Tag Archives: Yugoslavia

Noam Chomsky Unpublished :the War in Yugoslavia and the Geneva Convention

 

Backing Up Globalization
with Military Might
by Karen Talbot
CovertAction Quarterly, Fall / Winter 1999

The U. S. Senate recently labeled Serbia a “terrorist state,” in an act of obscene hypocrisy-yet another case of blaming the victim for the crimes of the perpetrator What could be more “terrorist” than the relentless blitzkrieg of 23,000 bombs and missiles rained upon Yugoslavia for 79 days by U.S.-led NATO forces? Is it not terrorism to drop on civilians radioactive depleted uranium weapons and outlawed cluster bombs designed to rip human flesh to shreds, from the sanctuary of thousands of feet in the air, or using terrain-hugging computer-guided missiles? Is it not terrorism to target deliberately the entire infrastructure of a small sovereign nation, including electrical and water filtration systems critical to the survival of civilians? Is it not terrorism to ferociously obliterate 200 factories and destroy the jobs of millions of workers? What of the constant air assault-“fire from the sky”-against cities, villages, schools, hospitals, senior residences, TV towers and studios, oil refineries, chemical plants, electrical power plants, transmission towers, gas stations, homes, farms, schools, marketplaces, buses, trains, railroad lines, bridges, roads, medieval monasteries, churches, historic monuments-destruction amounting to more than $100 billion? What of eco-terrorism, biological and chemical warfare, the incalculable result of the destruction of the environment, including the deliberate bombardment of chemical plants? Above all, is it not terrorism to kill, maim, traumatize, impoverish, or render homeless tens of thousands of men, women, and children?
Not only was NATO’S war a reprehensible act of inhumanity, it was in contravention of all norms of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations. This was an unprecedented war by the most powerful military force in history involving the 19 wealthiest nations with 95% of the world’s armaments against a small sovereign nation that ultimately had little chance of countering such an attack.
WHY THE BALKANS?
Yugoslavia is strategically located. The peoples of this region have had the great misfortune of living on real estate coveted by empire after empire, all of which employed classic divide and conquer tactics by pitting one people against another. Not much has changed.
The determination by the U. S and NATO to occupy Kosovo and virtually all of Yugoslavia is spurred on by the enticement of abundant natural resources. Kosovo alone has the richest mineral resources in all of Europe west of Russia. The New York Times observed that “the sprawling state-owned Trepca mining complex, the most valuable piece of real estate in the Balkans, is worth at least $5 billion,” producing gold, silver, lead, zinc, and cadmium, as well as tens of millions of dollars in profits annually. The New York Times also revealed that a “number of unofficial partition plans have been drawn up for Kosovo all raising the question of who would control an important northern mining region.” Trepca was also a glittering prize taken over by Hitler to fuel the Nazi war machine during W.W.II. “Kosovo also possesses 17 billion tons of coal reserves and Kosovo (like Serbia and Albania) also has oil reserves.”
Serbia as a whole is rich in minerals and oil including in Vojvodina, the northern part of the Yugoslavia. That coveted area of Vojvodina is also extremely fertile land-a major “breadbasket” for Europe. Then there is the allure of enterprises to be privatized at bargain prices, and the anticipation of exploiting very cheap and highly skilled labor potentially available to work in sweatshop conditions.
Perhaps most significant is the fact that Yugoslavia has strong elements of a socialist economy-the last in Europe, however tattered it may have become by years of economic destabilization by the West and financial institutions like the IMF and World Bank. Sixty-five percent of all firms are either state-owned or self-managed cooperatives. s Most heavy industry is state-owned. The factories bombed during the 79 days of NATO attacks were exclusively state-owned. The banking and financial system is also state-controlled. Only 20 percent of the workforce was in the private sector 6
The U.S. had joined Belgrade’s other international creditors in imposing a first round of macroeconomic reforms in 1980, shortly before the death of Marshal Tito. “Successive IMF-sponsored programs since then continued the disintegration of the industrial sector and the piecemeal dismantling of the Yugoslav welfare state. Debt restructuring agreements increased foreign debt and mandated currency devaluation also hit hard at Yugoslavia’s standard of living…. [The] IMF prescribed further doses of its bitter economic medicine periodically… Industrial production declined to a negative 10 percent growth rate in 1990- with all its predictable social consequences. “7
ABOVE ALL IT’S ABOUT OIL
Perhaps above all, this U.S.-led onslaught is about oil. It is related to the drive to extend and protect the investments of the transnational corporations in the Caspian Sea region, especially the oil corporations.
The Balkans are strategic for the transshipment of oil and gas to Europe and beyond. They are critical in the competition between Europe and the U.S. over these riches. Time is of the essence. The first tanker shipment from the port of Supsa in Georgia on the eastern Black Sea coast- the terminus of a pipeline from the Caspian Sea oil fields-took place recently Another pipeline passing through Russia, in particular Chechnya, and also ending at the eastern shore of the Black Sea at Novorossiysk, will add to the tanker traffic.
The predicament is how to get that oil beyond the Black Sea. The Bosporus straits, at Istanbul, are narrow and pose considerable hazards, especially for the tremendously heavy tanker traffic expected. And so far plans to build a pipeline through Turkey (Kurdistan) are thwarted by the struggles of the Kurds and by competing interests Hopes for a pipeline through Iran are also on hold. Though preferred for several reasons, those routes would not provide the best access to Europe and the Western Hemisphere. The oil can be shipped by tanker up the Danube River, a waterway crossing Europe from the Black Sea where a short canal connects it to the port of Constanza in Romania. The Danube runs through Belgrade and Novi Sad in Yugoslavia. The recent completion of a grand canal-about the time the turmoil started in the former Yugoslavia-between the Danube and Rhine Rivers now makes it possible to ply those waters through a great inland system of canals and waterways to the industrial Ruhr Valley and clear to the North Sea. Undoubtedly this route is favored by the Europeans in the competition over the Caspian Sea treasure chest.
PIPELINES ACROSS THE BALKANS
There are also plans to build pipelines across the Balkans. One from Romania- which has considerable oil wealth itself- would extend from Constanza to Trieste on the Adriatic Sea. At Trieste, the oil would be piped northward or shipped westward out of Europe by tanker. A pipeline through Bulgaria from the port of Bourgas on the Black Sea to the Vlore port on the Adriatic in Albania is a project of the U.S.-owned Albanian, Macedonian, and Bulgarian Oil Corporation (AMBO).
These would be part of a multiple pipeline system in the Balkans, some connecting with existing “Soviet-era” pipelines from Russia that would need upgrading. But these oil and gas pipelines extending through Serbia from Russia to Central Europe, are extremely valuable. In the competition with European-based companies, the U.S. backs the Caspian Pipeline consortium led by Mobil.
As noted, Serbia also has oil reserves. And the port of Bar on the Montenegrin coast is the most valuable, cost-efficient, deep water port in the entire eastern Mediterranean Sea-the cheapest route for the flow of goods in and out of Eastern Europe and beyond.
Also, Kosovo is in a corridor used for centuries, even by the Crusaders, as a route between Europe and the Middle East. The route follows river valleys connecting with the Danube River Valley near Belgrade. The southern arm of the trans-Balkan railway runs along these valleys. Control of this overland passageway was critical to the German fascist war machine in World War II, and to other conquerors. It remains vital to getting the oil riches into Europe from the Middle East and for other two-way commerce.
Neighboring Albania, whose economy has been completely transformed to the “free-market,” with domination by western transnational corporations and banks, has vast untapped mineral resources including oil reserves. These are already being gobbled up by transnationals including the major oil companies.
The application of strong structural adjustment policies imposed by the World Bank and IMF “had contributed to wrecking Albania’s banking system and precipitating the collapse of the Albanian economy The resulting chaos enabled American and European transnationals to position themselves carefully Several western oil companies, including Occidental, Shell, and British Petroleum, had their eyes riveted on Albania’s abundant and unexplored oil deposits. Western investors were also gawking at Albania’s extensive reserves of chrome, copper, gold, nickel, and platinum. The Adenauer Foundation had been lobbying in the background on behalf of German mining interests.”
So this entire region is bubbling with activities over the profits to be had, particularly from oil.
STOKING CONFLICT IN THE CAUCASUS / CASPIAN SEA REGION
There is a growing contention between Russia and the West over the oil wealth of the Caspian Sea basin. This was manifested not only in the NATO war against Yugoslavia, but also increasingly in the Baltics, the Ukraine, the region of the Caucasus Mountains, and among all the littoral nations of the Caspian Sea. The main pipelines for the Central Asian oil, the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline and the Baku-Supsa pipeline, pass through the Caucasus. In the mounting disputes, Russia allies itself with Armenia and, it is suspected, with the Abkhaz separatists, to counterbalance NATO influence in Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Chechnya and Dagestan are also critical in this struggle as the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline passes through its territory. Recently separatist military actions by Dagestan against Russia have flared up in Dagestan and in Chechnya. Dagestan is located between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea.
“For Russia, Dagestan retains an important strategic value. Dagestan commands 70 percent of Russia’s shoreline to the oil-producing Caspian Sea and its only all-weather Caspian port at Makhachkala. It provides the crucial pipeline links from Azerbaijan, where Russia maintains important oil interests….”
The recently opened Baku-Supsa route through Georgia, favored by the West, bypasses Russia altogether, undermining Russian influence on the region’s oil and Russian revenue from that oil. This route was opened following military maneuvers for training to defend the line by Ukrainian, Georgian, and Azen troops, as part of the GUUAM alliance.
Intensifying competition between Russia and NATO has escalated after a battle with heavy losses, June 14, between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Another pipeline route favored by the U.S. is the one between Baku and Ceyhan passing through Turkey However this is more expensive and transverses the area of intense struggles by the Kurdish people. This is leading the U.S. oil companies to revive their interest in other routes. One of these is through western Afghanistan, the other, south through Iran.
Richard Morningstar, former special adviser to the President and Secretary of State for Caspian Basin energy issues, said it was essential that the two Caspian states-Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan- agree as soon as possible about a trans-Caspian gas pipeline to transport oil from Turkmenistan to Turkey via the Caspian Sea. Washington has urged these governments to ignore Russian and Iranian hostility and move ahead with this pipeline even if it means violating the existing legal status of the Caspian Sea in which all the littoral states are to be consulted about its future. Russia and Iran “feel increasingly irritated by the U.S. activities in Central Asia, aimed at preventing Moscow and Teheran from reasserting their economic and political grip over the former Soviet republics in the Caspian region.”
Also at stake in this region is the growing competition from China which recently has established significant military and economic ties with Turkmenistan. China’s National Petroleum Company has helped rebuild over 100 wells in Turkmenistan resulting in an increase in the nation’s export production. It is estimated that Turkmenistan soon will be the third largest gas exporter in the world.
China, the second largest energy consumer in the world, is expected to require 40 percent of its oil through imports by 2010 up from less than 20 percent today.
According to a report in the Journal of Commerce: “A bitter ethnic battle in the Caucasus spilled over into Congress this week as U.S. corporate and oil interests won a key vote on aid to the region in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The panel approved the Silk Road Strategy Act…[which] would ‘target assistance to support the economic and political independence of the countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia.’ But behind the measure’s bland title is a widening web of international and U.S. business alliances with stakes in the outcome of a 10-year old war….”
So once again we can expect that oil interests will lead to interventions predicated on “national liberation” or “human rights concerns.”
NEW WORLD ORDER ONSLAUGHT
This information age of high technology communications and transportation is catapulting globalization forward at warp speed. A borderless world is increasingly attractive to profit-driven corporations seeking to extend their tentacles without impediment into every conceivable niche on Planet Earth. Indeed the pundits of the “new world order” speak openly now about the demise of national sovereignty as necessary and inevitable to permit capital to flow anywhere free of restrictions. The U.S./NATO destruction of Yugoslavia established the desired precedent for military attack, cloaked in a democracy and human rights disguise, against any sovereign country that might have the temerity to stand up to the encroachment of the transnational corporations (TNCs).
The U.S. and NATO will thus be vastly emboldened by their latest “success” in the Balkans, continuing to destabilize what’s left of the federal structure, while disciplining the breakaway states of Croatia and Slovenia. We can also expect the new declared mission of nuclear-armed NATO- its commitment to override the principle of national sovereignty and intervene in the name of “humanitarian concerns,”-to be implemented elsewhere, possibly in the Caspian Sea/Caucasus areas of the former Soviet Union.
Burgeoning military alliances, with the U.S. at the helm, will similarly target North Korea, China, Congo, Colombia, and elsewhere. Any country refusing to be incorporated into the “New World Order” by allowing its wealth and labor power to be plundered by the transnational corporations will be vulnerable to attack. The assault against Yugoslavia threw open the floodgates for new wars, including wars of competition among the industrial powers, with nuclear weapons part of the equation.
An article by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times entitled “What the World Needs Now” tells it all. Illustrated by an American Flag on a fist it said, among other things: “For globalism to work, America can’t be afraid to act like the almighty superpower that it is…. The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist-McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell-Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”
There could not be a better description of how the U.S. armed forces are seen as the military arm of the globalizing TNCs.
President Clinton, in a speech delivered the day before his televised address to Americans about Kosovo, admitted: “If we’re going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world, Europe has got to be a key… That’s what this Kosovo thing is all about.
After the war, Clinton praised NATO for its campaign in Kosovo, saying the alliance could intervene elsewhere in Europe or Africa to fight repression. “We can do it now. We can do it tomorrow, if it is necessary somewhere else,” he told U.S. troops at the Skopje, Macedonia, airport. However, it soon became clear that, even though we can do it, we would like Europe to bear more of the cost. At the September NATO defense chiefs’ meeting, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, with British support, pressed Europe to spend more money on defense, to close the “growing technology gap” between Europe’s lagging forces and the state of the art U.S. military British Minister of Defense Lord George Robertson’s pitch was blunt: “Kosovo has shown people for real that this world is going to be more dangerous and that defense is not some luxury that can be cut in times of trouble.”
