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Statement by the Coordinating Committee of The Greens/Green Party USA
Peace Movement AotearoaPO Box 9314, Wellington. Tel (04) 382 8129, fax (04) 382 8173, email@example.com
Issued 27 March, 1999
Stop the NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia
Statement by the Coordinating Committee of The Greens/Green Party USA
The Greens/Green Party USA calls for a halt to the US-led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and demands a return to negotiations and peace monitors under the auspices of the UN, the European Union, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
NATO bombing only makes it harder for the pro-democracy movements of both Serbs and Albanian Kosovars in Yugoslavia. NATO bombing has already worsened the ethnic violence on the ground by providing cover for stepped up action by both the Serbian army and the Kosovo Liberation Army. NATO bombing is helping to defeat the internal democratic opposition inside Serbia by rallying the besieged Serbs to the militaristic forces of Greater Serbian nationalism. It is also heightening the danger of new conflict, possibly nuclear conflict, with an economically desperate Russia by lending credence to the apocalyptic visions of Russia’s militaristic ultra-nationalists.
NATO’s war in Yugoslavia is illegal. Its intervention in a sovereign state has received no sanction from the United Nations. No Declaration of War by Congress has authorized US military operations in Yugoslavia, as our Constitution requires. NATO's charter expressly defines it as a defensive force only.
NATO’s intervention, the biggest military operation in Europe since World War II, is setting dangerous precedents. NATO is arrogating to itself the right to conduct aggressive out-of-area military interventions. Germany is re-establishing itself as a world military power again by conducting its first air strikes since World War II. These actions undermine the UN and strengthen the NATO military alliance as the world’s military enforcer. They shift the balance of power in the world toward US and German imperialism.
NATO’s intervention is an environmental disaster for the peoples of Yugoslavia. The depleted uranium shells used by US forces will jeopardize the health of the people and the land for generations to come.
NATO’s Humanitarian Pretext Is Hypocrisy
We do not for one minute believe the humanitarian pretext for the US-led NATO military intervention. If humanitarian motives guided US and NATO military actions, then they would have intervened long ago to stop the atrocities committed by NATO member Turkey against the Kurds. Why are the US and its NATO junior partners suddenly so concerned about civilian casualties while their sanctions, according to UN estimates, kill 5000 Iraqis a month? Why should we trust a US government whose Orwellian rationale says this war is for peace, that this bombing is to stop the killing of civilians? Why should we trust a US government that sponsored state-terror against Guatemalan civilians for 35 years? Where is US and NATO intervention on behalf of the Chechnyans in Russia, the Palestinians in the Middle East, or the civilians now being slaughtered in the civil wars of Algeria, Sudan, Sierra Leone, East Timor, and many other countries?
The man they now demonize, Slobadon Milosevic, is the man they built up as the “guarantor” of the Dayton peace accords, from which they excluded the Albanian Kosovars. The Rambouillet peace treaty, which NATO says it wants to impose on Serbia, will also have to be imposed on Kosovo as well, because it calls for complete dismantling of the Kosovo Liberation Army and denies Kosovo the independence the majority of its people seek. Several Kosavars who participated in the negotiations refused to sign the treaty. The logic of NATO intervention leads to a NATO protectorate in Kosovo, with NATO troops on the ground for years to come facing hostility from both Serbs and Kosovars. If the US was truly concerned for the Albanian Kosovars, it would have supported their demand for independence for Kosovo at Rambouillet.
No US humanitarian concern was shown for ten years of massive nonviolent resistance by Albanian Kosovars through strikes, boycotts, demonstrations, and alternative institutions after Milosevic revoked Kosovo's autonomy in 1989. Instead, they were excluded from the Dayton accords. Two years ago the KLA suddenly appeared, with weapons and mercenaries supplied by western intelligence agencies, and, as the London Times reported recently, financing from the heroin trade. The KLA's terrorist tactics have derailed the nonviolent mass movement in Kosovo and have given Melosevic the pretext he needed for increased repression. The violent turn in Kosovo follows a pattern that US geopolitical strategies have instigated in the Balkans in the 1990s. It was not humanitarian concerns that motivated the provisions the 1991 US Foreign Operations Appropriations Law concerning Yugoslavia, which cut off aid, credits, and loans to Yugoslavia when it did not hold separate elections in each of its six republics within six months. At the same time, the US was channeling money and arms to fascistic right-wing parties promoting ethnic chauvinism and separatism, parties that had not been seen in the forty-five years since the Nazis were driven out. This US law was adopted in November 1990. By May 1991, the right-wing nationalists had instigated secessionist civil wars in the richer republics, Slovenia and Croatia. In June they declared independence and were promptly recognized by Germany. In 1992 in Bosnia, the most multi-ethnic of the Yugoslav republics, the US sabotaged the agreement reached by Bosnia Muslim, Croatian, and Serb forces by encouraging Alija Izetbegovic, head of a right-wing Muslim party, to unilaterally declare independence under his presidency. In the ensuing deadly civil war, “retired” US generals planned Izetbegovic’s offensives against rival Muslim governments in Bosnia that broke with Izetbegovic and promoted multi-ethnic cooperation. In August 1995, the US generals planned “Operation Storm,” the bloodiest offensive in four years of civil war, where the Croation army drove over 100,000 Serbs from their ancestral homes in Krajina. Time and time again, the US undermined European-brokered peace agreements and encouraged right-wing separatist forces. These US actions were not humanitarian actions. They were about re-balkanizing the Balkans in order to dominate them.
