First published: December 1999
For anyone who thought NATO was serious about a ‘humanitarian’ war, the facts are now clear. NATO claims to have killed 5,000 Serb troops in Kosovo. In addition more than 1,000 civilians have been massacred by NATO, and thousands of others wounded and maimed. The combined total is nearly 20 times more than the 340 deaths of which Slobodan Milosevic has been accused by the war crimes tribunal. In addition, NATO will be responsible for the thousands of other deaths of the young, the sick and the old which will result from its destruction of the civilian infrastructure of an entire country.
NATO’s plan for Kosovo is a colonial dictatorship. Its model is Bosnia, where the United States and European Union have imposed a colonial administration in which their appointed ‘High Representative’ can and does depose elected leaders at will, has his own army and where the head of the central bank is appointed by the IMF. So much for the idea that NATO bombing had anything to do with self-determination for anyone.
If the people of Yugoslavia continue to refuse to submit to Washington, NATO has already made clear that the economic blockade will continue to amid plans to further break up the country.
The last ten weeks have graphically revealed the nature of the Western ‘values’ for which NATO claimed to be fighting. They include: the destruction of media and murder of journalists whose coverage offended NATO generals; systematic terror against a civilian population by removing the means of life in a modern economy, notably water and electricity supplies; bombing from a ‘safe distance’ of 15,000 feet making civilian casualties inevitable; and littering a country with depleted uranium and cluster bombs which will ensure that the dying goes on even if the bombing stops.
US policy is domination, not human rights
If NATO bombing had nothing to do with the lies pumped out by Jamie Shea and repeated by the British media, what was it about? The starting point for understanding any war is, as Clausewitz put it, that war is the continuation of policy by other (i.e. violent) means. History – from Nagasaki and Hiroshima to the Korean war, through Vietnam, the contra war on Nicaragua, the invasion of Panama, the blockade of Cuba to the Gulf war – shows that the ‘policy’ pursued by United States imperialism, the totally dominant force in NATO, has never been humanitarianism, national rights, nor any of the other myths supplied for public consumption.
The policy of the United States is to assure its economic, political and military dominance over the entire planet. That is why nuclear bombs were dropped on Japan in 1945 after it was already defeated. That is why the US slaughtered literally millions of people in Korea and Vietnam. That is why the US spent trillions of dollars fighting the Cold War with the Soviet Union – to contain and, when the opportunity arose, to ‘roll back’ communism and re-colonise Eastern Europe, and if it can, the former Soviet Union, China, Vietnam and Cuba. That is why NATO is bombing Yugoslavia – because after 1989 it was the only state in Eastern Europe which refused to give in.
Following the re-introduction of capitalism into Eastern Europe in 1989 and the subsequent dissolution of the USSR, the US spelt out its goals in crystal clear terms in a policy document leaked to the impeccably right wing International Herald Tribune on 9th March, 1993:
‘In a broad new policy statement the Defense Dept asserts that the US political and military mission in the post cold war era will be to ensure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia or the territory of the former Soviet Union.’
‘The draft takes the position “that no collection of nations can aspire to regional dominance because that would put them on the path to global rivalry with the American superpower”.’
‘The classified document makes the case for a world dominated by one superpower.’
‘Implicitly the paper forsees building a world security arrangement that pre-empts Germany and Japan from pursuing a course of substantial rearmament in the future.’
‘The new draft sketches a world in which there is one dominant military power whose leaders “must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role”.’
‘The document says “we must seek to prevent the emergence of Europe-only security arrangements which undermine NATO”.’
‘In the event of a resurgent threat from Russia, “we should plan to defend against such threat” farther forward on the territories of Eastern Europe.’
Thus, while US strategy is directed first and foremost against any peoples who have tried to move towards a socialist society, and any turn to the left by Russia, it also requires US dominance over Japan and Western Europe. This has a clear economic basis. Since the Vietnam War the US has been transformed from the locomotive of the international capitalist economy into a giant parasite upon it. The US has compensated for its relative economic decline vis-à-vis Japan and Western Europe by exacting tribute from the rest of the world to subsidise its own domestic economy. Without an inflow of $100 billion a year from Japan through the 1980s, Ronald Reagan would not have been able to sustain the massive armaments build-up which eventually broke the Soviet economy. The US has to maintain its political and military supremacy because without it Japan and the European Union would inevitably try to stop subsidising the US.
NATO’s new ‘strategic concept’
NATO’s new strategic doctrine, announced in Washington on 24 April, fits into this framework. It makes clear that the bombing of Yugoslavia opens a new era of offensive military operations. It extends NATO’s target area to the entire ‘Euro-Atlantic region’ – that is Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The aim is that the planned recolonisation of Eastern Europe must be under American leadership. The message of the terror unleashed on Yugoslavia is that resistance can be met by force.
In the medium term, a similar threat is being conveyed to China – both by the discarding of the UN in the unilateral attack on Yugoslavia and by new US military pacts with Japan and the Philippines. The US is preparing for a confrontation with China because it cannot and will not tolerate the long-term consequences for its hegemony in Asia of a non-capitalist economy which has enjoyed the fastest economic growth in the world for more than 20 years.
