Disaster in the Balkans - Stop the NATO bombing!

NATO's bombing campaign enters into its third week having achieved none of its alleged "humanitarian aims" but on the contrary having worsened the situation. Thousands of Kosovo Albanians have been forced to flee, Milosevic is stronger than ever and innocent civilians are being bombed all over Yugoslavia while a massive propaganda campaign is launched by imperialism to try and justify its actions. Ted Grant gives a Socialist perspective.

"Something must be done" is the understandable feeling of workers watching the harrowing scenes on our TV screens every evening. The sight of thousands of people herded into giant camps, the pictures of the displaced, the dispossessed and the dead, the screaming children, the helpless pensioners, the hungry and the diseased cannot but stir our emotions.

However, it is said that the first casualty of war is the truth. A malicious NATO campaign of war propaganda and anti-Serb hatred has flooded the media. The plight of the refugees are being deliberately used by NATO and the western powers to whip up public opinion to back their bombing of Yugoslavia. The "support" of NATO has been a cruel deception for the Kosovar Albanians who genuinely believed the allies were coming to their rescue. The bombing campaign, rather than solving the problem, has exacerbated the situation. Milosevic has used the NATO attacks to drive out the ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, threatening the whole stability of the region.

The imperialist powers have no interest in the Kosovar Albanians. They are so much small change, to be used and then discarded. The strategy of NATO is to carve out a base for imperialism in the Balkans under the guise of opposing Milosevic, a man that they deliberately built up in the past when pursuing their aims in Bosnia. He was regarded as the "peacemaker", invited to the Dayton conference, and regarded by America and Britain as "a force for stability in the Balkans". Milosevic was one of "our" dictators - or at least a man with whom we could do business.

According to the Independent’s journalist, Robert Fisk, "Instead of admitting the truth about this conflict, our leaders have consistently lied to us." This is absolutely correct. The diplomacy of the imperialists is shot through with lies, deceit and double-dealing. He continues:

"NATO, remember, was supposed to stand by the Rambouillet peace accords, force Slobodan Milosevic to accept limited autonomy for Kosovo and end the slaughter and ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the Kosovo Albanians. Then NATO troops were to move into Kosovo in order to ‘protect’ the Muslim Albanians and Serb population. And what has happened? Rambouillet is in ashes... At first, we were told that the Serb leader would be forced to end his ‘ethnic cleansing’. The opposite has happened and now we are told - by Robin Cook, no less - that Milosevic will be made to ‘pay the price’, which is not the same thing at all. NATO promised to attack only military targets and, for as long as it thought it could crack the Serb military, that is what it did. But now it is doing just what the Americans did in Iraq - spreading the war to civilian targets, to bridges and electricity stations and factories and refineries, under the spurious excuse that these are also of use to the military. Of course they are - just as roads and railway tracks and water mains are of use to the military. And as we get more desperate, they may well be the next target." (The Independent, 5 April)

Imperialism has never acted in the interests of workers or any oppressed people. Their "concern" for the Kosovars contrasts sharply with their indifference to the plight of the Kurds, oppressed and murdered by a fellow NATO power, Turkey. They stood by while a million Tutsis were slaughtered in Rwanda. On the other hand, in August 1995, the imperialists have been silent over the appalling ethnic cleansing carried out against the Serbs in Krajina by the Croat army. In fact the US supported this invasion, which resulted in more than 200,000 Serbs being driven from their homes and 14,000 killed. In the words of Croatian assembly deputy Mate Mestrovic, the "United States gave us the green light to do whatever had to be done."

We mustn’t be fooled into giving the NATO powers one iota of support, to do so provides no assistance to the Kosovar Albanians, the refugees or any of the peoples of Yugoslavia. The NATO bombing campaign has been an unmitigated disaster. From any point of view, after two weeks their campaign has been a miserable failure. From the point of view of the Kosovar Albanians, and the people of Yugoslavia it has been a catastrophe of historic proportions.

Yet still there is no end in sight to this madness. Rather we have entered a new and even more dangerous phase. The United States, while sweeping aside Milosevic’s cease-fire, stated the bombing will be "unrelenting and unceasing". It is no longer confined to the cover of darkness but takes place day and night. The first US plane has been shot down and, in a separate incident, the first US soldiers have been taken prisoner. The Russians have sent in an aircraft carrier and six "monitoring vessels", the Americans more submarines, and 2000 ground troops to the borders of Kosovo to man mobile rocket launchers.

