A WORLD TO WIN    #25   (1999)

Stop the NATO Attack on Yugoslavia!
German, US and all other Imperialists: Out of the Balkans!

Excerpt from an April 1999 Statement by the Revolutionary Communists (FRG)

The federal government [of Germany] and NATO claim that they want to put an end to the "ethnic cleansing" by the Milosevic regime. But they have nothing in principle against ethnic cleansing when it corresponds to their own power plans. In August of 1995 the Croatian Army began an offensive called "Operation Storm". Within just a few days between 150,000 and 250,000 people were driven out of the Knin region of Croatia by this military offensive. For hundreds of years the Serbs of this region had been the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants there. According to the New York Times (22/03/99) there is a secret report of the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague documenting this crime, which the report calls "the largest ethnic cleansing of the war" and which included the murder of hundreds of people….

This barbaric offensive [against Croatia's Serbs] was planned and carried out with the political, military and logistical support of the US and the FRG. The ethnic cleansing of the Knin region was part of their plan for a redivision of spheres of influence in the Balkans. According to the New York Times, Pentagon lawyers even appeared before the Hague tribunal to argue that this crime was "legitimate military activity".

The NATO war of intervention is not, as some say, the lesser evil for the Balkans, nor is it the only realistic chance to stop mass murder there. This war is a continuation and intensification of mass murder. The first 20 days of this war have proven this in the most terrible fashion.

It is an old tactic of the imperialist big powers to set the oppressed masses of different nationalities against one another in order to safeguard their rule over all these peoples. This tactic has been used again and again, especially in the Balkans. And it is a tried and true variation of this tactic for the rival big powers to create a situation like the one currently in the Balkans in order to disguise their imperialist wars of intervention as the "restoration of order and peace". We shouldn't fall for such old tricks….

This reactionary "reorganisation" of the population could pacify the "centre of unrest" in Kosovo. This is an important war aim of the USA and FRG as well as France and England. At the same time, the main goal that the USA and FRG want to achieve through the air attacks is for the Yugoslav Army to carry out a coup against Milosevic. They want a regime in Belgrade that is more dependent on the USA and Germany and less so on Russia. Supporting mass murders is never a problem for either the USA or Germany. It is part of big power business as usual.

The Balkans are both a powderkeg and the scene of a very complex power struggle among the big powers. With the collapse of the revisionist pseudo-communist Soviet Union and the social-imperialist bloc it was leading, the rivalries among the capitalist classes of the various nationalities in the Balkans broke wide open. Above all, the Croatian and Serbian ruling classes wanted to implement plans for establishing a Greater Croatia and Greater Serbia respectively. These plans were to be carried out at each other's expense and at that of the other nationalities in the Balkans. These ambitions were supported by the world's various big powers, whose own historical struggle for spheres of influence in the Balkans has also once again come into full swing.

In order to realise their traditional claims to power in the Balkans, the German imperialists support the quasi-fascist Tudjman regime in Croatia. To this end the German government consciously encouraged the Tudjman regime to unleash the war in Bosnia.

The goal of German imperialism in the Balkans is to force a redivision of the spheres of influence there, thereby gaining the biggest possible area of control for themselves. They say that this alone corresponds to their current status as Europe's leading economic power. In the final analysis war is the only means likely to achieve such ends. The redivision that Germany is seeking in the Balkans comes mainly at the expense of Russia, England and France. All three are the traditional allies of Serbia. All three see in Serbia a bulwark against the expansion of German power, which for them - and especially after reunification - is already too big. They also see in Serbia an important factor for stability in the Balkans. Because of these contradictions, the "joint European foreign policy" that they all pretend to be seeking for the Balkans is nothing but a fiction, which heretofore could never really be achieved. "Europe" has not "failed" in the Balkans. The big European powers stand behind the different warring parties and through the war pursue conflicting imperialist interests.

The feigned display of unity put on by the NATO countries at the start of the attack on Yugoslavia was intended to cover over the sharp contradictions within the war alliance. It is a rule among the imperialists that only those who take part in the bloodletting are allowed to play any significant part in the political decisions. That is why Defense Minister Sharping said that through its participation in this war Germany "had made a great leap forward". The FRG has "now made its complete and final entrance into the community of Western democracies", he said. With this statement he hit the nail on the head concerning the true nature of the "Western democracies"….

[The RKs conclude by calling for a "broad and massive movement of protest and resistance against the war" and against every step in the direction of bringing into being a "Superpower-Germany and a Fourth Reich".]

Against the US-NATO Imperialist Aggression in Serbia!

Excerpt from Rossoperaio, organ of the RedWorker CommunistOrganisation of Italy, April 1999

The article endorses a national demonstration on 17 April and reports on militant protests throughout Italy against the NATO bases in Pisignano (Cervia) and San Damiano (Piacenza), as well as in Genova, Bergamo, Puglia and Palermo.

NATO is now carrying out a Nazi-type criminal bombardment of Serbia and its present region of Kosovo. The workers and all the people have become the target of a rain of imperialist bombs and missiles, sowing death and destruction, in an attempt to impose terror and resignation....