Despite this push for more spending by Europe, a clear objective of the Kosovo campaign has also been to add more billions to the already bloated U.S. military budget and to fill the coffers of the military-industrial corporations with super-profits. Congress, with bipartisan fervor, approved a $20 billion increase for the Pentagon, with a total of $290 billion for fiscal year 2000, with an extra $15 billion appropriated for the war against Yugoslavia. At the same time, all other domestic discretionary spending, including education, job training, housing, environment, and health, totals $245 billion, “the biggest disparity in modern times,” according to the Center for Defense Information.
AN END TO NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY ?
In today’s world, TNCs, and governments running interference for them, are pushing for an end to national sovereignty and democracy in order to achieve total unimpeded access for investments, cheap labor, and consumers in every nook and cranny of the globe. This is being accomplished, among other ways, through mechanisms like multilateral agreements on investment, free trade agreements like NAFTA, and the dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and World Trade Organization (WTO).
Globalization fever is running rampant. It is epitomized by the feeding frenzy taking place across the Asia-Pacific region among U.S.-based transnationals and banks as they gobble up assets at bargain basement prices-in Japan facing a prolonged recession and in other nations stricken by the Asian economic crisis. In the early weeks of that economic tsunami, the New York Times described U.S. banks and corporations as poised to “snap up some corporate bargains…. Chase Manhattan, General Electric, General Motors, and J.P Morgan are all said to be looking at ailing companies in the region.”
To achieve maximum profits, these transnationals will stop at nothing. After all, they are non-human institutions that must expand through ever-greater profits, or go out of business. In so doing they have shown willingness to violate human rights-particularly workers’ rights-to throw millions out of work, destroy unions, use sweatshops and slave labor, destroy the environment, destabilize governments, and install and bolster tyrants who oppress, repress, torture and kill with impunity.
Is it surprising, then, that wars and military intervention, including attacks on civilians, are waged on behalf of corporations? It has been an integral part of the history of imperialist powers. Why should we believe it is any different today?
THE COSTS, AND THE PROFITS, OF WAR
NATO nations spent an estimated $65 million daily on the war. The U.S. paid the bulk of this cost, estimated to be $1.65 billion in the first 57 days. The second largest funder was Britain, which spent an estimated $120-$180 million 2s
Tapping into this lucrative bottomless well of funds, the “Big Three” weapons makers-Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon-now receive among themselves over $30 billion per year in Pentagon contracts. Companies like Lockheed Martin are actively engaged in shaping U.S. foreign and military policies. Their efforts have yielded among other things: the “payoffs for layoffs” subsidies for defense industry mergers such as the Lockheed/Martin Marietta merger; the elimination of royalty fees that foreign arms customers had been paying to reimburse the U.S. Treasury for the cost of weapons developed at taxpayer expense (this adds up to a loss for taxpayers of roughly $500 million per year); and the creation of billions of dollars of new grants and government-guaranteed loans to support the export of U. S. weaponry Pentagon contractors, conservative think tanks and advocacy groups lobbied heavily and successfully for the “Star Wars” missile defense program.
The bombing and missile strikes are, more than ever, giant bazaars for selling the wares of the armaments manufacturers. An article in USA Today said: “The USA’s defense equipment, such as the satellite-guided smart bombs, has stolen the international spotlight as NATO air forces pound Serbian forces. That could mean increased foreign interest in U.S. military equipment….” Raytheon spokesperson David Shea was quoted: “We are expecting the Kosovo conflict to result in new orders downstream.” Then in early June, just after President Clinton signed the bill appropriating $12 billion in emergency military funding, officials at Raytheon announced that replacing munitions used in the Balkans could lead to about $1 billion in new contracts.
No wonder stock of the large military manufacturers shot up. Since the beginning of the war against Yugoslavia, March 24, 1999, the stock price of Rockwell International (maker of the Lancer, B-1 bomber, etc.) was up 48 percent; Boeing Aircraft (maker of the B-52 Stratofortress, etc.) up 30 percent; Raytheon Systems (maker of the Tomahawk cruise missile, HARM missile, etc.) up 37 percent; Lockheed Martin (maker of the F- 117 Nighthawk, F-16 Falcon, etc.), up 18 percent; and Northrop Grumman (maker of the B-2 bomber, etc.) up 16 percent 29 Jaynatha Dhanapala, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, said recently that “television coverage of modern warfare has effectively created an ‘advertising dividend’ for the manufacturers of high-tech weaponry and the countries and alliances that use such weapons… He observed that during the 1991 war in the Persian Gulf and the recent NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, tiny video cameras enabled hundreds of millions of viewers to “experience vicariously” the flight paths of attacking missiles to their intended targets.
Defense and aerospace companies have either announced or completed mergers and acquisitions amounting to nearly $60 billion in just the first half of 1999. That amount is already well above the total for all of 1998.
HEIGHTENED ANTAGONISMS BETWEEN THE U.S. AND EUROPE
Another factor driving U.S. policies is economic competition with the European Union, which is surfacing increasingly in spite of cooperation and commonality of interests on other levels. This is epitomized by the recent banana trade wars in which the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled in favor of U.S. TNCs, as well as the rivalry over such prizes as the oil riches of the Caspian Sea basin and access to the markets and resources of Eastern Europe.
The U.S. has warned openly that it will not tolerate a purely European military alliance to take the place of NATO. The military might of the U.S. must prevail.
This was clearly spelled out in “The Defense Planning Guide,” which said, among other things: “We must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order…. We must [deter] potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role…. We must seek to prevent the emergence of European-only security arrangements which would undermine NATO.”
Nevertheless, on the very day that Yugoslavia adhered to the G-8 agreement, the leaders of 15 European countries announced the European Union would establish an independent military force.
Commerce up the Danube was completely disrupted by the bombing of bridges in Novi Sad which infuriated Europeans whose economies continue to be adversely affected. It was perceived as a manifestation of the intensifying economic rivalry between the U.S. and Europe.
Indeed, two world wars were fueled by such competition.
At the same time, rivalry is tempered increasingly by the corporate imperative to survive at all costs and to make maximum profits, including through mergers and partnerships. Lockheed Martin, maker of missiles and high-tech weaponry, has created Lockheed Martin UK Limited, based in London. Its largest U.K. operation is the Royal Navy Merlin helicopter program, among many other military programs. In fact, Lockheed Martin has more than 200 international partnerships around the world
U.S. aerospace companies are determined not to be locked out of the lucrative profits to be had from the establishment of a separate European military alliance. This pressure has led to a shift in policy by the Pentagon. Mergers between U.S. and European defense contractors are being given the go-ahead. “U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Jacques Gansler has admitted being in talks not only with European governments such as the U.K., Germany, France, and Italy but also with leading defense companies including British Aerospace, France’s Aerospatiale Matra SA and Germany’s Dasa.”
THE NEW NATO
The giant corporations especially the military-industrial corporations-have been pushing vigorously for expanding and extending the role of NATO. Their blatant salivating over potential profits was indisputable during NATO’s 50th Anniversary celebrations which became “the ultimate marketing opportunity” as described in the Washington Post. The host committee included the chief executives of Amentech, Daimler/Chrysler, Boeing, Ford Motor, General Motors, Honeywell, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, Nextel, SBC Communications, TRW and United Technologies. These companies sell weapons but also other products. They have been busy lobbying for the expansion of NATO to avail themselves of the lucrative markets in Eastern European nations which have been pressed to join NATO. In order to be a part of the Alliance these nations must spend billions to upgrade their military forces.
The Ukraine, part of the NATO-sponsored Partnership for Peace, held joint naval exercises with the United States in July Perceiving this as a threat, Russian Prime Minster Sergei Stepashin was quoted by Interfax Ukraine news agency as telling the officers and men of Russia’s Black Sea fleet to prepare for a naval exercise to imitate the military action in Yugoslavia during the Kosovo crisis.
The Ukraine, along with Georgia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova, are members of GUUAM, a bloc of “western-oriented” Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) members. Moldova and Uzbekistan joined during the NATO anniversary summit in April, and a charter was established encompassing military cooperation within the group and with NATO. GUUAM members have opted out of the CIS Collective Security Treaty.
“The pendulum of Ukrainian foreign policy swung closest to the West on June 12, when Kiev briefly closed Ukrainian airspace to Russian aircraft trying to reinforce Russian troops at Slatina airbase in Kosovo…. Russia’s military commanders were furious. It was bad enough that NATO convinced ostensibly neutral Romania and Bulgaria to deny their airspace to Russian aircraft, but Ukraine was a step too far. Ukraine had to clarify its relationship with NATO and with Russia.”
Moreover, NATO has repeatedly deflected protest over its possession of nuclear armaments and its refusal to renounce first use of these weapons.
NATO, then, is projecting its new role as action “out of area” and intervening anywhere on the basis of “humanitarian concerns,” regardless of national sovereignty and international law. The purpose is to send a message to nations of the entire world that if they do not do the U.S. bidding, they too could be a victim of the kind of devastation unleashed upon Yugoslavia and Iraq. They too could be divided up, balkanized, turned into banana republics or emirates. Especially vulnerable are those countries involved over the oil riches of the Caspian Sea basin-Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia-and where there are already related conflicts including over Chechnya, Nagoro-Karabakh, Dagestan, and Abkhazia.
U.S.-LED GLOBAL MILITARY ALLIANCES
NATO expansion pertains to what Washington calls a “new strategic concept,” an expensive new program to have NATO, under U.S. Ieadership, become the key player globally This new blueprint for NATO not only sees it extending throughout Eastern and Baltic Europe, possibly taking in Russia itself, it goes considerably beyond this, as indicated by Zbigniew Brzezinski in his new book, The Grand Chessboard. He defines the alliance as part of an “integrated, comprehensive and long-term geostrategy for all of Eurasia,” in which NATO would eventually reach Asia, where another U.S.-led military alliance would connect Pacific and Southeast Asian states.
The unfolding events in Indonesia and East Timor appear to be closely related to plans for establishing a U.S.-controlled NATO-type military alliance in that region to counter a purely Asian military association.
Steps are well under way for new relations with Southeast Asia in which the U.S. is acquiring access to military bases in Asian countries in exchange for financial help to buy U.S. arms. The Pentagon’s East Asian Strategy Report defines this program as offering the United States “a credible power projection capability in the region and beyond.”
Dr. Joseph Gerson succinctly describes the developing situation in Asia and the Pacific:
“In the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. is enforcing its 21st century “Open Door” policy by means of the IMF, the World Bank, APEC, bases and forward deployments, the Seventh Fleet and its nuclear arsenal; as it seeks to simultaneously contain and engage China, to dominate the sea lanes and straits through which the region’s trade and supplies of oil must travel (the “jugular vein” of Asia Pacific economies), and to “cap” Japanese militarism and nationalism.
Since 1951, the hub of this strategic architecture has been the Mutual Security Treaty with Japan (MST). During the Clinton years, the MST has been “redefined” to reconsolidate U.S., and to a lesser extent, Japanese power.”
A “U.S.-Japan Joint Declaration on Security Alliance for the 21st Century” proclaimed at the April 1996 Summit between President Clinton and Japanese Prime Minister Hashimoto, cited “the alliances, new enemies and public rationales: tensions and instability on the Korean Peninsula, China’s nuclear arsenal, and territorial disputes with China.”
The regular gigantic war games conducted in the Korean region by the U.S. and South Korea have been stepped up substantially in the recent period.
Echoing the Gulf of Tonkin provocation used to justify U.S. intervention in Vietnam, South Korean warships sank a North Korean boat and badly damaged another allegedly over a dispute about a crab-fishing area of the Yellow Sea.
Plans for U.S. deployment of Theater Missile Defenses (TMDs) around China, sensationalized and unproven allegations of Chinese nuclear spying, claims of Chinese nuclear panty with the U.S., the blocking of China’s entry to the WTO, the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, and recent independence moves by Taiwan encouraged by U.S. Congress members, place the world on the brink of a U.S.-orchestrated confrontation with China. Taiwan is “the most likely trigger for U.S.-Chinese nuclear confrontation and war,” according to Gerson.
With the bombing of Yugoslavia barely over and with continuing and escalating air strikes against Iraq, the U.S. appears to be moving rapidly toward such a confrontation with China over Taiwan. In mid-July, Taiwan’s President, Lee Teng-hui, announced the island wants “special state-to-state relations” with China, meaning a rejection of the “one China” policy that has kept the peace for many years. This led Chinese President Jiang Zemin to tell President Clinton, July 18, that China would not rule out using force regarding Taiwan.
Washington is regaining even greater access to ports and bases throughout the Philippines under the “Visiting Forces Agreement.” Considerable attention is also being focused on Indonesia, to prevent the U.S. Ioss of access to its natural resources and markets, and its control of the strategically important shipping lanes. Recent events in Indonesia and East Timor will undoubtedly be used as strong leverage for the establishment of a NATO-type military alliance in that region with the U.S. in control.
Nothing could describe U.S. military goals better than the British American Security Information Council’s recently published partially declassified text of the U.S. Strategic Command’s 1995 “Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence”:
” [T]he United States should have available the full range of responses, conventional weapons, special operations, and nuclear weapons. Unlike chemical or biological weapons, the extreme destruction from a nuclear explosion is immediate, with few if any palliatives to reduce its effect. Although we are not likely to use nuclear weapons in less than matters of the greatest national importance…. Nuclear weapons always cast a shadow over any crisis or conflict in which the U.S. is engaged. Thus, deterrence through the threat of use of nuclear weapons will continue to be our top military strategy…That the U.S. may become irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked should be a part of the national persona we project to all adversaries….
The Americas are not to escape this buildup of U.S.-controlled military alliances. The U.S. Army War College has urged a “NAFTA for the military,” with joint command between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.”
CALL TO RESIST
Resistance to war, to the corporate globalization offensive, and to their manifestations at home, is needed today more than ever in history, as events move at astounding speed. Such a movement is bound to grow every day
Multitudes of the world’s poor and working people are resisting in rapidly growing numbers. In the process they are coming to understand the commonality of interests they share with all those victimized by the corporations and the policies of the U.S. and other governments the U.S. sword and dollar marching hand in glove-in the brutal, relentless drive for ever-higher profits. Nothing is more important than to quicken the pace and strengthen the unity to resist this imperialist onslaught toward global corporate rule.

