ANCIENT HATREDS AND MODERN DEMONS: The Double Bind on Popular Dissent

Matthew C. Ally



Karsten Struhl



Ecological Devastation Crushes Yugoslavia

Report From the Belgrade Zoo

Who Are the Real Terrorists?

Images and Holocausts

Germany’s Secret Documents

Beating Plows Into Evacs

Television Station Bombed

Just How Did the US Flag Acquire All Those Stars?

Mitchel Cohen


VOICES FROM BELOW: Collateral Damage, Incoming!

Biljana Marjanovic



Omar Dahbour



Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis


BOMBING THE BRIDGE TO THE 21ST CENTURY: Behind NATO’s Bombardment of Yugoslavia

Mitchel Cohen


IS NATO A KILLER COP? A View from the Russian Democratic Left

Alexander V. Buzgalin


ANOTHER INVENTED ENEMY? A Call for a New Peace Movement

Betsy Bowman and Bob Stone


Carl Lesnor









Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis


The NATO-Yugoslavia war should be understood in the context of the major developments that have shaped politics in the Balkans and internationally through the 1980’s and 1990’s. Prime among these developments are: the process of "economic globalization," by which international capital has imposed a neo-liberal agenda on every region of the world, and placed much of the Third World and the former socialist countries under the tutelage of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank; the crisis of state-communism in Central and Eastern Europe (in large part activated by the adoption "market reforms"), which has opened the way for the establishment by the US and its European allies of a new global hegemony; the deepening capitalist crisis (reflected in the collapse of the Asian economies, and the profit stagnation in Europe), which has accelerated the rush of corporate capital to commercially exploit new areas of the world and find new sources of cheap labor; and the renewed assertion by the US as a global force, as the leading capitalist nation and the prime military defender of the so-called "free market."

Viewed in the context of these developments, NATO’s attack on Yugoslavia – the last act in the dismemberment of what used to be the Yugoslavian Federation – achieves many objectives.

The most explicit one is the enlargement of NATO through its eastward expansion. Promoted as a doctrine by the Clinton Administration since 1994 and already put into practice with the establishment of a NATO protectorate in Bosnia, and with the entry earlier this year of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic into the alliance, this expansion foresees the construction of one capitalist bloc stretching from the Adriatic to the Russian border (adoption of market reforms being a condition for integration).

In other words, the war paves the way for the expansion of "free-market capitalism", making the region safe for European and US investment, and it removes one of the last obstacles to NATO’s dominance in the Balkans. The destruction of Yugoslavia marks the end of the last Central European country to resist NATO’s agenda for the region, and the "market reforms" prescribed by the World Bank and the IMF, as a condition for the transition of the former socialist countries to capitalism.

Until 1999, Yugoslavia maintained in part the economic system created during the Tito era, in which major industries were state-owned, factories self-managed, and unemployed workers and farmers received subsidies. (In July of 1994 the Serbian National Assembly passed "a law on the revaluation of privatized assets, which halted the privatization process;" so that by the late 1990’s, "the private sector accounted for only some 15%-20% of the business sector.") Similarly, the Yugoslavian agricultural sector in the late 1990’s still operated according to the system inherited from the Tito period: a combination of large socialized farms and small private ones.

More than two months of relentless bombing and 30,000 air raids have accomplished what the World Bank and IMF could not: they have pulverized Yugoslavia’s industry and reproductive infrastructure (factories, roads, railroad lines, bridges, power plants); dismantled the last state-owned industries, depriving the Yugoslavian people of viable means of survival, other than emigration, or acceptance of work at any condition; and making sure that the country has no alternative but integration within the ‘global economy’ and privatization.

This outcome is especially important for the NATO "free-traders" considering that resistance to "market reforms" has been strong also in the rest of Eastern Europe, as witnessed by the case of Romania, where earlier in 1999, the coal miners had to be defeated militarily after an intense confrontation with the government, which was pressured by the IMF to close the mines. (After thousands began to march on the capital, resisting the police sent to crush them, the miners were attacked by the army which arrested their leaders, and smashed their buses to prevent them from going again to the capital to press their demands). Also in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic the enthusiasm for "market reforms" is much less intense than the zest with which workers destroyed the symbols of Soviet power. In fact, only the intervention of US companies, with a well-financed publicity campaign, promising prosperity around the corner, could convince the population there to vote in favor of entry into NATO.