Thus the bombing of Yugoslavia has opened a new period in world politics in which the US seeks to recolonise those parts of the world lost to the free market and to assure its supremacy by the threat and use of military force.
Alliances to fight the new colonialism
What are the forces arrayed against this? Can anything be done?
US imperialism can crush any single opponent if it can concentrate its power upon it. But it can be defeated precisely because it aims not just at defeating one opponent but at dominating the entire world, and so it frequently cannot always focus on just one enemy – it has many enemies. Che Guevara summarised the strategy necessary to fight US imperialism in these circumstances with his call to help the people of Vietnam by creating ‘two, three, many Vietnams’. That strategy worked – the US was defeated in Vietnam by the combination of, first and foremost, the endurance and courage of the Vietnamese fighters, but also military aid from the Soviet Union and China, the anti-war movement in the US and elsewhere and the sheer economic and political strain this combination imposed on the US economy and society.
A testimony to the incredible courage and tenacity of the population of Yugoslavia faced with more than ten weeks of round-the-clock NATO bombing, is that they clarified this entire situation for tens of millions of people in the third world, India, China, Russia, Greece, Italy and big minorities in Western Europe and even the United States.
Although President Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin stabbed Yugoslavia in the back on 3rd June, the vast majority of Russian population totally supports Yugoslavia against NATO. Similarly the biggest demonstrations against the bombing were in China because, as one student correctly put it: ‘First they bomb our embassy, next they’ll bomb our country.’ A de facto alliance of China and Russia has already started to emerge. In India, the majority opposed the bombing, because they understand from what has been done to the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, that their own unity and political independence is ultimately threatened by western imperialism. In Cuba, the people understand that if the US can bomb Yugoslavia, it could also bomb Cuba.
Even in Western Europe, millions of people, particularly in Greece, Italy and Spain, but also in Germany and other states, have marched against the war. While European social democracy supported the bombing, the New European Left, represented by parties like Communist Refoundation in Italy, the Party of Democratic Socialism in Germany and the United Left in Spain, which have significant minority support, stood against NATO bombing. In addition, minorities in parties like the Labour Party, German social democracy and the German Greens also opposed NATO’s war.
Those alliances now have to be brought together. First, against NATO’s occupation of the Balkans and its plans to further dismember Yugoslavia. Second, against NATO’s expansion to the east. Third, against the US threats to China. Fourth, in defence of Cuba against the US illegal blockade. Fifth, against the diversion of resources from welfare to warfare planned by the European Union.
The international movement of those who have stood up to NATO’s attack on Yugoslavia now has to be consolidated, because those who stand to lose from NATO’s new world order are the great majority of humanity.
Yugoslavia – first step in NATO’s new colonial mission
The decision of NATO’s 50th anniversary summit in Washington on 24 April to change its ‘strategic concept’ to provide for offensive military operations over a vast area of the globe cast more light on the reasons for the bombing of Yugoslavia than all of the acres of newsprint about ‘humanitarian’ wars and the plight of the refugees put together.
Ten years after the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, NATO is re-inventing itself as the military arm of a new US-led colonialism. Its projected new sphere of operations extends far beyond the territories of its 19 member states to the entire ‘Euro-Atlantic region’. That is the whole of Western Europe, all of Eastern Europe and all of the territories of the former Soviet Union. Suggestions that such ‘out of area’, that is offensive, operations should require the backing of the United Nations were rejected out of hand at the Washington summit.
That is why Russia and China were right to see the bombing of Yugoslavia as a threat to any state in the world which refuses to bow to the will of the United States government and the economic interests it defends. That is also why any state wishing to retain a modicum of political independence in a world where the US feels free to wage war at will is now seriously considering how to acquire weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them.
If the first goal of bombing Yugoslavia is to terrorise the world by showing the consequences of resisting the US, it also has a second function. That is to re-assert US dominance over its allies in western Europe and Japan at the end of the Cold War.
Since 1991, the US has repeatedly made clear that its new military doctrine will allow no other power or regional combination of powers to emerge which might be capable of challenging its world hegemony. The launch of the Euro, the first threat to the global role of the dollar since 1945, precisely poses such a threat on the economic level. But by ensuring that NATO, not the European Union, plays the leading role in the recolonisation of Wastern Europe and the creation of new spheres of influence in the former USSR, the US is ensuring that its unchallenged military leadership of the West makes it the dominant force not only in Eastern Europe, but also over its West European allies.
Those who imagined in 1989 that the re-introduction of capitalism into Eastern Europe and the dissolution of the Soviet Union would being peace and prosperity should think again. The process has been accompanied by the greatest outbreak of imperialist violence since Vietnam – the Gulf War, in which more than 200,000 Iraqis were slaughtered, followed by the derecognition of Yugoslavia, the resulting civil war and finally NATO bombardment first of Bosnia and now of the whole of what remains of Yugoslavia. On the social and economic level, instead of the higher living standards they were promised, the region’s welfare states have been dismantled and hundreds of millions of people reduced to desperate poverty for the rest of their lives.
