Saturday, August 13, 2005

Kosova Genocide 1999 - Made in USA

Kosova genocide: made in USA

By Michael Karadjis

April 7, 1999

According to Warren Zimmerman, US ambassador to Yugoslavia 1989-92, ``Kosovo is to Serbs what Jerusalem and the West Bank are to Israelis -- a sacred ancestral homeland now inhabited largely by Muslims ... the Kosovo issue may have to be settled one day by some sort of partition.''

The idea partitioning Kosova has long been pushed by the father of modern Serb nationalism and ``Yugoslav'' President Slobodan Milosevic's mentor, Dobrica Cosic. For ``Greater Serbia'', Kosova is a problem: ideologically, it is central to the Milosevic regime's nationalist mythology; but ethnically, its inhabitant are 90% Albanian. As long as it remains within the Serbian state, it will be a permanent source of instability.

However, if Serbia can expel at least half the Albanian-speaking population, it can keep the more economically valuable north (where the famous Trepca zinc mines are located) while accepting meaningless ``autonomy'' for an enormous refugee ghetto in the south.

The NATO bombing attacks have led directly to the historic national catastrophe of Kosova's Albanian-speaking people. Milosevic's Serb chauvinist thugs had driven around 200,000 Kosovars from their homes in the past year. Since the NATO attack began, the figures have risen to 500,000 within a week. As thousands of Kosovars pour across the borders of Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro, the complete emptying of a wide arc of Kosova from the south-west to the north-east is taking place. Villages are then burned and passports and ID cards stolen, so that people can never return. When the bombing stops, Milosevic will have completed the job. A new partition, based on the new ``realities'', will be the result of a new ``peace conference''.

Political assistance

Politically, Milosevic has emerged far stronger. Two years ago, Belgrade was the scene of months of gigantic demonstrations against his regime; the opposition won the municipal government. Throughout the last year, ‘Bring Our Sons Home from Kosovo’ committees have sprung up in cities throughout Serbia, restraining the ability of Milosevic to act as brutally as he would need to destroy the Albanian Intifada. A couple of months ago, the Serbian nationalist ultra-right called a demonstration in downtown Belgrade to demand rejecting any compromise on Kosova in the Rambouillet talks; a couple of dozen people turned up, and passers-by paid no attention. This opposition has now evaporated or been driven underground. The mass killer ``Arkan'' praised NATO's actions: ``You have united the entire opposition in Yugoslavia. You have managed to achieve the impossible.'' The last independent medium, Radio B-92, has been suppressed. The Kosovar civil leaders, as well as their journalists, teachers and any leaders the Serb chauvinist forces can get their hands on, are being held captive or in some cases killed. In Belgrade, police raided the offices of the Humanitarian Law Centre, one of the few non-regime sources of information on Kosova. The president of the opposition left-oriented Civic Alliance was press-ganged into the army. ``In one night, the NATO air strikes have wiped out 10 years of hard work of the democratic opposition'', according to Vojin Dimitrijevic, director of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights.

The Montenegrin government, which opposes Milosevic and his Kosova policies, appealed to the West to be left out of any NATO air attacks. Yet Montenegro has been particularly targeted, causing a sharp shift in public sympathies towards Milosevic, according to Serbian opposition sources. The ``Yugoslav'' army has openly declared its opposition to the Montenegrin government. Its fall is now a question of time. As NATO now bombs the Kosovar capital Pristina, including entirely Albanian-populated regions like Vrajevac and Dragodan, it seems NATO is giving Milosevic's thugs a hand in driving out the population.

These facts are so obvious that virtually the whole capitalist media, as well as many ruling-class political spokespeople, have pointed them out, but from the point of view that NATO has ``blundered''. Clinton and company, however, are not as dumb as they look. They knew full well that bombing Serbia would provoke the very national chauvinism that Milosevic's regime is built on. While Serbia was tied down with its ``Vietnam'' in Kosova, trying to fight the armed resistance of the Kosova Liberation Army, Serbian society was becoming increasingly restive. Sooner or later, the Serbian regime would have had to face the consequences of its armed forces being bogged down, especially if the KLA had been able to get better arms supplies.

