War poised to expand

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Fri Aug 4 01:16:43 MDT 1995

Well tonight may be the last night before the war in the former
Yugoslavia lurches forward. It is not clear whether
the Krajinan Serbs have been sobered up enough by Milosevic's
disclaiming support, and whether Tudjman thinks he can get more
by negotiating than by going to war in the early hours tomorrow
morning. We do not know what representations have been made by
Western governments.

I cannot believe that my two long posts in reply to Leo escaped all
critical comment. Perhaps I bored people to death.

Into the fray again. While I sympathise strongly emotionally with
Tim and Leo that the left should have been calling for intervention,
I think the exact form of the intervention matters enormously.

I am not purist about this and at one time I confess I thought that
US troops going into Somalia would at least feed people. Generally
I think we should be sceptical at best and usually hostile to US
troops going in, or troops of major powers such as UK and France.

On the other hand it is a fact that they will at times go in,
especially if there is some oil around, and really if you think how
global civil society is going to emerge over the coming decades
surely this process of intervention, criticism, intervention, criticism
is part of it. It is a bit like the civilising of civil power in
the days of the robber barons.

I really think that the debate has to be more analytical. Whether it
was Tim or somebody else the position had to be stated and debated.
Tim's family tree has got nothing to do with it.
We also ought to be debating the up to date application of the
right of nations to self-detemination and the connection between this
and bourgeois democratic rights.

Nor is it analytical for anyone just to be in favour of intervention
or opposed to intervention. Nor in favour of the Serbs or against the
Serbs. Critical though I am of the war of terror by the Bosnian Serbs,
it is not genocide and there is a difference between their social fascist
leaders and the great majority. If we forget this we have lost all
semblance of a marxist analysis.

Now tonight, Croatia is poised to go to war, and Paul is right that
its armament has been *covertly* aided by the US. One of the reasons
why arms should have been dropped to the defenders of Zepa, is
that it would have undermined the case for Croatia to make the defence
of Bihac a casus belli.

The treatment of the inhabitants of western Slavonia by the Croats, was
unacceptable even if it wasn't quite as bad as that of the Serbs
to the Bosnians. There is a great danger of this being repeated.

If, if, there really could have been a broad democratic movement
of solidarity with the people of the former Yugoslavia for peace and
human rights, tonight it would be coordinating pressure on the
Western Governments to press Croatia in turn to give clear
guarantees for respect of Geneva agreements, and the right for
people to continue to live in their own home, regardless of religion,
language or script. To give grudging due to the British government
it appears it may be doing that tonight.

Chris Burford, London.

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