Quite simply, the reintroduction of capitalism into eastern Europe has produced the worst regression of human civilisation since fascism – and, as the present war on Yugoslavia shows, still worse is to come. Those responsible for this are not the Serbs, or Iraqis or any of the other peoples demonised by the media of the West to justify killing them. They are the people in Washington and London daily raining bombs and missiles on the peoples of Yugoslavia and enforcing the economic policies which kill millions of children throughout the world.
If Russia’s Communists return to power, as well they might in the aftermath of this latest demonstration of western capitalist ‘values’, they will become the next group of people to be labelled as modern day Hitlers by Blair and Clinton.
The grim reality is that the authors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the slaughters of millions in Korea and Vietnam, with millions of other victims of their proxy wars in El Salvador, Angola, Nicaragua, Columbia, and elsewhere, do not have a humanitarian bone in their bodies.
Humanitarianism at the end of the twentieth century is represented by those people standing against today’s real mass murderers in NATO – the left in Russia, the people on the bridges of Belgrade, the Cubans fighting an endless illegal US blockade, the Greek sailors and railway workers blocking the transport of NATO tanks and guns and the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators all over the world marching against NATO bombing Yugoslavia.
Stop NATO bombing Yugoslavia
In what was proclaimed, in Orwellian double-speak to be a ‘humanitarian war’, NATO is systematically destroying the civilian infrastructure of Yugoslavia. Having assured the public that only military targets would be hit, it is bombing bridges, roads, railways, factories, water supplies, electricity generating equipment and TV transmitters. By bombing the Zastava car factory, which it knew to be occupied by workers trying to protect their workplace, NATO has made clear that it will not be deterred by the thousands of courageous people defending their bridges and other facilities with their bodies. Civilian casualties are mounting.
NATO said it was waging war to defend the Kosovar Albanians. And Milosevic’s regime has engaged in brutal national oppression of the Albanians in Kosovo. But NATO’s bombing has provoked a refugee crisis on a hitherto unprecedented scale in the region, while the governments of the European Union make clear that those refugees who wish to seek asylum in the West will not be welcome. NATO talks about self-determination, but one of its chief war aims is to transform Kosovo into a NATO protectorate – that is a colony in all but name. Moreover it would be a colony reduced to rubble and littered with depleted uranium and unexploded cluster bombs.
As in the Gulf War, the media in Britain uncritically pumps out the propaganda prepared by NATO’s lie machine. Nearly a third of the public opposes bombing according to polls, yet the entire electronic media and every daily newspaper toes the NATO line. During the Gulf War, to justify their own mass murder, NATO told us Iraqi soldiers were dragging babies out of incubators in Kuwait – later proven to be lies. Now, NATO propagandists are regularly forced to retract their lies by the testimony of journalists on the spot and the pictures of civilian casualties broadcast by Yugoslav television. So NATO responds by threatening to bomb Yugoslav television and radio.
As always, in order to assuage any doubts the public may have when they see bombs being rained on defenseless cities by British and American plans, NATO seeks to dehumanise its victims. But the reality of this war is that a tiny country of 11 million people is being attacked by some of the most powerful and richest states in the world. That has nothing to do with ‘self-determination’ or ‘democracy’ or any of the other principles twisted by NATO propagandists. If NATO were concerned about national oppression or democracy it would not include Turkey, which is waging a bloody war against its own Kurdish minority.
Since the end of the Cold War, Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the former Soviet Union have been fragmented into a myriad of smaller states less capable of resisting domination by the West. As in the past, two countries are obstacles to the advance of the Western powers into Eastern Europe – Yugoslavia and Russia. Yugoslavia is being attacked, not because NATO is concerned about democracy, but because it remains a non-capitalist state. Serbia is being demonised by NATO, not because of the real national oppression of the Albanian Kosovars, but because it is the remaining core of Yugoslavia.
When Germany initiated the break-up of Yugoslavia they talked a lot about self-determination. The right of Croatia and Bosnia to leave Yugoslavia was upheld with military force. But no such right was extended to the huge Serb minority regions within Croatia and Bosnia which wished to separate from the new states to remain part of Yugoslavia. No NATO tears were shed about the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs from Croatia by a regime whose leaders have revived the symbols of a state previously linked to Hitler.
The Russians are right to fear that NATO’s illegal war on Yugoslavia will set a precedent for intervention into the former Soviet Union. At the end of the Cold War, unlike the Warsaw Pact, NATO did not dissolve. Instead it expanded towards Russia’s borders and developed a new strategy for ‘out of area operations’ – that is, for aggression anywhere it wishes in the world. That is why more than 90 per cent of Russians oppose NATO bombing and why the Russian parliament has called upon its government to supply arms to Yugoslavia. They understand that the states of the former Soviet Union could easily be next in the line of fire.
NATO is creating a new world order, a new colonialism, in which it seeks the right to bomb whoever gets in its way. Much of the public may be duped by its lies about ‘humanitarian wars’. But the left which understood US mass murder in Vietnam, the destruction of Nicaragua by US-armed contras and the ongoing devastation of the third world by US-led institutions like the International Monetary Fund, has no excuse. The greatest war criminals in the world today are not in Yugoslavia – they occupy the seats of power in Washington, London, Paris and Berlin.