on the Balkans in order to better exploit and bully people and nations across broad stretches of this planet.
Everything about this aggression is against the interests of the people of the world. A victory for the U.S. in this unjust war would be bad for the people of the world.
NO U.S. TROOPS ANYWHERE/ANYTIME!
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