An interview with Noam Chomsky in which he exposes the hypocrisy behind the “humanitarian” bombing of Yugoslavia and outlines its real causes.

NOAM CHOMSKY, world-renowned linguist, political analyst, philosopher and activist, has been called “arguably the most important intellectual alive” by the New York Times. Recently, in a British magazine poll, he has been voted by a landslide as the top public intellectual in the world today. According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index, between 1980 and 1992 Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar, and remains the eighth most cited scholar ever. A professor at MIT, he is the author of more than 80 books, including The New Military Humanism: Lessons From Kosovo. His most recent book is Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy.

Danilo Mandic: Professor Noam Chomsky, in your, if I am not mistaken, first TV media appearance for Serbian media, thank you very much for being with us.
Noam Chomsky: I am glad to be with you.

[b] Last month marked the seventh anniversary of the beginning of the bombing of Yugoslavia. Why did NATO wage that war or I should say why did the United States wage that war?

[/b] Actually, we have for the first time a very authoratative comment on that from the highest level of Clinton administration, which is something that one could have surmised before, but now it is asserted. This is from Strobe Talbott who was in charge of the…he ran the Pentagon/State Department intelligence Joint Committee on the diplomacy during the whole affair including the bombing, so that’s very top of Clinton administration; he just wrote the forward to a book by his Director of Communications, John Norris, and in the forward he says if you really want to understand what the thinking was of the top of Clinton administration this is the book you should read and take a look on John Norris’s book and what he says is that the real purpose of the war had nothing to do with concern for Kosovar Albanians. It was because Serbia was not carrying out the required social and economic reforms, meaning it was the last corner of Europe which had not subordinated itself to the US-run neoliberal programs, so therefore it had to be eliminated. That’s from the highest level.

Again, we could have guessed it, but I’ve never seen it said before. That it wasn’t because of the Kosovo Albanians, that we know. And this is a point of religious fanaticism that the West can’t talk about for interesting reasons having to do with Western culture, but there is just overwhelming documentation, impeccable documentation. Two big compilations of the State Department trying to justify the war, the OSCE records, NATO records, KIM Monitor records, long British Parliamentary inquiry which led into it. They all showed the same thing – and sort of what we knew, I mean it was an ugly place, there were atrocities there.

Given this clear documentary record I want to ask you about the elite Intellectual opinion, what you call…

In the United States.

…in the United States and in the West in general, because reviewing it you would get the impression – you would be forgiven for imagining that every critic of the NATO intervention was one of two things: either a “Milosevic sympathizer” or someone who doesn’t care about genocide. What does this mean?

First of all that’s a common feature of intellectual culture. One good U.S. critic, Harold Rosenberg once described intellectuals as the “herd of independent minds.” They think they are very independent but they are a stampede in a herd, which is true; when there is a party line, you have to adhere to it and the party line is systematic. The party line is subordination to state power and to state violence. Now you are allowed to criticize it but on a very narrow grounds. You can criticize it because it is not working or for some mistake or benign intentions that went astray or something, like you see right now in Iraq war, the tone of debate about Iraq war but take a look at it – it’s very similar to the debate in PRAVDA during the invasion of Afghanistan. Actually I brought this up to a Polish reporter recently and I asked him if he had been reading PRAVDA. He just laughed and said yeah it’s the same. Now you read PRAVDA in the nineteen eighties, it’s you know: “the travail of the Russian soldiers that are going to get killed and now there are these terrorists who prevent us from bringing justice and peace to the Afghans, we of course did not invade them, we intervened and helped them at the request of the legitimate government, the terrorists are preventing us from doing all good the things we wanted to do etc.” I have read Japanese counter-insurgency documents from the second WW, from the ninety thirties – the same, you know: “…we tried to bring them an earthly paradise, but the Chinese bandits are preventing it …” in fact I don’t know of any exception in history. If you want, British imperialism is the same, I mean even people of the highest moral integrity like John Stewart Mill were talking about, well we have to intervene in India and conquer India because the barbarians can’t control themselves, there are atrocities, we are to bring them the benefits of the British rule and civilization and so on.

Now in the United States it’s the same. Now take bombing of Kosovo; that was an incredibly important event for American intellectuals and the reason it had to do it all was for what was going on during nineties. And the nineties are for the West, not just the U.S. and France and England were the worst – probably the low point in intellectual history for the West, I think. I mean it was like a comic strip mimicking a satire of Stalinism, literally. You take a look at the New York Times or read the French press, the British press, there was all full of talk about how there is a “normative revolution” that has swept through the West, for the first time in history, a state namely the United States, “the leader of the free world” is acting from “pure altruism”, …Clinton’s policy has entered into a “noble phase,” with a “saintly glow” on and on, I am quoting from the liberals.

Now, this particular humanitarian charade was…

That’s pre Kosovo.

Right. And it was specific in a sense because it was based on the claim that it was preventing genocide.

Now this is, see there are no examples yet.

Let me just read something that you said in an interview around the time of the bombing. You said that “the term “genocide” as applied to Kosovo is an insult to the victims of Hitler. In fact, it’s revisionist to an extreme.” What did you mean by that?

First of all let me just fix the timing. The things I’ve been quoting are from the late nineties.

Before Kosovo.

Yeah. Now, they needed some event to justify this massive self-adulation, OK? Along came Kosovo fortunately and so now they had to stop genocide. What was the genocide in Kosovo? We know from the Western documentation what it was. In the year prior to the bombing, according to Western sources about two thousand people were killed, the killings were distributed, a lot of them were coming in fact according to British government, which was the most hawkish element of the Alliance, up until January 1999 a majority of killings came from the KLA guerillas who were coming in as they said, you know, to try to incite a harsh Serbian response, which they got, in order to appeal to Western humanitarians to bomb. We know from the Western records that nothing changed between January and March, in fact up until March 20 they indicate nothing. March 20th they indicate an increase in KLA attacks. But, it was ugly but by international standards it was almost invisible unfortunately and it was very distributed. If the British are correct, the majority was coming from the KLA guerillas.

And as it later turned out the KLA was also receiving financial and military support.

They were being supported by CIA in those months. And to call that genocide, is really to insult the victims of the holocaust, you know, if that’s genocide than the whole world is covered with genocide.

In fact it’s kind of striking; right at the same time the Western intellectuals were praising themselves for their magnificent humanitarianism, much worse atrocities were going on right across the border, in Turkey. That’s inside NATO, not at the borders of NATO… “how can we allow this on the borders of NATO,”… but how about inside NATO where Turkey was carrying, had driven probably several million Kurds out of their homes, destroyed about 3500 villages laid waste the whole place, every conceivable form of torture and massacre you can imagine, killed nobody knows how many people, we don’t count our victims, tens of thousands of people, how they were able to do that? The reason is because they were getting 80% of their arms from Clinton and as the atrocities increased, the arms flow increased. In fact in one single year, 1997, Clinton sent more arms to Turkey than the entire Cold War period combined! Up until the counter-insurgency.

