An Analysis of NATO's Bombardment of Serbia

With the NATO bombardment of what is left of Yugoslavia, with the US by far the major impetus and power behind it, the final phase of the imperialist and capitalist colonization of Eastern and South European countries has begun. With it, the US "military-industrial complex" cements its lasting supremacy not only in Europe, but also all over the globe. Since the beginning of the Cold War (and even before), the US and its allies have actively worked on the destruction of any hope for a political and economic system that would pose an alternative to rampaging capitalism. They have sheltered, provided economic assistance and even military training to all anti-left forces that had to escape from Yugoslavia and other Eastern European countries because of their collaboration with the occupying Fascist forces during WWII. In the case of Yugoslavia, Germans (with the US blessing ) have sheltered Croatian Fascists called Ustashas, and the English (with the US blessing) did the same with the Serbian King's extreme nationalists called Chetnicks. When it served their anti-left frenzy, the US and its allies, as is confirmed in the case of Afganistan, have also supported and armed extreme Islamic nationalists–the mujahedeens. In the late eighties and early nineties, under the pretext of democratization and aided by the lack of revolutionary principles among the leadership of eastern European communists, the US and its allies urged alliances of pro-capitalist and extremely nationalist forces throughout the former Yugoslavia and Eastern Europe to seize power. In the series of counter-revolutions in Eastern Europe all, however meager, socialist achievements were reversed. In addition to losing security of employment, the peoples of Eastern Europe have already lost or are in immediate danger of losing free education and medical care, retirement benefits, organized childcare and a score of other hard won rights. Instead of socialist safety nets, however imperfect, the peoples of Eastern Europe have gained only the promise of riches–and that, as the current severe economic crisis in Russia amply illustrates, was obviously transformed into extreme profits for a small minority and increasingly abject poverty for everybody else. The peoples of Eastern Europe have been lured into accepting all of these indignities in the name of their supposedly new "national freedom." Now, the NATO bombings reveal that western capitalists advocate "national freedom" only when it serves their own interests. Effectively, the peoples of Eastern Europe have replaced or are in the process of being forced to replace one imperialist alliance (the Warsaw Pact) with another one: NATO.

After World War II, Yugoslavia managed to preserve its independence from both imperialist alliances. But, ten years ago, intent on finishing off already ailing Yugoslav Communists who were all too willing to flirt with capitalist materialism and consumerism, the US and its allies (Germany especially) have helped different nationalist and pro-capitalist groups gain power in all six republics of the former Yugoslavia; among them was Tudjman in Croatia, Izetbegovic in Bosnia, and Milosevic in Serbia. These and other nationalists quickly tore to pieces the precarious multi-ethnic web that was painstakingly woven by different peoples living together through the centuries in the same small geographic area of the Balkans that was time and time again conquered by imperialist forces (the Romans, Venetians, Austrians, and Turks, among others) on their way to land grabs in Asia, Africa, or Europe respectively. As soon as they got power, the extreme nationalists, supported by the interests of international capitalism, started a series of bloody Civil Wars (before the conflict in Kosovo, the most famous has been the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina) that have resulted in the partitioning of the former Yugoslavia into a number of "independent" countries ruled by extreme nationalists. These new "independent" countries, for example Slovenia and Croatia, are now little more than colonies of the western capitalists and imperialists; their domestic economies are destroyed and the common people are forced to live in poverty.

While the nationalists in power in some parts of Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Macedonia, and to a certain extent Croatia) have been willing to cooperate with their foreign capitalist rulers in exchange for economic aid and political protection for their new domestic ruling elites, the west has had trouble controlling other nationalists that have came to power in the former Yugoslavia. In Bosnia for example, nationalists had fought a three-year long Civil War that resulted in an enormous humanitarian toll. After covertly aiding different factions in this civil war while publicly claiming neutrality, the US and its allies decided that the country was sufficiently destroyed and the ties between its people sufficiently broken that they could safely occupy this territory. In 1995, after bombing Bosnian Serbs (since the Serbs are the most numerous of the ethnic groups in the former Yugoslavia, this territory cannot be effectively ruled without controlling them), the US and its allies occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina, and have been ruling it for the last three years virtually as a protectorate. In the meantime, life for the various peoples inside Bosnia and Herzegovina remains miserable and the ties between its various ethnic groups are non-existent.

