BY MARTÍN KOPPEL
Since early December, daily flights of C-130 military transport planes have been shuttling U.S. soldiers and weaponry into Bosnia. They are the first of 20,000 U.S. troops that will be part of a NATO occupation force of 60,000.
Washington has launched an aggressive propaganda campaign to justify this new drive toward war in Yugoslavia. President Bill Clinton set the tone in a December 2 address to thousands of U.S. troops stationed in Baumholder, Germany, who were headed for Bosnia. Stressing that the soldiers would be heavily armed, he said, "If you are threatened with attack, you may respond immediately and with decisive force." Clinton's speech was greeted by cheers and applause.
"There could be incidents with people who have still not given up their hatred," the president emphasized. "Everyone should know that when America comes to help make the peace, America will still look after its own."
In his talk to the members of the U.S. army's First Armored Division Clinton evoked Washington's previous "call to war" in North Africa and Europe during World War II, and the massive U.S. deployment on European soil in the following decades.
Hailing the contingent's involvement in the final bloodbath of the Gulf war in February 1991, Clinton proclaimed, "In just 89 hours of combat, you destroyed 440 enemy tanks, 485 armored personnel carriers, 190 pieces of artillery, and 137 air defense guns. You should be very proud of that remarkable record." Left out were the 150,000 fleeing Iraqi soldiers and civilians who were slaughtered in that assault, which the U.S. military brass called a "turkey shoot."
Clinton claimed that this time the U.S. military is being mobilized "not with a call to war, but a call to peace." Their purpose, he said, is to enforce a U.S.- brokered "peace" deal signed in Dayton, Ohio, which calls for the partition of Bosnia.
An initial contingent of 2,500 NATO troops, including 700 U.S. soldiers, arrived in Yugoslavia by mid-December and thousands more are on their way. In addition, U.S. defense secretary William Perry ordered 3,800 reservists to prepare for duty, including National Guard troops from Puerto Rico. The U.S. force is bringing dozens of M-1A1 tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, Apache and Kiowa combat helicopters, and planes.
Of the 60,000-strong NATO force, dubbed "Operation Joint Endeavor," 10,000 will be sent from France, 13,000 from the United Kingdom, and 4,000 from Germany - the biggest German military deployment since World War II. The troops from 15 NATO members will be joined by units from Russia, several other Eastern and Central European countries, Pakistan, and possibly Egypt, Bangladesh, and Malaysia.
Bosnia divided into imperialist `sectors'
Washington, Paris, and London have already drawn up plans to carve Bosnia into three military "sectors" under their respective forces' control (see accompanying map). Most of the U.S. troops are to be based in the northeastern city of Tuzla, headquarters of the U.S. sector. The British sector is in the northwest and the French will be around Sarajevo and in Gorazde in the south.
Bosnia divided into imperialist `sectors'
Clinton was in Paris December 14 for the formal signing of the Bosnia partition treaty, which was signed by presidents Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia, and Franjo Tudjman of Croatia. Clinton - who had to travel in Paris by helicopter due to the mass strikes and protests paralyzing that country - signed as a witness along with French president Jacques Chirac and prime ministers Helmut Kohl of Germany, Viktor Chernomyrdin of Russia, and Felipe González of Spain, current president of the European Union.
The day before, the Republican-led Senate voted 69-30 in support of the deployment of U.S. troops in the Balkans. The measure was sponsored by Republican senators Robert Dole from Kansas and John McCain from Arizona.
"The decision's been made, the deployment started," Dole argued. He began his speech by declaring that the Senate resolution was not an endorsement of President Clinton, but rather "support for our men and women in uniform."
"This is no Gulf of Tonkin resolution," Democratic Party senator Edward Kennedy said, referring to the vote in Congress that set the stage for massive U.S. military intervention in Vietnam. "The military mission [in Yugoslavia] is limited and achievable."
"Stability in Europe and the continued viability of NATO are our vital interests," said Democratic Party senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, in pushing for Washington's intervention. "And they are at issue today in the Balkans."
The House of Representatives previously voted to oppose the U.S. troop deployment. But on December 13 it passed a resolution similar to the one in the Senate. Several congresspeople who earlier expressed opposition to sending troops came out in support after traveling to Sarajevo. Republican congressman Sam Brownback, for example, said following his visit that he was now concerned about "the humanitarian issue" and that "U.S. leadership could stop more of the suffering."
On the other hand, ultrarightist politician Patrick Buchanan, one of the Republican contenders in the U.S. presidential race, has criticized the Clinton administration for sending troops to Bosnia. In a December 3 syndicated column, Buchanan explained his position. "This is not isolationism; it is Americanism," he insisted. While arguing that "no vital U.S. interest is at risk" in the Balkans today, he said Washington should "strike hard any enemy that strikes us."
Buchanan's view, however, is not supported by most other conservative or right-wing politicians. On his radio program, Oliver North, notorious for helping to organize Washington's mercenary war against the Nicaraguan revolution under the Reagan administration in the 1980s, urged listeners to support the U.S. troop deployment while criticizing the way the White House has handled the matter.
