US-NATO bombs fall on Serbia: the "New World Order" takes shape

                   The editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site emphatically opposes
                   the US-led NATO attack on Serbia. The massive air assault against a
                   small country of less than ten million people is an act of naked imperialist
                   aggression. It represents a qualitatively new stage in the eruption of
                   American and European militarism.

                   As the British Financial Times pointed out: "The enormity of NATO
                   launching its first attack against a sovereign state is not to be
                   underestimated. Unlike Iraq, Belgrade has not invaded another country.
                   Nor is the situation akin to Bosnia, where the legitimate government invited
                   outside intervention. Nor, finally, has the United Nations Security Council
                   specifically authorized NATO to bomb."

                   It is a telling commentary on the state of American democracy that the US
                   government feels free to go to war without even bothering to offer a
                   coherent explanation for its actions to its own people. Without even a trace
                   of embarrassment President Clinton acknowledged, only hours before the
                   bombing commenced, that most Americans probably would not be able to
                   locate Kosovo on a world map.

                   Without a declaration of war--indeed, without anything that can even be
                   remotely described as a public debate--the United States has commenced
                   the bombing of another country which has not harmed, or even threatened,
                   a single American citizen.

                   What is the logic of this policy? The United States assumes the right to
                   compel countries to change their policies in accordance with American
                   demands, i.e., to relinquish sovereignty within their own borders. Even as
                   ruthless a practitioner of imperialist realpolitik as Henry Kissinger has
                   warned that the war against Serbia represents an extraordinary and
                   unprecedented redefinition of the "national interest"--which now, it would
                   appear, includes the domestic policies of other countries.

                   Though it has not been explicitly stated, the implication of this new "Clinton
                   Doctrine" is that the United States may bomb and even invade countries
                   whose domestic policies are not to its liking. This doctrine implies that any
                   country in the world is a potential target for US bombing. It would not be
                   difficult--based on the present state of world affairs--to draw up a list of
                   10 to 20 countries that could be considered likely candidates for military
                   attack by the United States. And, were a deterioration of world economic
                   conditions to lead to an exacerbation of trade tensions, the size of that list
                   could quickly double.

                   The aim of these assaults is to establish the role of the major imperialist
                   powers--above all, the United States--as the unchallengeable arbiters of
                   world affairs. The "New World Order" is precisely this: an international
                   regime of unrelenting pressure and intimidation by the most powerful
                   capitalist states against the weakest.

                   The attack on Serbia follows a definite pattern. In recent years, military
                   interventions by the US have occurred with increasing frequency. In less
                   than twelve months the US has bombed the Sudan and Afghanistan and is,
                   with the support of Britain, conducting a permanent war against Iraq. It is
                   impossible to separate the assault on Serbia from this chain of events.

                   The official reasons given for the military intervention are utterly
                   hypocritical. According to German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the
                   bombing has been undertaken to prevent a "humanitarian catastrophe."
                   According to British Prime Minister Tony Blair it is necessary to "save
                   thousands of innocent men, women and children from death, barbarism
                   and ethnic cleansing by a brutal dictator."

                   But looking back on the tragic consequences of the break-up of
                   Yugoslavia, it is clear that humanitarian issues were the last concerns
                   motivating the intervention of the big powers. In fact, the largest single act
                   of ethnic cleansing carried out in the entire period--the Croatian army's
                   expulsion of 100,000 Serbs from the Krajina region into Bosnia--was
                   carried out with the approval of the German and American governments,
                   and directly supervised by American personnel.

                   A New York Times front-page article last Sunday reported that the war
                   crimes tribunal in the Hague has concluded the Croatian army carried out
                   summary executions, the shelling of civilians and "ethnic cleansing," all of
                   which occurred under the auspices of retired US military officers working
                   in Croatia with the approval of Clinton and the Pentagon.

                   The Times report exposed the hypocrisy of the US government, which
                   tailors its selective outrage over ethnic atrocities to its immediate military
                   and geo-political aims. Three Croatian generals face indictment for the
                   atrocities committed during the Krajina offensive, but the Pentagon
                   opposes any legal action against them, claiming the shelling of Serb towns
                   and villages was a "legitimate military action." Milosevic, denounced by
                   Washington as an international outlaw, is giving the same rationale for his
                   present policy of shelling and burning Albanian villages in Kosovo that the
                   US gives for similar depredations against the Krajina Serbs.