With the occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by foreign forces and the subsequent expulsion of 200, 000 Croatian Serbs from "democratic" Croatia (according to the NY Times, the Croatian Army forces were trained by retired US generals), the US and its allies aided by domestic nationalists have come close to completing the division of the Former Yugoslavia into half a dozen miniature satellite states that global capital can easily colonize. However, they have found Slobodan Milosevic and other Serbian nationalists unreliable partners. Therefore, they have decided to use the unresolved conflict between ethnic Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo as an excuse to assure either Milosevic's cooperation or defeat of the biggest political and military entity left on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. In order to accomplish this goal, in the last year or so, they have started to support an extremely nationalist and separatist Kosovo Liberation Army.

The interests of Serbian and Albanian nationalists have been clashing in Kosovo for many decades. After WWII, communists attempted for several decades to improve relations between Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Due to racism (of the major ethnic groups on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, Kosovo Albanians are the only non-Slavic group), extreme poverty that has plagued that area of the Balkans for centuries, and religious differences (the Serbs are Orthodox Christians, and the majority of ethnic Albanians are Muslims), the attempts of the communists were only partially successful. After Yugoslav communists lost power in the former Yugoslavia to extreme nationalists supported by western capitalists, the relationships between different ethnic groups have not only worsened but have led to numerous Civil Wars. The armed conflict between the Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo echoes other ethnic conflicts that had been happening in the territory of the former Yugoslavia; the combatants are supported by forces from abroad, and finally, when they had sufficiently weakened each other, the military of the US and its allies moved in under a humanitarian pretext but in fact to get the territory under control for future imperialist development.

Nationalists in Serbia came to power as a result of western attacks on the communists in Yugoslavia and other Eastern European countries. In their climb to power, they all have encouraged anti-Albanian racism among other Slavic people. But also, foreign powers have used that nationalism when it served their interests in their previous partnerships with Milosevic throughout the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. With other nationalist leaders (Tudjman and Izetbegovic) he has been part of the Dayton agreement that partitioned Bosnia and Herzegovina into small feudal entities ruled by foreign forces. He also tacitly agreed to the ethnic cleansing of Croatian Serbs from Croatia in 1996.

While ethnic Albanians in the former Yugoslavia frequently bore the brunt of Serbian and other Slavic nationalism (not only former Yugoslavs but all other European nations are wary of ethnic Albanians), they have frequently responded to it with their own brand of nationalism; for example, they organized an armed separatist movement in the early eighties when they still had full autonomy in the former Yugoslavia. In the last year, they have been led by the nationalist and separatist Kosovo Liberation Army that, as reported by the New York Times, has ties with extreme Muslim fundamentalists, including Ibin Ladin, and international drug cartels.

It is extremely hypocritical that the US and its allies, who have with their policy of divide and conquer supported and financed the rise of extreme nationalists on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, to now pretend that they want with cruise missiles to fight Serbian nationalism and protect ethnic Albanian civilians. They claim humanitarian reasons, while, as Noam Chomsky amply points out, the US has an extremely poor record of humanitarian interventions. Every time that the US military has acted for humanitarian reasons they made the human catastrophe worse and the human cost higher (remember Vietnam, Panama, and other instances). As is obvious in the first ten days of the campaign, they have strengthened both Serbian and Albanian nationalist positions.

