By Fred Goldstein

At the beginning of every imperialist war the ruling class always goes to the wildest extremes to overcome the natural antipathy of the masses to the war. As always, the main task is to demonize the object of imperialist aggression and depict the imperialists as saviors and liberators.

In order to justify the war crimes of the military in advance and to prepare the working class and the oppressed to shed their blood and the blood of other workers, the aims of imperialism must be concealed behind a shield of lies.

The pictures of refugees from Kosovo coming across the borders into Albania and Montenegro are being used to inflame public opinion while Washington escalates its truly criminal bombings of Yugoslav cities.

The Clinton administration is inching closer and closer to the introduction of ground forces -- with 2,600 «back-up» troops to accompany the 24 Apache helicopters -- its denials notwithstanding.


The pictures are meant to mask the mission of the criminal U.S.-NATO offensive. The Clinton administration and the Pentagon are leading the NATO alliance into the hateful and unenviable position of following in the footsteps of Hitler. They are following in the footsteps of German fascism not only militarily, with criminal bombing of Belgrade, but politically, in that Hitler and German Nazism's goal was to wipe communism from the earth.

After all is said and done, it should be obvious to everyone who has retained the ability to think independently of the capitalist propaganda machine that the Rambouillet meeting devised by the U.S.

was the attempted crucial step in the final dismemberment of the multinational Yugoslav state.

It comes after the detachment of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia under a steady onslaught of bombings,military interventions and economic sanctions. Each country was detached on the grounds of «liberating» it from Belgrade.

Why Yugoslavia? Because Yugoslavia is the last country in Europe to retain elements of a socially-owned economy and political and economic rights for the working class inherited from its socialist revolution.

It is the only country in Eastern Europe to hold out against the counter-revolutionary wave that swept through with the collapse of the USSR. This has not been done on the basis of a revolutionary working-class ideology or an anti-imperialist political position. But on a strictly bourgeois nationalist basis, what is left of Yugoslavia has refused to become a satellite of imperialism.

The anti-communist aim of the U.S. has been put forward by NATO Commander Gen. Wesley Clark, by President George Bush who began the U.S. participation in Yugoslavia's dismemberment, and by numerous U.S. strategists.

This aim -- to destroy the last elements of socialism and the last politically independent regime in central Europe -- coincides with the broader strategic aim of expanding the U.S. military throughout the region and especially toward the East and the Caspian Sea. The struggle over oil profits to be extracted there represents a new stage of competition among the imperialist powers.

It is also consistent with the incessant need of the U.S. military- industrial complex and the Pentagon to keep alive their bloody mission in the post-Soviet era. They must find a war, a field of operations to use, test and perfect their high-tech instruments of death and destruction. They must try to intimidate the governments of the world into submission. They must liquidate their inventories of bombs, cruise missiles, ammunition and supplies. And their replacement will mean highly profitable military contracts at the expense of building schools, hospitals, day care centers, housing and all the socially useful things that the masses need.


The defeat of the U.S.-NATO war drive and the defense of Yugoslavia are absolutely fundamental to the interests of the workers and the oppressed of the world, including the workers right here. One of the most important strategic aims of the capitalist media in the present crisis is not only tolead the masses in the direction of war, but to intimidate, divert and demoralize the anti-war movement and all forces of resistance. They try to do this with a barrage of propaga- nda about «genocide» and «ethnic cleansing,» comparing the scenes of refugees to those in World War II fleeing Hitler's fascism.

The media are literally turning reality on its head. The U.S. made this war inevitable. It told the government of Yugoslavia to peace- fully accept the destruction of its sovereignty by a NATO occupation force or be bombed. When Yugoslavia declined the offer, Washington gave the orders to bomb.

The U.S. is setting the bombing targets, including the biggest and most important cities in Kosovo: Pristina, the capital, and Pec, one of the largest cities in the region, which is now in rubble. The U.S.

carpet-bombing has leveled vast areas of the most densely populated region of all the Balkans. It is hardly surprising that hundreds of thousands of refugees are running from the bombing.

