Balkans War article, final installment

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Aug 9 07:37:26 MDT 1999

V.      Balance sheet and perspectives

        a) The war establishes a precedent: the eclipse of the UN

The war represents a major step in the process of the US’s further gutting
of the already weakened and compromised UN.  According to sources close to
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, he was warned by US Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright on May 7, 1999 that any political or military
intervention by the United Nations would be "unacceptable," that the
international military presence in Yugoslavia would not be a UN force, and
that "in no case" would it be under the control of the UN. He was also told
that the UN "should mind its own business, i.e., humanitarian affairs."

For the first time the Security Council itself has been kept outside the
entire process. Instead of playing an active role in fulfilling its mandate
on peace and security, it was called upon only to rubber-stamp the
so-called G8 ‘agreement’ for the occupation of Yugoslavia by US/NATO
forces. Although the Alliance agreed to designate the ground force as a UN
force, US/NATO troops are the core within an exclusively NATO command
structure: "UN-wrapped but NATO-filled!"

With the paralysis of the multilateral system, we are witnessing the
consolidation of the US’s global juridical-political hegemony, made
possible by the process which began with its emergence as a dominant global
power after the defeat of Germany in World War II and culminated with the
collapse of the Soviet Union. With the disappearance of the ‘communist’
threat, the US has become increasingly unrestrained in its willingness to
intervene militarily in other countries.  Within Europe, its collaboration
with the major EU powers is manifested in the agreement on the ‘New
Transatlantic Marketplace’ and the related ‘Transatlantic Partnership on
Political Co-operation’, in which agreement was found on the establishment
of a system of sanctions against countries outside the Euro-Atlantic
Partnership in case of threat to their corporate investment, said to be a
violation of property rights, and on the extension of extra-territorial
measures. These unilateral sanctions, yesterday the privileged weapon of
the US, have, with the approval of the EU become a global system of
coercion which can be imposed on the rest of the world.

The International Court of Justice which Yugoslavia requested to initiate
proceedings against NATO members for violation of their obligation not to
use force, expressed profound concern "with the use of force in Yugoslavia"
which "under the present circumstances ... raises very serious issues of
international law" and emphasised that "all parties before it must act in
conformity with their obligations under the United Nations Charter and
other rules of international law, including humanitarian law."

On April 23, 1999, NATO celebrated its 50th anniversary in Washington with
the objective of receiving endorsement for its new strategic concepts. On
this occasion, the Organization was determined to claim victory. Robert
Kagan and William Kristol commented that what is at stake in Yugoslavia is
ultimately whether "the United States and its allies have the will to shape
the world in conformance with our interests and our principles."

The approval by Western Europe of NATO’s new strategic concepts and Western
European participation in the current war not only provide post factum
legitimacy to similar wars of aggression waged by the US within a period of
only eight months, against three other sovereign States (Sudan,
Afghanistan, and Iraq). More seriously, the war sets a dangerous precedent
for similar interventions in the future, giving rise to growing concern
particularly in Russia and the Third World.  A Russian General was quoted
as saying, "The bombing of Yugoslavia could turn out in the very near
future to be just a rehearsal for similar strikes on Russia."  This
preoccupation led to an order by the Russian National Security Council on
April 30, 1999 to modernise all strategic and tactical nuclear warheads and
to develop strategic low-yield nuclear missiles capable of pinpoint strikes
anywhere in the world. The Defense Ministry also authorised a change in
nuclear doctrine. In Ukraine, the parliament voted unanimously to restore
the country to its former nuclear status.

Opposition to the war was manifested right from the beginning in the Third
World. Opposition appears to be growing fastest in the poorer Third World
countries.  Even in the Middle East, where the West is widely criticised
for not acting immediately in favour of Muslims in Bosnia, "Few Arab voices
defend NATO’s efforts to protect the largely Muslim Kosovo Albanians."   In
India, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said, in a fiery speech, "there
is a dance of destruction going on there.¼ And the United Nations is a mute
witness to all this. Is NATO’s work to prevent war or to fuel one?"  The
former Foreign Secretary of India, J. N. Dixit, raised a number of
disturbing questions about the future role of the UN, questioning "the
capacity of individual countries to sustain their sovereignty, independence
and territorial integrity. Pax Americana contains whiffs of hegemony that
contradict US professions of a commitment to democracy. Countries like
India, China, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, perhaps even Japan and south-east
Asia, should collectively consider how to cope with this predicament in the
coming decades." He identified four consequences of the NATO summit:
        One, it has changed the European geopolitical role into a global role.
Two, it seeks to legitimise intervention against the sovereign jurisdiction
of states without deliberations at the UN. Three, NATO has declared itself
the arbiter and judge of standards and values of governance within
sovereign states. Finally, NATO also assumes the authority to suggest
compromises to resolve inter-state issues backed by coercive forces where
NATO considers it necessary.

