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What's America doing in Yugoslavia?

The Clinton Administration claims its aims are humanitarian. Cynics say the
real aim is to get at Eastern Europe's resources. America's real goals are much
more far reaching.
   Humanitarian concerns on the part of the Clinton Administration and NATO can be
   dismissed immediately.  The NATO forces in less than two weeks of bombing doubled
   the number of Kosovan refugees who had fled the country's turmoil over the previous
   year.  If helping these people were NATO's aim they would not have embarked on
   the only course guraranteed to worsen their suffering.

   At the same time it is too narrow to say that the US is really after the 
   Caucasian oil or Russian resources. In their boardrooms US monopoly 
   capitalists are doubtless drooling over the superprofits they can extract from 
   those regions, but I don't think Clinton and Co. -- the political leaders -- 
   are consciously pursuing those aims directly. 

   I imagine that they think in terms of a "power vacuum" that has emerged in 
   Eastern Europe (including the former USSR) and they are eager to take 
   advantage of the weakness of the Russians to seize what they can now before 
   the Russians bounce back. Of course ideologically, they would be thinking in 
   terms of the expansion of "democracy" -- a notion which they regularly equate 
   with whatever the US wants. 

   This war is, in other words, a case of "Drang nach Osten" in the best Teutonic 
   tradition (even if Clinton is Scottish, Irish, English or whatever, by 
   descent). Throughout the Cold War the US thought in terms of power and power 
   vacuums and I believe that's still the leadership's mentality. They want to 
   extend the blessings of "freedom" i.e., the capitalist way of life, to 
   everybody AND insure that the profits from those blessings flow to American 
   banks safe and secure under NATO military protection from potential threats. 
   Whether military or diplomatic means can bring this off depends on the nature 
   of the resistance that the US encounters. 

   So a few weeks ago in Missouri, Madelaine Albright cried "Hallelulia" as NATO 
   bloodlessly conquered and annexed Czechia, Poland, and Hungary. 

   According to an Itar-TASS release of some days ago, Macedonia is eager to 
   speed up its entry into Nato, and reportedly Bulgaria is intent upon joining 
   the Atlantic Alliance too. In fact a Pravda dispatch yesterday (Friday, 16 
   April 1996) quoted a "social-ecological association" called the Antiwar 
   Committee regarding the potential threat that the US bombing poses to the 
   Kozloduy nuclear power plant in Bulgaria near the Yugoslav border 
   (particularly since three stray bombs or missles have landed in Bulgaria since 
   the war began). Pravda quoted the ecology experts as noting that there is an 
   airfield near the reactor which is officially not being used by the 
   belligerents, but which villagers report has up to 30 planes landing and 
   taking off each night. So I suspect that Bulgaria's leadership is already 
   obliging the US, at considerable risk to its own population. 

   In addition, a couple weeks ago an Itar-TASS dispatch spoke of how Poland will 
   intercede on Lithuania's behalf at the 50th anniversary celebration of NATO in 
   Washington to get that Baltic country into the aggressive alliance. The Poles 
   and Lithuanians have already set up some joint military unit of a couple 
   hundred men, the release said. Interestingly, the unit's operational language 
   is to be English. 

   Finally, in other evidence of US fanatical expansionism, I read in today's 
   issue of the Lebanese paper as-Safir that one of Iran's leading clerics in his 
   Friday sermon yesterday, denounced plans for the US to set up a base in 
   Azerbaidzhan. Now, I hadn't heard about such plans but I know that the 
   Azerbaidzhan regime has been very cozy with the Turkish regime, and that means 
   with the US/NATO. 

   Put all this together and you get a real effort by the US to fill in by 
   whatever means in the places from which the USSR has pulled out. For various 
   reasons, some regimes are more accommodating to the US than others. 

   One reason for those regimes (bourgeois now, don't forget) could be plain old 
   money. The Macedonian leadership just before the latest war, severed ties 
   with China in order to recognize the militarized islet of Taiwan as the 
   representative of a billion Chinese. Was this move the result of 
   soul-searching on the part of Macedonian Asian specialists? Hardly. The 
   diplomatic regression was followed immediately by a big Taiwanese grant of 
   money to the impoverished Balkan nation. 

   (Incidentally, when Jordan's pretty new queen Rania visited Macedonia with a 
   bunch of money for the Kosovar refugees there, the Macedonian government 
   grabbed half of it, again according to a report in as-Safir! They must really 
   be strapped for cash!) 

   Obviously the nationalist government of Milosevic is not one of the more 
   accommodating regimes, as far as the US is concerned. The same goes for 
   Lukashenko in Byelorus'. He too has often been criticised for "human rights 
   violations." In US eyes, the "danger" of these "rogue regimes" that balk at 
   accepting American leadership is that they could pose as alternate sources of 
   power in their respective regions. 