To have imagined that bombing alone could force Milosevic to capitulate in a few days was sheer lunacy. So what has this two-week long aerial bombardment achieved? The ethnic cleansing of the Kosovar Albanians has accelerated: more than 800,000 have now been displaced, half of them in the last fortnight. A great sea of human misery floods over the borders of Kosovo. Almost a quarter of a million have arrived in Albania, overwhelming the poorest country in Europe; 120,000 in Macedonia further destabilising this key neighbouring state whose government no longer wish to be seen as NATO’s doorway into Kosovo.

Above all, it has strengthened Milosevic’s hand. Under the attacks from NATO, the population has rallied round in self-defence. Those in opposition have been silenced. According to one opponent of Milosevic in Belgrade: "The air offensive has reinforced Milosevic tremendously: and there is no sign of opposition to his policies, however wrong it could be." He went on: "Even people who belong to very determined opposition are firm in their belief that common people never deserved bombing because of Milosevic.

"It sounds sad, but countries in the bombing campaign are regarded as enemies and effectively they are." (The Guardian, 29 March)

The whole of Yugoslavia is suffering the consequences of the NATO bombs. Cruise missiles deliver their payload of "humanitarianism" on Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro, with so-called "smart bombs". The lies about "precision bombing" has been exposed where civilian areas have been struck repeatedly. According to The Guardian: "In Aleksinac, just off the highway from Belgrade south to Kosovo, 12 civilians were killed and around 50 people were injured on Monday night. At 9.45 pm three of NATO’s precision bombs struck. The first gauged a hole in a sugar beet field beside the main road; a second crashed down on the small houses on Kapunka street and the third landed in the Muldinovic back garden, flattening the house and car" (the Guardian April 7, 1999).

It is the horrific sight of fleeing Kosovar Albanians which dominates our newspapers and TV screens. No one can doubt the terror to which many of these people have been subjected. Workers everywhere will rightly condemn the cold hearted cruelty of the Milosevic regime, yet this has only been intensified by the bombing campaign, as we predicted. No one can doubt either that many are fleeing the bombing itself, and no-one can deny that this ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ has intensified sharply in the days since the missile strikes began.

If their intention was to destroy Milosevic’s military machine, they haven’t managed that in 7 years in the Gulf let alone 7 nights in the Balkans. 10 years on from the invasion of Kuwait Saddam Hussein remains in power in Iraq, as we’ve explained elsewhere this was a more preferable outcome for the US than success for the growing revolutionary movement developing in Northern Iraq. It is the tragedy of the peoples of the Balkans throughout history, to act as pawns in the affairs of the big powers. Once again the boundaries of their homes are being redrawn with no reference to their needs or wishes.

In reality the "humanitarian concern" of the imperialists stinks of rank hypocrisy. Clinton made his real intentions clear from the start in an unscripted speech on 23 March when he said "If we’re going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world, Europe has got to be the key." The goal of the action was a Europe "safe, secure, free, united, a good partner with us for trading." Through the New World Order the US has cast itself in the role of the world’s policeman. First in Iraq and now in Yugoslavia, anyone who dares to oppose the dictats of the US must be punished "pour encourager les autres."

Anyone who doubts that this is the real logic behind NATO’s attack should answer the question, why when the campaign is such an appalling failure do they persist? When asked earlier this year what he would do if Milosevic refused to back down in the face of missile attacks Clinton remained silent, but his aide replied, carry on bombing.

They have achieved in ten days what Milosevic was unable to do in ten years, to empty Kosovo. Clinton says that "Milosevic is a dictator who would rather rule over rubble than concede." It seems they intend to prove their point. In the words of the Latin historian Tacitus "they make a desert and call it peace." Reports from the Pentagon claim that the US military are prepared to continue their bombing for four years. In reality that will not be possible. How does such destruction benefit the Kosovar Albanians? How can this be seen as practical assistance?

Nowhere is the nauseating piety of these people more blatantly exposed than in relation to the refugees pouring into Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece and across Europe, adding yet more sticks of dynamite to an already volatile region. The US government, whose overriding concern is "humanitarian", of course, has pledged £7 million in aid. The "invisible" stealth fighter shot down a few nights ago cost $43 million. The contrast requires no additional commentary.

The British Cabinet Minister Clare Short demonstrated her considerable humanitarian credentials declaring that to admit refugees into Britain would only encourage ethnic cleansing! Their real opinion of refugees is amply demonstrated in the new Asylum Seekers bill which is designed to try to prevent refugees from coming into Britain. In short they mouth sympathies with those who’ve lost everything while slamming the door shut in their face. They are more concerned with delivering pompous sermons to justify their military action than they are with the real problems of the Kosovo people.