In China, an official asked, "Where will NATO stop? Will they next
intervene in Azerbaijan or maybe in Tajikistan on China’s border?"  In
Cuba, Fidel Castro addressing the recent Rio Summit of Latin American
countries, said:
        Most probably the threat to the security of the Alliance will come out of
regional and ethnic conflicts or other crises ... as well as from the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.... Does that mean that NATO
... considering  not only [their] clandestine proliferation, but their
massive production, could decide to launch thousands of bombs on Jerusalem,
Tel Aviv, Israeli and Palestinian cities¼? Can this be the civilized
solution to such problems? Can we be sure that this will not lead to a
nuclear confrontation? Where will the new and untenable NATO doctrine lead

        b) The Balkans destabilised

Lawrence Eagleburger's 1994 proposed threat to Yugoslavia  proved prescient
as to the scope of the war's damage.  In economic, social and political
terms, the outcome is devastating for the poorest countries of the region.
The Balkans are lastingly destabilised and confined to ever greater
dependence. On threat of destruction, no alternative is offered other than
unconditional adherence to the rules of the market. Over time, the promise
of integration into the EU and NATO is tied to concrete evidence of
acceleration in the ‘reform’ process. The demolition of the Balkans'
economic, social, and institutional base and, perhaps more so, the
destruction of their originality in terms of ethnic diversity will be the
enormous price to be paid.

The economies of neighbouring countries who rely either on Yugoslav markets
or on its major East-West and North-South transport networks--road,
railway, navigation through the Danube--have been seriously affected. Loss
of markets, disruption of trade flows, unavailability of vital industrial
and agricultural inputs, and capital flight are threatening the already
fragile economies of the Balkans. Only one and a half months after bombings
began, the repercussions were already considerable. Estimates suggested
GNP-losses of 27% for Serbia and Montenegro, 20% for Bosnia-Herzegovina, 9%
for Albania, 8% for Macedonia, 4% for Bulgaria, and 3.3% for Romania.

Speaking at EBRD’s recent board meeting, Albania’s Minister for Economic
Co-operation and Trade, Ermelinda Meksi, said that the country would need
at least $800 million in budgetary and humanitarian aid this year.  With an
economy often described as mafia-dominated, a state dependent on income
from trade tariffs, and a GNP of only $790 per inhabitant (half that for
Algeria), its income dropped by 45% in the first days of the war alone.  It
 is also facing a brutal withdrawal and freeze in international
investments. With most of its population living from agriculture, its
production is being devastated as food surpluses of Western capitalist
countries flood the market in the form of humanitarian aid. The collapse of
the financial pyramid at the beginning of 1997, under former President
Berisha, active supporter of the Kosovo Liberation Army, had precipitated
the country into a civil war and severe recession. To face the humanitarian
and financial disaster resulting from the bombings, Tirana had to cut
public investments by at least 30%.

Macedonia, from one day to the next, lost its principal trade partner,
Yugoslavia. Ninety percent of its trade with the European Union transited
through Yugoslavia. The halt in economic activity in Yugoslavia has meant
that its enterprises cannot receive or export raw materials and spare
parts, the basis of its partnership with Yugoslavia. According to
Macedonian officials, the war has crippled their exports because of severed
transport links through Serbia.   By mid-May, some 60 enterprises had to
halt production.  It is expected that for the month of April alone,
industrial activity will drop by 60%. Before the war, unemployment rates
were already at 40%, with a peak of 70% affecting people between the ages
of 15-24. Today, Macedonia’s economy is further threatened, like that of
Albania, by the corrosive effect of food aid on agricultural production.

Bulgaria and Romania are among the heaviest users of the Danube. In the
case of Bulgaria, 60% of its exports normally transit through Yugoslavia.
Romania, already in full recession (GDP dropped 7.3% in 1998) was losing
some $50 million per week because of the war. According to Romanian
officials, the country had by mid-April 1999 lost $175 million in export
trade.    At the April 1999 EBRD board meeting, Bulgarian Deputy Prime
Minister Alexander Bozhkov said that the air strikes will prevent the
country from reaching this year’s goal of attracting $1 billion in direct
investment and that, because of the destruction of Serb bridges across the
Danube, trade would continue to suffer long after the end of NATO’s
military campaign.

In Croatia and Hungary, despite the volume of external support received,
the psychological impact on investors and tourism is already considerable.
According to an OECD Report issued on May 18, 1999, Croatia is likely to be
one of the worst hit of the tourist destinations.   Normally drawing 12% of
its income from tourism, Croatia expected 6 million tourists in 1999.
However, over half of all holiday bookings have been cancelled since the

On April 6, 1999, an official in the Ukraine Foreign Ministry stated that
the country was losing $330,000 every day owing to disrupted navigation on
the Danube after NATO bombed bridges in Novi Sad.  In May 1999, the Foreign
Minister, Boris Tarasyuk, told reporters that in one month of the war
alone, his country had lost $220 million in trade.