That was not reported in the West. You do not report your own crimes, that’s critical. And right in the midst of all of this, “how can we tolerate a couple of thousand people being killed in Kosovo, mixed guerillas and …” In fact the 50th Anniversary of NATO took place right in the middle of all of this. And there were lamentations about what was going on right across NATO’s border. Not a word about the much worse things going on inside NATO’s borders, thanks to the massive flow of arms from the United States. Now that’s only one case. Comparable things were going on all over where the U.S. were supportive of much worse, but this, you had to focus on this, that was the topic for “the herd of independent minds.” It played a crucial role in their self image because they had been going through a period of praising themselves for their magnificence in their “normative revolution” and their “noble phase” and so on and so forth, so it was a god-sent, and therefore you couldn’t ask any questions about it. Incidentally the same happened in the earlier phase of the Balkan wars. It was awful, and so on and so forth. However, but if you look at the coverage, for example there was one famous incident which has completely reshaped the Western opinion and that was the photograph of the thin man behind the barb-wire.

A fraudulent photograph, as it turned out.

You remember. The thin men behind the barb-wire so that was Auschwitz and ‘we can’t have Auschwitz again.’ The intellectuals went crazy and the French were posturing on television and the usual antics. Well, you know, it was investigated and carefully investigated. In fact it was investigated by the leading Western specialist on the topic, Philip Knightly, who is a highly respected media analyst and his specialty is photo journalism, probably the most famous Western and most respected Western analyst in this. He did a detailed analysis of it. And he determined that it was probably the reporters who were behind the barb-wire, and the place was ugly, but it was a refugee camp, I mean, people could leave if they wanted and, near the thin man was a fat man and so on, well and there was one tiny newspaper in England, probably three people, called LM which ran a critique of this, and the British (who haven’t a slightest concept of freedom of speech, that is a total fraud)…a major corporation, ITN, a big media corporation had publicized this, so the corporation sued the tiny newspaper for lible. Now the British libel laws were absolutely atrocious. The person accused has to prove that the, what he’s reporting is not done in malice and he can’t prove that. So and in fact when you have a huge corporation with batteries of lawyers and so on, carrying out a suit against the three people in the office, who probably don’t have the pocket-money, it’s obvious what is going to happen. Especially under these grotesque libel laws.

So yes, they were able to prove the little newspaper…and couldn’t prove it wasn’t done out of malice, they were put out of business. There was just euphoria in the left liberal British press. You’ve read The Guardian and The Observer, they thought it was wonderful.

Mentioning The Guardian, what you describe is…

Sorry, incidentally…, after they put the newspaper out of business under this utterly grotesque legal case of the British laws, the left liberal newspapers, like The Guardian were just in a state of euphoria about this wonderful achievement. They had managed to destroy a tiny newspaper because it questioned some image that they had presented and they were very proud of themselves for it, which was probably misunderstood or misinterpreted.

Well, Philip Knightly, he wrote a very harsh critique of the British media for behaving in this way, and tried to teach them an elementary lesson about freedom of speech. He also added that probably the photograph was misinterpreted. Couldn’t get published. Well, you know, that’s when Kosovo came along, it was the same thing. That you can not tell the truth about it, look I’ve gone through a ton of reporting on this, almost invariably they inverted the chronology. There were atrocities…

But after the bombing.

After the bombing. The way it’s presented is: the atrocities took place and then we had to bomb to prevent genocide, just inverted.

Let me ask you about the conduct of the actual war. You mentioned The Guardian, it’s interesting because you yourself had recently had an unpleasant experience…

Over this.

… when The Guardian misquoting you over Srebrenica. It misquoted you to make it appear as if you were questioning the Srebrenica massacre. But let me bring you back to the conduct of the actual war. That was another…

… the 1999 bombing.

The bombing, which was also overlooked or selectively covered by the Western media in general. Now, Amnesty International, among others, reported that “NATO committed serious violations of the rules of war during its campaign”, numerous human rights groups concur and document various war crimes. One of them had its anniversary two days ago, when the Radio Television Serbia was bombed, the national television, its headquarters, killing 16 people. First of all, why were these crimes completely unreported, and secondly, is there any prospects for there being any responsibility taken for these crimes?

I’d say the crimes were reported but they were cheered. It’s not that they were unknown, like the bombing of the radio station, yes, it was reported and the TV station, but it’s fine. Because the TV station was described as a propaganda outlet, so therefore it was right to bomb. That happens all the time. It just happened last year, in November 2004. One of the worst war crimes in Iraq…

Al Jazeera …

… was invasion of Falluja. Al Jazeera’s one thing, but there was worse. The invasion of Falluja was kind of similar to Srebrenica, if you look, but … They invaded Falluja; the first thing the invading troops did, U.S. troops, was to take over the general hospital and throw the patients on the floor, they were taken out their beds, put on the floor, hands tied on their backs, doctors thrown on the floor, hands on their backs, it was a picture of it in the front page of the The New York Times, they said it was wonderful.

The Geneva Convention forbids hospitals to be…

It’s a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and George Bush should be facing the death penalty for that, even under the U.S. law. But it was presented, no mention of the Geneva Conventions, and it was presented as a wonderful thing, because the Falluja general hospital was a “propaganda center,” namely it was releasing casualty figures, so therefore it was correct to carry out a massive war crime.

Well, the bombing of the TV station was presented the same way. In fact, as I’m sure you recall, there was an offer from NATO that they would not bomb if they agreed to broadcast six hours of NATO propaganda. Well, this is considered quite right.

How can it be dealt with?

A group of international lawyers did appeal to the International Tribunal on the Yugoslavia. They presented a brief, saying they should look into NATO war crimes, but what they cited was reports from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and admissions by the NATO command. That was what they presented, the…I am forgetting, but I think it was Karla Del Ponte at the time; she would not look at it, in violation of the laws of the Tribunal, because she “had faith in NATO.” And that was the answer.

Well, something else interesting happened after that: Yugoslavia did bring the case to the War Court…

Which also rejected the case.

The Court accepted it and in fact deliberated for a couple of years it may still be, but what is interesting is that the U.S. excused itself from the case and the Court accepted the excuse. Why?

Because Yugoslavia had mentioned the Genocide Convention and the U.S. did sign the Genocide Convention (after forty years), it ratified it, but it ratified it with reservation, saying “inapplicable to the United States”. So in other words, the United States is entitled to commit genocide, therefore and that was the case that the U.S. Justice Department of President Clinton’s brought to the World Court and the Court had to agree. If a country does not accept World Court jurisdiction, it has to be excluded, so the U.S. was excluded from the trial, on the grounds that it grants itself the right to commit genocide. Do you think this was reported here?

The World Court, though, excused itself from hearing the case trying the illegality of the war, on the grounds that Yugoslavia was not a full member of the United Nations at the time when the case was brought to the…

Maybe they’ve finally reached that…

…they finally did that…

…for several years they were deliberating but that’s the sequence, does any of this get reported? You can ask your friends at Princeton, ask the faculty. They don’t know. I mean these… any more than… they will know that, they sort of probably remember the bombing, the capture of the General Hospital in Falluja but, was there any comment saying that was a war crime?

What struck me was that you compared the Srebrenica massacre with the Falluja invasion, why is that?

Because there are similarities.

Like what?

In the case of Srebrenica women and children were trucked out and then came, you know, the massacre. In the case of Falluja, the women and children were ordered out, they weren’t trucked out, they were ordered out, but the men weren’t allowed to leave and then came the attack. In fact, it turned out that the roads out were blocked.

Well, I mean all things, it’s not the same story, but that part is similar. I actually mentioned that a couple of times. Storms of protest hysteria, you know. Incidentally this Guardian affair – part of it which was totally fraud is on the part of the editors, not the reporter. They blamed it on the reporter, but it was the editors.

One other thing that they were infuriated about was that she asked me what about the thin man behind the barb-wire, isn’t that a horrible atrocity? I said well, you know, it’s not certain that it was correct. OK, that led to the hysteria. That’s when Philip Knightly tried to intervene to present once again his analysis and once again his critique of the media, but couldn’t. He is a very prominent, prestigious person. You just cannot break ranks; that’s not tolerated. I mean, we are lucky, we do not have censorship, it’s free society, but the self-censorship is overwhelming. Actually, Orwell once wrote about this, in something that nobody has read. Everyone has read Animal Farm and almost nobody has read the introduction to Animal Farm…

Unpublished.

Unpublished, came out in his unpublished papers, thirty years later. In it what he said is, Animal Farm is a satire of this totalitarian state, he said free England is not very different. In free England unpopular ideas can be suppressed without the use of force and he gave examples. It’s very similar here. And it does not matter how extreme they are, I mean the Iraq invasion is a perfect example.

There is not, you can not find anywhere in the main stream a suggestion that it is wrongful to invade another country. If you had invaded another country you have to pay reparations, you have to withdraw and the leadership has to be punished. I mean, and I don’t know if you have read the Nuremburg Judgments, but after the Nuremburg Judgments, Justice Jackson, Chief of Council of Prosecution of the U.S. Justice, made very, very eloquent statements about how we must…we are sentencing these people to death of the crimes for which they committed or crimes when anybody commits them, including when we commit them, we have to live up to that. He said “we are handing the defendants a poison chalice, and if we sipped from this chalice we must be treated the same way.” Can’t be more explicit!

They also defined aggression. Aggression was defined in terms which just apply absolutely and without exception not only to the invasion of Iraq but to all sorts of other invasions, in Vietnam and many others, actually even terrorist war against Nicaragua, technically falls under the crime of aggression as defined in Nuremburg.

Does the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia?

Yes. And that’s not even questioned. In fact there is a, there was a so-called, an Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Kosovo bombing led by a very respected South African jurist – Justice Goldstone – and they concluded that the bombing was, in their words, “illegal but legitimate”. Illegal makes it a war crime. But they said it was legitimate because it was necessary to stop genocide. And then comes the usual inversion of the history.

Actually, Justice Goldstone who was a respectable person, later recognized that the atrocities came after the bombing. And that they were furthermore the anticipated consequence, he did recognize that in a lecture in New York, couple of years ago, he said: “well, nevertheless we can take some comfort in the fact that Serbia was planning it anyway, and the proof for they were planning it is” guess what – “Operation Horse-Shoe”, – a probable intelligence fabrication that was publicized after the bombing, so even if it was true, it wouldn’t matter. And furthermore, even if that was true, it was a contingency plan. Now look, Israel has a contingency plans to drive all the Palestinians out of the West Bank if there is a conflict, so does that mean that Iran has the right to bomb Israel? Now, the U.S. has contingency plans to invade Canada, OK so does that mean that everybody has a right to bomb the United States?

That’s the last straw of justification on the part of a respectable person. But for the “herd of independent minds” it just does not matter. The bombing was because of their “high values”, and their “nobility” and was to stop genocide. Say anything else, you know… tons of vilification and abuse comes. But it’s not just on this issue, it’s on every issue. So try to bring up the idea…take, say, the Vietnam War, a lot of time has passed, a huge amount of scholarship, tons of documentation, blew up the country…

Let me just interrupt, I’m sorry, we won’t have time to go into that…

OK.

I want to ask you about some of the present developments that are being used again to fabricate a lot of these issues. Slobodan Milosevic died last month. What is the significance of his death in your view?

