Now that President Bill Clinton has declared that at least 4,000 U.S. soldiers will be part of a 30,000-strong NATO occupation force in Kosovo, many anti-war activists in the U.S. are being forced to look more closely at the issues involved.
Ever since the Civil War, the U.S. military has been primarily a force for imperialist expansion, particularly into the oppressed countries of Latin America, Africa and Asia. Of the more than 400 U.S. military actions since World War II, not one could be described as being for the liberation of an oppressed people.
This became crystal clear during the Vietnam War, and there has been
no substantial change in the role of the U.S. military since then. The
rich, with a far-flung empire to defend, are more in control of the government
than ever. Even those who have defended Clinton in the impeachment struggle
don't claim that the administration in Washington is progressive.
Clinton's foreign policy is almost indistinguishable from that of the Republicans.
SUPPORT U.S. MILITARY INTERVENTION?
Many progressive-minded people show a healthy concern over the fate
of the suffering Albanian population in Kosovo, whose plight is depicted
so graphically on all the television news shows. But is it possible that
this concern can lead to supporting U.S. military intervention?
To understand the developments in Kosovo and not wind up on the same side as Bill Clinton, Robert Dole, Henry Hyde and the rest of Washington's advocates of military expansion, Marxist analysis is necessary.
For Marxists, the starting point in analyzing any phenomenon is to look
for its class meaning. What class is being served? The rich and powerful
ruling class? Or the working class, which has been the main ally of oppressed
peoples in this century?
This method of analysis holds true for small matters as well as large, for domestic events as well as foreign affairs.
Both economics and politics worldwide are defined by U.S. finance capital.
Put in plain terms, the U.S. ruling class-Wall Street and the big U.S.
corporations-dominates much of the globe.
By itself, this does not characterize every event. But almost every struggle worldwide is forced to define itself in relation to U.S. imperialism.
So the first and primary question in Kosovo is what is the relationship of events there to U.S. imperialism.
This quickly changes the axis of the discussion. First, the U.S. military is threatening to bomb the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade unless the Yugoslav government agrees to a U.S.-imposed settlement.
Clearly, the Yugoslav government is not a pawn of imperialism. Nor can
it in any manner be described as being an imperialist power or an imperialist
rival of the United States.
Yugoslavia is a small country, the remnants of a somewhat bigger country that has been systematically dismembered over the last decade.
Yugoslavia was the first country in Eastern Europe after World War II
to establish a socialist state based on a genuine workers' revolution.
This contrasted with the other East European countries--except for Albania--where
the capitalists were ousted from power by the Soviet military after it
defeated the Nazi forces and their puppet regimes.
Today, what is left of the Yugoslav socialist state is resisting a complete counter-revolutionary takeover by the big capitalist powers of Europe and the United States.
The European and U.S. imperialists have competing interests in the Balkans, but they are united in their desire to crush the Yugoslav government. Their interests are in controlling the Balkans region as well as its trade routes.
Since the capitalist mode of production--producing goods primarily for
exchange--first emerged centuries ago, the area of the Balkans has been
the primary trade route between Europe and the Middle East, as well as
between Europe and Asia. It is also the primary route for transporting
the vast oil wealth of the Caucasus region to the lucrative European marketplace.
It is for that reason that numerous wars, including two world wars, were
fought over this region.
This is the historical context for the events unfolding in Kosovo. As the U.S. and its NATO allies focus on this area, they put the Yugoslav government in the position of being the center of anti-imperialist resistance in Eastern Europe.
LOOK WHO'S REPRESENTING KOSOVO
The U.S. media reports on Kosovo cannot be trusted. The big media giants
like NBC, CBS, ABC and CNN are tightly controlled and censored in the interests
of big business.
And when they are reporting in support of a U.S. military operation, every aspect of every report must be questioned.
Take, for example, the fact that a prime source of information on Kosovo is Robert Dole, the former Republican senator and presidential candidate. He is an official spokesperson for the Kosovo "government-in-exile." This organization's official public relations firm is Ruder-Finn, a U.S.-based company with a long history as a CIA propaganda front.
Unlike their coverage of well-established liberation struggles in Palestine, the Philippines or Colombia, the U.S. media giants have given overwhelmingly positive publicity to the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army. Reporters and photographers from the biggest U.S. media travel with them. No anti-imperialist struggle has ever been given such coverage by the U.S. media.
