On March 24, the U.S. military and its NATO allies unleashed a campaign of missile attacks and bombings against Yugoslavia, a country in southeastern Europe. The U.S. accused the Yugoslav government, based in Serbia, of sending new forces through the countryside of the Kosovo Region threatening the Albanian-nationality people there.

There will be coverage of this new U.S. aggression, and exposure of the real imperialist motives behind this attack, in issue 1001 of the RW, which will appear in early April. Until then, here are some excerpts from earlier RW articles which contain important background and insights for understanding what is behind this U.S. attack and why it needs to be opposed.

The U.S. Can Never Bring Peace By Force!
Statement by Vietnam Veterans Against the War Anti-Imperialist

From: Double Dealing over Kosovo: Bombers and Imperialist Ambitions RW #978, October 18, 1998

U.S. Goals: Influence in Belgrade and Stability for U.S. Alliances

"NATO has no intention of going to war with Serbia, on behalf of an independent Kosovo."

"Senior NATO official" quoted in the New York Times (Oct. 9, 1998)

U.S. moves in the Balkans are based on two basic assumptions: first, that Serbia is the strongest Balkan country, where the U.S. wants to focus its influence. And second, that the key U.S. interest in the area is to prevent a spread of instability--particularly to prevent the heightening of tensions between Greece and Turkey, two U.S. allies in the region.

The NATO plans for airstrikes are designed... to intensify conflict between the Serb military high command and the Yugoslav President Milosevic. They want to work with and through the genocidal Milosevic government. They want to encourage forces within the Yugoslav government, especially in the military, to consider replacing Milosevic with some new reactionary who might be more in tune with Washington's desires.

While carrying out this pressure and intrigue, the U.S. has been careful not to directly oppose key goals of Serbian nationalists--and specifically, not to question their right to dominate Kosovo against the will of its people.

The U.S. ruling class does not want an independent "Republic of Kosova" because they believe its existence would increase Albanian separatist sentiments in western Macedonia. The U.S. wants Macedonia stable (even if the Albanians there are badly oppressed) because instability in Macedonia might disrupt U.S. alliances in the eastern Mediterranean.

The U.S. plan for Kosovo--for continued Serbian domination of Kosovo, with foreign monitoring of Albanian rights--is extremely dangerous for the people of Kosovo. It places their future safety in the completely unreliable hands of the U.S. and its NATO allies. And it hands the U.S. and NATO another ongoing excuse to intervene and scheme in this region.

The U.S. Can't Do Any Good

Some people might be tempted to say, "Well, of course the U.S. is acting out of its own reactionary interests. But the U.S./NATO threats against Serbia might still do some good, by causing the Serbs to back off and give the Kosovar people some relief."

In fact this is not true. And the whole history of U.S. intervention in previous Balkan conflicts shows that it is not true. The U.S. is applying military threat and pressure in this region for its own cold-blooded interests--and it will cynically use, abuse, and betray the Kosovo people whenever that serves those interests.

U.S. attacks and pressures in the world are intended to accomplish one thing--increase the ability of the U.S. imperialists to dominate, exploit and bully people. When the U.S. acts as "global policeman" it strengthens its control and serves its interests. In the Balkans, like everywhere else, those interests are sharply opposed to the interests of the masses of people. The U.S. is the most powerful pillar of the world capitalist system. Its control of different parts of the world means only that the people there can be more deeply exploited and their countries plundered and restructured to serve U.S. profits.

U.S. Hands Off the Balkans!


From: Yugoslavia: The Fight Over Kosovo RW #949, March 22, 1998

Brutal Suppression of Albanian People

Kosovo is a poor, largely agricultural province in Europe's Balkan region, about the size of Vermont. Ninety percent of Kosovo's two million people are Albanians; 10 percent are Serbs. After World War 2, Kosovo became part of Yugoslavia, which Marshal Tito called a "socialist" country. Actually, it was socialist only in words, while operating a state-capitalist society in reality. After Tito died, the leaders of his ruling "League of Communists" came out openly as capitalist politicians and (in most cases) as extreme nationalists. The government of the largest Yugoslav republic fell into the hands of Slobodan Milosevic, who annexed Kosovo directly into Serbia. Though Kosovo is 90 percent Albanian, extreme Serbian nationalists say the province is "Serbian" because it contains sites that they consider "sacred." These Serbian chauvinists routinely use a genocidal, Nazi-like lingo when discussing Kosovo--often comparing the mostly Muslim Albanians to "fast breeding insects."

Albanian people were purged from jobs in the area's state-owned economy and replaced by people of the Serbian nationality. Teachers were forbidden to use the Albanian language in school. A thousand professors were expelled from Kosovo's universities. The whole school system has been shut down for seven years. The extreme, reactionary nationalist forces running Serbia's government were setting the stage for an "ethnic cleansing" campaign in Kosovo.

The Albanian people of Kosovo organized resistance. A shadow government was set up, and a 1991 referendum overwhelmingly approved a call for independence from Serbia. Students and teachers organized underground schools in private homes--to continue education in the Albanian language.

Attempts at negotiation with the central Serbian government led nowhere, and an armed movement attacked Serbian forces by selectively assassinating police and informers. This Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) calls for independence for Kosovo, merger with the Albanian regions of Macedonia and ultimately unification with neighboring Albania. Such plans are said to have broad support.

With this Serbian massacre in Prekaz and in other nearby villages the fighting in Kosovo has started to erupt into open warfare. Government forces are trying to brutally surpress the just struggle of Kosovo's Albanian people.

Imperialist Interests

U.S. and the various powers of Europe have denounced the Serbian atrocities in Kosovo. But, the U.S. and the other major powers are not nearly as hostile to Serbia's chauvinists as their current public statements are intended to sound.

There is a so-called "Contact Group" of six powers (United States, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Italy) which is working to impose its arrangement on the region--supporting continued Serbian domination of Kosovo while calling for an end to Serbian government atrocities. They threaten mild sanctions on Serbia if its government does not cooperate.

The fine print of virtually all imperialist statements denounce the Albanian fighters equally with the Serbian government. In fact the U.S. envoy to the region, Robert Gelbard, essentially gave the green light to Serbian counterinsurgency during a visit to Belgrade in February. He described the Kosovo Liberation Army as "without question a terrorist group"--the exact language used by the Serbian government to justify the armed attacks in Kosovo. The New York Times writes: "No one in the West challenges Serbia's sovereignty over Kosovo or the right of the authorities to put down an armed insurrection there." For seven years, the Albanian people have been brutalized and suppressed in outrageous ways--and the great powers have found that acceptable.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has armed forces across the border in Macedonia. U.S. plans under Clinton have been to contain Albanian fighters within Kosovo and prevent them from crossing over into Albanian regions of western Macedonia. This would supposedly "contain" the conflict to Kosovo--while making it easier for the the Serbian army to hunt them down. The U.S. concern is that this fighting not spill out of Kosovo's borders and trigger a wider war that might draw two U.S. allies, Greece and Turkey, into conflict with each other. The U.S. has all along been extremely interested in expanding relationships with Serbia's government in Belgrade--and has consistently supported their claim to Kosovo.

All this shows, once again, that the imperialist interests in the Balkan region have nothing to do with easing the suffering of the people--and everything to do with guaranteeing the stability of their own domination over this region.

The Albanian people are bravely resisting Serbia's armed forces. And meanwhile, many reports suggest that the masses of Serbian people, though influenced by nationalism, have little enthusiasm for following the hateful Milosovic regime into yet another unjust war of "ethnic cleansing."


This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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