'Peace' in Kosovo, a legacy of chaos and suffering

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In June, having wallowed in imperialist war under the pretext of 'humanitarianism', the bourgeoisie in the west claimed a great victory for 'democracy' over Milosevic. The so-called allies of the anti-Milosevic coalition were rushing to install anti-Milosevic coalition were rushing to install 'peace' and construct an 'independent, democratic Kosovo'. A grand project, but we saw very quickly what they really meant. The region has become one of the most militarised in the world. The great powers are staring each other out, lending rapid support to their own pitbulls, the local armed gangs under their control, in order to settle scores between themselves. And what about the dividends of peace? Before the military intervention, it was the Kosovans who were being massacred; for some considerable time the great powers were not unduly worried about it, until some of them saw it as a pretext for military intervention. Today it's the Serbs, under the 'protection' of the UN 'peacekeeping' force KFOR, who are being subjected to massive reprisals: 160,000 of them have fled Kosovo since the end of the NATO bombing and the entry of the 'allied' contingents. The tension between Serbs and Albanians has grown daily, fuelled by the various armed cliques who are under the orders of their bigger bosses.

Let's also recall the outraged cries of the western bourgeoisie when they uncovered the mass graves of the victims of the savage repression carried out by the Serbian army and militias. This was certainly yet another ghastly crime of nationalism. But the great western democracies are really poorly placed to denounce it. Weren't Karadic's Serb militias, responsible for the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, secretlyly supported by France and Britain? Since the outbreak of the war in Yugoslavia at the beginning of the 90s, the great powers have ceaselessly encouraged the rebirth of age-old ethnic tensions for their own imperialist interests. The noise they are now making about the horrors of war, even before the smoke from their bombings has cleared, is thus an expression of their extreme cynicism. But it has two very definite aims. In the first place, to again justify their military intervention whose professed objective - the return of the Kosovan refugees - doesn't stand up too well given the price being paid by the Serbian population in Kosovo. In the second place, to create an ideological smokescreen to forestall any questions by the population of the advanced countries, and by the working class in particular, about the real balance sheet of this operation. Questions such as: how many people were killed by the NATO bombings, what kind of misery will be endured by the survivors in a country which, according to the NATO strategists themselves, has been thrown back fifty years? The answer, that the bourgeoisie does not want us to come up with, is that the war has only aggravated chaos and suffering, and that this was totally predictable.

However much they tell us that Milosevic alone is responsible for all this suffering, the French, British, American, German and other imperialist bandits who are jostling foror influence in the region can't get off the hook. The Sarajevo summit, which legitimised the presence of their occupation troops in Kosovo, also expressed the local balance of forces between them, in the shape of the strategic importance of the zones attributed to each one.

At the same time, the bourgeoisie in the west also wants to hide the economic cost of its military intervention. At the beginning of the bombings, for example, figures like 200 million dollars a day were bandied around. Since then, silence. The air raids intensified, but there was no longer any question of evaluating their cost.

This is no accident. The bourgeoisie is paying close attention to the way this imperialist conflict is perceived by the workers. While the proletariat of the developed countries did not react openly against the war, neither did it adhere to the bellicose, democratic campaigns. And above all it did not give up the defence of its own class interests. This could be seen by the fact that even during the war itself there were struggles in different parts of the world in response to the economic attacks: for example, the railway workers' strikes in France in April, against the advise of the CGT and the CFDT; or, during the same period, the massive demonstration of 25,000 municipal workers in New York. In such a context, the ruling class does not want to throw oil on the fire and is doindoing all it can to prevent the proletariat from developing its consciousness on the following points in particular:

- it's essentially the working class which has to bear the cost of the war, through an accentuation of all kinds of economic attacks;

- the 'humanitarian' war in the Balkans is above all the expression of growing imperialist tensions between all countries, and in particular between the great powers;

- only the working class, through its struggle, can paralyse the murderous hand of the bourgeoisie.

The deepening of the capitalist crisis, and the resulting aggravation of economic attacks, will inevitably compel the working class to fight back. And it is in the development of the struggle for its conditions of existence that the proletariat will be led to understand that this struggle also demands that the military barbarity of the capitalist system be questioned and confronted.