Heroic NATO Peacekeepers Save Poor Albanians From Baby-eating Monsters

Richard Tate, April 6 1999.

"If we go into Kosovo, we are going in with the support of the population ... the surviving population" - a journalist from the International Herald Tribune speaking on National Public Radio.

It is now two weeks since Clinton announced that NATO would attack Yugoslavia to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. Last night was the worst so far, the first attacks in which NATO admits to have killed civilians, and today the White House announced that the bombing would be intensified.

As I write, Belgrade and numerous other cities and towns around Yugoslavia are being destroyed in the largest military action in Europe since World War II. It is not clear how many civilians have been directly killed by the bombing, but it is obvious that the effects will be similar to that suffered by the Iraqi proletariat in recent military actions. The disruption of roads, water mains, power lines and sewage will result in disease, starvation and death. The masses of refugees fleeing the bombs are packed in camps with primitive or no facilities. The relatively militant proletariat of Yugoslavia is being defeated. It is very difficult now to resist conscription, whether in Belgrade or the refugee camps around Kosovo.

This represents a turnaround for the New World Order. Previously, we had described this as a period of peace. The massacres in Iraq, Rwanda and elsewhere did not change our position. The point we made was not that less people were dying than in the period of inter-imperialist conflict exemplified by the Korean and Vietnam wars, but that the major powers of the world were united in policing it.

The attack on Yugoslavia, provoking Russia into sending warships into NATO's backyard, cannot be described as a 'police action'. This is war.

The rulers of the USA, Britain and the rest of NATO have decided to end the century by creating a perpetual war zone in Europe. We have to look at the possibility for spoiling their plans, however small.

The word "failing" appeared prominently on the front pages of even the most craven of US media (the San Jose Mercury News) after a week of NATO attack. In the back pages of the New York Times, you can find slightly critical accounts. But so confident are the media of their control over the public, they hardly try to produce convincing propaganda. Whilst claiming that the Serbian police were packing Albanians into trains like sardines, or Jews, CNN televized pictures of well-fed people on a normal East European train ride. We don't intend to minimize the plight of the refugees, nor the racism of the Serbian authorities or various other nationalist gangs, but the Western media has exaggerated their contribution to the crisis and hardly considered the possiblity that most of the refugees are fleeing NATO bombs. Kosovo is the size of Connecticut. The Serbian death squads are no worse than their Croatian or Kosovar counterparts, just more successful. Cutting off their supply lines makes no difference to the Kosovar Albanians - it doesn't take much of an army to intimidate civilians.

Cock-up or Conspiracy?

Our basic attitude to war is that the rulers of the countries involved have an interest in common: the suppression of the working class. The Gulf War of 1991 was not intended to overthrow Saddam Hussein: it was intended to crush the Iraqi workers. But this raises the question of intentionality. It appears that Norman Schwarzkopf really believed his army was going to overthrow Saddam, and broke ranks by expressing his disgust that he was called back at the last minute. We assume that Colin Powell and George Bush, together with a small number of other people, comprised a class within a class, and knew what they were doing from the outset. Evidence for this theory was strong - the US Ambassador to Iraq told Saddam that the USA wouldn't be overly concerned if he annexed Kuwait.

More specifically, we regarded the Balkanization of Yugoslavia as a capitalist plan to create a large mass of refugees too busy fighting each other to unite in a work-resistant mob, as they were before the current crisis began, and too desperate to dare ask for the minimum wage as they displace workers in German and other European countries. See our analysis of Yugoslavia in the last issue of Wildcat. But then, we're rational.

The problem with conspiracy theories is when things go wrong. What was Lyndon Johnson trying to do when he escalated the Vietnam War? According to our theory he was trying to, er, divide the proletariat and reinforce capitalism, though not in so many words. He did not get up in the morning and ask himself "How can I divide the proletariat today?".

We know ordinary men can lose their reason, yet we assume our rulers are a cross between the Devil and Machiavelli. Yet Hitler, an astute politician, made some miscalculations in his career. It seems that Clinton and Blair really did not consider all the options when they bombed Belgrade. Perhaps they really thought that Milosevic would call off the Serbian police in Kosovo faced with the bombing, rather than relying on the massive upsurge in Serbian nationalism it produced to stake his claim in the heroic history of his nation. Their ability to defend the interests of world capitalism is not conscious, it is almost instinctive: that is why they can fail so spectacularly: remember Vietnam.

We expect nevertheless that the proletariat in the Balkans has been defeated almost as severely as it has in the USA. Evidence of this defeat include the record stock market and the meagerness of the demonstrations against the war. The demos against the Gulf War were much bigger. There are however major demonstrations worldwide - see the International Action Center for a list. We hardly need to add that we do not endorse their politics, nor those of the conservative peacemongers at AntiWar.com, but the war diary at this site is full of useful insights, and you can find much unofficial information about the war by following their links. It will take a major error on behalf of the butchers of Washington, London and Belgrade, provoking mass opposition to war, to reverse this setback. That is all we have to hope for.