With most of their economies in a state of near-collapse, many countries
are turning to the IMF and World Bank for new loans. The accompanying
conditions will bring the people of these countries to their knees. Romania
has been granted an IMF standby credit amounting to $500 million, paving
the way for a $250 million World Bank loan  and $150-200 million in loans
from Western banks.  The World Bank has opened a line of credit for up to
Francs 600 million for Albania and Macedonia. The Paris Club has already
decided on a moratorium on the debt owed by Albania and Macedonia.
However, Albania has estimated the loans it will need to maintain its
economy at $820 million. Bulgaria will ask for $300 million in extra
balance-of-payments support.  According to IMF officials, it is likely that
Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, and Albania would need loans of at least $10
billion to face the cost of humanitarian assistance and the disruption to
trade caused by the fighting.

Along with their larger involvement in the Balkans, the role of IMF/World
Bank in seeking to neutralise Russia has been significant. Suspended in
August 1998 after the Russian debt moratorium, IMF/World Bank loans to
Moscow have since been resumed. The Agreement of Principle will permit the
release of $7.5 billion fresh liquidity from private creditors and open the
way for re-scheduling of Russia’s foreign debt by the Paris Club. This will
increase the total amount of financial aid to Russia to about $24 billion.

        c) NATO: aircraft carrier for US economic interests

The war against Yugoslavia also serves to meet a more immediate objective,
that is, to stave off from the core capitalist countries in Western Europe
and North America the most serious crisis that capitalism has faced in
recent years when it first manifested itself in Asia, then spread to Latin
American and Russia. It is in this economic context that the Clinton
administration has launched its military offensive against Yugoslavia. In
the US, the highly protected military-industrial sector is seen, with its
related ‘high-tech’ industry, as the engine of a ‘crisis-free’ economy. In
any country claiming to have a ‘free-market’ economy, increasing the
military budget is the preferred means to provide a state-guaranteed market
for production. It is also the primary means for forcing the public to
agree to government subsidisation of the biggest industrial corporations.

The above-cited 1966 report by fifteen US experts defends "military waste"
because "it provides the only critically large sector of the total economy
that is subject to complete and arbitrary central control."   This
structural condition is one of the factors that account for the US
government's continuing interest in identifying, in the spirit of the
report,  "an accepted external menace."   With the collapse of the Soviet
Union, the US lost the main justification for its huge military budget.
There was pressure to reduce the defence budget, and the American people
had to be provided with fresh pretexts for maintaining it at existing levels.

The ‘discovery’ of Milosevic in Europe ensured that NATO would become the
aircraft carrier for US economic interests, with the more or less reluctant
approval of the European Union. It would serve not only to frighten other
countries into spending billions of dollars on, or investing in, America’s
military industry and its products, but also to render them dependent on
the US. At the same time, it provided a pretext for the resuscitation and
strengthening of NATO. Salina Khan, writing in USA Today, pointed to the
close relationship between the US military industry and plans for NATO
enlargement: many US corporations, particularly defence contractors such as
Lockheed Martin, have played "an active role ... in the move to enlarge
NATO beyond its traditional US-Western European axis."   Thus, any
means--including military--put in place in the name of independence and
sovereignty, can be interpreted as a potential ‘external menace’ to US
national interests and provide justification for the expansion of military
investments.  Earlier the Gulf War provided the pretext for the production
and maintenance of aircraft carriers and sophisticated military aircraft.
When India produced a nuclear device, even India began to be held out as a
potential threat to US security in South Asia.  More recently, China’s
successful testing of long-range ballistic missiles is considered by the US
Congress to be a hostile act: "The Chinese test is certain to intensify
growing concern in the US Congress about a possible military threat from
Beijing not only for Asia but to the US mainland."

The steel industry is a significant example of how the war against
Yugoslavia will enable US industry to counteract declining profit rates by
wielding control over global production.  Declining profits with growing
global over-capacity and prices plunging in a deflationary spiral have
sparked the erection of tariff walls and ‘anti-dumping measures’. Much of
the growing global over-capacity is concentrated first in Eastern Europe,
then in Asia, and finally in Western Europe. In 1998, the US urged the
European Union to impose duties on Serbian steel, imports of which
increased by 77% in the first six months. [Footn. here and after next
sentence?]  The US has threatened the Japanese steel industry with a
substantial tariff-increase; and even before the decision is made by the US
International Trade Commission, exporters are being obliged to pay the
tariff. Considering that Yugoslav steel is seen as a threat to the US steel
industry, it is unlikely that the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia’s huge Sartid
steel plant in Smederevo had purely military objectives.

The US Congress has just approved a substantial $112 billion increase in
its defence budget, the largest since the beginning of the 1980s. President
Clinton has received an additional $6 billion to cover military operations
for the rest of this fiscal year.  According to Jan Øberg, the costs of the
bombing, if estimated at $500 million per day, would have amounted to
nearly $40 billion as of June 9, 1999. The estimate covers the costs of
33,000 sorties by 1100 planes, aircraft carriers, bombs, missiles,
ammunition, surveillance, international co-ordination, fuel, supplies,
wages, insurance, social benefits, transport, etc.  The cost of the F-117
lost over Yugoslavia is, alone, estimated at $70 million!

