Who Won the War?


Who Won the War?

U.S. Marines receive a not-so-warm welcome from Greek citizens as they disembark for duty in Kosovo.


President Clinton claimed a “victory for a safer world, for our democratic values and for a stronger America.” But polls show that fewer than half of Americans agree with him. Whether or not the proportion who agree with him is greater than, less than, or exactly right, however, we can be sure that it will become ever clearer that the United States didn’t really win.

On the other hand, there were no winners on the other side. And that includes more than just those in the Balkans. The entire region has also been among the losers.

We should also take into account the old adage that once burnt, twice shy. That’s not to say, of course, that this is the first time the peoples of the world have been burnt by American and world imperialism. Far from it, it merely proves that the nature of the beast sinks in ever deeper among the world’s exploited and oppressed peoples.

And like the one additional straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back, eventually another such single event will break the back of American imperialism as well.

How to determine who won this war, however, depends on knowing what were the real goals sought by the American ruling class. While there were 19 nations involved in the decision-making of NATO policy, it was Clinton and company that called the shots. Meanwhile, the other 18 NATO members of this criminal gang of nations were-to greater or lesser degree-directly subordinate to the mighty economic, political, and military power of American imperialism.

And so that there should be no doubt about this, a U.S. general, and behind him the Pentagon and the White House, were put directly in charge.

So what were the real goals of American imperialism?

A safer world? Democracy? A stronger America? Only the last alleged goal is, perhaps, half-true. But only if one believes that imperialist America’s ruling capitalist class is, indeed, America. It’s also half true that the awesome destructive power demonstrated in the 11-week-long bombing assault, has made American imperialism stronger.

But the other side of half-truths is a lie-and makes it a lie as a whole. And negating the part that is true is the crucial fact that the world can’t possibly feel safer after a sovereign nation was bombed to smithereens leaving thousands dead and crippled.

And the fact that the people of the region are now facing a long-term fall in their living conditions resulting from the wrecking of their industrial infrastructure means that, on balance, American and world imperialism are not stronger, but weaker.

Now, because the ordinary people of Yugoslavia were made to pay for Milosevic’s crimes, it has left the world wondering where the self-appointed world “humanitarian” policeman will strike next.

The world must now surely feel a lot like residents of an American ghetto after a gang of cops armed to the teeth breaks into a neighbor’s apartment and shoots every “suspected drug dealer” in sight. And for what? Why, for “resisting arrest”!

Neither can the world feel that their own genuinely felt democratic values are now reinforced. The imposition of imperialist-style “democracy” in Yugoslavia is, in principle, exactly like when England, France, Spain and the other imperialist nations of the world brought “civilization,” “culture” and “enlightenment” to “darkest” Africa, India, China, and Latin America by force of arms.

American imperialism’s protection of “democratic values” in Yugoslavia, moreover, is exactly like its “protection” granted Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines during and after the Spanish-American War of 1898; and exactly like Yankee “protection” was dealt out more recently in Nicaragua, Grenada, El Salvador, Haiti, most of Latin America, and the world.

But if anyone believes that oppressed ethnic and national peoples around the world now feel that their right to self-determination is guaranteed by American imperialism, they should ask the Kurds in Turkey. Their Turkish oppressors, after all, were an ardent ally and supporter of the U.S./NATO war “against” ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia.

The Kurdish nation, held prisoner by Turkey, is forbidden to so much as speak their own language in their own villages and towns, much less in the rest of “democratic and humanitarian” Turkey.

And since the early 1990s, Turkey, which gave material support to the U.S./NATO assault on Yugoslavia, and which is largely supplied with American “peacekeeping” weapons of mass destruction, has driven over one million Kurds from their homes and lands.

And the cost in Kurdish lives and well-being at the hands of President Clinton’s Turkish ally is many times that lost in Kosovo.

Thus, it’s highly unlikely that Kurds and other of the world’s oppressed nationalities see the war in the Balkans as being “in defense” of the right to self-determination in Kosovo, or anywhere else for that matter.

In fact none of American capitalism’s imperialist allies have a record any better than the “human rights” record of imperialist Turkey-and Western imperialism’s record is far worse if we look back through the last few hundred years.

What future has in store for Kosovars

But what about the aspirations and hopes for freedom from oppression generated among Kosovars by imperialist demagoguery for their war of conquest? It was not hard to predict, from the beginning that the suffering of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians would not be brought to an end with a U.S./NATO victory.

The aspirations of Kosovars for self-determination and their right to use force if necessary to win that right is completely just. And although Secretary of State Madeline Albright reportedly told KLA leaders not to pay attention to the formal restrictions in the Rambouilet Treaty on this right, it can now be seen for what it was-a promise never intended to be kept.

That’s the meaning of last month’s decision by U.S./NATO troops to disarm the KLA, now that U.S.-led NATO forces no longer need to justify their rationalizations for their imperialist war on Yugoslavia’s peoples.

And this is only the beginning. More repression and suffering will come when Kosovars realize that they have merely had one oppressor exchanged for another and are compelled to renew their resistance against oppression and social, economic, and political injustice.

In fact, just a week or so after the decision to disarm the KLA, The New York Times published reports in its June 25 editions that high officials in Washington, “some Western diplomats,” and former KLA top commanders had made charges months earlier of a systematic campaign by KLA leader Hashim Thaci to eliminate all his opponents in the KLA.

A detailed report charged that Thaci and his top aides had ordered the killing of “as many as half a dozen top rebel commanders” and threatened to kill others who fled for their lives to Switzerland. Many other charges reported in the same issue of the Times against Thaci and his associates are equally heinous, if true.

But even if the charges are exaggerated or outright false, the sudden flood of such information-known months ago-provides the ideological rationalization for imperialism’s campaign to crush any effective movement by Kosovars for the right to take charge of their own affairs.

And just as most of Slobodan Milosevic’s crimes had been downplayed or concealed when he served the interests of imperialism, American and world imperialism has let it all hang out since their interests and those of the Kosovars are now diverging.

Imperialism’s real motives

So what were the real motives of the U.S.-led NATO war on Yugoslavia?

In the first place, to teach the world a lesson about who is the cop on the beat in every corner of the world.

Secondly, to let the world know that resistance to the imposition of the “democratic values” of the self-appointed world policeman will be dealt with mercilessly.

Thirdly, to teach the world the real meaning of imperialism’s “democratic values.” That it means, first and foremost, that no country- Yugoslavia and the other workers’ states are only its most immediate target-will have the right to place any restrictions whatsoever on the right of finance capital to penetrate every corner of the world.

Imperialism’s intent, moreover, was to make clear that they will accept no restrictions on the right of imperialist capital to take over the banking and financial structures of otherwise independent nations wherever it serves its purposes; that is, wherever an honest capitalist wants to be free to make a buck.

Fourth, and finally, what President Clinton and his bipartisan government wanted above all else was to see to it that American imperialism’s financial and industrial capitalists are to be in the catbird seat when the spoils are divided among the world’s imperialists.

So much for imperialist defense of democracy and the right to self-determination. And because of all the above, imperialist America is not stronger, it’s weaker.

Why? Because most of the peoples of the world don’t really need newspapers like this one to tell them that American imperialism is not part of the solution. On the contrary, the events themselves make clear to all that it is American capitalist imperialism that is the main source of the problem.

Socialist Action /July 1999

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