A position that attempts to equate NATO's war of aggression and the Milosovic regime's responsibility in the ethnic war now going on, that puts aggressor and victim on the same level in this particular NATO war, may appear "even-handed". But in fact this supports the arguments behind NATO's imperialist aggression, and thus such a position cannot struggle consistently against this imperialist war [this is the position of a number of parties and forces in Italy]....

Italy's role in all this is to serve as an enormous aircraft carrier for NATO as a whole and for Italian imperialism, following in the footsteps of Mussolini in seeking to capture particular protectorates and economic/political/military spheres of influence, first of all in Albania.

The D'Alema [current prime minister] government is dragging the country to war and fomenting an imperialist, militarist, nationalist and racist culture, using as its transmission belt the social-chauvinists and social-imperialists of the official trade unions and associations, which are the communications channels between these parties and the masses. This is closely linked to the growing militarisation of social conflicts and the repression unleashed against the unemployed, workers, immigrants, temporary workers and students....

The D'Alema government is not leftist, as it claims, but rightist, even though it is a newcomer to the direct management of the political power of the ruling class, a reincarnation and further development of the longstanding history of the reactionary and warmongering nature of the social-democrats, of reformism and revisionism, throughout this century.

Against the US-NATO Imperialist Aggression in Serbia!
Against the Rule of Italian Imperialism in this war!
For a revolutionary, proletarian, anti-imperialist mobilisation!

Prelude to Genocide: How Capitalism Caused the Balkan Wars
Excerpt from the Revolutionary Worker, voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA, #1001, 11 April 1999

The nationalities living in the Balkan mountain area can unite - and they proved it. These peoples created a powerful multinational guerrilla movement during World War 2 to defeat the German Nazis and Italian fascists who occupied the region for three years. The peoples of Yugoslavia pinned down many divisions of Nazi troops - and ultimately freed themselves, guns in hand, in a communist-led resistance war. Modern Yugoslavia was build out of that unity - bringing together six nations and several other significant nationalities.

There was no reason why a new, progressive, multinational unity could not have been built. The key would have been uniting on the basis of the interests of the masses of people - along the road of socialism and proletarian internationalism. But there was, unfortunately, never any real socialist transformation in Yugoslavia. The leaders of the new Yugoslavia, headed by Josef Broz Tito, betrayed the revolution and took the capitalist road - straight into the embrace of U.S. imperialism. This laid the seeds for the wars of today.

The World's First Experience with "Capitalist Roaders in Power"

By 1948 Tito was sharply criticised by the world communist movement, then led by Joseph Stalin. Meanwhile Tito was praised and supported by the imperialists - who were waging all kinds of warfare against revolutionary and socialist forces around the world. Tito claimed that he would walk a "non-aligned" path between East and West. But in fact, his Yugoslavia quickly became dependent on the imperialists - politically, economically and militarily - tied to the world capitalist market while he huddled under the U.S. "nuclear umbrella"….

According to World Bank statistics, the wealthiest 5 percent of Yugoslav households earned 25 percent of the national income in the 1970s, while the poorest 20 percent of the population earned less than 7 percent. This was one of the most extreme income gaps in Europe - in fact, according to the World Bank, even India's income distribution gap was not as big!

The northern nations of Yugoslavia - Slovenia and Croatia - were more highly developed industrially and agriculturally. The three southern national areas - Macedonia, Montenegro, and the Albanian region of Kosovo - were far more undeveloped and poor. Serbia, the largest national grouping, is in between North and South and is also a relatively poor area. These divisions within Yugoslavia got even more acute because of the capitalist development pursued by Yugoslavia. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Over decades, this created a powerful basis for antagonism between the nationalities of the country and for the growth of reactionary nationalism.

Investment flows where the profits are greatest. The industrial northern nations developed rapidly after 1945, while the poorer southern republics stagnated. When the 1990s started, per capita production in Slovenia was three times as high as it was in poorer regions like Macedonia. By 1970 the per capita income of the average Slovene was over six times that of the average Kosovar. Kosovo lives in Third World conditions - comparable to Bolivia or Morocco - while in Slovenia the standard of living is closer to that of neighbouring Austria.

The villages in the poorer peasant regions of the south emptied. People went north for lousy jobs and barrack-like living conditions as "guest workers" - within the supposedly "equal" Yugoslav federation. These "guest workers" make up 15 to 20 percent of the Slovenian workforce and are treated like dirt.

The old phoney-communist system of Yugoslavia was based on state capitalism and a complex system of balancing bourgeois national interests. Inevitably, that old federation became strained. Bourgeois forces leading each republic tried to shift wealth toward "their" nations.

Inequality Gives Rise to Political, then Military Conflict

In the 1980s the conflicts intensified because of classic "IMF crisis." Yugoslavia sank deeply into debt to the International Monetary Fund and other international imperialist lenders - to the tune of $1.8 billion. The lenders demanded that capitalist Yugoslavia take "austerity" measures to pay back the debt, and this inflamed the conflict in the country.