The new strategic concept of NATO will allow Washington to impose upon its
allies, i.e. to sell, its vision of the war baptised "Joint Vision 2001."
At present, the total defence budget of the EU member states is only half
that of the US. In electronic information and command systems, which are
increasingly becoming the dominant weapons, most European countries are
considerably behind. This must therefore be remedied through the
encouragement of mergers, modernisation of equipment, and diversification
of the weapons system, which will be led by large US corporate groups.
Similar guidelines will also be imposed upon new members and future
candidates that the NATO summit decided rapidly to incorporate, i.e., all
countries of Central Europe, former Soviet republics and the Balkans, with
the exception, of course, of Yugoslavia. Winning this war will ensure the
continuous flow of ever greater profits as more countries are brought into
the system.

According to a Washington Post report,  the war in Yugoslavia is the
"ultimate marketing opportunity" for many US companies. Just for the
impoverished countries Albania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, and Slovakia
that the US seeks to integrate into NATO, a $35 billion weapons build-up
will be required. The new situation and new fears of ‘instability’ in the
region will accelerate the military upgrading required by NATO for
countries that have recently joined NATO. For instance, Poland is expected
to spend more than 8 billion zlotys ($2.3 billion) by 2003 to upgrade its
armed forces to NATO standards. Its 15-year military modernisation
programme calls for downsizing the army and upgrading equipment and
training level. According to Poland’s Defence Minister, the money will be
used to buy communication equipment and to integrate air control and air
defence systems with NATO.

The beneficiaries will be the world’s dominant arms industries, those of
the US and Britain; the contract for fighter aircraft alone is worth £10
billion [=?total figure for Anglo-American firms to upgrade aircraft of
above-mentioned countries as they integrate into the system? E.C.]. Private
sector financing of NATO’s 50th anniversary gala amounted to $8 million.
Corporate chief executives paid $250,000 each to sit on a host committee
that included Ameritech, Daimler-Chrysler, Boeing, Ford, General Motors,
Honeywell, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, Nextel, SBC Communications, TRW,
and United Technologies. To Eastern European countries that recently joined
NATO, they intend to sell weapons, telephone networks, elevators,
air-conditioners, heaters, and many other commodities. To the leading NATO
war-makers they intend to sell mobile phones, two-way radios, military
supplies, and communications equipment.

Just over a month into NATO’s airstrikes, the Financial Times pointed out
that "NATO’s military intervention in Kosovo has thrown one class of stocks
into the searchlight... Over the last few days defence issues such as
Thomson-CSF and Lagardère of France and British Aerospace have risen 10-20
percent."  In April, USA Today reported,  "The US’s defense equipment such
as the satellite-guided smart bombs has stolen the international spotlight
as NATO airforces pound Serbian forces. That could mean increased foreign
interest in US military equipment." Stock prices of the large military
manufacturers shot up in the first few weeks of the war. Raytheon was up
17%, Boeing 12%, Lockheed Martin 8%. On April 16, 1999, Boeing, only
recently in trouble, announced a surprising ninefold rise in first-quarter
profits and a further sharp rise in its stock prices.  This is one of the
reasons why the US Administration continues to insist that military
security and international competitiveness of the economy are linked.

Still mostly unreported, the bombing of Serbia and Kosovo provides a
valuable laboratory for Anglo-American armament corporations.  As in Iraq,
the Yugoslavia operations afford the opportunity to test performance of
both new and old weapons (see section g) below).

        d) ‘Stability pact’ for South-eastern Europe

After World War II, the Marshall Plan was the US instrument to turn Western
Europe into client states and to mobilise these countries against the
so-called ‘Communist threat’. In a different historical context, the logic
remains the same.

Initially launched by IMF General Director Michel Camdessus, the idea of a
‘Marshall Plan’ for Yugoslavia’s neighbours was subsequently adopted as the
‘Stability Pact for South-eastern Europe’ by Germany and the rest of the
EU. On April 14, 1999, the fifteen EU countries pledged to convene a
conference on South-eastern Europe to decide upon further comprehensive
measures for the long-term stabilisation, security, democratisation, and
economic reconstruction of the entire region. German Chancellor Gerhard
Schröder said, "It is important that the EU feels responsible for the
development of the region, its infrastructure, its standards of education,
and its economic and social structure." He admitted that such a programme
would be expensive, but said that "military conflict is even more expensive
and above all far less valuable than what can be achieved through

The Pact, also called "the building project of the century" by Western
experts,  is expected to last ten years and to cost approximately $30
billion. Thirty-three countries are concerned and seven institutions, from
the World Bank to EBRD, all meeting in the so-called Balkan Committee since
April 1999. The new President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, has
proposed a first annual aid plan amounting to 34 billion FF to be financed
from the EU budget.  It is for this reason that France’s President Chirac
has proposed that the EU administer Kosovo. However, parameters such as the
duration of the war and the extent of damage could not be measured.