The NATO attack has now turned this around, as Serbs rally to defend their country -- and, by extension, occupied Kosova -- against a larger foreign aggressor, and respond with a dramatic escalation of the anti-Kosovar genocide, while the KLA does not have the arms to mount an effective resistance.

Long reliance

Despite fierce rhetoric on both sides, the West has long relied on Milosevic as the centrepiece of its strategy in the region. Before his rise to power, he had extensive business links to the US ruling class, particularly the likes of Lawrence Eagleburger and Brent Snowcroft, two key leaders of the Bush administration. The old Yugoslav army had extensive contracts with the US military. Before war broke out in 1991, General Dynamics, for example, was negotiating a multibillion-dollar contract with the Yugoslav army to co-produce the Super Galeb jet fighter.

When Milosevic seized power in the Serbian republic in 1987, he launched the ``Milosevic Commission'' into economic reform, which, through a number of measures in 1988, completely abolished the socialist planning system in Yugoslavia. He also pushed for the recentralisation of the Yugoslav federation, a position also strongly pushed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which were frustrated by the barriers of the republican boundaries to a Yugoslav-wide market ``reform'' and to the ability of the central government to suck out money to pay the U$20 billion foreign debt the ``Communist'' bureaucracy had amassed. This required the scrapping of Yugoslavia's federal constitution, which was based on the official equality of its six constituent republics and two provinces.

Although only autonomous within the republic of Serbia, Kosova was equally represented with all six Yugoslav republics at the federal level, and had its own Territorial Defence Force - partisan-style popular militias which each republican government controlled.

In practice, however, formal equality between the nations of Yugoslavia masked an increasing domination by Serbs in the bureaucracy of privileged officials. Serbs, with 40% of Yugoslavia's population, made up 73% of the federal bureaucracy and 70% of the military officialdom. By contrast, Albanian-speaking Kosovars, with 8% of the population, made up only 1% of army officers. Economically, while Serbia's and Croatia's GNPs as a percentage of the Yugoslav total were roughly proportional to their share of Yugoslavia's population, Kosova's GNP percentage was only one quarter of its share of the population.

As they began to transform themselves into capitalist classes in the late 1980s, the republican bureaucracies turned to overt nationalism as their new ideology. Nationalism aimed to smash the class solidarity of Yugoslav workers. Across Yugoslavia in 1987, the multi-ethnic working class launched 1700 strikes against the IMF austerity programs.

But by late 1988, Milosevic had managed to turn sections of the Serb working class against their fellow workers by mobilising them on the basis of national chauvinism against all the ``enemies of the Serb nation'', who were supposedly responsible for their economic woes. The Serbian anti-Communist intelligentsia released its famous ``Memorandum'' claiming that Tito's Communists, by dividing Yugoslavia into equal federal units, had set out to ``destroy the Serb nation''. The ``Chetniks'', who had fought against the partisans in World War II, were revived and became the chief allies and shock troops of the Milosevic movement.

For a time, this Serb nationalism coincided with the IMF push for centralisation, because Serb forces dominated federal institutions. Control of the army also allowed the Serbs to illegally disarm the territorial defence forces of the republics, with the strong support of Western governments.

Autonomy abolished

In 1989, the federal constitution was ripped up when the Milosevic regime overthrew the governments of Kosova, Vojvodina and Montenegro, abolishing the autonomy of the first two. Since that time, it has instituted a policy of apartheid in Kosova and brutally suppressed all attempts at peaceful Kosovar opposition. Faced with this, the underground Kosova provincial assembly exercised its right to self-determination under the constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and declared Kosova independent of Serbia in 1990. A subsequent referendum found virtually the entire Kosovar population in favour of independence. Abolition of autonomy was in line with the IMF demands to lessen republican boundaries and with the ``Memorandum'' policy of constructing a ``Greater Serbia''.