Having confronted the appalling scenes of the refugee camps in Macedonia in person, Clare Short has been moved to call for some refugees to be allowed into Britain. Exactly how many is undisclosed, and those who do arrive here are to be housed in low security prisons!

In reality the daily display of Albanian refugees is a propaganda exercise on the part of the NATO powers. If they were genuinely concerned for their plight they would stop the bombing. They are silent about the atrocities committed by the KLA against both the Serb minority of Kosovo and ethnic Albanians who did not support their struggle for independence. The KLA are now presented by the Western media as courageous "freedom fighters." We should beware of the old saying that the first victim in any war is the truth.

The original plan of the US involved Kosovo remaining an integral part of Serbia. They were prepared to tolerate Milosevic, as long as he was prepared to accept a NATO occupation of Kosovo. The Marxists on the other hand have consistently opposed the Milosevic regime not just for its poisonous nationalism but also its pro-capitalist direction in breaking up the planned economy.

To date NATO’s campaign has been a disaster, so what will they do next? Until now Clinton and Blair have been terrified of committing ground troops. Even they are able to see that this would lead to terrible slaughter without solving anything. The reaction of the workers of America and Britain can be predicted in advance. At present there is a growing mood both in Britain and the US to send in ground forces. This is the inevitable consequence of the harrowing images depicting the plight of the Kosovar Albanians. "Something must be done to stop this outrage" is a natural conclusion one draws from these wretched scenes. However ground war would be the road to an all-out disaster. Being dragged into a long drawn-out ground war is what the imperialists have always feared. Before the bombing began, Clinton’s military advisers warned him of this danger. However, they arrogantly believed they could bomb Milosevic into submission quickly. Now they will move heaven and earth to prevent such an escalation. There is no guarantee that they will succeed.

Never in its history has imperialism acted in the interests of the working class, or of the oppressed people they cynically claim to defend. Power, privilege, prestige and profit are their only interests, and these considerations alone dominate all their actions.

It was sheer stupidity born of contemptible arrogance to have believed that Milosevic would capitulate so easily. Now the Kosovar Albanians are paying a bloody price for the miscalculation of the NATO allies.

Meanwhile across the world there have been massive protests against the bombing, starting in Serbia where thousands have gathered every night in defiance of the NATO bombing. Anti-war protests have spread to Germany, Austria, Sweden, Spain, the US and many other countries. The demonstrations have been particularly big in the countries closest to the conflict like Italy and also in Greece where there have been violent clashes and mass demonstrations.

Now Greece and Turkey are taking in thousands of refugees creating further instability within these two NATO members, historically opposed to one another across the Balkans. In Italy mass opposition is forcing the D’Alema government into all kinds of twists and turns. In George Orwell’s novel "1984", Britain was renamed Airstrip One, in 1999 Italy seems to have become Airstrip Two for the launch of NATO attacks. Some of the biggest demos have taken place in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, where crowds stormed the US Embassy, now protected by American troops. Above all in Russia there have been mass demonstrations against the bombing. Polls in Russia show 93% opposed to NATO’s actions.

In spite of the G7 powers sending good money after bad, to bribe Russia with aid and loans to the regime through the IMF, the Russians are sending a warship to the Adriatic. This is unprecedented even during all the years of the cold war. No-one should be under any illusions however about the motives behind the actions of the Russian regime. The military elite in Russia have been hit hard by the move in the direction of capitalism. Above all their noses have been put out of joint by the sight of Yeltsin and Co. kow-towing to the demands of US imperialism, while NATO expanded up to Russia’s borders. Now they are acting not in the interests of the people of the Balkans nor the workers of Russia but in their own self interest, using the threat which they claim NATO poses to Russia as an excuse to rebuild their military power. Covertly the Russians and possibly even the Greeks will supply arms to Serbia, their old ally in the Balkans.

The intervention of Russia adds a new dangerous element of instability. Pictures of ‘moderate’ Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova’s meeting with Milosevic were first denounced by NATO as being "two years old". The impression was been given of Rugova being forced to speak at gunpoint. Now apparently he is to travel to Moscow to meet with Russian Premier Primakov. British Defence Minister George Robertson announced on TV that people shouldn’t believe pictures whether "doctored by Belgrade or Moscow." This marks a new deterioration in relations between Russia and the West. That all out Balkan war is now on the agenda as a serious possibility is ample evidence of the fundamentally new situation which exists on a world scale. Not just in terms of the economy, but also in terms of politics and international relations we have entered an extremely turbulent period. The post war years of capitalist upswing and stability are decisively over. There is no more graphic illustration of this than war on the continent of Europe.