Milosevic was, he committed many crimes, not a nice person, terrible person, but the charges against him would have never have held up. He was originally indicted on the Kosovo charges. The indictment was issued right in the middle of bombing which already nullifies it. It used British, it admittedly used British and the U.S. intelligence right in the middle of bombing, can’t possibly take it seriously. However if you look at the indictment, it was for crimes committed after the bombing. There was one exception: Racak. Let’s even grant that the claims are true, let’s put that aside. So, there was one exception, no evidence that he was involved or you know, it took place,

But almost the entire indictment was for after the bombing. How are those charges going to stand up unless you put Bill Clinton and Tony Blair on the dock alongside? Then they realized that it was a weak case. So they added the early Balkan wars, OK? Lot of horrible things happened there. But the worst crime, the one that they were really going to charge him for that genocide was Srebrenica.

Now, there is a little problem with that: namely there was an extensive, detailed inquiry into it by the Dutch Government, which was the responsible government, there were Dutch forces there, that’s a big, you know, hundreds of pages inquiry, and their conclusion is that Milosevic did not know anything about that, and that when it was discovered in Belgrade, they were horrified. Well, suppose that had entered into the testimony?

Does this mean that you are a “Milosevic sympathizer”?

No, he was terrible. In fact he should have been thrown out, in fact he probably would have been thrown out and in the early nineties if the Albanians had voted, it was pretty close. He did all sorts of terrible things but it wasn’t a totalitarian state, I mean, there were elections, there was the opposition, a lot of rotten things, but there are rotten things everywhere and I certainly wouldn’t want to have dinner with him or talk to him, and yes, he deserves to be tried for crimes, but this trial was never going to hold up, if it was even semi-honest. It was a farce; in fact they were lucky that he died.

In what sense?

Because they did not have to go through out the whole trial. Now they can, you can build up an image about how he would have been convicted as another Hitler.

Had he lived.

But now they don’t have to do it.

I just want to bring you back to the bombing of the RTS. Some have argued that this particular act of NATO’s in 1999 set precedants for targeting of media by the United States afterward – in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – that it set a precedant for legitimizing media houses and labeling them as propaganda in order to bomb them in U.S. invasions. Do you make any connection there?

Well, I mean, the chronology is correct. But I don’t think they need excuses. The point is: you bomb anybody you want to. Let’s take 1998, so it was before. Now in 1998, here’s another thing you’re not allowed to say in the States and the West that leads to hysteria, but I’ll say it – in 1998 Clinton bombed the major pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan, OK? That was, this is the plant that’s using the most of the pharmaceuticals and veterinary medicines for poor African country that’s under embargo, can’t replace it. What’s that going to do? Obviously they killed unknown numbers of people, in fact the U.S. barred an investigation by the UN so we don’t know and of course you don’t want to investigate your own crimes, but there were some evidence. So the German Ambassador, who is a fellow at the Harvard University to Sudan wrote an article in Harvard International Review in which he estimated the casualties in the tens of thousands of deaths. The research of the Head of the Near East Foundation, a very respectable foundation, their regional director had field work in Somalia and in Sudan, he did the study, he came out with the same conclusions, probably tens of thousands of dead.

Right after the bombing, within weeks, Human Rights Watch issued a warning that it was going to be a humanitarian catastrophe and gave examples of aid workers being pulled out from areas where people were dying and so on. You can not mention this. Any mention of this brings the same hysteria, as criticizing the bombing of the TV station. So it’s unmentionable, it is a Western crime and therefore it was legitimate.

Let’s just suppose that Al Quaida blew up half the pharmaceutical supplies in the U.S., or England or Israel or any country in which people lived. Human beings, not ants, people. Fine. Can you imagine the reaction, we’d probably have a nuclear war, but when we do it to a poor African country – didn’t happen! Not discussed, in fact the only issue that is discussed if there is discussion is whether the intelligence was correct when it claimed that it was also producing chemical weapons. That is the only question. Mention anything else, the usual hysteria, and tirades…This is a very disciplined, Western intellectual culture is extremely disciplined. And rigid. You can not go beyond fixed bounds. It’s not, you know, it’s not censored, it’s all voluntary but it’s true and it’s not, incidentally, not free societies like this. In fact the third world countries are different.

So take, say, Turkey, half third world; I mean in Turkey, the intellectuals, the leading intellectuals, now best known writers, academics, journalists, artists I mean they not only protest atrocities about the Kurdish massacre, they protest it constantly, but they were also constant in carrying out civil disobedience against them. I also participated with them sometimes. And they go publish banned writings which reported presented them to the Prosecutor’s Office, demand they were prosecuted. It’s not a joke, you know, facing… sometimes they are sent to prison, that’s no joke. There’s nothing like that in the West. Inconceivable.

When I am in Western Europe I hear them telling me Turkey is not civilized enough to enter the European Union. I burst out laughing! It’s the other way round.

Speaking of democratic movements, there was a…

[crew]: This is the last question.

[b] OK, two more quick questions; one: you mentioned the democratic movements in various countries. There was of course a promising democratic movement in Serbia before and, of course, during the bombing. And people like Wesley Clark had claimed that this bombing would be of benefit to the anti-Milosevic forces, when it of course turned out to be a disaster. Was this a sincere evaluation on behalf of NATO?

Well, I can’t look into their minds. When you commit a crime it is extremely easy to find a justification for it. That’s true of personal life; it’s true of international affairs. So yes, maybe they believed it. I mean, I think there’s convincing evidence that the Japanese fascists believed that they were doing good when they carried out things in the Second World War. John Stewart Mill surely believed he was being honorable and noble when he was calling for the conquest of India right after some of the worst atrocities which I mentioned, you can easily believe you are noble. I mean, to me it’s obvious that it was going to harm the democratic movement, I heard about it and I couldn’t get much information but it was obvious that it was going to happen. I mean it is happening right now in Iran. There is a democratic movement in Iran, they are pleading with the United States not to maintain a harsh embargo, certainly not to attack, it is harming them, and it strengthens the most reactionary violent elements in the society, of course.

Let me ask you one final question about the future. Negotiations over Kosovo’s final status are under way right now, the United States is backing Agim Ceku, who was someone involved in ethnic cleansing not only in…

Not someone. He was a war criminal himself. What about the Krajina expulsion, which he was….

First of all, what do you see as an appropriate, realistic solution for the final status of Kosovo and how does that differ from what the United States is now promoting?

My feeling has been for a long time that the only realistic solution is one that in fact was offered by the President of Serbia I think back round 1993 [Chomsky is referring to the proposal of former Serbian President of Yugoslavia, Dobrica Cosic], namely some kind of partition, with the Serbian, by now very few Serbs left but the, what were the Serbian areas being part of Serbia and the rest be what they called “independent” which means it’ll join Albania. I just don’t see…I didn’t see any other feasible solution ten years ago.

Shall we wrap up? Professor Chomsky, thank you very much. [read more]

 

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The NATO bombing in Yugoslavia: It was all about World Power, Oil and GOLD

Statement of the Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site
24 May 1999

[VIEWERS DISCRETION ADVISED. I WAS THERE WITH THE RED CROSS<MAYBE YOU AREN"T FAMILIAR WITH SUCH IMAGES.AN UNJUSTIFIED KILLING OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE EVEN CARAVANS WITH REFUGEES]

Since March 24, 1999, the military forces of NATO, led by the United States, have been subjecting Yugoslavia to a devastating bombardment. Flying more than 15,000 sorties, NATO has pummeled Yugoslav cities and villages, hitting factories, hospitals, schools, bridges, fuel depots and government buildings. Thousands have been killed and wounded, including passengers on commuter trains and buses, and workers at television broadcast and relay facilities. Civilian neighborhoods in both Serbia and Kosovo have been hit.

Little is being said by those who planned and launched this war about its long-term consequences for Yugoslavia, the entire Balkans and Eastern Europe as a whole. Much of the industrial and social infrastructure developed by Yugoslavia since the end of World War II lies in ruins. The Danube River, a vital economic lifeline for much of Central Europe, is impassable. In Serbia, the basic requirements of modern civilization—electricity, water, sanitation—have been struck repeatedly. As in Iraq, the full dimension of the havoc wreaked by American, British and French bombs will only become clear when the war ends and reports begin to seep out about abnormal mortality rates, especially among the young.
The claim of genocide

The assault on Yugoslavia has been justified by NATO and the media as a humanitarian effort to halt repression of the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. The heavy-handed and cynical character of the propaganda campaign that has accompanied the bombing in its own way reflects the glaring contradictions in NATO's defense of the war. The crude demonization of Yugoslav President Milosevic, the wildly divergent claims of Serb massacres and Kosovan Albanian deaths, the endless claims of “genocide,” and the barrage of TV images of suffering refugees are designed not so much to convince through the force of argument, as to wear down, inure and intimidate the public. “Opposition to NATO means support for the forced expulsion and mass murder of Albanians!” the establishment politicians and media pundits declare.

In the mobilization of public opinion behind the bombing of Iraq, the Clinton administration repeated endlessly the phrase, "weapons of mass destruction.” Only by pounding Iraq day after day, the Clinton administration declared, could the world be saved from Saddam Hussein's invisible arsenal of deadly gases, germs and chemicals. In the war against Yugoslavia, “weapons of mass destruction” has been replaced with a more powerful and evocative mantra—that of “Ethnic Cleansing.” The principal value of this phrase is that it conjures up the image of Nazi Germany. The “ethnic cleansing” in Kosovo, NATO would have it, is the 1990s version of the Holocaust.

The comparison is so misleading and historically false as to be obscene. The Holocaust consisted of the rounding up of millions of Jews throughout all of Nazi-occupied and -controlled Europe and their transportation to death camps that were essentially assembly lines of mass murder.

Six million defenseless Jews were killed by the Nazis. This compares to an estimated two thousand people who were killed in Kosovo last year. (The recent claims that 250,000 Albanian men have been killed, it must be added, are noxious fabrications, which have been contradicted by first-hand observers from Western newspapers.)

Even if the total number killed in Kosovo were doubled, the loss of life would still be smaller, even adjusting for differences in population, than in many analogous conflicts around the world (for example, Sri Lanka or Turkey). The comparison is not an argument for indifference to the suffering taking place in Kosovo. It does, however, reveal the grossly misleading character of the claims that have been used by NATO to justify its full-scale bombardment of Yugoslavia.

A further point about the context of the violence in Kosovo must be made. It commenced in 1998 with the outbreak of civil war between the Albanian nationalist and separatist Kosovo Liberation Army and the Yugoslav government, which sought to retain control of the province.

The International Committee of the Fourth International, the publisher of the World Socialist Web Site, opposes all forms of national chauvinism. We hold no brief for the reactionary nationalism of the Belgrade regime. But it is a flagrant falsification of political reality to claim that the year of sectarian violence that preceded NATO's offensive was the exclusive handiwork of the Serbs. The KLA—financed with drug money and enjoying the behind-the-scenes support of CIA advisers—carried out its own campaign of terror against Serb civilians.

No small degree of hypocrisy is involved in NATO's pose as defender of the ethnic Albanian minority from Serbian repression. Consider the NATO member countries that have carried out even more extensive campaigns of “ethnic cleansing.”

Two hundred thousand Serbs were expelled from Croatia in 1995 with US support. (Croatia has since become a US ally and one of NATO's “frontline states” in the war against Serbia). Over the past fifteen years, more than one million Kurds have been driven from their villages in Turkey, with the support of the US, including American military hardware. Turkey, meanwhile, retains NATO membership and participates in the bombing of Yugoslavia.

In the punishment inflicted on the Albanian population, Serbia trails far behind the savageries inflicted by the French on Algeria or the United States on Vietnam.

Had political conditions dictated, the US media could have presented the Israeli suppression of the intifadah in 1987-91 or the massacres that unfolded in Beirut in 1982 under the auspices of the Israeli state in no less inflammatory terms than last year's events in Kosovo.

