To: "SchNEWS Subscribers" (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 19:05:05 +0000
Subject: SchNEWS 207, 9th April 1999
[the following article, written in April 99, attempts to explain why NATO is fighting a war in Europe - a further possible explanation is that the US has decided it needs a military presence in the Balkans to prevent Greece and Turkey (both NATO members) from coming into conflict, should they be drawn into Yugoslavia's internal conflict on opposing sides - Weed, May 1999]
WAR AND PEACE
"We are taking this action for one simple reason: to damage Serbian forces sufficiently to prevent Milosevic from continuing to perpetrate his vile oppression against innocent Albanian civilians" - Tony Blair
"The first casualty of war is always the truth" - Traditional
On 24th March, two weeks after Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined NATO, NATO launched massive air strikes against Serbia. As ever, superpower aggression was dressed up as a humanitarian exercise, this time to defend Kosovan Albanians from Serb terror. As ever, this was a lie. Since 1992 the desire of Germany, Britain and the United States to expand their influence into eastern Europe at the expense of an enfeebled Russia has brought war, genocide and 100,000 dead to the peoples of the former Yugoslavia. Those dying now in Kosovo and Serbia are the latest victims of
these western powers' bid for control of the region.
There is no doubt that Milosevic is engaged in mass murder of the majority ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo. Ethnic Albanians account for over 80% of Kosovo's two million population - well over one million of these Albanian Kosovans are now refugees, either inside Kosovo or in neighbouring countries. It is still unclear how many have been killed by the Serbian army, police and fascist paramilitaries.
Until 1989 Kosovo had been an autonomous province within Yugoslavia, but with the rise of nationalist hatred fuelled by the super powers, Milosevic was able to use his assertion of Serbian nationalism in Kosovo to grab power for himself in Serbia - and lay the basis for war, ethnic cleansing and genocide in Bosnia and, now, Kosovo. There is no doubt that Milosevic's warmongering, encouraged and payrolled by western powers when it suited them, needs to be opposed.
But NATO's attacks on Serbia are nothing to do with protecting Kosovan civilians - their plight is now worse than ever. For less than a tenth of the cost of one bomber, NATO could have supplied significant amount of arms to the Kosovan Liberation Army or supported what is left of the democratic opposition in Serbia. Of course, they did neither - because they are concerned with global power struggles, not the plight of those they cynically exploit to justify their warmongering.
If the United States, Britain and the other massive military powers currently bombing the former Yugoslavia were concerned with defending "innocent civilians" they have had numerous opportunities to do so recently - and not done it. In Turkey, the Kurds have had their villages burnt, their culture outlawed, their people killed and turned into refugees by the thousand without any action from NATO - maybe because Turkey is a key strategic member of NATO. When one million Rwandans were systematically slaughtered in a hundred days Clinton did nothing to prevent it because it did not suit US global interests to do so.
The air strikes NATO are carrying out are aimed at ensuring that Serbia, with its strong economic and political links to Russia, does not get in the way of growing western influence in the region. A staggering amount of air power is being used. 80 fighter bombers and 100 cruise missiles - costing £800,000 each - were launched on the first night alone. You can only wonder at the technology contained in the B2 stealth bombers, which cost $2.1bn each.
NATO tells us that these weapons are so expensive because of their ability to minimise civilian casualties - in fact, they are designed to increase their destructive power while minimising any risk to those using them. Each cluster bomb being dropped from an RAF Harrier jets, for instance, spreads 147 small bombs over an area of up to 100 acres - many do not explode, creating unregulated minefields wherever they are dropped. The RAF is currently dropping cluster bombs on Kosovo.
For four decades following the second world war, socialist Yugoslavia was able to maintain peace amongst the various nationalities making up the country. The Balkans had always been a region where major world powers fought out their battles at the expense of the local population. The anti-fascist militias that became the Yugoslav state after the second world war were determined to prevent the rise of national tensions and fascism in the area again.
The death of Yugoslavia's President Tito and the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 80s allowed western powers to expand their influence in the region by encouraging the national tensions that would lead to the present horrors. They consistently backed local politicians stirring up national hatred - like Serbia's Milosevic and Croatia's Tudjeman - against those trying to keep Yugoslavia united.
The powerful multinationals that NATO represents are interested in global power, profit and control of natural resources - not Kosovan refugees. The peoples of the former Yugoslavia, like so many other millions of people from South America to East Timor, can expect no help from these warmongers except for PR purposes. Organising practical support for the victims of the war in Kosovo and building serious opposition to the multinationals' war machine in Britain is the only way we can show solidarity with the millions so cynically used to justify this latest European war.
Further reading -
"The Death of Yugoslavia" - by Laura Silber and Alan Little
"Kosovo - a short history" - by Noel Malcolm.
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