If they stumble into a ground war then this would have a logic of its own escalating into a general Balkan war which would be a catastrophe for all the peoples. Practically such a move is fraught with all sorts of complications. How would the troops enter Kosovo? There are only two roads in through Macedonia, where they could easily come under a sustained attack and suffer heavy casualties. The sight of body bags on American TV screens would have a dramatic effect on American public opinion. The same would be the case in Britain.

The use of Macedonia as a back door into Kosovo would inevitably mean dragging Macedonia into the war. Already we can see their government increasingly distancing themselves from NATO’s actions. Mass protests in the capital Skopje resulted in the storming of the US embassy, which is now under the protection of US troops.

The preferred option would seem to be Albania. The US has announced that they intend to deploy 2000 troops there to man ground based rocket launchers. This act alone threatens to drag Albania into the conflict. The arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees has already had an impact. The Democratic Party of ex-dictator Berisha, has demanded that the Albanian government declare war on Serbia. If Albania were dragged in then things can escalate out of control. Albania has a military alliance with Turkey. No doubt Turkish assistance to Albania would be countered by Greek support for their old ally Serbia. Albania has aims of its own in the Balkans. 750,000 Albanians live in the west of Macedonia. Close to a million Kosovar Albanians have now been parcelled out around the region. Together with the 3.2 million Albanians in the Republic of Albania itself, this 6 million population forms the basis of a Greater Albania, just as the interests of the Serbs in Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia form the foundation of a Greater Serbia. The desire of Greece to widen its influence into a Greater Greece and Turkey for a Greater Turkey make the Balkans a time bomb ready to explode at any time. Through their machinations in encouraging the break up of the former Yugoslavia to carve out their own interests, first of all German imperialism by actively supporting the breakaway of Slovenia and Croatia, and now the attempt by the US to establish their presence in the region, it is imperialism that has caused this appalling mess. It is useless to look to them for help. Consequently the break up of Yugoslavia and the collapse of Stalinism brought all the scum of nationalism and capitalism floating to the surface.

Today as a result Kosovo is in flames. Tomorrow if they persist the whole of the Balkans could go up too. However you look at it the use of ground troops would lead to an escalation of the conflict. Just to assemble and deliver the necessary ground forces would require months of never ending escalation without any guarantee of success, or even a phoney victory like in the Gulf. On the contrary the only thing such a move would guarantee would be huge loss of life on all sides. The use of ground troops provides no solution even for imperialism. From the point of view of the working class it would be a catastrophe. The working class of all the NATO powers and everywhere else must oppose such a move and demand an immediate end to the bombing campaign.

If the bombs continue, the only outcome can be further slaughter and a growing danger of descent into an all-out Balkan war.

In recent days there has been a certain change in their declared aims. These seem now to be the right of refugees to return to their homes and the withdrawal of Serb troops from Kosovo. Kosovo would then be turned into a protectorate, in effect an imperialist garrison in the Balkans. They insolently demand that Belgrade accept the dictats of NATO imperialism. They hope this will in some way pave the way to a deal with Milosevic! But this would constitute a humiliating defeat for Milosevic, and lead to his overthrow.

Even if they were allowed to return to their homes, many would not wish to do so while Milosevic remains in power. In some cases they would return to find their houses bombed, and the factories where they worked destroyed. Without any change in the regime in Serbia they would find themselves back at square one, in fact their situation would be worse than before. Every day the bombing continues will see that situation deteriorate still further. These conditions serve to push many towards the KLA, which with arms from Albania, will become a running sore throughout the region. They will retain a base in the refugee camps, but with the methods of individual terrorism, they will never succeed in their guerrilla campaign against Serbia.

This is the inevitable result of relying on imperialism to solve the problems of workers and oppressed peoples. The working class in war as in peace can only rely on their own forces, their own power, their own solidarity and strength.

We opposed this madness from the start. It could never result in any benefit for working people in Kosovo, Yugoslavia, or anywhere else. Moreover the whole operation is proving a disaster for imperialism. Their arrogant attempt to stamp their authority on the colonial peoples and the workers of the west, Russia and so on, to make it clear that anyone stepping out of line would get the same treatment, has only served to expose the limits of their power. Despite the mighty force of their armies and air force, their crushing superiority has been nullified by an attempt to go on the cheap, by bombing alone, for fear of the reaction of the working class at home. In reality they have entered a quagmire, however events now proceed.