The key word is ‘conditionality’: "Money should go to those who cooperate,
who combat the nationalist logic and share a basic philosophy compatible
with Europe."  In the words of  Bulgaria’s President Petar Stoïanov, "The
European States could offer guarantees to private capital that comes to the
region. They could invest in infrastructure which would be more profitable
than investing in ‘Blue Helmet’ operations."

The ‘stability pact’, combined with the establishment of a US/NATO
‘protectorate’ on Yugoslav territory and a long-term military presence in
the region, will create new in-roads into the sovereignty of all Balkan
countries, constituting a further destabilising factor in the region for
years to come. According to Charles Kupchan of the US Council on Foreign
Relations, "...Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania have effectively
become NATO protectorates. Slovenia, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria are
hoping to qualify for NATO membership. Like it or not, the Atlantic
alliance now owns the Balkans."  The vassalisation of the Balkans will
seriously damage the ability of its peoples to make their own political and
economic choices, threatening their long-term survival and prospects of
life in freedom and dignity. With a military presence and economic
strangulation, US/NATO has made a considerable advance toward
institutionalising the "American global hegemony" evoked by Brzezinski.

        e)      The price to be paid

With regard to the costs of the war and its aftermath, the only recent
reference available to experts is the Gulf War. That war cost the US $61
billion, but they were reimbursed $54 billion by countries of the Gulf, and
by Japan and Germany. According to Gavin Davis, an economist at Goldman
Sachs, on this basis a ground operation of six months would cost around $80
billion.  Three-quarters of the bill, around 360 billion francs, will be
paid by the EU.  Obviously that burden will increase budget deficits and
impose social costs.

The war will have a major impact on the economies of NATO countries. On
April 20, 1999, Merrill Lynch estimated the average cost of the war at $200
million a day. But these figures underestimate the real cost of the war
which includes the cost of establishing a protectorate in Kosovo. The
British press reported that the total cost of British participation in the
war alone was estimated at 280 million pounds sterling.  According to
Holger Schmieding, economist at Merrill Lynch, "the real risk is in fact a
degradation of consumer confidence in Europe anxious about the duration of
the war, the reaction of Russia and eventually Western losses on the
ground." Should consumer confidence and internal demand decline in Europe
before a revival of exports, then growth in the Euro Zone could, instead of
rising to 2.5%, decline to 1% by the end of 1999.

As far as the populations of the Western European countries are concerned,
the European Central Bank and the Brussels Commission have imposed
budgetary discipline on European Union members. On April 16, 1999, the
European Central Bank issued a sharp warning that governments in the
Euro-zone are close to breaching the budget deficit limit and priority
should now be given to making structural reforms, particularly to remove
"structural rigidities" in the labour market. For instance, Germany’s
budget deficit for 1999 is just below the ceiling at DM 4.7 billion. [Could
use a footnote. E.C.]

At the same time, the value of the Euro has declined. The reasons include
withdrawal of American and Asian investors from a Europe at war to safer
markets, fear that economic consequences of the war will result in a crisis
in consumer confidence (the debate and the contradictions between the
Europeans and the Americans on financing the stability pact will clearly
continue to have negative effects on consumption), and fear for the
budgetary consequences of European member States. The behaviour of
financial markets will further reduce the margin of manoeuvre to raise the
necessary finances for the ‘stability pact’.

All the remaining options available to the European Union imply that the
costs of the war will have to be borne by the working people and
marginalised social groups: increasing interest rates for loans or
decreasing the discount rate; increasing the tax burden on the general
public; diverting public funds from social expenditure or reducing labour
costs; or doing all these simultaneously. Already on April 8, 1999, the
European Central Bank reduced its discount rate by half a point. France
meanwhile raised the 10-year interests rates for state loans from 3.90% to
3.99% [Could use a footnote. E.C.] --both measures tending to reduce the
level of economic activity.

In any event, in the capitalist West, whether Europe or North America, the
working people have been and will be called upon to bear the costs of a war
waged on behalf of corporate power. The call for ‘sacred unity’ in the
countries participating in the aggression was aimed at suppressing any
opposition to the war and frightening the domestic enemy (the general
population) sufficiently so that they agree to bear the costs of programs
to which they are really opposed. The war will serve to generate consensus
on the dismantling of social programs, public enterprises and services.
[Still? E.C.]

        f) What future for Yugoslavia?

The G8 Accord endorsed by the UN Security Council ended the bombing, but in
fact it constitutes only one step in a process which must lead to a total
victory for NATO. The recognition of Yugoslavia’s sovereignty was quickly
challenged by the reality. It is indeed the forces of NATO, and not the UN,
which have begun what will be nothing less than a military occupation. The
next step is to bring about a permanent dependence of the country through
ground operations and the establishment of a ‘protectorate’ in Kosovo with
the collaboration of the KLA. However, for its realisation, the country has
to be humiliated so that it rids itself of what remains of the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia and, above all, rids itself of Milosevic. At this
price only, can it expect to be "rehabilitated"  to the standing of the
‘good’ countries who made the ‘correct’ choice--the market economy and the
Western model.