In evaluating the claim of “ethnic cleansing,” it should also be remembered that the major world powers have, on more than one occasion, cited ethnic conflicts as a justification for imperialist meddling, setting the stage for disaster. Let us recall that one of the most horrific episodes of the 20th century occurred in 1947 when Britain, citing conflicts between Hindus and Moslems in India, arranged for the establishment of the separate state of Pakistan. The violence that followed the partition claimed one million lives and created twelve million refugees.

Likewise in Yugoslavia, imperialist intervention has had the objective impact of escalating the scale of communal violence and increasing the likelihood that it will spread to neighboring countries.
The exodus from Kosovo: who is responsible?

NATO now says that a primary purpose of its offensive is to return the estimated 800,000 ethnic Albanian refugees to their homes in Kosovo. Here cynicism reaches new heights.

An honest review of the sequence of events that led up to the refugee crisis refutes the claims of NATO. Mass flight began after, not before, March 24. Clinton's speech that day, in which he gave the official rationale for the war, spoke almost entirely of preventing an exodus. He pointed, in fact, to the danger that, without a NATO strike, the size of the existing refugee population might expand by “tens of thousands.”

What actually happened? The bombing, destroying no small amount of Kosovo and terrorizing its inhabitants, set off a renewal in the fighting between Belgrade's forces and the KLA. Not tens but hundreds of thousands were made refugees.

Not all these consequences were unintended. The NATO powers had hoped that the air offensive would enable the KLA to push out the Serb forces, much in the same manner that the 1995 air strikes in Bosnia allowed the Croatian and Moslem forces to go on the offensive and drive out the Serbs.

As for the refugees themselves, they have been cynically used. Once the Kosovan Albanians were displaced in the aftermath of the bombing, NATO exploited their plight to drum up public support for the war, while providing only the most minimal aid to their makeshift camps, where conditions became so abhorrent that riots broke out. Even then only a relative handful of refugees were accepted into Western countries.

Some NATO military leaders have acknowledged—though their statements have gone largely unreported—that the depopulation of Kosovo works to their advantage, giving them a freer hand to initiate carpet bombing and prepare for a ground invasion of the province.

In regards to the return of the refugees, the logical question to ask is: Return to what? What portion of Kosovo's homes, workplaces, roads, bridges, and waterways has not been bombed by NATO?
The political function of propaganda

“The propagandist's purpose,” wrote Aldous Huxley in 1937, “is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.” In the present war, the demonization of the Serbs has been required by the scale of NATO's violence against the Yugoslav people.

By early summer, killings by NATO will surpass those by the Serb government and KLA that preceded the alliance's intervention in Kosovo. Prior to March 24, most estimates put the total number killed in Kosovo at about 2,000 in the course of one year of civil war. Since March 24, the number of Serbs and ethnic Albanians killed by NATO is well over 1,000.

NATO, to be sure, only makes “mistakes” whereas Serbia carries out “atrocities.” Generally speaking, each new NATO claim of Serb plunder and murder follows rapidly on the heels of the latest proof of civilian deaths from NATO bombs. At any suggestion that NATO's cure is worse than the disease the spokesmen for the alliance become more shrill. “Has the real enemy been forgotten?”

An interesting question. It would seem the category of “enemy” is quickly expanding in scope. Initially, Albanian deaths and suffering were declared to be solely the fault of the Milosevic regime. In recent days, however, a more venomous strain has emerged in the propaganda war: the Serb population as a whole is to blame.

According to the new line, the Serb people have become corrupted, organically indifferent to the suffering of the Kosovan Albanians, and obsessed by an almost incomprehensible sense of victimization. According to many of the NATO propagandists, the remedy for this malaise is a ground invasion, the conquest of Belgrade and a prolonged occupation. This is described, reviving the terminology of 19th century colonialism, as a “civilizing” mission.
An imperialist war

Propaganda requires simplification. It demands that the complexities of immense political conflicts be shoved aside and public opinion be confronted with a loaded question which allows only one answer. In the present war, that question is: “Doesn't ethnic cleansing have to be stopped?”

This simplification allows the media to portray Yugoslavia rather than NATO as the aggressor. The alliance, in a complete inversion of reality, is presented as conducting an essentially defensive war on behalf of the Kosovan Albanians.

To determine the nature of a given war, its progressive or reactionary character, requires not selective examination of atrocities, which are to be found in all wars, but rather an analysis of the class structures, economic foundations and international roles of the states that are involved. From this decisive standpoint the present war being waged by NATO is an imperialist war of aggression against Yugoslavia.

The US and the European powers that form the nucleus of NATO comprise the most advanced capitalist powers of the globe. Within each of these countries, state policies express the interests of finance capital, based on the major transnational corporations and financial institutions. The continued existence of the ruling class in these countries is bound up with the expansion of capitalism throughout the world.

As a scientific term, imperialism signifies a definite historical stage in the development of capitalism as a world economic system. It denotes fundamental objective tendencies in capitalism as it developed toward the end of the 19th and into the 20th century. The most important of these are: the suppression of free competition by the growth of huge, monopolistic business concerns; the increasing domination of gigantic banking institutions (finance capital) over the world market; the impulsion of monopoly and finance capital in the countries where capitalism had developed most strongly (Europe, North America, Japan) to spread beyond the national borders and gain access to markets, raw materials and new sources of labor throughout the world.

Imperialism enjoys a predatory and parasitic relation to the less developed countries. Through its position of financial hegemony, using the vehicle of massive financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, imperialism is in a position to dictate policy to smaller states which rely on their credit. Through their domination of the world market, the imperialist powers drive down prices for raw materials and keep the smaller states impoverished. The more these countries borrow, the more destitute and dependent they become.

Finally, hanging over the weaker states is the ever-present threat of military bombardment. Whether they are to be apotheosized as “emerging democracies” or demonized as “rogue states” depends, in the final analysis, on where they fit in the unfolding strategic plans of world imperialism. Thus Iraq, supported by the US in its war against Iran during the 1980s, became the object of attack when it fell afoul of plans to strengthen America's grip over Middle East oil reserves.

The same is true of Serbia. In the 1980s Washington looked upon Slobodan Milosevic with favor to the extent that he initiated market policies and dismantled state industry in Yugoslavia. In the 1990s the rules of the game changed and Serbia became a thorn in the side of imperialist concerns. Milosevic joined Saddam Hussein on imperialism's list of “Most Wanted.” The judgment of imperialism on any given country or leader can change abruptly because, as Prime Minister Palmerston said of the British Empire, it has neither permanent friends, nor permanent enemies, only permanent interests.

Yugoslavia is not an imperialist power but rather a small, relatively backward country that has been diminished over the 1990s by the secession of four of its former six republics. To be sure, Milosevic's role in this process was thoroughly reactionary. His exploitation of Serbian nationalism could hardly counter the chauvinist policies of Tudjman in Croatia, Izetbegovic in Bosnia, and Kucan in Slovenia. But Milosevic was by no means the instigator of this process. Rather, he adapted himself—like so many other ex-Stalinists scoundrels in Eastern Europe—to the centrifugal social tendencies unleashed by the reestablishment of market economies.

Here the imperialist powers played a principal role, demanding the break-up of nationalized industries and the imposition of austerity policies that exacerbated simmering ethnic tensions. The economic pressure exerted upon Yugoslavia laid the objective foundations for the dissolution of the unified Balkan state. From 1991 on, the breakup of Yugoslavia was guaranteed by the political intervention of the major powers. Though a violent outcome of Yugoslav dissolution was predicted, the break-up was encouraged by Germany, which abruptly recognized the independence of Croatia and Slovenia in 1991, and the US, which even more recklessly gave its approval to Bosnian secession in 1992.

Yugoslavia, moreover, is not a capitalist state of even regional stature. It has no transnational conglomerates. Yugoslav finance capital plays no significant role outside the borders of the country. To the extent that one can speak of a Serbian bourgeoisie, it is only now emerging from the layers surrounding Milosevic that enriched themselves by stealing state property in the process of dismantling Yugoslavia.

Comparisons of Serbia to Nazi Germany and Milosevic to Hitler are a combination of ignorance and deceit. Scientific political analysis does not consist in the hurling of epithets. The transformation of the Austrian corporal with a loud voice and a Charlie Chaplin moustache into the most monstrous embodiment of world reaction depended upon certain objective prerequisites—namely, the immense resources of German industry. Hitler was the leader of an aggressive imperialist power that sought to achieve the hegemony of German capitalism in all of Europe. Before Hitler's bloody offensive was halted, German domination stretched from the English Channel to the Caucasus Mountains, embracing the Balkans, including Yugoslavia. Hitler's military ambitions reflected the economic appetites of Siemens, Krupp, I. G. Farben, Daimler-Benz, Deutsche Bank and the other great German conglomerates.

Were it not for the tragic consequences associated with this distortion of historical reality, the comparison of Serbia to Nazi Germany and Milosevic to Hitler would be laughable. Serbia, to begin with, is not seeking to conquer foreign lands, but rather hold on to territory internationally recognized as falling within its borders. As for Milosevic, the main preoccupation of this “Hitler” has been to hang on to whatever he can of a rump federation whose borders have been shrinking year after year.

To sum up: This is a war by a coalition of major imperialist powers against a small, semi-backward country. It has a neo-colonialist character, trampling on Yugoslav sovereignty. Its aim is a type of NATO protectorate over Kosovo, which will likely resemble the NATO-IMF regime that runs Bosnia.
Beyond the propaganda: Why is the war being waged?

Once the fraudulent claims of the NATO spokesmen and the falsifications of the media are stripped away from this war, what remains? A naked aggression by imperialist countries against a small federation, in which the official reasons given for the onslaught serve as a smokescreen. Without the frenzied propaganda, it would be far more difficult to keep the public from inquiring into the actual reasons for the imperialist powers taking the road of military bombardment.

At the opening of this century, Rosa Luxemburg noted that capitalism is the first mode of production to have mass propaganda as a weapon at its disposal. “Humanitarianism” was, at the time of her comment just as today, a cover for taking by force that which was desired from the weaker countries. The “civilizing missions” of the US, England, France, Belgium, and Holland had the actual purpose of securing valuable raw materials, markets and geopolitical advantage over their major rivals. Likewise, today the attack on Yugoslavia aims to secure the material interests of the imperialist powers.

For starters, the Western powers are positioning themselves to exploit Kosovo's abundant mineral reserves, which include substantial deposits of lead, zinc, cadmium, silver and gold. Kosovo also holds an estimated 17 billion tons of coal reserves. But this is merely the “small change” of imperialist calculations. The immediate material gains that might be plundered from Kosovo are dwarfed by the far greater potential for enrichment that beckons in regions further to the east where the NATO powers have developed immense interests over the past five years. It is astonishing that so little attention has been paid to the connection of this war to the world strategic ambitions of the US and the other NATO powers.
NATO and the collapse of the USSR

Just as the development of imperialism witnessed the efforts of the major powers to parcel out the world at the end of the last century, the dismantling of the USSR has created a power vacuum in Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia that makes a new division of the world inevitable. The principal significance of Yugoslavia, at this critical juncture, is that it lies on the Western periphery of a massive swathe of territory into which the major world powers aim to expand. It is impossible for the US, Germany, Japan, France, Britain and the other powers to simply look passively at the opening of this area. Unfolding is a struggle for access to the region and control over its raw materials, labor and markets that will far outstrip last century's “scramble for Africa.”

This process expresses the most profound requirements of the profit system. Today's transnational companies measure their success in global terms. No market in the world can be ignored by General Motors, Toyota, Lockheed Martin, Airbus or even Coca-Cola. These immense operations compete across continents to achieve dominance. For them, the penetration of one-sixth of the globe newly opened to capitalist exploitation is a life-and-death question.

