"A victory for democracy", proof that this was a "just war", a war for the rights of man in international relations. From Blair to Clinton via Kofi Anan, this is how, after three months of butchery, the representatives of the western bourgeoisie are describing their operation in Yugoslavia. Having destroyed and slaughtered onoyed and slaughtered on a grand scale, they are now claiming to be instituting "peace", guaranteeing the "safety" of peoples, and reconstructing the ruins.
Lies, because the military intervention in the Balkans was never motivated by the "humanitarian" desire to stop Serbian tyranny in Kosovo. In reality, it was the expression of the deadly imperialist rivalries between the great powers, however much they kept up the mask of "unity" during the bombings.
Lies because hardly had the "liberation" of Kosovo been proclaimed, than the first "post-war" deaths came about, and a new wave of refugees - this time, Serbians - had reached figures of tens of thousands.
Lies because NATO's "ending" of Milosevic's ethnic cleansing will merely change its form, this time through the partition of Kosovo, like what we saw at the end of the fighting in Bosnia.
Lies because these "peace" accords, which actually consist of a strong-arm intervention by all the "civilised" bourgeoisies, will only prepare the ground for new confrontations. Kosovo is being occupied by 50,000 soldiers, armed and equipped to the teeth, there to defend the interests of the different countries which sent them, and manipulating the various local cliques to serve their ends. Kosovo today is nothing but a powder keg.
The whole history of the 20th century shows that "peace accords" only pave the way to even more savage conflicts. Let's justs just look at recent history. The Dayton accord was supposed to pacify the region of ex-Yugoslavia. In fact since the signing of this deal we have seen the different great powers deliberately stirring the ingredients which formed the most recent Yugoslav war.
And as the capitalist world sinks deeper and deeper into decay, even when a brief halt to hostilities is called in one area, wars and threats of war raise their heads elsewhere. At the very time that these powers were fighting to impose their "order" in the Balkans, relations between India and Pakistan degenerated into open conflict, carrying the real threat of nuclear war. At the same time the two Koreas have been rattling sabres at each other, especially after two North Korean gunboats were sunk by the South Korean navy. The war in former Zaire, which involves eight African countries and has sown death and famine on a huge scale, continues unabated. In the Middle East, hardly had the new Labour prime minister declared his intention to continue the "peace process" begun by Rabin, than Israeli planes were launching murderous strikes in southern Lebanon in response to actions by Hizbollah.
This is the real face of this decomposing system. This is the reality of the capitalist world that our leaders are so keen to hide from us.
Peace under capitalism is impossible. The more this senile social order plunges into an economic crisis that has no solutionion, the more it will resort to massacres and militarism. The capitalist system has long proved its bankruptcy. Only the working class, by developing and unifying its struggles in all countries, can offer humanity any future. ICC
Imperialist vultures squabble over their prey
Milosevic's capitulation, and the deployment of NATO forces in Kosovo, marks the end of one phase of the Balkans war, but not of the war itself. The "peace" accord in Yugoslavia has in fact brought the tensions between the great powers over this region to a level not seen since the world wars. It in no way implies any let-up in their imperialist rivalries, which are the real reason for wars in general and this war in particular.
The main protagonists of the NATO intervention against Serbia knew that they would have to see to the end the operation launched by the USA, despite their bitterness about being subjected to American leadership. If they hadn't taken part in it, they would have risked losing their places in the international arena and losing all influence in the Balkans.
The great powers divide up Kosovo
The dividing up of Kosovo into protectorates run by the main powers that took part in the operation (USA, France, Britain, Germany and Italy) is the reward fard for all their efforts, but not everyone has got what they would have liked.
Britain has taken the lion's share by occupying the central and most extensive zone, which also includes the capital Pristina. This dominant role vis-…-vis the other powers reflects the power and efficiency of its land forces, which have benefited from being part of a professional army for many years. Britain's military strength, which would have given it the leading role in the land war had it taken place, also enables it to assume overall command of the other four K-for contingents. Its own contingent, at 13,000, is the biggest of all four. Thanks to this success, Britain can now play the role of a major European power at the forefront of 'solving crises" (see the article opposite).