In mid-April 1999, British Foreign Minister Robin Cook and his French
counterpart Hubert Vedrine issued a co-ordinated call for Belgrade to be
stripped of virtually all control over, and link with, Kosovo.  Already a
new system of administration is being put in place in Kosovo, which amounts
to more than the mere departure of the military and police forces. A large
number of observers are expecting Montenegro to distance itself more than
ever from Belgrade; the many political and financial commitments made by
the NATO forces to Montenegro’s President Djukanovic leave no doubt of
this. Djukanovic himself says, "my ambition is to preserve the peace and
build Montenegro into an open democratic society, economically prosperous
and integrated into Europe, and to preserve its multi-ethnic character ...
At this point the survival of the existence of Federal Yugoslavia is very
much being threatened."

NATO governments have continued to use blackmail despite the UN-approved
Accord between G8 countries and Belgrade, which led to the end of
bombardments. They persist in conditioning international aid on the
departure of the elected President of Yugoslavia who was the negotiator of
the Accord. This issue was never a condition for ending hostilities.

Moreover, far from being disarmed, the KLA rapidly replaced Yugoslav
authorities while reaffirming their choice in favour of the independence of
Kosovo within the perspective of Greater Albania. The return of refugees
succeeded the departure of new refugees, almost 100,000 within two weeks,
this time mostly Serbs and Roma.

The destruction of its industrial and agricultural base should eventually
permit the entry of American and Western European capital to ‘rebuild’ the
country. Not surprisingly, public enterprises or recently nationalised
private enterprises became targets for NATO bombs. Among these were
Galenika (the recently nationalised pharmaceutical company formerly owned
by ICN of Pasadena, California), the automobile company Zastava, a
cigarette factory and tobacco warehouses in Nis, the C-chain of food
stores, the Beopetrol chain of petrol outlets, Technogas and Progres which
imports Russian gas, Jugopetrol which refines and distributes petroleum
products, Sartid steel plant of Smederevo, etc.   Targets were thus not
only military; they also included industrial plants, warehouses, airports,
electricity and telecommunication facilities, television stations, drinking
water facilities, all major highways, railways, bridges, fertiliser and
other chemical factories, oil refineries, fuel depots, schools, hospitals,
day care centres, a refugee camp housing several hundred Serb refugees from
Croatia, public transport, residential areas in all major cities, villages,
thousands of dwellings, government buildings, museums, monasteries and

Western sources estimate the destruction of property in Yugoslavia at more
than $100 billion. Some even calculate that Yugoslavia has been set back by
about 50 years. On April 25, 1999, NATO officials evaluated the cost of
reconstruction of bridges, routes and buildings bombed in Serbia at DM 13
billion (6,64 billion Euros). In mid-May, the Yugoslav government estimated
damage in Belgrade alone at $10 billion.  The Vienna Institute for the
International Economy estimates that the recession will rise up to 20% in

According to the Yugoslav news agency, Tanjug, 500,000 people have lost
their jobs, which means that some 2 million people have been deprived of
their livelihood. In a total population of ten million, two million are
without any source of income to ensure even minimum living conditions. Most
state workers are receiving only half their salaries and payments of
pensions are delayed.

Alarming reports point to imminent threats of starvation in Yugoslavia. FAO
and the World Food Programme have raised the alarm that soon people in
Kosovo will be starving. The war has devastated agricultural production,
destroyed farming equipment and fertiliser factories, rendered useless
agricultural machinery without fuel, and devastated the transport
infrastructure, leading to the collapse of internal food distribution. The
planting of 2.5 million hectares of land has been halted because water,
soil, and air have become poisoned as more than a hundred highly toxic
chemical compounds have been released by the NATO bombings of refineries,
fertiliser facilities, and other chemical plants. Yugoslavia’s New Green
Party scientist, Luka Radoja, pointed out that "the NATO bombing is
happening just as many crops vital for survival are supposed to be planted:
corn, sunflower, soy, sugar beets and vegetables."

In Montenegro,  the pressure of 117,000 refugees for a population of
650,000, would be equivalent to 14 million refugees for a country like
France. Hepatitis-C and tuberculosis are rapidly propagating, especially in
Podgorica. And the social budget in Montenegro has been exhausted.  Since
the war began, the market of its principal partner Serbia is closed for up
to 90% of its trade, and economic production is functioning only at 15-20%
of capacity. Railway transport has come to a halt. Road transport is at a
standstill. Telephones function only rarely. NATO has prohibited activities
of shipping companies, and fishermen cannot leave the ports of Montenegro
[Only during bombing, or after as well? E.C.].

        g) New kind of war, new weapons, and ecological catastrophe

Lucia Hanna, Colonel of the military tribunal and President of the Tribunal
of Division 1 (Switzerland), believing that NATO had violated the Geneva
Conventions and that its leaders should be tried for war crimes, pointed
out that "only losers are judged and punished. For the winners everything
is permitted and impunity is granted."