The masses themselves were not especially gripped by national hatreds - certainly not at the beginning. Large parts of the population had intermarried. In urban areas people moved away from religion - which had been a form through which national hostilities had been expressed. Many people no longer identified with one or another nationality - but simply considered themselves "Yugoslavs." Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia was famous for this kind of multicultural fusion. Today, the masses of people there still fondly remember the days when people lived and worked together peacefully. Meanwhile, under the surface, the inequalities between Yugoslavia's regions and the rival ambitions of the different national capitalist forces within Yugoslavia created conditions for an eruption.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, and imperialist power shifted in Europe, it tore old Yugoslavia apart. Warring bourgeois camps sprang out - claiming to protect the survival of different national groups - while they pursued their own interests and sought to divide the people along national lines….

In 1989 Milosevic made Kosovo a symbol and a starting point of this regional power grab. As he came to power within the Yugoslavian federation he revoked the autonomy that Kosovo had exercised within Serbia. He started to systematically impose a Serbian domination on the Albanian majority of Kosovo. He brutally suppressed a powerful strike among the Kosovo miners, expelled Albanians from the universities, imposed Serbian police and troops on the province - and generally made it clear that his government intended to drive Albanians from Kosovo. There were repeated incidents of police murder, as the cops acted like an occupying force.

All this signaled that military force was being applied to turn Yugoslavia into a Greater Serbia. It greatly accelerated the development of separatist sentiments among the ruling classes of the other nationalities (like Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia). The masses of people feared that they would soon be targeted for their nationality....

This bitter series of Balkan wars is a living example both of how capitalism leads to the domination of one nation over another and how imperialism inflames conflicts among the people into reactionary war.

On NATO and Kosovo

Excerpt from April 1999 Halkin Gunlugu (People's Agenda), and other statements by the Communist Party of Turkey (Marxist-Leninist) [TKP (ML)]

What Is War?

War is the continuation of politics by other means. This is a very good explanation of what war is about. The conscious proletariat must not forget this scientific reality and must form its view in this light. When the struggle between the oppressor and oppressed people is sharp, classes carry out their policies through the use of guns. Every war thus has a class character. Historically, in certain specific conditions, the exploiting class can carry out a just war that can serve the interests of oppressed people. For example, the bourgeois class which carried out a war against feudalism. The main principle is, which class or classes does the war serve? Therefore, a war which serves to move society forward is a just war and a war which serves to drag society backwards is an unjust war. We know that there is a reason for the existence of war in the world. Without removing the cause it is not possible to prevent the possibility of war. It is not possible to have capitalism without competition. Different multinational companies compete with each other for international markets and for raw materials. This competion between imperialist multinational companies causes wars either locally, regionally or on a world scale. The imperialist states always need to gain more colonies or semi-colonies, or to continually keep control of the ones they already dominate. Therefore they always interfere with and occupy colonies and semi-colonies.

From this general perspective, we can analyse the wars that the imperialists, especially the USA, are now carrying out in the Balkans and the Middle East….

NATO and Kosovo

Under the leadership of the USA, NATO claims its actions are to "to provide security for the Kosovo Albanians, to prevent the Serb persecution of the Kosovars, and to force the Yugoslav state's President Slobodan Milosevic to accept the Rambouillet Agreement". These NATO attacks have begun a new process whereby the USA imperialists are declaring to all their rival imperialists as well as to the international proletariat and oppressed peoples around the world that they are "all-powerful" and "in charge". For several years now during the 1990s the US imperialists have obliged their rival imperialists as well as the international proletariat and oppressed peoples around the world to discuss the "New World Order" and US imperialism's leadership in oppressing the people in the world, such as in Kosovo. So this process is not new. However, the method of oppression used against Yugoslavia (as well as the silence of the USA's rival imperialist powers, especially the European Union imperialists, against the USA-imposed policy of division in the Balkans) has begun a new process of very sharp and widespread conflict....

NATO and Turkey

It is quite important for us to explain the relationship of Turkey with NATO and the development of its international relations. The Turkish state decided, on the 8th of October in the National Parliament, that, if necessary, it would send its military outside of the country. At that time even the US itself had not said anything about any possible ground operations, but the Turkish parliament took this decision very quietly. Since that time the Turkish military forces have come directly under the command of the USA. It is interesting but not by chance that there was another process that took place at that time in the Middle East, the escalation of the crisis between the Turkish state and Syria. The General Chairman of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, on the 9th of October, just one day after the Turkish Parliament's decision that the military could operate outside the country, was forced to leave the Middle East. At that time, the US had made peace between Talabani and Barzani [leaders of Kurdish factions operating under US hegemony in Iraq's "safe havens"], and then afterwards the Israeli/Palestinian negotiations appeared. As can be seen, while the Kosovo negotiations were in process, the Turkey/Syria crisis appeared. At the same time, discussion took place concerning the question of Cyprus and the crisis of the S-300 rockets in the Aegean. The "ghost allies agreement" between the USA, Israel and Turkey showed that they were ready for events in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The Turkish state, which gets the full support of NATO in its oppression of the Kurdish national movement, is a puppet of USA imperialism.