The KLA is based in neighboring Albania. It is headquartered on the
estate of Sali Berisha, a U.S.-backed banker who was forced out as president
of Albania after he facilitated a pyramid scheme that literally stole the
life savings of most of the Albanian population. Also in Albania today
is a U.S. military base that oversees the movement of arms in the region.
The KLA began as a mercenary force whose first language was German, according to a New York Times report. The KLA's uniforms and arms come through Germany, the United States and Israel.
Of course, genuine revolutionaries have often taken aid from wherever
they could get it. After all, didn't the anti-colonial revolutionaries
in North America in the 1700s take aid from the French in their battle
against the British monarchy?
But the 1776 revolution wasn't in favor of France over Britain. And the revolution never called for a French takeover of North America.
The KLA, on the other hand, not only supports a U.S. military occupation of Kosovo, it has insisted on it. To support the occupation of a country by the world's primary imperialist power is to act as an agent for that power.
In the U.S. media, the struggle in Kosovo is explained entirely as a
war for self-determination for the Albanian population. It is not that
simple, of course, when the imperialist powers play such a primary role.
It is impossible to even know the full extent of imperialist intrigue behind
But even if the struggle could be limited to the question of self-determination in Kosovo, the so-called facts presented in the big business-controlled media are not really facts.
WHEN FACTS ARE NOT FACTS
Take the widely reported "fact" that 90 percent of the population of
Kosovo is made up of Albanian people.
Reliable population statistics are elusive at best. For example, Kosovo is mostly a farming country. There is not a lot of industry. As in other agrarian countries in recent years, much of the population has left the land and moved to the cities.
According to Yugoslav sources, a large number of the Kosovo Albanians counted by the Western media are living and working in other European countries, primarily Germany and Italy.
Kosovo itself is multinational. While the majority of the population is Albanian, there are also sizeable populations of Serbs, Montenegrins, Egyptians, Roms (Gypsies) and Turks.
The U.S. intervention is to openly support one nationality in Kosovo--the Albanians--over all the other nationalities. This would deny equal rights to all the minorities in the region. Such a plan is designed from the start to promote further national antagonisms and to therefore justify continued foreign occupation.
According to the last census in which Albanians participated--the separatist leaders have boycotted more recent ones--about 60 percent of the people in Kosovo are Albanian. Almost 15 percent are Serbian. Another 10 percent are Montenegrin. Five percent are Roms. Five percent Egyptian. Two to three percent Turkish. Together, the non-Albanian population in Kosovo totals about 600,000 out of a population of 1.5 million.
The Albanian nationalist forces allied with the U.S. have insisted on
counting as Albanians the Rom, Turk and Egyptian population. In this way
they can increase the percentage of the population defined as Albanian.
In the book "Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo," by Miranda Vickers, which is generally anti-Serbian in its viewpoint, the author reports that the "internationally respected Rom activist Slobodan Berberski" denounced Albanian separatists in Kosovo for their insistence on calling the Rom people Albanians.
The minority peoples of Kosovo--particularly the Rom and Turkish population--have
been among the most active opponents of the KLA. They have been targeted
by the KLA along with the many Albanian communists. These Albanian leftists
had opposed the policies of the Milosevic government but had also opposed
alignment with the imperialists.
All this must be kept in mind when analyzing U.S. media reports that uniformly refer to the "vicious Serbian nationalism personified by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic."
Such reports leave out completely the role of imperialism in fueling the nationalist struggles in Kosovo.
The question cannot be understood, therefore, as merely one of Serbs versus Albanians. In the age of imperialism, the issue must be looked at in the context of the global class struggle.
Marxism shows that capitalism divides everything by class. For opponents of imperialist war and oppression, there can be only one way to stand on the issue of Kosovo. The progressive, working class, anti-war forces must stand in opposition to U.S. and NATO intervention in Kosovo. Such intervention can only lead to the further exploitation of the peoples of the region.
And as long as Slobodan Milosevic is resisting the imperialist aggression,
he deserves full support. This does not mean supporting every policy of
Milosevic or his government. But it does mean support in the battle against
imperialism. That is the only road to full liberation for all the peoples
of the Balkans.