But furthermore, the U.S. has promoted a counter-revolutionary separatist guerrilla insurgency, the KLA, which even U.S. spokes- people have referred to as «terrorists» and «thugs.» It is using the Albanian population as shields in its ground war. The KLA had dug in along a wide arc in central and southern Kosovo, stretching from Urosevac in the east to Prizren, Rosgovo and Djakovica in the west.

These U.S.- and German-backed contras have created a zone of military warfare in populated areas.

The Yugoslav military, which is fighting for the life of its state against a U.S.-backed invasion force, cannot be held responsible for this brutal ground war and the inevitable flow of refugees.

In a war to the death there are inevitable excesses. But excesses on either side do not change the class character of the war. Nor should they influence the anti-war movement in taking a firm stand to defeat imperialism's war aims: the dismemberment of Yugoslavia.

No one should be buffaloed by the selective «humanitarian» sympathy of the capitalist media. The same reporters and editors virtually ignored the expulsion of at least 500,000 Serbs from Bosnia because it took place with the encouragement and approval of Washington.

The predators of Wall Street and the Pentagon have no intention of protecting the people of Kosovo. The worst thing that could happen would be for them to be put under the «protection» of imperialism or any of its puppet states in Eastern Europe or the Balkans.

Whatever one's position is on President Slobodan Milosevic, the movement is duty bound to defend the resistance of his government against U.S-NATO aggression. In that resistance he represents the masses of people of all nationalities in Yugoslavia, including the workers and peasants.


Clearly a section of the bourgeois political leaders of the Albanians in Kosovo have become instruments of the imperialist powers and have victimized their own people.

They have lent themselves to the long-standing campaign aimed to promote national antagonisms in Yugoslavia in order to weaken the central government. It is the progressive forces of all national- ities, including Albanians, in Yugoslavia that have united and are resisting the current aggression.

The crisis over Kosovo cannot be understood outside the history of the crises in the Balkans. This is not the first time in history that the people of Kosovo, as well as the rest of the nationalities, have been victimized by reactionary great powers.

Every war crisis in Europe in the era of imperialism has been reflec- ted in a crisis in the Balkans. The tragedy of the Balkan countries is that their late development and their geography has prevented them from being united in a larger state in which capitalism and the working class could develop. As such they have historically been rural, semi-feudal and prey to the great powers. The equilibrium among these powers has always been expressed in their predatory division of spheres of domination over the various Balkan nationalities, language groups, religious groups and states.

Whenever there has been a change in the relationship of forces among these great powers, it has been immediately expressed in a redivision of their Balkan colonies. The Albanian peoples, including those in Kosovo, have been subject to these oppressive redivisions time and time again. This occurred during the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in the 1870s,prior to andduring World War I, and during World WarII.

This latest development has been precipitated by the collapse of the USSR and the expansionary impulse it set off in the camp of imperialism, which is now engaged in a classic scramble for spheres of exploitation and domination in the East and around the globe.

As regards Kosovo, its landed, conservative ruling class allowed its people to be victimized by the Ottoman feudalists in 1870 and by the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg empire in their struggle to subdue the Slavic Balkan independence movement. They were similarly victimized first by the Italian fascists and then by the Nazis in World War II.

The gallant struggle by the Albanian communists of Kosovo to hold onto proletarian internationalism and the progressive aspects of Tito's heritage in the post-World War II period was ultimately overcome by bourgeois nationalist forces. These grew strong on the basis of retreats in Yugoslavian socialism and the penetration of imperialist finance capital via the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

The result is that Washington is trying to follow in the footsteps of the Ottoman and Hapsburg feudalists and the Nazi-fascist imperial- ists. It thinks it can utilize the plight of the people of Kosovo as a cover to enslave all the peoples of Yugoslavia.

No anti-imperialist can refuse this battle or sit it out by saying `a plague on both your houses'. One is the house of imperialism; the other is the house of those who have been oppressed for centuries.

Imperialism is at the door. Everyone must defend Yugoslavia.


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