Three years after Milosevic's rampage began, the inevitable reaction occurred - in Croatia, the Croat nationalist Franjo Tudjman was elected president. The Croatian and Slovenian regimes called for Yugoslavia to become a loose confederation - the opposite of IMF policy. When Tudjman went to the White House to argue for confederation in 1990, he was told ``coldly'' by Snowcroft and Henry Kissinger that the US supported the unity of Yugoslavia ``at all cost''.

The Yugoslav army began arming Chetnik forces in Croatia and Bosnia, which took military control of ethnically mixed regions, expelling the non-Serb populations. In March 1991, one such Chetnik-controlled zone in Croatia declared ``independence''. This led to the declaration of independence by Croatia and Slovenia in June 1991.

Just as the Yugoslav army prepared to attack Croatia and Slovenia, US Secretary of State James Baker went to Belgrade in June 1991 to declare US support for Yugoslav unity and denounce the secession of the two republics.

While the Yugoslav army stepped up its attack on Croatia, with the destruction of entire cities like historic Vukovar and the expulsion of 500,000 Croats from Chetnik-controlled areas, the US, Britain and France pushed an arms embargo on Yugoslavia through the UN. Since the Yugoslav army was massively armed – the fourth largest military machine in Europe - the effect of the embargo was to further disarm the Croatian defenders.

Nevertheless, by the end of the year, having managed to seize some heavy weaponry by besieging Yugoslav army barracks, Croatia was turning back the Serbian offensive. As Croatian forces advanced, the West stepped in. Former US secretary of state Cyrus Vance, now acting for the UN, hammered out a cease-fire. UN forces entered the Chetnik-controlled parts of Croatia, hence freezing the confrontation lines and leaving the Chetniks in control of one third of Croatia.


More significantly, Vance allowed the Yugoslav army, by now a Serb rump, to take all the heavy weaponry, which had belonged to all Yugoslavs, as it withdrew into Bosnia, its next target. The US rulers knew the Serbian/Yugoslav army was already digging trenches around Sarajevo and other Bosnian cities; the world knew that Milosevic and Tudjman had met to plan the partition of Bosnia between them. In the Bosnian parliament, Chetnik leader Radovan Karadzic had already declared that unless Bosnia remained within Milosevic's ``Yugoslavia'', the Bosnian Muslims would ``disappear from the face of the earth''. Vance knew exactly what he was doing. Milosevic's aim had become a Greater Serbia over as much of the old Yugoslavia as possible, even where Serbs were only a small minority.

The European Community finally recognised Croatia and Slovenia in January 1992 – 6 months after the slaughter in Croatia by the Yugoslav army had been launched. But it held off recognising Bosnia while Brussels drew up an ethnic partition plan, as demanded by Milosevic and Tudjman. That this was impossible due to the total intermingling of Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats, Bosnian Muslims and mixed Bosnians was of no concern to the EC; on the contrary, the destruction of the class solidarity of the workers embodied in Bosnia's multi-ethnic society and institutions was the aim of the Western powers. The EC-Serb partition plan was drawn up before the ethnic cleansing began, and hence was not a matter of accepting ``reality on the ground'', but quite the opposite. The West and its financial institutions expressed discomfort with too many ``small states'' which would not be ``economically viable'', i.e., would be unable to pay back their share of the Yugoslav debt, and would be sources of instability. Milosevic's Serbia and Tudjman's Croatia now would be the joint enforcers of stability. The partition of Bosnia between them would bring a new agreement between these two powerful states, their new ruling classes and the ethnically ``homogenised'' nation-states they were building.

While Chetnik forces, backed by the Serbian army with all the heavy weaponry given them by Vance, launched genocide against Bosnia's Muslims, killing 150-200,000 people and driving one and a half million from their homes, the major Western intervention consisted of NATO enforcing the arms embargo against Bosnia in the Adriatic Sea while British and French UN forces did the same at Bosnia's airports. For three and a half years, this pattern continued, the West the whole time demanding that Bosnia accept partition as demanded by the Serb and Croat regimes.

