New Worker Online Digest

Week commencing 16th April, 1999.

1) Editorial - Crisis and war.

2) Lead story - More blood on NATO's hands.

4) International story - Former Swedish Premier condemns NATO.

5) British news item - Stop the war!

Editorial: Crisis and war

THE mythical «Soviet threat» of the Cold War years was always a lie. But the collapse and break-up of the Soviet Union meant Nato, the military arm of western capitalism, had lost the main plank of its argument to exist at all.

It did not take long for Nato to rewrite the script. Its «new» line shows clearly that its brief is (and always was) to advance the interests of American and European capitalism and to enable the United States to maintain a military and political presence in Europe.

Nato review (May-June 1997) said: «Europe will continue to need the United States in future, as a pillar of stability and peace. This co-operation is not only based on shared values and convictions. It is an imperative of well founded joint political, strategic and economic interests. America is and remains a part of the European security culture. «

Today Nato warplanes are showing what «pillars of peace and stability» they are by carrying out 24-hour bombing raids on Yugoslavia -- a sovereign European country.

Hundreds more warplanes are arriving at Nato bases in the Adriatic and more and more Nato troops are heading towards the Balkans every day. And though they are supposedly only there to help the refugees, there are now growing fears of a Nato invasion and ground war.

Yugoslavia has threatened none of the Nato member states. It has neither invaded any other country nor threatened any country. No Nato member state is in need of help from its allies. So why the war?

Nato's current war propaganda is extremely crude. It consists of showing images of Kosovan refugees and then pinning the blame for their plight squarely on the shoulders of the Yugoslav government and Slobodan Milosevich in particular -- meanwhile the destruction caused by Nato bombing and the actions of the Kosovan Liberation Army are sanitized and played down.

In reality the Yugoslav government sent its troops and police to Kosovo in response to the actions of armed separatists backed and encouraged by the West. The Yugoslav government was defending the integrity and unity of its country.

With KLA fighters using the cover of local villages it was inevitable that civilians would be caught up in the fighting -- it would have been impossible to protect every civilian or to avoid damage to villages where the KLA were active.

The Western powers used this situation to build up a one-sided picture of the fighting and to vilify Yugoslavia. When Belgrade rejected the so-called «peace» terms, which included the unreasonable demand of stationing Nato troops on Yugoslav soil, the Nato war was launched.

The propaganda completely ignores Nato's own stated aims -- to uphold its «joint political, strategic and economic interests».

Politically and strategically the leading capitalist pow ers want to bring about the complete break-up of the Yugoslav Federation leaving behind a number of small and militarily weak statelets dependent upon and subservient to the more powerful countries of the Nato alliance.

Then no longer would Yugoslavia exist as a military force outside of Nato and EU control and no longer would there be any economic prizes unavailable tothe big business interests that Nato serves.

While all this has been going on the West has continued its attacks against Iraq. Last weekend it was reported that air raids over southern Iraq had once again killed and injured Iraqi civilians.

Milosevich and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein are both demonised by western propaganda. Their crime is the same -- failing to put their hands up when US, British and west European imperialists point a gun at their heads. Iraq and Yugoslavia are being subjected to the same kind of genocidal punishment -- the systematic destruction of their countries' infrastructure, industry and economies.

Wealthy interests in the US and Europe are the driving force behind these catastrophic wars.

For these parasites, war is an extremely profitable business in a crisis-hit world of shrinking investment opportunities. It also strengthens their grip on the countries and regions that are subdued and enables them to control the flow and price of raw materials, to open up every industry and utility for private capital investment and to open the doors to every potential market.

And for the wealthy the price is cheap. After all -- the working class of the countries under attack will pay with their lives and health and the working class of the imperialist countries will pay for the war through even greater levels of exploitation.

More blood on NATO's hands.

by Ann Rogers

WHEN Nato warplanes bombed the Zastava car factory last week 124 workers were injured. The car plant, the largest industrial complex in Yugoslavia, was completely destroyed. The whole town of Kragujevac depended on the plant and its supporting industries.

This was no targeting error or accident -- Nato is deliberately striking at Yugoslavia's factories, oil stores, refineries, power plants, roads, railways, bridges and communications centres. The economy and infrastructure is being systematically ruined.

In one such attack last Monday morning Nato bombers struck at two bridges over the Juzna Morava River. A passenger train crossing one of the bridges received a direct hit. Nine people were killed and at least 16 others injured.

Nato admitted targeting the bridges but said it did not intend to hit the train.

Another Nato strike on two bridges in the northern city of Novi Sad has left the River Danube blocked.

Yugoslav officials said last weekend that over 300 civilians had been killed and nearly 3,000 injured in the Nato attacks.

Among these were three civilians driving in a car through the Kosovan city of Pristina. They were killed by burning shrapnel which struck the car. A power station was also destroyed in the daytime raid which left most of the city without electricity.

According to Yugoslav sources, Nato has engaged around 600 aircraft of which more than 400 are combat planes. They have flown almost 3,000 attack sorties, «with 200 in one night alone against 150 designated targets». They have dropped thousands of tons of explosives and launched some 450 cruise missiles.

But it seems, this is not enough for Nato. Last week Nato asked for 300 additional warplanes which will probably be supplied by the United States and British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the House of Commons that a second Armoured Battle Group would be sent to the Balkans.

This will include 14 Challenger tanks, 40 Warrior armoured vehicles, six heavy artillery guns and extra troops to take the British ground troop contingent up to 6,300.

