By GERRY FOLEY
In pursuance of its ambition to become the world’s cop, Washington and its NATO allies have initiated armed action against the rump Yugoslavia. Reports indicate that bombs falling upon residential and industrial neighborhoods have caused significant civilian casualties.
The Clinton administration claimed that its attack was undertaken in order to halt Serb “ethnic cleansing” operations against the Albanian people of Kosovo.
But following the first waves of air strikes, the Western press had to report that there was no letup in the Yugoslav army’s terrorism. The killing of Kosovars has apparently escalated.
Thousands of Kosovars are streaming toward the borders. Many others are virtually imprisoned in their homes, terrorized, but with no way out.
The few foreign observers left in the Kosovar capital of Pristina point out that the Albanians are terrified that they will be the victims of all-out terror at the hands of the Serb armed forces and paramilitary gangs now that Yugoslav President Milosevic is using the excuse of the air attacks to expel the foreign press and humanitarian workers.
The Kosovar Albanian newspapers have been shut down and their offices and printing plants attacked. According to Astrit Dakli in the March 26 issue of the Italian left daily Il Manifesto, Kosovar Albanian journalists are being killed.
The only force able to offer any protection to the Kosovar people remains the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which the Western powers have consistently said they were determined not to aid in any way. They have done everything they were politically able to do to block its growth.
In fact, the Rambouillet peace treaty, which the U.S.-NATO is trying to force the Yugoslav-Serbian government to sign, in fact calls for the disarming and disbanding of the KLA. Under this agreement a NATO occupation force would guarantee Serbian sovereignty over the Kosovar Albanian people.
The KLA leadership had to be bullied and blackmailed into signing the Rambouillet treaty. The basic tactic of the Western powers was to say that unless the Kosovar Albanian leadership accepted the deal, there was nothing they could do to protect the Kosovar people against the Serbian genocide, and in that event they would be responsible for the slaughter of their own people.
Obviously, that put even the most militant leaders of the KLA in an impossible position. They could not explain to a people under the gun of the Yugoslav army and the Serbian fascist-like paramilitary gangs why they had to reject the political demands of great powers that apparently had the military capacity to stay the hands of the Serbian mass murderers without delay.
It is unclear how the KLA will respond to the pressures of the present situation. The Albanian guerrillas may believe they are able to benefit militarily to some extent from the NATO attacks, despite the intentions of the big powers. In fact, the KLA may have calculated that it could sign the Rambouillet treaty without consequences, since the Serbians would not accept it, and then they could gain from NATO air strikes.
But those would be flawed assumptions at best. The war emergency created by the NATO attacks have allowed Milosevic to rally a large segment of the Serbian people behind his regime, while eliminating all independent voices.
In any case, the West will also try to use all the hopes these attacks arouse in the Albanian people to put more pressure on the KLA, to blunt its effectiveness, and ultimately to destroy it as a representative of the aspirations of the oppressed Kosovar people.
The Kosovar Albanian moderates and Serbian liberals claim that the political leadership of the KLA is “Marxist-Leninist.” It is not clear what that means. But there is obviously a radical element.
The journal Zeri i Kosoves, published in Switzerland, claims to be an organ of the KLA and of the Kosovo People’s Movement. In its March 11 on-line edition, it carried a statement from the Kosovo People’s Movement rejecting the Rambouillet treaty and expressing distrust of the West.
The Western media have more and more been pointing out the risky nature of the NATO intervention and the limited effectiveness of bombing.
U.S. polls show that a majority of the people of the United States think that Kosovo is not worth one American life. The U.S. Congress itself, and therefore, the ruling class, is deeply divided over the intervention.
Thus, it seems unlikely that the imperialists really wanted to resort to such a measure. They were offering Milosevic a relatively painless, not to say inexpensive, solution to his problem of subduing the Kosovars.
The fact that Serbia’s Russian allies were willing to participate in the “peacekeeping” force in Kosovo is an indication of the fact that the treaty was designed to protect Serbia’s interests.
However, the ideological bases of Milosevic’s rule made it impossible for him to accept this solution. And the interest of the West then came to be to prove that they had the right and the capability to intervene in the East European countries wracked by the crisis of Stalinism.
Their objective in this regard is essentially political. The Balkans no longer have much strategic importance for the West, and they have a very limited economic interest.
Indeed, according to the March 26 issue of the Greek dailyElevtherotypia, the Greek business community is weeping salt tears at the intervention, because the United States-which had encouraged them to invest in the former Yugoslavia-is now happily blowing up their capital.
Under the subhead, “They are also blowing up our [Greek-owned] telephone communications network,” the Athens daily lamented: “The privatization of the Serbian telephone company and the sale of 49 percent of the stock to the Greek OTE and the Italian STET has been characterized by the international media as the first decisive step of the new Yugoslavia toward economic reform and the adoption of a market economy.”
The Western intervention in Yugoslavia has a far bigger target than Milosevic.
The imperialist great powers have historic stakes in the process of capitalist restoration in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. They are inevitably going to try to intervene militarily in this process. They have been getting into position to do this for a long time, using Milosevic’s wars and atrocities as a justification.
This is why the Russian government is so upset about the attacks on Serbia. Yeltsin is nothing if not a practical politician. He is not a pan-Slavic romantic, even if there is no lack of such types in the fever swamps of decaying Stalinism.
Of course, the process of capitalist restoration, with its results of economic breakdown and increasing dependence on the capitalist centers makes it virtually impossible for Yeltsin to respond militarily to the Western threats.
But Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union are becoming more and explosive.
For example, Romania, bordering on Serbia, is facing a general strike at the end of April and the possibility, according to the Romanian papers, of a general mass explosion. In the days before the NATO intervention, hundreds of thousands of Romanian workers rallied, shouting, “Down with the government.”
If NATO tries to intervene in explosions like that to “restore order” and defend its stake in capitalist restoration, real regional wars are possible.
That could happen also if the West in drawn deeper into intervening in the former Yugoslavia.
Therefore, socialists and anti-war activists have strong reasons to build a movement for opposition to NATO intervention in the Balkans, despite NATO’s humanitarian pretenses and the fact that some people threatened by the Serbian regime have been bullied or fooled into supporting its war moves.