The Clinton-NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia prove once again that competition among capitalists for maximum profit always bring war. The bombing has spread more mass terror than Milosevic could create in his wildest dreams. It has backfired miserably in every other way. Wider ground war in the Balkans and the Middle East will inevitably follow U.S. imperialism’s murderous fiasco. Our class can never choose sides among the rulers. However long it takes, we must build a mass PLP to eventually turn the imperialist guns around, and fight for communist revolution.

Clinton’s bloody Kosovo failure is rapidly becoming one of U.S. rulers’ "worst foreign policy flops since World War II." (Walter Russell Mead, L.A. Times, 4/4) The bombing was supposed to keep Albanian Kosovars in Kosovo, cripple Milosevich, isolate Russia, strengthen NATO, stabilize the Balkans, and keep U.S. ground forces out of combat. Instead, Milosevich has driven 500,000 ethnic-Albanian workers into the worst European refugee crisis since World War II, and is stronger than ever. Cracks are deepening in the NATO alliance. Every Balkan country is now threatened by imperialist and civil war, which could spread to Greece and Turkey.

Milosevich’s ability to resist the bombing makes one of two scenarios likely; ground war now or ground war later. Either one could mean a serious defeat for U.S. imperialism. One possibility is that the U.S. will invade Kosovo and/or the rest of Serbia. Currently, 40,000 Serb troops are dug in throughout Kosovo. Dislodging them will take five times that number, with heavy U.S. casualties. Victory is far from certain. Greek bosses have refused to be used as a staging ground for such an invasion. So it would have to be done from Albania, where an advance guard of "humanitarian" Apache attack helicopters (a ground war weapon) is already in place.

The other possibility is a Russian-brokered deal that would divide Kosovo between

Milosevich and U.S. allies. This would leave the oil rivalry between U.S. and Russian rulers unresolved, and would hand the Russians a major political victory—another catastrophe the Clinton gang wanted to avoid. This would only postpone U.S. involvement in a ground war. U.S. working class troops’ political commitment to imperialism is shaky at best. They can see that the same society whose racist cops gun down their brothers and sisters in the streets is preparing to dress large numbers of them in body bags.

As they did in Vietnam, U.S. imperialists have picked up a rock only to drop it on their feet. They survived defeat in Vietnam because the anti-imperialist movements around the world failed to become revolutionary communist movements to smash the profit system. Power remained in the hands of the rulers, not the working class and its revolutionary communist Party. This is the main lesson we draw from the gathering storms of war. Imperialism makes war inevitable. But imperialist war also gives our class and our Party wide opportunities to sharpen the struggle against the warmakers, show the true nature of imperialism, and to fight for communist revolution. Turning the war on the warmakers means mass May Day marches under the red flags of PLP.



A ruthless battle for control over oil, the lifeblood of imperialism, lies at the heart of Clinton’s latest "humanitarian" atrocities. This is hidden from the accounts in the bosses’ media. Neither Kosovo nor the rest of the Balkans have any oil to speak of. U.S. and British planes continue bombing Iraq to prevent large amounts of Iraqi oil from coming on the market. A future ground war remains very likely.

But the Middle East is no longer limited to Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other well-known oil producers in and near the Persian Gulf. It now includes the vast oil and gas reserves of the Caspian region to the north and east in central Asia. Some of these resources are Russian; some of them lie in former Soviet republics. The oil reserves alone could amount to 200 billion barrels, with a value between $2 and $4 trillion. This is a prize for which the imperialists will fight to our death.

Oil in the ground or under the sea is one thing. Building the infrastructure to refine and transport it is something else. This is where the Balkans come in. The oil that reaches Europe over land has to go through the Balkans. Who will control the pipelines? Will they flow through U.S. competitors Iran and Russia, or will they flow through U.S. ally Turkey? Will they be owned by U.S. or Russian companies? How much of this oil will flow eastward under Chinese control? Who’ll get the biggest cut of the oily profit pie?

Russian, Bulgarian, and Greek companies are building an oil pipeline through the Balkans that could supply one-fourth of Europe’s needs. In January 1997, they agreed on a 200-mile pipeline linking the Bulgarian port of Burgas with Alexandropoulos in Greece. It will carry 600-800,000 barrels a day and bypass Turkey. Meanwhile, Greek and Macedonian companies are planning a 186-mile long crude oil pipeline to hook up the Greek port of Salonika with Skopje in Macdeonia. "If completed, (it) is expected to transport 200,000 barrels a day at half the current cost" (Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration, September 1997; May 1995 article by Nicholas Karahalios in "International Politics," a journal specializing in Balkan politics and economics).

The U.S. is bombing Yugoslavia to prevent Russian and other oil companies from replacing Exxon as Europe’s major supplier. If Russian bosses succeed, they can once again become a dominant imperialist force. The threat to France’s Total and Elf, as well as to the British-Dutch Shell, explains in part why France and other NATO bosses are going along with the bombing for now, even though they oppose U.S. policy in the rest of the Middle East. The U.S. already has troops in Skopje, which is not only a pipeline hub for Russian oil, but also an oil refining center in its own right (The three captured US soldiers were stationed there). One pipeline is due to run from Skopje to Kosovo.

Kosovo itself also has strategic military value to U.S. imperialism. Journalist Diane Johnstone writes: "Thanks to Kosovo, the U.S. can control eventual Caspian oil pipeline routes between the Black Sea and the Adriatic, and extend the European influence of favored ally Turkey" (Special (extra) Znet Commentary, March 24).