Deliberately, NATO chiefs refused to confront the Yugoslav army on the
ground, for fear of sacrificing soldiers of the Alliance. This
unprecedented attitude, presented as the most recent development of
military strategy, is at the origin of what will remain as "collateral
damage": the killing of innocent civilians. According to Hafner,
        The strategy was fundamentally contrary to the principles of the Geneva
Conventions. First of all, because the occupation and the liberation of
Kosovo did not necessitate the bombing of the north of Yugoslavia. Then,
because the Conventions proclaim that military chiefs must renounce an
attack on an objective rather than risk injuring or killing civilians.
Consequently, they must sacrifice the lives of their soldiers rather than
endanger the lives of civilians whoever they are. Moreover, and until
recently, what has been the nobility of soldiers is to risk their lives to
win the victory by honourable means. This war of Kosovo is indeed the first
war that we can qualify as a war of cowards.  [I should check translation.

On May 17, 1999, the Government of Yugoslavia announced that it had been
able to identify the bodies of over 1,300 civilians killed by NATO bombs.
When bombings ceased in June 1999, Russian emissary Chernomerdin reported
that 3,000 had been killed and 5,000 wounded.  According to a UNICEF
representative in Belgrade, 30% of those killed in the bombings are
children. The real figures are probably higher. All ethnic groups have
suffered civilian casualties from the bombs, including Kosovo Albanians.
According to the Decany Monastery in Kosovo, a NATO cruise missile hit the
old town of Djakovic, mostly inhabited by Albanians, and several Albanian
houses were destroyed. Even vehicles carrying Albanian refugees have not
been spared. Referring to Serb casualties of NATO bombings, Robert Hayden,
director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies of the
University of Pittsburgh stated, "The casualties among Serb civilians in
the first three weeks of the war are higher than all of the casualties on
both sides in Kosovo in the three months that led up to this war, and yet
those three months were supposed to be a humanitarian catastrophe."

Captain Adolfo Luis Martin de la Hoz, F-18 pilot from Spain who took part
in the airstrikes, countered NATO claims that repeated bombings of civilian
were "errors". He testified that the US had deliberately bombed "with novel
weapons, toxic nerve gas, surface mines dropped with parachute, bombs
containing uranium, black napalm, sterilisation chemicals, spraying crops
with poison, and weapons about which even we still do not know anything.
The North Americans are committing there one of the biggest barbarities
that can be committed against humanity ... I will never be able to forget
that what was being committed there was one of the biggest savageries of

Internationally banned weapons such as cruise missiles with depleted
uranium (DU) were used. By mid-May, "the first signs of radiation on
children including herpes on the mouth and skin rashes on the neck and
ankles" had appeared.  According to radiobiologist, Dr. Rosalie Bertell,
President of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health,
        When used in war, the DU bursts into flame...releasing a deadly
radioactive aerosol of uranium, unlike anything seen before. It can kill
everyone in a tank.... This radioactive ceramic can stay deep in the lungs
for years, irradiating the tissue with powerful alpha particles within
about a 30 micron sphere, causing emphysema and/or fibrosis. The ceramic
can also be swallowed and do damage to the gastro-intestinal tract. In
time, it penetrates the lung tissue and enters the blood stream.¼ It can
also initiate cancer or promote cancers which have been initiated by other
In southern Iraq where the US used the depleted uranium missile, leukaemia
in children and birth deformities have risen to match levels after
Hiroshima. According to Paul Sullivan, Executive Director of the National
Gulf War Resource Center, "In Yugoslavia, it’s expected that depleted
uranium will be fired in agricultural areas, places where livestock graze
and where crops are grown, thereby introducing the spectre of possible
contamination of the food chain."

Despite the Blair Government’s ban on landmines, the Royal Air Force is
using the BL 755 ‘multi-purpose’ cluster bomb which is an air-dropped
landmine. Dropped from the air, the Bl 755 explodes into dozens of little
mines shaped like spiders. Those are scattered over a wide area and kill
and maim people who step on them, children especially.

The extent of damage caused to the health of the population and the
environment by poisonous gas emissions or by radioactive weapons used by
NATO cannot even begin to be estimated. People in places like Belgrade and
Pancevo  were asked to wear gas masks or had to be evacuated to protect
themselves from poisonous gas emitted by chemical and pharmaceutical
industries, refineries, and warehouses storing liquid raw material and
chemicals, which have been destroyed by NATO. [*I’ll add Hermann Scheer
footnote. E.C.] According to examinations performed by the Institute of
Public Health of Belgrade, in Pancevo, all chemicals had soaked the soil
and had been released in water. Concentrations of several grams per litre
of EDC (ethlene-dichloride) were found in the Danube, and there has been a
decrease in the activity of the river flora and fauna. A large quantity of
dead fish was observed 30-40 km downstream from Pancevo. Furthermore, the
bombing of drinking water facilities has totally cut off drinking water
supplies in Novi Sad and vastly reduced the supply in Belgrade. Many parts
of the country were left without electricity or heating. Hospitals had to
resort to emergency generators.