Germany has obtained an area equivalent to that of the US and France; its force of 8,500 is second only to Britain's. This constitutes an undoubted imperialist success for Germany. For the first time since the second world war, it has deployed an army in a "foreign" crisis without raising the spectre of Nazism, either at home or abroad. Germany has also won a considerable diplomatic success, since it has played a very active part in the negotiations which led to Milosevic's surrender. The strengthening of Germany's influence in the world can now be based on a diplomacy that is all the more effective for having an armed force at its disposalal. But Germany's gains don't end there. Through its direct military presence, it is strengthening the sphere of influence it has procured through its special relationship with Croatia.
Italy, which has hardly enjoyed any military victories since the beginning of the century, must be very satisfied with the protectorate it has obtained in Kosovo. This was its reward for allowing NATO to use its territory as a base for the bombing of Serbia.
France has managed to pull something out of the fire. The protectorate it has been given in the north of Kosovo will be some sort of compensation for what it has lost by taking part in the war against Serbia, which has always been the essential outpost of its influence in the Balkans.
The part given to the US, equivalent to that of the European powers, but less than Britain's, is highly significant. There is a huge gap between, on the one hand, its crushing aerial superiority, which was clearly demonstrated during the war and which was the decisive factor in bringing Milosevic to his knees; and, on the other hand, the very modest "reward" it has obtained as a result. Such a situation very sharply illustrates the tendency towards the decline of US world leadership. From now on the USA's crushing aerial superiority will not in itself guarantee its position as the world's cop.
Russia, because it took no part in the war, could not expect any any rewards. But to ensure a presence all the same, it had to rush in and interpose itself between the NATO forces. This kind of action only confirms that Russia today is a second rate imperialist power.
The decline of American world leadership
It was the way the war ended, without a land offensive, which deprived the US of concretising its military advantage on the ground.
This land offensive had long been called for by Britain which, with its experienced professional army, was best placed to carry it through. This threat was definitely an essential factor in the capitulation of Milosevic, who was all the less ready to face up to it, given that the bombing had seriously weakened his industrial and military potential, and that desertions and rebellions in his army would only have been broadened by further military disasters.
The USA had been preparing its public opinion for this step. The effectiveness of over two months of bombing enabled it to envisage carrying out a land war without a major risk of troop losses (a factor the US bourgeoisie has had to take into account ever since the Vietnam war).
But the USA got short-circuited by other NATO powers, Germany and France in particular, with the help of Russia. These countries had little interest in fighting a land war which would only have further emphasised their subordinordinate position. They thus redoubled their diplomatic initiatives towards Milosevic in order to make him understand that they all had a mutual interest in avoiding a land war. And so, in contrast to the Gulf war, where the USA was able to carry out its military strategy from start to finish, this time the Americans were unable to stop these initiatives in their tracks.
The result has been that in the dividing up of Kosovo, the US can't impose its will to the detriment of its partners and rivals in NATO. As for Britain, although it didn't have to use its troops in a land war, it has still been able to take the lead role in the maintenance of "order" in Kosovo.
The great powers face up to each other in the Balkans
The fact that the US has lost out in this race, and that outside circumstantial alliances it finds itself alone against the other powers, doesn't mean that any of the latter have forged any durable alliances either. We are seeing the reign of every man for himself on the imperialist arena, in contrast to the period when the existence of two imperialist blocs channelled these rivalries towards the two poles.
The installation of a 50,000-strong "peacekeeping force" in Kosovo, far from representing any stabilisation of the region, will actually be the main factor in aggravating imperialist tensions. The different armed corps rps are only there to defend the imperialist interests of the powers which have dispatched them. The general course of the class struggle imposes limits on the scope of imperialist conflicts, in particular by preventing them from turning into direct confrontations between the major powers. This is why, since the break up of Yugoslavia in 1991, the tensions between the great powers have been expressed via the actions of the various local armed gangs who act on their behalf. But the massive presence of these powers on the ground will heighten tensions throughout the region. It has created an irreversible situation from which it will be extremely difficult for any of the western powers to pull out.
There will certainly be no reconstruction of Serbia, with or without Milosevic; this could only be a pure loss for any investors. Neither will there be any peace in the Balkans. Social decomposition will accelerate under the rule of armed gangs and mafiosi; and even this will only be a temporary status quo as the material for new explosions bubbles under the surface.