Meanwhile, capitalist politicians and commentators have been stepping up the pro-war propaganda, directed particularly against Muslim "zealots" and Serbs.
Government officials have suggested a scenario of U.S. troops being attacked by some of the several hundred volunteer combatants from Iran, Afghanistan, and other countries who have been fighting in Bosnia on the side of the government there. The Associated Press quoted an unnamed Pentagon official who warned about fighters in Bosnia who "are there to propagate their Islamic agenda" and who supposedly might attack U.S. troops with truck bombs.
The big-business press has also painted Serbs as a legitimate target of attack by NATO, seizing on accounts of atrocities committed by the chauvinist Serb forces led by Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. A December 8 article in the Christian Science Monitor raised the specter of Serbian "snipers" in Sarajevo. The same article made a point of noting that Serb protesters at a rally in Grbavica had "stomped on an American flag."
On December 13, many reports in the big-business press quoted Vojlislav Maksimovic, the self-declared mayor of parts of Sarajevo held by pro-Belgrade Serbs. Maskimovic said that a referendum on the Dayton accord among Serbs "was designed to show the world that the Serbs do not want to live under Muslim rule." Early results of the vote among 60,000 Serbs in Sarajevo showed a huge majority opposed to the "peace agreement," according to the Yugoslav press agency.
Not leaving anyone out, recent media coverage has also targeted Croats, pointing to reported instances of Bosnian Croat soldiers looting towns soon to be handed over to the Serbs. The Dec. 10 Washington Post stated such incidents "underscore the need, U.N. and Western officers say, for a rapid change in the way business is conducted in Bosnia if NATO's deployment of 60,000 troops is going to have any hope of achieving peace."
To illustrate what kind of approach was needed, the paper quoted a U.S. military officer who said, "All of these factions could use a swift kick in the rear."
Under the guise of enforcing the accords and punishing violators of it, NATO commanders have granted themselves virtually unlimited authority in Bosnia. U.S. admiral Leighton Smith, chief of the NATO mission in Bosnia, threatened to strike hard at anyone deemed a "problem." He declared, "We will demand complete freedom of movement to go where we want to go and see what we want to see" in that country.
Goal: to overturn workers state
Despite Washington's claims that the U.S. troops will be in Bosnia and Croatia for only a year and that the NATO troops will limit themselves to enforcing the accord, the White House and its imperialist counterparts have pointed to more far-reaching goals.
Goal: to overturn workers state
"We simply want to restore peace and democracy and a decent life to those people," Clinton told the press December 2 at the U.S. base in Baumholder.
Just what he meant by the rather sweeping term "democracy," was elucidated at a December 9-10 conference in London of 52 governments and international "aid" agencies. The so-called Peace Implementation Conference, called by the British government, discussed the return of refugees, who number 1.7 million outside of Bosnia, and the provision of shelter, food, and medicine in Yugoslavia.
Officials at the conclave, however, were eager to take up much broader questions that are dearer to their capitalist hearts and pocketbooks. "Aid agencies and World Bank officials also presented embryonic plans to reestablish a currency for Bosnia, create a central bank and lay groundwork for a market economy," the Washington Post reported.
Such a goal, however, means overturning the workers state in Yugoslavia, a country where workers and farmers made a deep-going socialist revolution and expropriated the capitalist class after World War II. The main barrier to achieving imperialist aims is the working class - of all nationalities.
According to the December 10 New York Times, J. Brian Atwood, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, "said one of the biggest challenges would be creating a functioning economy in a country that had not only been decimated by war, but that had not really even begun the shift from Communism to capitalism before fighting broke."
Conflicts among invading powers
Despite all the talk about a "joint endeavor," tensions between the rival powers continue to grow. The massive intervention of NATO troops will heighten these conflicts further.
Conflicts among invading powers
Some of the sharpest frictions are between the imperialist powers and Moscow. The Russian troops in the international occupation force in Bosnia are to serve under U.S. general George Joulwan, who is NATO supreme commander. Moscow, however, has divergent interests from Washington, and has backed Milosevic's regime in Serbia and its Bosnian Serb allies.
The turmoil inside Russia also has imperialism worried, especially with the current resurgence of nationalist and Stalinist forces. The imperialist powers are concerned that instability there could affect the joint military effort in Yugoslavia.
More fundamental are the conflicts among the imperialist powers themselves, each of whom is pursuing its own national class interests in the Balkans.
Washington has made it clear that it intends to call the shots in the NATO force. In his December 2 speech in Germany, Clinton told the U.S. soldiers, "You will take your orders from General Joulwan, who commands NATO. There will be no confusing chain of command."
The decision by Paris to rejoin NATO, while reflecting French weakness relative to U.S. imperialism, is also a cause of headaches for Washington. U.S. officials "expressed concerns that renewed French activism in the [NATO] alliance could exacerbate the rivalry that so often characterizes U.S.-French relations in Europe," the Washington Post noted.
Such differences are bound to flare up as the NATO intervention and drive toward war set off forces outside its control. Pointing to such a likelihood, a Christian Science Monitor reporter commented, "If `peace enforcement' breaks down into great-power patrons bickering among themselves over the interests of their clients, the same forces that plunged Europe into World War I will be at work."
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