It will be some time before we can assess the full human and environmental
catastrophe awaiting the peoples of the Balkans. Luka Radoja, of
Yugoslavia’s New Green Party, warned that "the entire Balkan ecosystem" is
in danger as a result of the bombings by NATO of refineries, fertiliser
facilities, and other chemical plants in Yugoslavia.

Concluding remarks

NATO’s  war and occupation of Yugoslavia is the first such action taken by
the ‘new global Robocop’ in the name of "moral values" on behalf of the
"international community". As such, it poses a challenge not only to the
peoples of Europe, on whose soil it is being fought; it also poses a
challenge to all peoples of the world, in whose name it is being waged.

The imperialist war against Yugoslavia is the military manifestation of the
logic of capitalism, the expansion of which has become more urgent than
ever today with an imminent threat at home of the financial crises that hit
Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Russia. With the development of the
crisis, the dominant system is increasingly forced to intervene in order to
control and orient national policies in strategic areas: economic,
financial, monetary, trade. This is the mission now entrusted to the World
Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization,
which in its forthcoming Millennium Round will focus on this new mission.

The war against Yugoslavia raises crucial questions and poses a number of
challenges for future actions and strategies of left forces, particularly
the working class movement world-wide. Are we witnessing the erosion of
nation states or rather the emergence of a new kind of military
co-operation among advanced capitalist nation states to counter any
‘secession’ from the dominant economic model and a recognition of the
United States as ultimate arbiter in the world, empowered to override
sovereignty? Are we witnessing a change of heart by the imperialist powers
in favour of democracy and human rights or rather the emergence of a new
ideological weapon, less against foreign dictators than against those
political and social forces that stand in the way of capitalist expansion,
including those in their own countries? Is NATO going to be the main
instrument through which ‘democratic values’ will be promoted or is it
being converted into an instrument for the repression of any opposition to
the liberal democratic model and free-market economies world-wide?

By equating opposition to US/NATO intervention in Yugoslavia with support
for ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘genocide’, NATO governments have succeeded in
neutralizing even many on the left in the US and Europe who have otherwise
generally been ready to oppose their governments when engaged in obvious
imperial aggression against weaker nations. Particularly in NATO countries
where social democrats and communists are in power, the left has found
itself trapped and unable to expose the class character of the current
ruling strata in their own countries, to identify the real objectives of
imperialist powers and their military and economic strategies of capitalist
globalization, and consequently determine their own objectives and course
of action.

In the neo-liberal arsenal, there is a particularly powerful ideological
weapon: ‘civil-societism’. This way of thinking counterposes civil society,
as the locus of all that is creative, democratic and free, to the state,
seen as inherently oppressive, restrictive, instrusive, and now atavistic.
It is an ideology that is structurally inherent in globalization, and it is
uniquely effective in weakening the resolve of the left to rein in their
governments’ foreign aggressions, for, in foreign policy, neo-liberal
‘civil-societism’s’ prime target is national sovereignty.
‘Civil-societism’ is also at home in a broad stratum of the new social
movements and NGOs, and it is easy to see how it can be and has been
harnessed in order to get well-meaning progressives to support, or at least
not resist, imperialist infractions against foreign states, all the more
easily if the latter are strong and have democracies that are less than

In the new situation created after the US/NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the
left and the working class movement in Europe need to address an additional
set of crucial questions regarding their future orientation and actions.
Does the apparent public support for the US/NATO bombardment and occupation
of Yugoslavia, and for a ‘stability pact for South-eastern Europe’, mean
that there is a national consensus in NATO countries for the free-market
economy and accompanying free-market values and a shift in left politics in
favour of the single economic model?  Are we witnessing a national
consensus in NATO countries, particularly Western Europe, on the
Blair/Schröder ‘Third Way’ for Europe and the disappearance of a ‘left’ vs
‘right’ divide in national politics?  Are the working class movements in
NATO countries ready to impose on other countries policies that they
challenge in their own?

The capitalist crisis has not been resolved. It will continue to underlie
the war’s aftermath in Europe.

For all these reasons, it is urgent that the left grasp events like NATO’s
Yugoslav adventure as expressions of the process of capitalist
globalization/imperialism.  Accepting the new ‘humanitarian interventions’
as phenomena outside of class politics and imperialism would represent--and
we say this without risk of over-dramatisation--a serious setback in the
process of building international working-class solidarity, a setback which
will be hard to undo for years to come.


*       Tania Noctiummes is a pseudonym of a Third World economist attached to
the United Nations.  She has been engaged in action and projects concerning
global resistance to corporate rule. She is a founding member of the
Observatoire de la mondialisation, Paris.
        Jean-Pierre Page is a trade unionist and member until 1999 of the
Executive Committee of the French Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT).
He is also a member of the Executive Council of Espaces Marx and of the
Editorial Committee of  Recherches Internationales, and is Chief Editor of
Syndicalisme et société.
        Both are co-authors of AMI: un accord peut en cacher un autre [MAI: One
Agreement Can Hide Another], Centre Europe - Tiers Monde, Geneva, 1998.

Louis Proyect

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