The integration of this region into the world system of capitalist production and exchange is the most critical task facing the international bourgeoisie today. It is essential for the survival of capitalism into the 21st century. One only need ask: if at the beginning of the 20th century it was necessary for capitalism to divide and organize the world, how much more so today when all major corporate operations are global in character?

The United States is exploiting the dismantling of the USSR most aggressively. This is explained in part by the historical limitations that the Soviet Union placed on the US. American capitalism rose to preeminence relatively late, during World War I. In the very year—1917—that the US entered the war, the victory of the October Revolution in Russia set the stage for the establishment of the Soviet Union. For seven decades, an objective consequence of the existence of the USSR was that a vast portion of the globe was closed off to direct exploitation by US capitalism.

The demand of US capital to regain access to this territory, to claw back what had been lost, was the essential content of Washington's Cold War policy. The drive to “stop communist expansion,” when stripped of its exaggeration and falsification, expressed the relentless ambition of US banks and corporate powers to expand their reach into Eastern Europe and Russia in order to extract profits. The events of 1989-91 untied the hands of US capitalism in this arena.

Involved in the reintegration of the territory of the former USSR into world capitalism is the absorption, by massive Western transnational companies, of trillions of dollars in valuable raw materials that are vital to the imperialist powers. The greatest untapped oil reserves in the world are located in the former Soviet republics bordering the Caspian Sea (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan). These resources are now being divided among the major capitalist countries. This is the fuel that is feeding renewed militarism and must lead to new wars of conquest by the imperialist powers against local opponents, as well as ever-greater conflicts among the imperialists themselves.

This is the key to understanding the bellicosity of US foreign policy over the past decade. The bombardment of Yugoslavia is the latest in a series of wars of aggression that have spanned the globe. Though they had certain regional motivations, these wars have been the US response to the opportunities and challenges opened by the demise of the USSR. Washington sees its military might as a trump card that can be employed to prevail over all its rivals in the coming struggle for resources.
Caspian oil and the new foreign policy debate

“The Caspian region is one of the largest remaining potential resources of undeveloped oil and gas in the world,” explained one Exxon executive in 1998, adding that the area might be producing as much as 6 million barrels of oil per day by 2020. He expects the oil industry to invest $300-$500 billion in the interim to exploit the reserves. The US Department of Energy estimates that 163 billion barrels of oil and up to 337 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are to be found. If the estimates are borne out, the region will become a petroleum producer comparable in scope to Iran or Iraq.

Western analysts also expect the Caspian region to become a major world gold producer. Kazakhstan, with 10,000 tons, has the second largest reserves in the world. Mining companies from the US, Japan, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Israel are already operating in the region.

Each of the major capitalist countries, and a number of developing regional powers, have their sights set on these resources. There is an acute awareness among the capitalist powers of the objective imperatives to intervene, expand their influence and secure their own interests to the disadvantage of their rivals. These needs are finding growing articulation in major policy journals, government hearings and editorials.

Here the debate within the US ruling elite is the most significant, and ominous. Since 1991, a frank discussion has been taking place among prominent US strategists concerning the country's new place in world affairs. In the absence of the Soviet Union, many have concluded, the US finds itself the master of a new “unipolar” world, in which it enjoys, at least for the present, unassailable dominance. What these strategists debate is not whether, but how this advantage can be leveraged.

Noteworthy is an article written by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former National Security chief under Carter, which was published in the September/October 1997 issue of Foreign Affairs. It is entitled “A Geostrategy for Asia.”

“America's status as the world's premier power is unlikely to be contested by any single challenger for more than a generation,” writes Brzezinski. “ No state is likely to match the United States in the four key dimensions of power—military, economic, technological, and cultural—that confer global political clout.”

Having consolidated its power in its base in the Western Hemisphere, the US, Brzezinski argues, must make sustained efforts to penetrate the two continents of Europe and Asia.

“America's emergence as the sole global superpower now makes an integrated and comprehensive strategy for Eurasia imperative.”

“After the United States,” Brzezinski writes, “the next six largest economies and military spenders are there, as are all but one of the world's overt nuclear powers, and all but one of the covert ones. Eurasia accounts for 75 percent of the world's population, 60 percent of its GNP, and 75 percent of its energy resources. Collectively, Eurasia's potential power overshadows even America's.

“Eurasia is the world's axial supercontinent. A power that dominated Eurasia would exercise decisive influence over two of the world's three most economically productive regions, Western Europe and East Asia. A glance at the map also suggests that a country dominant in Eurasia would almost automatically control the Middle East and Africa.

“With Eurasia now serving as the decisive geopolitical chessboard, it no longer suffices to fashion one policy for Europe and another for Asia. What happens with the distribution of power on the Eurasian landmass will be of decisive importance to America's global primacy and historical legacy.”

Because he does not expect the US to dominate Eurasia single-handedly, Brzezinski sees American interests being best served by securing a leading role, while facilitating a balance among the major powers favorable to the US. He attaches an important condition: “In volatile Eurasia, the immediate task is to ensure that no state or combination of states gains the ability to expel the United States or even diminish its decisive role.” This situation he describes as a “benign American hegemony.”

Brzezinski sees NATO as the best vehicle to achieve such an outcome. “Unlike America's links with Japan, NATO entrenches American political influence and military power on the Eurasian mainland. With the allied European nations still highly dependent on US protection, any expansion of Europe's political scope is automatically an expansion of US influence. Conversely, the United States' ability to project influence and power relies on close transatlantic ties.

“A wider Europe and an enlarged NATO will serve the short-term and longer-term interests of US policy. A larger Europe will expand the range of American influence without simultaneously creating a Europe so politically integrated that it could challenge the United States on matters of geopolitical importance, particularly in the Middle East.”

As these lines suggest, the NATO role in Yugoslavia, where it has undertaken offensive military action for the first time since its inception, is clearly seen in US ruling circles as a step which will enhance America's world position. At the same time, NATO expansion into Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic is effectively the expansion of US influence in Europe and the world.

Brzezinski's particular perspective on this region is not entirely novel. He has resurrected, in a form adapted for use by the US under present conditions, the traditional geopolitical strategy of British imperialism, which long sought to secure its interests in Europe by playing one rival on the continent against another.

The first modern “Eurasian strategy” for world domination was elaborated in Britain. Foreshadowing Brzezinski, imperial strategist Halford Mackinder, in a 1904 paper, “The Geographical Pivot of History,” maintained that the Eurasian land mass and Africa, which he collectively termed “the world island,” were of decisive significance to achieving global hegemony. According to Mackinder, the barriers that had prevented previous world empires, particularly the limitations in transportation, had largely been overcome by the beginning of the 20th century, setting the stage for a struggle among the great powers to establish a global dominion. The key, Mackinder believed, lay in control of the “heartland” region of the Eurasian land mass—bounded roughly by the Volga, the Yangtze, the Arctic and the Himalayas. He summed up his strategy as follows: “Who rules east Europe commands the Heartland; who rules the Heartland commands the world-island; who rules the world-island commands the world.”

Notwithstanding assumptions that were later criticized by bourgeois commentators, Mackinder's writings, like Brzezinski's today, were followed closely by the major statesmen of his time and exerted a profound influence in the great power conflicts which shaped the first half of this century.

For reasons both of world strategy and control over natural resources, the US is determined to secure for itself a dominant role in the former Soviet sphere. Were any of its adversaries—or combination of adversaries—to effectively challenge US supremacy in this region, it would call into question the hegemonic position of the US in world affairs. The political establishment in the US is well aware of this fact.
Washington plans for political domination of Central Asia

The US House Committee on International Relations has begun holding hearings on the strategic importance of the Caspian region. At one meeting in February 1998, Doug Bereuter, the committee chairman, opened by recalling the great power conflicts over Central Asia during the 19th century, then dubbed the “great game.”

In the contest for empire, Bereuter noted, Russia and Britain engaged in an extended struggle for power and influence. He went on to say that “one hundred years later, the collapse of the Soviet Union has unleashed a new great game, where the interests of the East India Trading Company have been replaced by those of Unocal and Total, and many other organizations and firms.”

“Stated US policy goals regarding energy resources in this region,” he continued, “include fostering the independence of the States and their ties to the West; breaking Russia's monopoly over oil and gas transport routes; promoting Western energy security through diversified suppliers; encouraging the construction of east-west pipelines that do not transit Iran; and denying Iran dangerous leverage over the Central Asian economies.”

As Bereuter's comments indicate, Washington foresees substantial conflict with the regional powers in the pursuit of its interests. If considerable friction was initially manifested in gaining access to Caspian oil, an even greater degree of strife has emerged in the maneuvers to bring it to Western markets.

While tens of billions in oil production deals have already been signed by Western oil companies, there has yet to be an agreement on the route of the main export pipeline. For the reasons cited by Bereuter, Washington adamantly insists on an east-west path to avoid Iran and Russia.

This is a matter of concern at the highest levels of US government. Last fall, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson told Stephen Kinzer of the New York Times, “We're trying to move these newly independent countries toward the West. We would like to see them reliant on Western commercial and political interests rather than going another way. We've made a substantial political investment in the Caspian and it's very important to us that both the pipeline map and the politics come out right.”

A number of strategists have argued for an aggressive US policy in the region. One, Mortimer Zuckerman, the editor of US News & World Report, warned in a May 1999 column that the Central Asian resources may revert back to the control of Russia or a Russian-led alliance, an outcome he calls a “nightmare situation.” He wrote, “We had better wake up to the dangers, or one day the certainties on which we base our prosperity will be certainties no more.

“The region of Russia's prominence—the bridge between Asia and Europe to the east of Turkey—contains a prize of such potential in the oil and gas riches of the Caspian Sea, valued at up to $4 trillion, as to be able to give Russia both wealth and strategic opportunity.”

Zuckerman suggests that the new conflict be called “the biggest game.” The superlative term is more fitting because today's conflict has “worldwide and not just regional consequences. Russia, providing the nuclear umbrella for a new oil consortium including Iran and Iraq, might well be able to move energy prices higher, enough to strengthen producers and menace the West, Turkey, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. In the words of Paul Michael Wihbey, in an excellent analysis for the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, the ‘nightmare scenarios of the mid-1970s would reappear with a vengeance'.”

The director of a US think tank bluntly laid out the military implications of the newfound interest in the region. In a 1998 document, Frederick Starr, the head of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University, pointed out that half of the NATO states have a major commercial stake in the Caspian. He then added that “the potential economic rewards of Caspian energy will draw in their train Western military forces to protect that investment if necessary.”

The prospect of a military conflict between one or more of the NATO countries and Russia is not simply a matter of speculation. Writes Starr: “In no country is NATO membership more assiduously sought than energy-rich Azerbaijan, and nowhere is the possibility of conflict with the Russian Federation more likely than over the export of Azeri resources.” In 1998 the country participated in all of the 144 NATO “Partnership for Peace” exercises.

The rationale for war offered in the present campaign against Yugoslavia could easily be reapplied should US ruling circles decide to intervene militarily in Central Asia. There are ethnic conflicts in nearly every country there. The three states through which Washington would like to see the main oil export pipeline pass are exemplary in this regard. In Azerbaijan, military conflict with the Armenian population has continued for more than a decade. Neighboring Georgia has seen sporadic warfare between the government and a separatist movement in Abkhazia. Finally, Turkey, which is to host the pipeline terminal, has waged a protracted campaign of repression against the country's minority Kurd population, who predominate precisely in those regions in the southeast of the country through which the US-backed pipeline would pass.