In this context, the defeat of Yugoslavia serves to demonstrate that there is no alternative to neoliberal capitalism and the futility of resistance to it. That the Yugoslavian Federation was, for 40 years, a model example of socialism and multicultural coexistence makes this defeat even more crucial. There is a continuity, here, between the attack on Yugoslavia and the anti-communist crusades that the US has launched against Vietnam, Nicaragua, Grenada, Angola, Mozambique – all countries where socialism had emerged out of mass, popular struggles, and that were consequently subjected (like Yugoslavia today) to a relentless process of destruction and recolonization.

Moreover, the war on Yugoslavia created the conditions for the militarization of an area that is rich in mineral resources, such as uranium, silver, lead, zinc, and is strategically located at the cross-roads between Eastern, Central Europe and the Middle East, thus being one of the world’s most important trade routes (the Danube, which connects Yugoslavia to several Balkan countries, serves the shipping needs of a sizable area of Europe).

This trend lays the ground work for the weakening and encirclement of Russia, and the thwarting of its attempts to rebuild its ties with the countries of the "Near Abroad": Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Kazakhstan.

The lynch-pin of this strategy is the commercial exploitation of the Caspian Sea region. This area holds some of the world’s largest oil fields, and whoever controls its wealth, and the means by which the oil is transported to Western Europe, can substantially influence the politics of the region.

Thus, the Clinton Administration has made it clear that it is not willing to allow Russia to enjoy this privilege. To pre-empt the possibility that Russia might gain from the Caspian Sea oil reserves, the Clinton administration has embarked on a costly project in which political goals prevail over immediate economic ones. This is the construction of a pipeline running from Baku on the Caspian Sea to the port of Ceyhan in Turkey, which by-passes the Russian and Iranian pipeline systems.

For this strategy to succeed, however, the Clinton Administration must convince the Russians that NATO is willing to use all its might to discourage any interference with this project. It must also assure the leaders of the Central Asian republics that the US will back them up in case of a Russian invasion; and reassure as well the oil companies – Mobil, Chevron, Shell, British Petroleum, Agip (Italy), Total (France) – that the US will protect their multi-billion dollar investments.

Now, with the war against Yugoslavia, the ‘deal’ has been sealed. Whatever else this war may have accomplished, of one thing we can be sure: not only has Russia been put on the alert that the US is "still the big boy on the block," (in the words of a US diplomat quoted in "A New Big-Power Race Starts on a Sea of Crude," New York Times, Jan. 24, 1999), but no effort has been spared to establish Russia’s irrelevance in international politics – a high-risk provocation that cannot have been unintended.

There are other advantages the US and EU can draw from this war. Among them is the consolidation of the US’s leadership in European affairs, once seemingly threatened by the prospect of Europe’s political and monetary union offsetting Washington’s influence in world affairs. With this new military intervention in Yugoslavia (after that in Bosnia), the US can again position itself as a "European power" (Holbrooke, 1995), the main architect of the new European world order, together with a once again powerful Germany eager to reshape the East as its economic backyard.

The humiliation of Russia, in fact, goes hand in hand with the relaunching of the US-EU alliance. For all the trade rivalries, the US and Europe still have many common interests, all being played out in the war.

The German-led EU needs US military might if it wants to pry open the economies of the East to its exports and already substantial capital investments, and to gain access to the newly discovered Caspian oil reserves. A force of 50,000 NATO troops (stationed in Kosovo) will also be a reassuring presence for European governments at a time when many are warning that the monetary union "is an unprecedented high risk gamble" that sooner or later will face a crisis, possibly tearing Europe apart socially and politically. For Europe’s poorest countries will be hard pressed to cut all social entitlements to keep up with fiscal and monetary requirements that have been set by Germany, and therefore, are shaped by the needs of Europe’s most powerful economy. Already, all EU governments are waging an assault on their countries’ pension systems – which will now have to be sacrificed – to pay for the war in Yugoslavia.

Indeed, the bombs dropped on Yugoslavia are meant to explode in Europe and the US as well, if the philosophy recently put forward by the Wall Street Journal – "we would rather pay for bombs [on Yugoslavia] than for the Social Security Trust Fund" – does express the spirit of the day ("From Pentagon to Triangle," Wall Street Journal editorial, 5/17/99).



Silvia Federici, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Political Philosophy and International Studies at New College of Hofstra University. She is a member of the Radical Philosophy Association’s Anti-Death Penalty Project and a coordinator of the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa. She has written extensively on social and political issues and has edited Enduring Western Civilization: The Construction of the Concept of the West and its "Others", published by Praeger Press.

George Caffentzis, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern Maine. He is a member of the Radical Philosophy Association’s Anti-Death penalty project and a coordinator of the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa. He has written many articles and books on social and political themes, and has co-edited Midnight Oil: Work, Energy, War, 1973-1992, published by Autonomedia Press.