From a Humanitarian Disaster to a Catastrophe for Capitalism

"The pilot dropped his bomb in good faith, as you would expect of a trained pilot from a democratic country"
- NATO spokesman on the massacre of refugees, April 14

Why is NATO Attacking Yugoslavia?

The SF Bay Guardian came close on April 7 when it pointed out that Serbia hasn't implemented the IMF reforms which have devastated most of Eastern Europe (privatizations, layoffs, welfare cuts, etc.). What they didn't go on to ask is why the Yugoslav government has been fairly slow in attacking the working class. The answer is that they are afraid it will bite back.

Where Does Racism Come From?

The media say the Russians sympathize with "their fellow Slavs". It's inconceivable to journalists that they could just be sympathizing with their fellow human beings. "Ethnic hatred" explains nothing. In the first place, it doesn't explain why sometimes in some places there is racism, and sometimes in other places, there isn't. Yugoslavia used to promote racial harmony, federalism, brotherly love and so on ad nauseam. Most people in Yugoslavia get on with people of multiple nationalities. NATO missiles have killed Serbs, Turks, Hungarians, Gypsies and Albanians. Secondly, it ignores the fact that the racist pogroms which have torn Yugoslavia apart have been carried out by small but well-armed nationalist gangs who do not represent the ethnic groups they claim to.

To quote Wildcat 18, "The people carrying out these actions were generally not from the local area. It was not a question of people who'd lived side by side for decades suddenly deciding to kill each other. Neither was it an eruption of long-suppressed ethnic hatreds, as the media make out. It was a well-organized state policy... Many of the actions carried out by the JNA were not even ethnic cleansing - they would simply blow villages apart with heavy artillery, forcing the entire population, irrespective of supposed ethnicity, to flee wherever they could."

In 1991, the Croatian government allowed the Serbian JNA to massacre the working class of Vukovar, which had proven exceptionally resistant to ethnic segregation, forming independent militia to defend itself against both sides. Today, NATO is carrying on this glorious tradition on a far grander scale.

Almost everyone has noticed that the bombing has strengthened Serbian nationalism, but no-one has pointed out that this might be deliberate. The European Union has an interest in crushing the workers of Yugoslavia as well as Milosevic. Bombing them into national unity is a well-tried way of doing this. The minority of policitians and journalists cheering on the Serbs from afar, calling on them to fight to the last man, woman and child, are as deep in it as Ted Turner and the rest of Clinton's Ministry of Propaganda.

What Can We Do About It?

This conflict threatens everyone in the world. The only thing that can stop it is a rejection of nationalism by people on all sides. But in order to undermine nationalism, resistance needs to take place on both sides - the same kind of resistance that stopped the Vietnam War - strikes, demonstrations, mutinies and riots. There have been numerous desertions and mutinies in the Serbian Army - if we can believe anything we read in the press, there was one in Urosevac, Kosovo, earlier this week (San Jose Mercury News, April 14). We must echo their resistance in the NATO countries. People resisting war in Yugoslavia are isolated, and are easy for Milosevic to target if there is no opposition outside it.

It is already clear, even to numerous establishment commentators, that this war was an act of folly from the outset. They are destroying the country in order to save it. Albright obviously isn't all that bright. Though all the world's politicians have interests in common, it is not one big conspiracy. Or if it is, it's a conspiracy that often fails, as it did in Vietnam. Establishment figures from Pope John Paul to Rep. Ron Paul have condemned the bombing. The Gulf War produced far more unity. The customary whining from left and right about "illegality" has reached new levels of coherence. This is a sign of genuine divisions in the ruling class.

This massacre has been dubbed "The Liberals' Vietnam". The most rabid of NATO's dogs of war has been the Labour government in Britain. The German green/social democrat coalition have supported the massacre. As the catastrophe unfolds, astute liberal politicians will follow their more intelligent counterparts on the right and break ranks. We can't rely on politicians. We have to build a mass movement and make it a long hot summer for the bungling butchers of Washington, London, Berlin and Belgrade. The media are telling us it will require large-scale American casualties before Clinton starts losing on the home front. Let's prove them wrong!

This war is so obviously producing results diametrically opposed to its official aims there is already a split at the top. We must take advantage of every mistake made by our rulers, and every division in their ranks, to disrupt, degrade and diminish their capacity for destruction.

Main page April 16, 1999