War always presents arms manufacturers with the opportunity to display their wares in action. For these profiteers in the trade of death war is a grand weapons exhibitions. Yet they have failed even on this level, the revolutionary ‘invisible’ stealth fighter was not only spotted, but shot down. The ‘infinitely manoeuvrable’ Harrier has been repeatedly forced to abort its missions due to the weather. Apparently they have the wrong type of clouds over Yugoslavia!

War like all great events tests out all policies and organisations.

The lefts in the Labour Party and the Socialist Parties of Europe appeal to the United Nations. As we’ve made clear the UN is powerless, in reality it is the dis-United Nations. The opposition of Russia and China to intervention in Kosovo prevents them using the UN as a fig leaf. It could never solve the problem anyway. The UN has been shown to be an impotent talking shop. The sectarian groups on the fringes of the labour movement are all at sea, seeking a "practical" solution through supporting either the Serb regime or the NATO allies. They reduce the national question to a football match, where we must support one side or the other. Once you lose sight of the class standpoint, on this or any other question, you will quickly be lost. Of course we oppose abhorrent ethnic cleansing and repulsive nationalism. We oppose individual terrorism and state terrorism too. Marxism must base itself on the position of the working class internationally and their interests. They are the only force we support.

The proletariat and its organisations must maintain its class independence offering no support to imperialism whose actions can never be in the interests of working people. We must demand the withdrawal of all imperialist troops from the Balkans. The problem of the Balkans can never be solved under capitalism. The continuation of that system guarantees the people of that region an insecure future. Under Tito the problem appeared to be at least partially solved. However that solution proved to be temporary. Stalinism also has been unable to resolve the national question. Its demise and the movement in the direction of capitalism by these regimes is responsible for the nightmare now confronting all the peoples of the Balkans.

There must be an end to this fratricidal horror. The potential for solidarity amongst the workers of all nationalities is neither abstract nor utopian. In reality such an approach represents the only possible practical and permanent solution.

NATO bombs don’t assist such a development but hinder it, driving sections of the population into Milosevic’s arms. Naturally under heavy bombardment from both missiles and western propaganda, many workers in Yugoslavia opposed to Milosevic’s regime see the main threat to be NATO bombs. Yet the potential for a mass movement against Milosevic is a real one. Only 2 years ago 200,000 protested against the Milosevic regime for 100 days in the winter of 1996-97. The pro-capitalist leaders of the movement however, (many of whom like Vuk Draskovic, the current deputy Prime Minister, have subsequently joined the government) led them down a blind alley.

Historically too there are many examples of heroic struggles by united movements of workers from all the nationalities of the former Yugoslavia. During the Second World War the Croat Ushtashe massacred millions of Serbs. Yet it was the united opposition of the Partisans that defeated the Nazis, and led to the creation of the Yugoslav federation. Although only a partial solution which subsequently broke down as a result of the crisis of Stalinism, the establishment of a federation was only possible as a result of the overthrow of capitalism by a united movement of the working class. Herein lies hope. There are many organisations which still contain workers and students of all nationalities across the former Yugoslavia. A genuine Marxist approach to the national question is the prerequisite for building such a movement.

The Balkan nightmare can only be ended by the united action of the working class, not by supporting one or another of the imperialist powers, nor one or other of the nationalist regimes of the region. Any such illusion masquerading as practical and realistic, is in reality utterly utopian. Given the mixing up of the population throughout the Balkans, where minorities are part of other minorities, the demand for "self-determination" is a cruel deception, one that can only lead to ethnic cleansing and war.

As we explained one year ago in a document called "The Kosovo Pogrom and the Balkan Powder-keg":