                   Viewed within an international context, the indignation of Europe and the
                   United States over massacres and the suppression of national rights is even
                   more cynical. While it sheds crocodile tears over the fate of the Kosovars,
                   the United States provides military and financial support for the
                   suppression of national and ethnic minorities by right-wing regimes all over
                   the world.

                   A case in point is Turkey, a NATO member and strategic US ally, which is
                   conducting a savage war against the Kurdish population in its own country.
                   Turkish policy towards the Kurds is even more ruthless than that carried
                   out by Serbia against the Kosova Albanians. Turkey makes it a crime to
                   acknowledge a Kurdish national identity, and its military violence in
                   Kurdistan affects far more people than the Serbian repression of Kosovo
                   Albanians. Nevertheless, Ankara has never been threatened with military
                   raids, the Turkish military is provided with weapons and expertise by the
                   German and American governments, and the leader of the Kurdish national
                   movement, the PKK, has been handed over, thanks to US intervention, to
                   his Turkish hangmen.

                   In the air war against Serbia, military force has become its own raison
                   d'être. As NATO governments and the media insist, the maintenance of
                   NATO's credibility demands that the US and its allies bomb now, because
                   they have repeatedly threatened to do so in the past. Typical were the
                   remarks of the German paper Die Welt, which declared, "NATO must
                   strike," because not to strike "would have consequences going far beyond
                   the conflict in Kosovo. Its authority as a military and political protecting
                   power would be destroyed..."

                   We do not have any sympathy for Milosevic, nor do we
                   support his policies. He is a former Stalinist bureaucrat, turned rabid
                   nationalist and defender of bourgeois property, who tramples on the
                   democratic and social rights of the people. In this respect he is not
                   fundamentally different from Russian president Boris Yeltsin and many
                   other heroes of the Western media.

                   However, the attempt to reduce the complex historical and political issues
                   of the Balkans to the machinations of one bad man whose supposed thirst
                   for power is the source of evil in the world is patently absurd. Given the
                   traumatic experiences of Serbian history, no political leader--even one with
                   none of the characteristics attributed to Milosevic--could have accepted
                   the humiliating ultimatum delivered by the Contact Group of imperialist
                   nations. Acceptance would amount to sanctioning foreign troops on
                   Serbian territory and surrendering sovereignty over an area considered
                   part of the Serbian state since the withdrawal of the Ottoman empire last

                   In 1914 an ultimatum by the Habsburg empire, threatening Serbian
                   sovereignty in a similar way, triggered World War I. During World War II
                   several hundred thousand Serbs fell victim to a genocidal assault supported
                   by the German occupation army. With these memories still present, and
                   with the German army returning to the stage of international war in the
                   bombing of Serbia, the refusal to accept the US-sponsored ultimatum can
                   hardly be blamed on Milosevic alone.

                   Indeed, the Western powers worked closely with Milosevic in
                   implementing the ethnic carve-up of Bosnia under the Dayton agreement.
                   The present war is directed not primarily against Milosevic, but rather
                   against the Serbian population and the Balkan people as a whole.

                   The Kosovo Albanians, in whose behalf the war is supposedly being
                   waged, will be amongst its main victims. With a huge part of the Serbian
                   army concentrated in and around Kosovo, the province will inevitably
                   become one of the main theaters of military conflict, with high civilian

                   According to a German government briefing of parliamentary leaders,
                   NATO's plan, should Serbia not give in after extensive bombardment, is to
                   escalate the political and military offensive by backing the secession of
                   Kosovo from Serbia and equipping the Kosovo Albanians with modern

                   The conflict in Kosovo must be placed in its historical context. Its cause is
                   not the personality of Milosevic, but the breakup of Yugoslavia, which is
                   the combined product of the collapse of Stalinist rule and the intervention
                   of the major capitalist powers, especially Germany and the United States.