Ultimately, in the Dayton Accords in late 1995, a ``Serb republic'', with its own army, was set up in half of Bosnia from which the bulk of Croats and Muslims had been expelled. Milosevic and Tudjman were the beneficiaries of Dayton, essentially having their partition plan fulfilled. Milosevic was thus still seen as a strategic partner of the US, whatever the rhetoric; as US chief Dayton negotiator, Richard Holbrooke, put it, Milosevic was a man you could “do business with.”


Kosova remained a problem for Serbia. As long as the situation was quiet, however, the US and other Western governments paid no attention to the horrendous oppression there. At Dayton, Kosovar leader Rugova had appealed to have Albanian grievances heard, but he was ignored by the US. While a Bosnian Serb gangster ‘republic’ was set up in half of Bosnia from which the non-Serb plurality of the population had been expelled, Kosova, with its natural 90% Albanian majority, was denied even a return to legal autonomy, let alone republic status.

Why did the Western powers change their attitude toward Milosevic's policies in Kosova in 1998? The only thing that had changed inside Kosova was the rise of the KLA as an independent armed force. The US has remained implacably opposed to Kosovar independence, which is seen as upsetting the new balance in the region and encouraging struggles for national self-determination elsewhere. Washington, above all, is opposed to an armed resistance outside its control and which, if successful, could destabilise pro-Western governments in Albania and Macedonia. However, Milosevic's ethnic cleansing also threatens the same instability, as waves of Kosovars are driven into these countries.

The ``autonomy'' plan put by the US was initially rejected by the KLA because it falls far short of even the constitutional autonomy which was abolished in 1989. As one Kosovar negotiator put it, it was “not even worth looking at.” At least in the pre-1989 autonomy, Kosovars had their own armed forces; under the US plan, the most they are allowed is ``municipal police''. For Milosevic, however, even this was too much, because bringing Kosovars back into the body politic of Serbia meant their votes would have threatened his rule. Thus the preference for a massive cleansing to pave the way for partition.

By attaching the condition that a NATO occupation force be sent in to enforce the deal, the US guaranteed Milosevic's rejection. This has allowed the US to use NATO for its first ever ``out of area'' action, without any UN cover - a long-term goal of US post-Cold War foreign policy in itself, quite apart from any specific goals in Kosova. It has also allowed Milosevic to attempt genocidal ethnic cleansing of the ‘Palestine 1948’ level in Kosova so as to pave the way for a Bosnia-style partition.

To achieve this, the US had to blackmail a section of the KLA to surrender its historic demand for independence and accept some vague promise of “autonomy” (like that the Indonesian regime is currently offering the East Timorese), and place its faith in NATO to defend Kosovars from genocide. As a consequence, this now also means that the KLA leadership, while launching an entirely justified resistance to defend their people’s very right to exist, has signed on as accomplice to NATO’s brutal attack on Serb civilians. Ironically, this intensifies the same kind of division between the Serb and Albanian working classes that Milosevic has been pushing over the last decade.

Adem Demaqi, who led the KLA politically for the second half of 1998, until its leaders signed the Rambouillet agreement, denounced this agreement as an attempt to ``convince Albanians to accept capitulation, by launching illusions and empty promises''. The world capitalist media denounced Demaqi as a hardliner, yet in fact Demaqi had long proposed that an independent Kosova could, on the basis of complete self-determination and independence, then join with Serbia and Montenegro in a new, equal federation, which he called ‘Balkania’. These ideas gained wide support from Serbian opposition elements in a wide-ranging ``Serbian-Albanian'' dialogue held in 1997 under the auspices of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia. Such ideas were of no interest to the US or Milosevic.

Demaqi resigned from the KLA leadership as it accepted the US plan. The illusions Demaci spoke of have led to a national catastrophe for the Kosovars, as NATO concentrates on bombing outback Serb military barracks and storehouses, mostly in Serbia, and increasingly Serb civilian targets like passenger trains, to try to effect a capitulation, while meanwhile in Kosova, in the first two weeks, not a single Serbian tank has been hit, as Milosevic’s troops and paramilitaries, with their 400 tanks and massive quantities of heavy weaponry, have driven 500,000 Albanians from their country with impunity.

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