The point is not lost on the present US administration. In a speech to US newspaper editors last month, Clinton stated that Yugoslavia's ethnic turmoil was far from unique. “Much of the former Soviet Union faces a similar challenge,” he said, “including Ukraine and Moldova, southern Russia, the Caucasus nations of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, the new nations of Central Asia.” With the opening of these regions, he noted, “the potential for ethnic conflict became, perhaps, the greatest threat to what is among our most critical interests: the transition of the former communist countries toward stability, prosperity and freedom.”
A series of wars to come

But the aggressive attitude taken by the US towards intervention in Yugoslavia and the prospect of future American inroads in the Caspian region will not be received with indifference around the world.

The potential for a conflict with Russia, it should now be clear, has actually increased over the past ten years. So too has the likelihood of a major clash between the US and one or more of the European powers. The European bourgeoisie will not be content to forever accept a subordinate status to the US. Its position would be continually eroded as the US sought to press its advantage. Inevitably, conflicts will develop over how the spoils of Central Asia and Eastern Europe are to be divided between the US, Germany, France, Britain and Italy.

Recently, European editorialists and politicians have protested the growing US involvement in European security affairs and its push for NATO expansion. What must they make of US plans, such as those outlined by Brzezinski, for a massive extension of US power into Europe and Asia?

The tensions are already quite visible. The military intervention in Yugoslavia comes amidst a year of growing trans-Atlantic trade conflicts. The European powers, moreover, have long been searching for a means to undermine the hegemonic role of the US in world trade, establishing a monetary union and creating the Euro to rival the dollar as a world reserve currency. Furthermore, the leading power in the European monetary union, Germany, has a substantial commercial stake in Eastern Europe and Russia. The prospect of US-Russian conflict and instability in Moscow puts its position in jeopardy.

Further US-Japan conflict will also follow. The island nation, a major oil importer, has its own interests in the Caspian region and no shortage of trade disputes with the United States. To the extent that the US sees a greater military role as a key to its success in Central Asia, demands will be put forward by ruling circles in Japan to end the post-War restrictions on the size and range of its military.

Open conflict between the US and China is inevitable. China, a historically oppressed country and not an imperialist power, is, however, well on its way to the restoration of capitalism and aspires to be a major regional economic power.

Such a development, as the present anti-China hysteria in US newspapers reveals, is vehemently opposed by a substantial section of the American ruling elite. The expansion of US influence in Central Asia poses a direct and immediate threat to China because, among other factors, the expansion of the Chinese economy is directly dependent on access to petroleum. Its oil needs are expected to nearly double by 2010, which will force the country to import 40 percent of its requirements, up from 20 percent in 1995.

For this reason, China has already expressed interest in a pipeline that would transport Caspian oil eastwards and signed, in 1997, a $4.3 billion deal to secure a 60 percent stake in a Kazakh oil facility. The US will undoubtedly seek to undermine its activities in this region.

Around the world, governments fear that they could very well become the next target of military action, should they buck US demands. This apprehension is hardly confined to the lesser-developed countries on the US enemies' list. One can be sure that Paris and Berlin are greatly concerned about US intentions in Europe and that the Pentagon has plans for war with France and Germany which can be quickly pulled off the shelf.

These two countries are cited as examples to make another important point. Not every future US conflict is certain to be as one-sided as the present one. Washington will before long find itself at war with an adversary that is not all but defenseless.

The Central Asian region, strategically vital and rich in natural resources, will not be peacefully divided among the major world imperialist powers as it is reincorporated into the structure of world capitalism. As Lenin wrote in 1915, speaking about the division of the colonial countries by the imperial powers: “The only conceivable basis under capitalism for the division of spheres of influence, interests, colonies, etc., is a calculation of the strength of those participating, their general economic, financial, military strength, etc. And the strength of the participants in the division does not change to an equal degree, for the even development of different undertakings, trusts, branches of industry, or countries is impossible under capitalism. Half a century ago Germany was a miserable insignificant country compared with the Britain of that time; Japan compared with Russia in the same way. Is it ‘conceivable' that in ten or twenty years' time the relative strength of the imperialist powers will remain unchanged? It is out of the question.”

Updating Lenin's assessment by substituting the present leading powers for those of 1915 raises the question: Will the US, Europe and Japan somehow manage to peacefully come to terms on such issues as the awarding of trillions of dollars of petroleum and construction contracts, the elaboration of trade agreements and the establishment of military pacts? No affirmative answer is possible.

The major powers will also seek to take advantage of local conflicts. The growth of local antagonisms will be heightened, not attenuated, as Central Asia is integrated into the global system of production and trade. As Western financing for major oil projects increases, the stakes in regional ethnic conflicts will escalate. When command of territory carries with it billions in oil export revenue, fighting will only become more fierce.

Already, the conflict in the Abkhazian region of Georgia has halted pipeline construction more than once. What is more, the penetration by Western capital has been accompanied by IMF-directed austerity measures. These changes have further pauperized the vast majority of the Central Asian people while enriching a few. Like Russia, the Caspian and Caucasus republics have seen the creation of an extremely wealthy, but narrow layer of “New Kazakhs,” “New Azeris,” etc., even as overall output and wealth have fallen since 1991.

These developments portend a new division of the world, which will be decided by the principal imperialist powers and backed by their armies. The coming military conflicts will take place in a region of the world even more explosive than the Balkans. All the major protagonists possess nuclear weapons, raising the prospect of yet a third major imperialist conflict within the space of a century, with potential devastation and loss of human life on a far greater scale than the first two combined.
The implications of the bombing of Yugoslavia

This is the significance of the present military action against Yugoslavia and the growth of militarism generally. Kosovo is a testing ground for wars that will follow in the former Soviet region.

The war is, at the same time, an expression of immense contradictions within the home countries of imperialism. These underlying social tensions will be exacerbated by the war itself. The whole of the 20th century has shown that periods of imperialist rapacity are inevitably accompanied by an intensification of social conflict within the metropolitan centers of imperialism.

The internal social structures of the US and the states of Western Europe are torn by intense class contradictions. The past two decades have witnessed a profound material polarization in these countries. A thin layer enjoys wealth on a scale never before seen in history. The remainder of the population lives in varying degrees of economic anxiety, distress and, among a substantial layer, extreme hardship and deprivation. All signs point to the continuation, even acceleration, of this basic tendency.

The social conflicts have taken a malignant form to the extent that they have remained politically inarticulate. The United States for its part gives the impression of a society on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Public life is punctuated by outbreaks of violence by schoolchildren that have left the country in a state of semi-shock. No explanation, beyond the most banal, has been offered by officials or experts for these explosions of violent anti-social behavior. In their own way, however, they testify to the brutality of contemporary American life and the suppressed antagonisms that lie just under the surface.

This point suggests yet an additional motivation for the bombing of Yugoslavia. The father of imperialist policy-making at the end of the last century, Cecil Rhodes, noted the social-psychological benefit of aggressive militarism in providing an outlet for social pressures that had accumulated within the imperialist countries themselves. Aside from its direct and indirect economic interests in the present conflict, the American bourgeoisie sees the opportunity to direct pent-up frustration and distress at an outside target.

At the same time, it recognizes the limitations of such diversions and already plans to further refashion internal policy to correspond to its imperialist ambitions. The country will continue to be remade as a high-tech garrison, where the bulk of public expenditure will be devoted towards military purposes abroad. Social programs will increasingly be replaced by naked domestic repression. This basic approach will be replicated in the other major imperialist states.

As for democratic rights, they are far from secure. The actual attitude of the ruling elite on this question has been revealed far more clearly in its actions in the present war, as it bombed Serbian television stations and threatened to close the Internet, than in all its official legal guarantees and public declarations.

To the frustration of government officials, the military brass and the media, the majority of people in the NATO countries are not possessed of war fever. The latter day jingoists are confined largely to the political establishment. The overall mood in the broad public is one of perplexity and disquiet. To the extent that this sentiment has not developed into organized opposition to the war, it is largely the result of the process of political abandonment of masses of people by organizations to which they previously gave their allegiance.

The war has revealed the complete bankruptcy of the established political parties that once presented themselves as the champions of the working class and socialism. From the social democratic, Labor and Stalinist parties have come not merely the supporters, but the leaders, of the present war. To more experienced observers, this does not come as a surprise. Such organizations had long demonstrated their political subservience to the markets and big business and been integrated into the apparatus of imperialism. The war has revealed only the completeness of the process of political decay. Where once they represented an obstacle to the political and economic demands of capital, though not a genuine socialist alternative to imperialism, today they are entirely right-wing bourgeois parties.

The war has illuminated another feature—perhaps better described as a “void”—in the political landscape: the absence of a socially-critical and self-sacrificing intelligentsia. There has been from academic experts virtually no critique of the arguments and assumptions that have served as the justification for the war. To the extent that dissenting intellectual voices have been heard, they come as a rule from the right, demanding a more aggressive policy. Disappeared, perhaps even from memory, are the days of protest, campus teach-ins and scrutiny of the claims of the state.

How did this situation arise? Much can be learned from an analogous political transformation that occurred in the first part of the 20th century. The outbreak of war in 1914 witnessed a whole layer of the labor bureaucracy and social democracy provide political support to the bourgeoisie in each country. Parties and political leaders that had officially adopted policies of opposition to imperialist war abandoned their avowed principles, voted for war credits, and insisted that the working class defend the state. The catastrophic consequences of their decision, which fell most heavily on the European workers, are well known.

Lenin saw the material explanation for this phenomenon in the process of corruption of a segment of trade union officials and social democratic leaders by imperialism. The brutal exploitation of the colonies and the theft of their resources enabled the European bourgeoisie to share enough of its spoils with the official labor leaders to obtain their acquiescence to the dictates of imperialism.

An analogous phenomenon has occurred in the recent period. A whole layer of those who were radicalized by the experiences of Vietnam, the events of May-June 1968 in France and the militant labor conflicts of the late 1960s and early 1970s abandoned, during the past two decades, their opposition to imperialism and reincorporated themselves into the middle class life. Of these ex-radicals, not a few saw their material fortunes skyrocket with the stock market takeoff in the 1990s. This has produced a dramatic realignment in their politics. Some of the most fervent advocates of the present war are drawn from this layer.

The process of enrichment, of course, has not been confined to those with a history of radical politics. As noted above, a small layer, in percentage terms, has grown rich, but this constitutes a significant number of individuals. One percent of the US owns forty percent of its wealth. This speaks to the astronomical living standard enjoyed by more than two and a half million people. Beneath them, an additional ten to twenty percent of the population has seen its fortune grow considerably over the past twenty years. Similar figures could be listed for the other major capitalist countries.

It is from this wealthy layer that the political leaderships of all the official parties, the media, and no small number of academics are drawn. The accumulation of wealth has provided the political cement holding the war drive together and fostering demands for its expansion among the ruling elite.

The Wall Street boom, however, has been a two-sided process. The run-up in share values has demanded the adoption of a new regime of austerity, “labor flexibility” (i.e., job insecurity) and increased exploitation of the laboring population in the imperialist centers and around the world. Just as the production of the nouveau riche in the 1980s and 1990s created a new constituency for imperialism, it created a vastly larger audience for an anticapitalist and antimperialist movement among the international working class. The growth of the world proletariat; the lowering of living standards among the majority of the advanced countries; the impoverishment of much of Asia, Africa, and Latin America; and the declining prospects for youth are leading objectively to a movement of revolutionary social change.

The stage has been set for the transformation of this objective potential into a conscious political force. What is required today, above all, is the struggle for socialism among the workers, intellectuals, and youth who will form the nucleus of such a revolutionary movement. The confusion of Marxism with its reactionary antithesis, Stalinism, must be cleared away through political education. A fight must be taken up against all ideologies that directly or indirectly work to perpetuate the present system. These efforts must find their highest expression in the construction of a unified socialist political party of the international working class. [read more]