                   It was German support for the secession of Slovenia, and even more so its
                   promotion of an independent Croatia in 1991, that triggered a series of
                   nationalist eruptions, including the Bosnian civil war, the Croatian expulsion
                   of the Krajina Serbs, and the Serbian crackdown in Kosovo. The NATO
                   powers have intervened throughout the past decade to inflame and exploit
                   national and ethnic tensions for their own purposes. None of the nationalist
                   politicians in the former Yugoslavia and none of the Great Powers come to
                   Kosovo with clean hands.

                   There is little reason to believe that the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA),
                   should it take power in Kosovo, would behave differently than Milosevic,
                   Croatia's Tudjmann, the Bosnian Moslem leaders, or other nationalist
                   politicians in the region. Nothing in the KLA's past record indicates that it
                   would treat the 180,000 Serbs living in the area differently than the
                   Croatian army dealt with the Krajina Serbs.

                   The removal of Serb military forces would likely be followed by the mass
                   expulsion of the Kosovo Serbs. Serbian resistance would likely be met
                   with KLA massacres as bloody as those being carried out against the
                   ethnic Albanians by Milosevic's forces today. As the recent history of the
                   Balkans, Rwanda and other international flash points has tragically
                   demonstrated, those subjected to "ethnic cleansing" and national
                   oppression at one point can, at the prompting of their own bourgeois
                   nationalist leaders, become the perpetrators of such crimes at the next

                   The international press has provided extensive reports of the suffering of
                   the Kosovo Albanians and their persecution at the hands of Serbian forces.
                   But it has said little about the estimated 15,000 Serbs who have fled
                   villages for towns in Kosovo since the beginning of open conflict in spring

                   According to a report issued by the Institute of War & Peace Reporting:
                   "From late April until the end of June last year, the Kosovo Liberation
                   Army (KLA) undertook a series of offensives and took control of nearly
                   40 per cent of Kosovo. Serbs who lived in the villages under KLA control
                   left their homes--sometimes of their own free will and sometimes forcibly,
                   after their closest kin had been abducted and their houses surrounded and
                   attacked with small-arms fire."

                   The NATO attack on Serbia will have incalculable consequences for the
                   stability of the entire region. It threatens renewed civil war in Bosnia,
                   destabilizes Albania and Macedonia, and undermines the rump of
                   Serb-controlled Yugoslavia. Belgrade could face the secession of
                   Montenegro and ethnic unrest in the province of Vojvojdina, which has no
                   majority population, but large minorities of Serbs, Croats, Hungarians and

                   According to the German news magazine Der Spiegel, "Neighboring
                   Macedonia, whose territory is greedily observed by the bordering states,
                   would inevitably be drawn into the conflict: 420,000 Albanians live there.
                   And the mother country Albania could militarily intervene on behalf of its
                   embattled compatriots in Kosovo--a general Balkan war could hardly be

                   In the final analysis, the escalating spiral of war, civil war and ethnic
                   cleansing which has beset the Balkans demonstrates the historically
                   reactionary character of the entire structure of national states carved out of
                   the former Yugoslavia. As a result of the political interference and military
                   intervention of the imperialist powers, the Balkans have been
                   "re-Balkanized" in a manner that precludes both economic progress and
                   the development of genuinely democratic conditions.

                   This policy, motivated by the most short-term considerations, may prove
                   to have consequences far more serious than those anticipated by the
                   Clinton administration. The decision by Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny
                   Primakov, on the way to an official visit to Washington, to turn his plane
                   around and go back to Moscow, and President Boris Yeltsin's subsequent
                   decision to sever all ties with NATO, provide an indication of the
                   destabilizing impact of these events on Europe as a whole.

                   A possible consequence is the emergence of an extreme nationalist regime
                   in Russia. Already there are reports that Russia may supply arms to the
                   Serbs if fighting develops on a large scale.

                   One of the three new additions to NATO, Hungary, has no common
                   border with any NATO country, but does have a common border with
                   Serbia, and clashes could break out there. The fragile relations between
                   Turkey and Greece, both members of NATO and perpetually on the brink
                   of war, could rapidly deteriorate should the war spread to Macedonia.

                   There are innumerable factors in this crisis that lend to the prevailing
                   situation a tremendous degree of unpredictability. But the following can be
                   said with certainty: whatever may emerge from the destruction and death
                   produced by this latest eruption of US-NATO violence, it will be neither
                   the peace nor the justice so fatuously promised to the peoples of the
                   Balkans by President Clinton.