"Under the given conditions, so-called "self-determination" is a cruel deception and a mockery. Those half-witted sectarians who imagined that they are great Marxists because they are able to quote a few lines of Lenin taken out of context on the national problem merely reveal their complete ignorance and stupidity in the Balkan situation. Lenin explained a thousand times that the right of self-determination was not an absolute right, but was always subordinate to the general interest of the proletariat and the world revolution. In the given conditions, so-called self-determination is a recipe for endless wars and ethnic slaughter in the Balkans. This cannot be in the interest of any of the Balkan peoples. Only the rival cliques of bourgeois gangsters and Mafiosi can benefit from such an abomination. It is necessary to call a halt to the madness! It is necessary to cut across the national feuds by fighting for a socialist federation of Balkan peoples, with full autonomy to every nationality. In the case of Kosovo, Marxists must defend the oppressed Albanians, who, by a strange twist of fate are not a persecuted minority, but a persecuted majority. They have been turned into pariahs in their own land. International public opinion must be mobilised to oppose the pogroms in Kosovo. But that is not enough. The only way to prevent the further oppression of the people of Kosovo and to solve this question once and for all is through the revolutionary overthrow of Milosevic and his clique. But this can only be done by the Serbian working class. This task cannot be entrusted to the imperialists, who are not concerned about the fate of Kosovo or of any oppressed people in the world, but only in their own narrow and selfish interest. The so-called United Nations is only an auxiliary weapon of imperialism. It does not defend the interests of oppressed peoples but only those of its rich paymasters.

"The question of who overthrows Milosevic is not a secondary one. If he is not overthrown by the working class, there is the danger that Milosevic could be replaced by even more reactionary elements such as Seselj, which would make a bad situation still worse. Nor can terrorist actions help to solve the situation. On the contrary. It will make things worse. The murder of Serb traffic police and civilian settlers by the so-called KLA merely succeeds in enraging Serb public opinion and strengthening the most reactionary chauvinist elements. Such methods have nothing in common with revolutionary Marxism and can only result in a catastrophe for the people of Kosovo. It is one thing to defend the oppressed against pogroms arms in hand. It is another thing to resort to the fruitless and counter-productive tactics of individual terrorism.

"The workers, peasants and students of Kosovo show great courage and resourcefulness. Yet the whole movement lacks a programme, policy and tactics that alone can ensure a lasting victory. The young members of the KLA are brave. But the reliance on the tactics of individual terror is a serious mistake for which they will pay a heavy price. Only an internationalist policy can cut the ground from under the feet of Milosevic by gaining the sympathy and support of the Serbian working class. Worse still are the illusions in the role of NATO, the USA and the EU. These are no friends of the Kosovars! Likewise, there are illusions in the capitalist "market". The main nationalist groups stand for a "market economy, protection of private ownership, free initiative and circulation of goods, foreign investments and integration of the Kosovan economy with the European and world economic structures". This is a recipe for disaster for Kosovo. Just look what happened in Albania with the so-called "market economy"! What is needed is not discredited capitalism but a genuine regime of workers’ democracy.

"The poison of nationalism offers nothing to the peoples of the Balkans but a future of fratricidal war, "ethnic cleansing", economic ruin, poverty and despair. The entirely artificial frontiers that divide the living body of the Balkans have long since ceased to play any progressive role, if they ever did. Reactionary nationalism divides brother from brother, and sister from sister, creating ethnic hatreds and never-ending strife. This was correctly expressed by the President of the Democratic League of Albanians in Montenegro, Mehmet Bardhi in a recent interview to the Serbo-Croat paper Podgornica Pobjeda where he stated that:

"The establishment of good-neighbourly relations with Albania is of mutual interest, as is the development of all forms of co-operation. If we know that a part of the Albanian people lives in Montenegro, separated by the state border, and that its wish is to stay in constant contact, develop its own culture, language, and so on, when we know that on both sides they have relatives, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and so on, then the need for close ties, for opening the border and border crossings, as liberally as possible, the way the free world is familiar with, is more pressing now than it has ever been." But the same thing could be said of Serb, Croat, Greek and Bosnian people who have been split up by the monstrous and arbitrary national boundaries over which men are supposed to fight like mad dogs for the possession of a bone.

"Is it really a utopian position to advocate a policy of class solidarity and internationalism in the Balkans? Petit-bourgeois sceptics tell us that such a policy is rendered inoperable in the face of the apparently invincible forces of chauvinism and national hatred. Yet history has demonstrated that there is nothing inevitable about all this. The ethnic slaughter carried out during the second world war (mainly against the Serbs, let us not forget) did not prevent Serbs and Croats from living together in harmony for decades after the War, when the nationalised planned economy was growing at ten percent a year. Lenin said that the national question was, in essence, a question of bread. On the basis of the socialist transformation of society, the basis could again be laid for a harmonious mingling of the peoples in a democratic socialist federation of the Balkans, linked to a Socialist United States of Europe and a democratic socialist Russia... Far from being "utopian", the programme of the Socialist Federation of the Balkans, with full autonomy for all, is the only viable solution for the peoples of the Balkans." (The Kosovo Pogrom and the Balkan Powder-keg, Alan Woods, March 12, 1998)