AGAINSTNATO'S WAR IN YUGOSLAVIA
Matthew C. Ally
Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis
Alexander V. Buzgalin
Betsy Bowman and Bob Stone
IS NATO A KILLER COP?
A View from the Russian Democratic Left
Alexander V. Buzgalin
transcribed and edited by Elizabeth A. Bowman, Ph.D.
When NATO started bombing Yugoslavia, the reaction in Russia was shock. For the majority of ordinary Russians, NATOs attack was not simply an attack in central Europe, it was an attack against international laws, against the Slavic people, and it also poses a direct threat to Russia. The Russian elite from Zhirinovsky to Zyuganov considers that this represents the beginning of a new epoch in world history; the beginning of the recolonization of the world with brute, military force as the main means of resolving international problems.
The Reasons for NATOs War
The Russian democratic left does not believe that NATO is bombing for humanitarian reasons. Rather, NATOs goal is to show who is the real master of the world today, that is to say the US. This new strategy in global relations is illegal according to international legislation, and it is killing hundreds and hundreds of innocent men, women and children, not just soldiers. That this is happening in Kosovo is very alarming because it is a real war in the center of Europe in the region where WWI started. NATO bombing in the region where WWI started is an arrogant display of power designed to show who is master in todays world, a world where there is no longer the counter super power of the Soviet Union.
A further reason for NATOs bombing is economic. All operations of such scale and expense benefit some sectors of society. First of all it is profitable to American transnational corporations (American financial capital), because this war destabilizes Europe and renders the political situation in Europe unpredictable, while at the same time jeopardizing investments in Europe. The financial markets reacted very quickly to this bombing, and the dollar was strengthened relative to the Euro, the new European currency which is a potential competitor to the dollar in the 21st century. The traditional economic reason is also valid: increasing the military budget and creating opportunities for a new wave of expansion of military expenditures (expenditues which are profitable everybody knows for whom).
A third reason is geo-political. Serbia is the only country with independent politics in the Balkan region. This region is extremely important as it is the direct corridor from western European countries to central Europe, Asia, Turkey, etc. It is imperative that NATO create a satellite state in this region to replace the independent, "unfriendly" one. All western European countries are to be members of NATO and satellites of the US, the only leader in western Europe.
A fourth reason for NATOs war is to show that the Clinton Administration is strong after the Clinton scandal and impeachment. The best way to show strength is to start a local war, as Yeltsin did in Chechnya. At a time when Yeltsin was nearly completely discredited four years ago, his best show of strength was a local war.
But it is equally important to show that this war is bloody and destructive. Although the US mass media only gives news of refugees, the bombing is killing many people and destroying the infrastructure in Yugoslavia. Its results could be similar to those in Chechnya: more than 50,000 people dead; nearly 70% of all buildings, industry and infrastructure destroyed, and an unstable independence with different warring clans. Yugoslavia deserves a better future than this.
Can NATO Establish Democracy in Yugoslavia?
Military aggression does not establish democracy. The struggle of the Albanian people for an autonomous republic, for their form of self-determination which they must elaborate themselves on the basis of real democratic elections, cannot be achieved by NATO. NATO cannot be the policeman who will organize order and create the basis for democratic elections. The analogy between NATO and the policeman is used by a great number of people who support NATO. But no single country nor single military block can constitute an international police force. As seen recently in New York City, there were some accidents with policemen who became killers of ordinary people. Rather than ask a killer cop to stop his criminal behavior, the killer cop must be stopped. NATO has proven that it is a killer cop, and that it can break any international laws.
In short, NATO is realizing geo-political, economic interests of American and European transnational corporations and financial capital. If it were a defender of human rights, it would have bombed Ankara when Turkey started the oppression of the Kurdish people; it would have bombed Moscow when Yeltsin started the war in Chechnya. There are many other atrocities in the world that went "unpunished" by the US and NATO. An international force under the supervision of the UN is the only possible way of forcing a country to observe human rights.
The shock NATOs bombing caused in Russia cannot be underestimated. For many days, there were demonstrations near the American Embassy. For the first time since 1991, thousands of young people were saying "no!" to Western power. It was a demonstration of anti-NATO, anti-American establishment feelings of young people, middle-aged people, as well as old people.
The reaction of the political elite is ambivalent. For the Russian democratic left, the most dangerous result of NATOs war is a growth in nationalism in Russia. Nationalist forces have started asking to send volunteers and arms to Serbia. Unqualified support for Serbia without any questioning of the policies of Milosevic is on the rise. The two main forces behind this nationalist wave are the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) led by Zyuganov, and the so-called Liberal Democratic Party led by Zhirinovsky. In addition to the nationalist forces, Yeltsin also supports Serbia. Though he is well known as being pro-US and for having tried to establish friendly relations with NATO, even Yeltsin conceded that NATO is acting as an international policeman. Yeltsin will not send troops to Serbia nor break with NATO, but Russia cannot accept such behavior and Yeltsins declation is indicative of the contradictory tendencies in Russia. Even the very far right of the Russian political spectrum, the Business Right Movement led by very well-known pro-western politicians (Yegor Gaidar, Anatoly Chubais) have condemned NATOs war. The growth of nationalism is extremely dangerous in the Russian context. On the other hand, the disillusionment and disenchantment with the US on the part of the majority of Russians is positive in our view. Russians no longer hope that NATO, the American establishment and its international corporations will bring democracy, freedom and prosperity to Russia. The policies of so-called shock therapy have created the catastrophic economic crisis in Russia and the authoritarian Yeltsin regime. Now, NATOs war shows that Russia cannot even hope for relations with the west that are peaceful, based on mutual respect, and based on international laws. Russians were told that NATO is a strictly defensive alliance and that its inclusion of eastern European countries was in no way a threat to Russia. Now, no one trusts NATO. Maybe some region of Russia will be NATOs next target. NATO brings to the world not peace but bombs.
Russia is undergoing a move from reforms of shock therapy to a statist, nationalist, bureaucratic capitalist transformation. While this may be less destructive of Russian industry and its system of social guarantees, it can be more dangerous for human rights and internationalist tendencies. The war could initiate the creation of an anti-NATO political and military block including perhaps China, Iraq, Iran, and other fundamentalist, reactionary political regimes. This war could lay the ground for a future confrontation, a future second Cold War in which NATO will be one pole and Russia will be another pole, whose poor and angry population nurtures chauvinistic ambitious and whose unreliable leadership such as Yeltsins have nuclear weapons. Thats why NATOs war is also dangerous for the global geo-political situation.
Measures that support peace in Yugoslavia are within reach. First of all, the bombing must be stopped. Secondly, a new round of negotiations must be initiated. Such negotiations should include international troops (not NATO troops) or UN observers.
No doubt the current war in Yugoslavia is just another episode in the process of what is called "globalization", but what is more accurately described as the imposition of global hegemony of US/European transnational corporations. We on the democratic left need to organize an international campaign, a coalition of internationalist forces in the US, Russia, Germany, eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia. We need to form a movement similar to the anti-Vietnam war movement in the 1960s. We can then together join and support local struggles such as the struggle against the bombing of Iraq, against Yeltsins war in Chechnya, and those which will surely follow.
© 1999 Humanities Press
Alexandr V. Buzgalin, Ph.D., is Professor of Ecnomics at Lomonosov Moscow State University and Chairman of the International Association of Scholars for Democracy and Socialism.