American television primarily shows the tragedy of Albanian civilians from Kosovo. They are, on one hand, harassed by Serbian nationalists, whose position is strengthened by NATO air attacks, and on the other hand they are forced to fight by the KLA, which has also been known to execute its own people when they refuse to fight for Albanian nationalism and separatism. They are also unwelcome in any of the European countries who are supposedly fighting for their benefit. The attempts of NATO countries to help refugees are truly laughable; their superior technology can precisely guide cruise missiles to their military and civilian targets hundreds of miles away, but they are unable to build latrines for the refugees massed on the Yugoslav borders. The tragedy of civilians cowering in shelters throughout what is left of the former Yugoslavia is largely unseen, but with the bombs increasingly striking civilian targets, it threatens to become just as large. The bombs threaten to further destroy not only the infrastructure of an already poor country, but also what is left of the multi-ethnic society in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; the West refuses to recognize that in Belgrade, in other Yugoslav cities, and in Montenegro, Albanians, Serbs, Montenegrians, Croats, Hungarians, and scores of other ethnic groups live together without bloodshed . But NATO needs a villain on whom to test the effectiveness of its weapons for the twenty-first century, so they refuse to recognize the complexity of multi-ethnic relationships in the Balkans and search for a peaceful solution. The peoples of Yugoslavia perhaps cannot live together without conflict, but they can live together without bloodshed, just like they did for fifty years after World War II. But in order to do that, they have to fight against imperialist capitalism, they have to realize that they have common class interests across ethnic boundaries with other working people all over the globe. That kind of cooperation across national borders is of course against the interest of multi-national capital because it would allow the international working class to unite and overthrow their capitalist exploiters. Finally, when ground troops enter the conflict in Yugoslavia as will inevitably happen and the body bags start arriving home, the US and NATO will become responsible for creating a third human tragedy. If the allies truly wanted to help, they should have sent humanitarian aid to educate and empower the people of both Kosovo and Yugoslavia so they could together fight against their nationalist leaders. In addition to destroying the few resources that these countries have, the cruise missiles breed further hatred, and provide further excuse to nationalists for their rampage. When this is all over, Kosovo will be even more poor than it ever was, and it will be even more difficult for Serbs and Albanians and the other peoples of the former Yugoslavia to live together. The US, its allies, and their military-industrial complex will move in to profit from this armed conflict; wars always help the economy of these countries if they are fought on foreign soil.

There are many reasons to doubt the NATO humanitarian arguments; there are many reasons to OPPOSE NATO bombings: 1. After WWII (and before), the US has a miserable record of humanitarian interventions; whenever the US and its allies said that they are intervening for humanitarian reason they do it in fact for the advancement of world capitalism . 2. Bombs do not help the humanitarian tragedy; they perpetuate it further and create new tragedies. Bombs inevitably lead to ground troops, and, when the bodies of American soldiers start arriving, the human tragedy will hit home. 3. The US is spearheading the attack not for humanitarian reasons but to assert its supremacy in Europe. 4. The US and its allies and their military-industrial complex need to pacify this part of Europe so they can continue to economically and politically exploit its peoples. 5. Bombs will not help Albanians, Serbs, and other Yugoslav peoples to live together, but quite the opposite; they will make them hate each other more. 6. Bombs do not stop extreme nationalists: they keep them in power. Even worse nationalists than Milosevic are becoming Serbian heroes, and the KLA is roaming the refugee camps finding scores of recruits willing to fight to the death. Instead of bombs, fight nationalism and the international capitalism that produces it. Capitalists have to support the flames of nationalism because without it the workers could unite and defeat the capitalists. The people of Yugoslavia have lived together for many centuries, and while the former Yugoslavia was not a blissful utopia it was a country in which its different peoples did not slaughter each other and in which workers had secure jobs and food on their tables. The former Yugoslavia was born out of the fight against fascism (which is an extreme nationalism supported by capitalism); it was born out of our joined fight against incredible odds. Perhaps, these NATO attacks will make the peoples of Yugoslavia pause and remember our common humanity and that together we had a chance, while now divided, chained by nationalisms, we are slaves to international military and capital. The people of Yugoslavia have never willingly allowed foreign forces on their territories; they always fought against them. NATO is not a friend of the peoples of Yugoslavia or any other people for that matter. While proudly standing against NATO, Serbians and other Yugoslavs have to find it in their hearts to shelter Kosovo Albanians from expulsions. Kosovo Albanians have to stop supporting NATO strikes against their Serbian neighbors which will just bring more misery to everybody. Other people in the former Yugoslavia have to stop supporting their nationalists who are helping NATO invaders. They need to remember that many of their cousins, aunts, or friends come from different ethnic nations. Other sovereign nations all over the globe need to understand that, in its support of global capital, NATO will not have any qualms about bombing anyone. The United Nations should not become NATO's servant. People in NATO countries should protest bombing and close NATO bases. They need to understand that they are living well on the backs of their poor neighbors. They should send food, books, and medicines to the Yugoslav people, instead of bombs. They should fight against capitalists. Americans should remember Vietnam. They should fight against capitalist and military rulers that oppress the whole world and throw only crumbs to the American working class.