   America wants to control the oil in the Middle East. That goes without 
   saying. But Iraq is a problem not because it might use its military might to 
   conquer Saudi Arabia but because a strong Arab regional power might embolden 
   other Arab regimes to take independent positions vis-a-vis Washington. The 
   prospect of this scared the shit out of the US in 1990. America was just 
   getting the dissintegrating Soviets out of the Middle East. The US was 
   looking forward to having a free hand in the Middle East (filling a new vacuum 
   there) and they were not about to let the "power vacuum" be filled by Iraq. 
   Hence the continuing war against Iraq, which in the form of a deadly embargo 
   has now killed off some two million Iraqis. Hence also the continued and 
   adamant US insistence upon a permanently disarmed Iraq. 

   As-Safir has brought out (perhaps as a subtle hint for those Arabs whose 
   Islamic sensibilities might sway them to support the cause of the Kosovars and 
   their American "allies") that Clinton, Albright and other US officials 
   continue to insist that they are against self-determination for Kosovo; that 
   they want autonomy for the Kosovar Albanians in a democratic Yugoslavia, and 
   more and more US officials talk about overthrowing Milosevic and even trying 
   him for war crimes. 

   Partly this is the typical demagogical technique of demonising your enemy; 
   personallising "him." It allows the extremely politically unaware American 
   public to "relate" to the war in ready-to-eat terms of who are the "good guys" 
   and who are the "bad guys". (I was in a book store the other day and saw the 
   cover of TIME magazine. Under Milosevic's portrait was the newsworthy 
   headline "The Face of Evil." Next on the magazine rack was Newsweek, I think, 
   which also sported a Milosevic picture. Its equally informative headline was 
   "Don't let the endgame be his." Obviously these are not news headlines but 
   poster slogans and the media are really stooping to new depths.) 

   But the personalisation of the conflict also allows the imperialists to insist 
   on the overthrow of leaders who, however democratic or popular they are or 
   aren't, have some sort of domestic power base. If the US succeeds in 
   overthrowing any of its demons -- as it did in Panama -- it will install some 
   pliant "democrat", i.e., someone who is ready to take orders from Washington, 
   (because, after all, who else is there for such a new leader to rely on?) The 
   Iraqi opposition bunch that met in London recently and plans more meetings 
   under US aegis in the US (and which has already got plans to train anti-Iraqi 
   commandos in Texas and in some Arabian Gulf country) have already committed 
   themselves to such things as "not being a threat to their neighbours" if and 
   when they take power. Concretely, this means letting the oil states 
   prostitute their unrenewable resource to the Americans without even a breath 
   of criticism AND making peace with "Israel." In other words, they are to act 
   as American political filling for the "power vacuum." 

   Milosevic is in the same boat with Saddam Husayn, another "monster" who must 
   be replaced to make the world "safe for democracy." The replacement of these 
   leaders by the US would signify another US/NATO conquest and would allow the 
   US to turn its attention to the next "monster" somewhere else -- in Byelorus', 
   Russia, India, China, . . . . 

   Ancilliary to filling "power vacuums" is the "need" for Washington to 
   strengthen itself in relation to its own NATO allies, so as to facilitate its 
   ongoing effort to impose what it calls democracy on the world. The US is no 
   longer so preemminently a predominant economic power, yet it remains the world 
   leader in the field of militarism. By dragging its pliant or naive European 
   allies along in this bloody campaign for "liberal democracy" in the Balkans, 
   it is accenting its armed strength at their economic expense. The dollar has 
   been doing well in international markets while the newborn Euro is in the 
   dumps due to the war. In addition, the Europeans will doubtless fork out lots 
   of funds to support the Kosovar refugees (whose numbers have more than doubled 
   since NATO began its mission to "save them") and must now amount to around a 
   million dependent souls. The American leaders do look out for their own 
   interests, like the good company board presidents that they are. 

   I recall it reported that the Gulf War of 1990-1991 was a net financial gain 
   for the US which had dunned all its allies for huge contributions for its 
   armed build up against Iraq, much of which never was actually used in the war 
   (or returned to the contributors). These funds remained on the American 
   ledgers as a plus. 

   As with all these events, this Balkan war is complex and has many angles. In 
   sum, though, I think it boils down to a US political-military effort to expand 
   its empire to include as much of the former socialist community as it can, 
   dividing and encircling what is left and threatening independent- minded third 
   world people in the bargain. The continued resistance of the Yugoslavs after 
   three and a half weeks under the bombs and the unyielding determination of the 
   Iraqis after nine years of crippling starvation and devastating air raids 
   offer some indication, however, that the US might be straining at the limits 
   of its power. 

   With revolutionary greetings! 

   Abu Nasr
   18 April 1999