Nato is saying that the troops are only to be used in humanitarian workwith the refugees. But a Nato ground invasion looks more and more likely now that tanks and artillery items are on their way.

Environmental Damage

There are mounting concerns over the short and long-term effects of Nato's war on the environment of the Balkan region.

Because so many refineries, chemical plants, power plants, and warehouses storing liquid raw materials have been bombed there is an immediate problem of contamination and danger to health.

Many people have been exposed To toxic gasses and harmful fumes.

A report by NBC TV said Nato had bombed the pharmaceutical complex of Galenika, the largest medicine factory in Yugoslavia. It is situated in a Belgrade suburb. The fumes from this explosion are such a hazard that local people have been advised to wear gas masks.

Also in Belgrade the water plant at Zarkovo was bombed causing a shortage of drinking water in the city.

Scientists in Yugoslavia are also warning of the long-term danger to the region resulting from the huge oil fires. The burnt down naphtha will produce toxins that will affect the air, the soil and the water sources.

The destruction of oil supplies will also mean severe fuel shortages affecting all aspects of the economy. This includes insufficient oil to run tractors and other farm equipment. The planting season has already been halted because of the bombing. And even if the crops can eventually be grown there will be a problem of transportation to the cities.

There are also alarms being raised about the nature of Nato's weapons. It is feared that as in the war against Iraq, there will be depleted uranium weapons used. Many experts now believe this was a factor in causing Gulf War Syndrome amongst veterans and is responsible for the above normal rates of cancer and birth deformities among Iraqi citizens.

The radioactive dust produced by DU weapons will not stop at the borders of Yugoslavia.


As we go to press reports are coming in that Nato planes were responsible for killing scores of Kosovan refugees on a road near the border. Nato says it had only struck at a military convoy in the area.

Guantanamo, Cuba

Washington Post staff writers say the United States is preparing for 20,000 Kosovan refugees at the Guantanamo base in Cuba. US officials, they say, explained that Guantanamo was picked because, unlike the Pacific island of Guam or other altenatives on the US mainland, the base is not considered US territory for the purpose of claiming asylum in the US.

Clearly the United States does not want any of the victims of its aggression coming to its own shores.


Thousands protested against the war in London last weekend and in other cities around the world.

International story

Former Swedish Premier condemns NATO

IGVAR CARLSSON a former Prime Minister of Sweden and Shridath Ramphal the former Secretary General of the Commonwealth have condemned the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. They say: «Might is not right. NATO's bombing is an act of aggression against a sovereign country. What price the UN now?

«No person, no country can simply recite itself into a field of action whose gates are locked against it by a superior law.

«The United Nations Charter is every country's superior Law; it prescribes that no country or group of countries shall resort to the use of force against another, save in self-defence, except under the authority of the United Nations.

«NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia have not been authorised by theUnited Nations. That authority was not even sought. They are therefore acts of aggression against a sovereign country; and as such they strike at the heart of the rule of international law and the authority of the United Nations. Because they are acts undertaken by the world's most militarily powerful countries, that damage is incalculable....»

British news item

Stop the war!

by Renee Sams

«NATO OUT now!» was the slogan that rang out loud and clear last Sunday as more than 5,000 people marched from London's Embankment to Trafalgar Square demanding an end to the bombing of Yugoslavia.

The demonstration was otganised by the Committee for Peace in the Balkans and was supported by Labour MPs Alice Mahon, Tam Dalyell, Tony Benn, Scottish National MP Kevin Campbell and Tory MP John Randall.

Also present were peace campaigners Dave Knight and Bruce Kent journalists John Pilger, Felicity Arbuthnot and Mark Steele.

Alice Mahon introduced a long list of speakers from the crowded plinth of Nelson's Column.

Tam Dalyell made an impassioned appeal to Prime Minister Tony Blair to stop the bombing. He recollected the bombing of Britain during the Second World War and sympathised with the proud Serbian people who had fought German Nazism then.

He said: «It's not so much the credibility of Nato that's at stake now.

It's the credibility of those who slithered into this situation at the behest of the PM.»

CND leader Dave Knight said that Nato bombing had only made things worse and increased the political problems. «We must campaign for a negotiated settlement» he said, noting that with the use of cruise missiles, «an increase in nuclear tension cannot be good for the future.»

Bruce Kent welcomed the presence of so many Serbian flags. «I am proud to be associated with a country so brave,» he said. «You do not make peace with bombs.»

John Pilger spoke of the «shameful role of the media» in its «one dimensional» reporting of everything Defence Secretary George Robertson says.

«The truth of the Nato action is to degrade Serbia,» and he warned that this will happen «unless public opinion is mobilised». He called on fellow journalists to tell the truth.

Felicity Arbuthnot told of her recent visit to Iraq where she witnessed the results of the Gulf War bombing in which millions of live rounds were fired coated with radioactive depleted uranium.

In tears, she spoke of her visit to a Basra hospital where babies were born «some without brains, some without eyes, some without genitalia and some with their internal organs attached on the outside».

And now the same weapons are raining down on Serbia. What will be the outcome? Uranium coated rounds and the anti-personnel cluster bombs now being used by Nato are officially categorised as weapons of mass destruction.

Tony Benn received a very warm welcome from the crowd. He began by challenging the media to report the truth about the demonstration itself.

He said: «I will be grateful till the day I die for the role played by Serbia in the Second World War in fighting fascism.»

And he asked: «How can we let the nation which killed one million in Vietnam persuade us that its intentions are humanitarian?»

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