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The bombing of Serbia is not about the fate of Kosovar Albanians. Rather, the colossal NATO military machine has been unleashed to establish the right of the United States, as the sole remaining superpower, to impose its will on the world. By EAMONN McCANN. Pics Courtesy: The Star
Eamonn McCann, 28 Apr 1999
AS THE war widens and the stakes become scary, it is clearer than ever that NATO isn t bombing Serbia for the sake of the Kosovar Albanians.
If the plight of the Kosovars were NATO s main concern, a huge operation would by now be under way to provide the hundreds of thousands of refugees with minimally decent living conditions. In the longer term, all those forced by terror to flee from their homes and who wish to live in the West, either permanently or until they can safely go back to Kosovo, would be welcomed and provided for in western Europe and the United States.
During Desert Storm in 1991, liveable accomodation, canteen services, well-equipped hospitals and even sports and entertainment facilities were put in place in an astonishingly short time to cater for half a million military personnel transported from Europe and the United States into a desert region to launch a war.
The reason these readily available resources are not deployed now is that the interests of the Kosovars have always been marginal to the motivation of the western war effort in the Balkans. Aid agencies make heartfelt appeals for private donations while the massive resources of the States involved are poured without thought of cost into the military operation.
Three weeks into the latest stage of the escalation, with perhaps as many as 700,000 people huddled together in make-shift misery, there are 50 western airplanes making war in the region for every one ferrying in aid. This is an accurator indicator of the priorities of the US and its allies, endorsed by almost all of the national media, and supported by the Government of Bertie Ahern.
Irish aid agencies issue joint pleas for donations. The BBC announces that many thousands of people, responding to broadcast appeals, have sent in #9 million in three days to help the relief effort. Every bomber in action over Serbia has cost more.
Offers to admit refugees are reluctantly and shamefacedly made, and pitched at levels which are laughably inadequate. The Blair government is meanwhile introducing legislation to make it virtually impossible for persecuted people fleeing their homelands to win refugee status in the UK. Clinton will admit not a single Kosovar to mainland US. A limited number may, if the US is pushed, be housed temporarily at the Guantanamo enclave in Cuba.
This has been the way of it from the outset. Power, not people, has been uppermost in the corporate mind of the NATO planners. It would be perplexing were it otherwise. NATO arms spending has been increasing steadily since the end of the Cold War. Last year, the combined NATO arms budget came to $400 billion, a figure beyond the range of ordinary human imagination. It might be measured by the fact that it s more than double the arms budgets of all the former Warsaw Pact countries, all of Asia, including China, and the entire Arab world combined.
Defenders of the bombing of Serbia ask us implicitly to believe that the point of this fabulous expenditure has been to equip the alliance to defend ethnic groups under the heel of cruel dictatorships. There must be a word in Kurdish for notions like that.
Since the collapse of the Eastern Bloc dictatorships a decade ago, the aim of the US has been to establish its right, as sole remaining superpower, to impose its will on the world. Ecomomics determines this mind-set. The process of globalisation, widely taken for granted in economic affairs, is reflected in the military sphere, too. An economic power, with global interests and ambitions, must equip itself with global reach in military matters also.
The US took the lead in the 1991 war on Iraq to ensure western control of the flow and price of Middle Eastern oil, and in the process demonstrated, to its junior partners as well as potential enemies, that the US was now, in George Bush s phrase, the essential country.
In the mid-1990s, after Germany had lit the fuse to the tinder-box of nationalities in the old Yugloslavia in clear breach of international law recognising Croatia without any guarantees for its (since ethnically-cleansed) Serbian minority the US showed that it alone could impose order on the chaos which ensued. It trained the Croat army, armed the Bosnian Muslims and co-ordinated the bombing of Serbian forces with the ground advances of its new allies. The Milosevic regime took its revenge on the Muslim communities it had at its mercy.
US influence over Europe has since expanded with the incorporation of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic into NATO. The lines of command linking the armed forces of the ex-Warsaw Pact countries into NATO HQ have been enhanced , as NATO spokesman Jamie Shea primly put it, in the current war.
In the previous European conflicts of the 90s, the US kept the cloak of United Nations respectability around it. Over and over again during Desert Storm, opponents of the war were referred to the fact that the UN had sanctioned the assault. Now that fly-blown mantle of spurious respectability has been casually cast off.
The UN, having been brushed aside in this conflict, is permanently diminished. Arguments and there was room for argument about whether the UN ever represented a supra-national force for good in the world, can be put in in the past. It doesn t matter anymore.
The Kosovo crisis presented the US with a chance to show that it can call the shots now in Europe s own backyard, too. This has involved not just sloughing off UN authority but also effecting a simultaneous, fundamental realignment of NATO s military posture. It is to mark its 50th anniversary by formally asserting its right to intervene anywhere it deems its interests at stake.
In the conflicts of the future, whether in the Caucasus, the oil fields around the Caspian Sea, the Middle East, North Africa, anywhere, no development will henceforth be permissible which the US adjudges inimical to its interests. The West as a whole will dictate trade policy and economic arrangements, while the US dictates what the West s policy is to be.
The message of the bombers above Belgrade is that any country which thumbs its nose at the United States in future will face a $400 billion riot squad.
This is what the bombing of Serbia is about and why it should be opposed.
Even now, self-determination for the Kosovars doesn t figure on NATO s agenda. This can come only through combining the fight for the rights of all oppressed minorities in the region with backing for a struggle from below against all the oppressor regimes. This is the intervention any international community worthy of the name is called on to make. n