What is the real reason for the NATO bombing, the daily deluge of fire that is falling on Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo? What is the real reason for this war which, for the first time since the end of the Second World War, involves the direct military presence of the great powers on European soil, only a few hours plane ride away fromours plane ride away from London?
We are being told that this monstrous barbarity is a 'humanitarian' action aimed at defending and even saving the Kosovan people.
It was the same with the Gulf war: we were told that the massive military intervention by the great powers was the way to help populations who were being crushed under a dictator's heel. The media and the politicians pretend to be indignant about the horrors of the 'ethnic cleansing' ordered by Milosevic. They pretend to be moved by the discovery of new mass graves in Kosovo. They shed crocodile tears about the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the massacres, parked like cattle in filthy camps where women, children and the old wait for aid or for provisional visas, daily falling prey to hunger, cold and disease.
But the 'humanitarian' argument put forward by the governments and the media is nothing but a hateful lie.
The reality is that the military intervention unleashed by the great powers in ex-Yugoslavia is dictated purely and simply by their sordid imperialist interests. Behind the facade of unity between the main powers involved in the conflict, each national bourgeoisie is playing its own game, each imperialist shark is trying to defend its own sphere of influence or to undermine those of its rivals in a Balkans region which has been a strategic bone of contention for over a century.
The real question for them is which imperialist pist power will win the prize and succeed in establishing its control over the Kosovo protectorate which will result form the eventual dividing up of this territory - just as in 1996, the question was which one of them would draw the most benefit from the carving up of Bosnia. (see the article below).
The hypocrisy and cynicism of the great powers
The real motive for this war is neither the search for peace in Europe, nor any defence of the 'rights of man', Neither is it an attempt by the great powers to call a halt to chaos, as bourgeois propaganda claims.
The reality is that the 'democratic' powers don't give a damn for the Kosovo population. They care nothing about the massacres or the fate of the refugees. This disgusting contempt for the populations who are being taken hostage and victimised by the war is shown in the very language of the media, the politicians and the military men, who talk about 'collateral damage' or 'accidents' when referring to the thousands of civilian casualties - among both Serbs and Albanian refugees - already caused by the NATO bombing.
The same contempt is shown by 'socialist' or 'democratic' politicians like Clinton, Blair and Jospin who call on us to send food and blankets to the refugee camps, but who make sure that only a few token Kosovars are admitted into America, Britain or France.
Their hypocrisy about the 'ethnic cleansing' is no less nauseaauseating. The American and British governments have been up to their necks in supporting regimes who have carried out similar kinds of massacres, in Indonesia against the Chinese, or in Turkey against the Kurds (Turkey is meanwhile an honoured partner in the anti-Milosevic alliance). And as for France: a report - "No witness must survive" - has just been published (see Le Monde, 2 4.99) which confirms that the genocide in Rwanda carried out by the Hutu government - which left 500,000 Tutsis dead in 1994 - had been planned since February 1993 with the complicity of the French.
This vile double-standard applies to the Milosevic regime itself. Today he is the 'evil dictator of Belgrade', on a par with the 'butcher of Baghdad'. But in 1991 the USA, France and Britain all backed Milosevic as a way of blocking German ambitions in Croatia. And Britain and France continued to back him covertly against the growing presence of the US, which had switched to supporting Bosnia. Meanwhile the ethnic cleansing was being carried out by all the local nationalist cliques - Serbian, Bosnian, and Croatian - all of whom were supported by the great powers in one way or another.
A campaign of intoxication directed against the working class
But what about the increasingly numerous criticisms of the way the intervention is being carried out that are being raised by the media and by bourgeois politicians? We are toltold for example that Milosevic's ability to hold out has been underestimated, or conversely that NATO overestimated the capacity of the bombing to dissuade Milosevic. Or again that the intervention took place too late because Serbia had been planning the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo for three months.
These arguments actually show that the cynicism and hypocrisy of the democratic bourgeoisies knows no limits. The 'sacrifice' of the Kosovo population was not only foreseen but also required by the great powers. For two years the great powers have been fully informed about this repression against the Kosovo Albanians and they knew very well that in reprisal for the bombing the repression would be stepped up even more. Indeed it's thanks to the suffering of these populations that the 'Allied Forces' have to a large extent made public opinion (according to the polls) more in favour of military intervention, whereas at the beginning it had been somewhat reticent about the bombing. And what's more, it's these very 'unforeseen difficulties' that will be used as a pretext for further increasing the forces and material being deployed in the region.
If NATO waited so long to intervene, even though the repression has been going on for over two years, this has nothing to do with any scruples about unleashing war and destruction. It was solely because most of the 'allies', in particular r the USA, were happy to let Milosevic do their dirty work by subduing the Kosovar rebellion, and thus blocking the ambitions of their German rival - Germany being the power most interested in the independence of Kosovo and the project of a Greater Albania. This is the same method used during the Gulf war, when the American bourgeoisie first cynically pushed for the rebellion by the Shi'ite and Kurdish minorities in Iraq, and then left them open to being crushed by Saddam Hussein, since the last thing the US wanted was a Kurdish state or another pro-Iranian state in the region.
In fact, the whole current campaign about the 'errors' or 'difficulties' of NATO, on the 'ineffectiveness of air strikes' and their 'inability' to make Milosevic back down, has above all the aim of conditioning public opinion, of psychologically preparing the population in the central countries, and the working class in particular, for a new escalation in this imperialist conflict: in short, for the land offensive. It's true that this widespread questioning of NATO also expresses the efforts of America's European rivals to undermine the absolute authority of the White House. But at the same time all the national bourgeoisies have a need to make the proletariat swallow the pill of military escalation. This is why they are already announcing that 'this war will be long and bloody' and are artificially inflating the number of men needed for the groound combats so that there will be feelings of relief when the actual numbers are announced. The bourgeoisie needs to put so much effort into preparing the terrain because it knows that the only obstacle to the acceleration of its march towards war is the proletariat of the central capitalist countries.
The working class will very soon be faced with the fact that with the deployment of the land armies, thousands of sons and daughters of workers will be killed in the fighting. And it's also mainly the working class that will pay the colossal bill for the war. When we know that the cost of the war is already being estimated at $200 million a day (half of that being borne by the US alone), we can imagine what new 'sacrifices' the bourgeoisie is going to demand, and how much the increase in military budgets will mean a decrease in social spending.
But the working class is not merely a victim of war. It's the only internationalist class in society. The only social force which, by fighting tooth and nail against the redoubled attacks by the ruling class on its living conditions, can hold back the slide into military barbarism. It's the only class historically capable of destroying this system of death and opening the door to a different future for human society.