The US and NATO are using the pretext of concern for the rights of Albanian Kosovars as a cover for advancing their economic and geopolitical interests. NATO’s intervention is the way US-led NATO imperialism intends to complete the dismemberment of the former multinational confederation that was Yugoslavia and transform it into a collection of easily dominated ethnic mini-states that are nothing more than NATO protectorates. Whatever its flaws, during the Cold War years Yugoslavia had remarkably carved out for itself a position of neutrality between the super-powers. It challenged both the Western capitalist and Soviet bureaucratic economic models with its experiments in workers’ self-management and market socialism. It federated the long balkanized Balkans. It industrialized more successfully than any other undeveloped East European country. But in 1990, as the Warsaw Pact countries disintegrated, Yugoslavia was one of the last European holdouts against the neoliberal global order that the US and NATO sought to impose. Thus rebalkanization of the Balkans became the strategic objective of the US, Germany, and their NATO allies.
NATO’s bombing in Yugoslavia is an escalation of this policy. US-led NATO imperialism wants to secure pipeline routes and access to Caspian oil and gas in former Soviet republics. It wants to expand profitable exploitation of cheap labor by global corporations. It wants to legitimize NATO’s post cold war mission of being the world’s police force, intervening anywhere unilaterally. It wants to extend US-led hegemony over the entire Eurasian land mass. It wants to justify the enormous expenditures made on new weapons like the Stealth B2 bomber now seeing its first military action in Yugoslavia.
No Easy Answers
There are no easy quick answers to the conflict in Kosovo. Just like Milosevic and the other nationalist regimes in the Balkan states, the US-led NATO forces are trying to resolve a political problem with violent force. Bombing will not resolve ethnic conflict in the Balkans. It will only harden the militarists on all sides and lead to occupation by NATO forces to enforce an unjust peace, which will meet with resistance and the loss of more lives, including American troops. Let us be clear that we oppose Milosevic’s reactionary nationalist project of a Greater Serbia and, in particular, condemn the repressive violence of the Yugoslav army in Kosovo. We also condemn the violence of the Kosovo Liberation Army against Serb civilians. We support the right of Albanian Kosavars to resist Milosevic’s repression and their right to self-determination and independence. We oppose the demonization of the entire Serb population, which of all the Balkan peoples most wanted to maintain a multicultural Yugoslavia. We must distinguish between Milosevic’s chauvinistic nationalism and the democratic movements among the people. We support pro-democracy movements in all the Balkan states.
In particular, we support those democratic movements in the Balkans working for a voluntary confederation of free and equal states on a basis political and economic democracy and respect for ethnic diversity. Only a confederation of democratic republics can have the scale and strength to establish a democratic alternative to the NATO-sponsored neoliberal economic model that is exacerbating regional and ethnic inequalities in the Balkans. It will take many years to develop such an alternative given the legacy of the civil wars of the 1990s. NATO’s intervention now is only strengthening the reactionary ultra-nationalist forces in all ethnic groups. The first victim of NATO’s military intervention are the pro-democracy movements that could begin the process of creating a multicultural democracy in the Balkans. The destruction of any such movements is precisely what the US-led NATO intervention intends, all the talk about humanitarian concerns to the contrary notwithstanding.
Rebuild the Peace Movement
We call for an immediate halt to NATO bombing in Yugoslavia.
We call on the US to re-activate the UN (through the General Assembly, not the Security Council) and the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) to pursue non-coercive diplomacy and peace building steps, including:
We must put the dismantling of NATO high on the peace movement’s agenda. NATO was always been about keeping Europe safe for corporate capital by suppressing radical democratic movements internally as well as by repelling external threats -- real or imagined -- during the Cold War. Now NATO is transforming itself into imperialism’s global police force. It is not in the interests of the majority of Americans, nor is it morally justifiable, for US imperialism, through NATO, to dictate to countries in the Eurasian land mass that they shall remain open to exploitation by US-based corporations. We must also put economic democracy on the peace movement’s agenda. Peace is not a single issue. It is a goal that requires fundamental social transformation. The peace movement must link to all popular movements resisting neoliberal project of deregulated trade and finance as the basis for the globalization corporate power and market forces. These forces certainly contributed to the deterioration of circumstances in the former Yugoslavia by exacerbating inequality between Yugoslavia’s republics, by burdening Yugoslavia with enormous foreign debts in the 1980s, and then by imposing IMF “structural adjustment” austerity instead of the debt relief and aid it gave to Poland and Russia in the 1990s. These forces encouraged the bureaucratic and militaristic elites to enrich themselves from the privatization of Yugoslavia’s enterprises at the expense of the vast majority of Yugoslavs.
Americans are victims of the NATO bombing, too. Resources devoted to US imperial ambitions and the Military/Industrial Complex are resources siphoned away from education, health care, economic security, our decaying cities, and our environment in the US. Rebuilding a peace movement to challenge these priorities is not only needed to enable people in the Balkans to determine their future, it is needed so Americans are free to determine their future as well.
Solidarity with European Greens
We intend to work in solidarity with Greens in Europe to bring an end to NATO's intervention in Yugoslavia and to support a European-based negotiation and peace process seeking resolution of European conflicts by European peoples without coercive interference by the US.. We are disappointed that the German Greens have not come out with an official and forthright statement calling for an end to NATO's military intervention in Yugoslavia, although we know many German Green Party members oppose the bombing.
"The European Greens note:
"The European Greens therefore draw the conclusion that