The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.63/No.20           May 24, 1999 
Tell The Truth About Yugoslavia  
The U.S.-organized NATO forces bombed the central market and a hospital in Nis, Yugoslavia, in midday May 7, killing 14 civilians. They blasted the Chinese embassy in downtown Belgrade that night, killing three people. As protests erupted around the world over the embassy bombing, Washington stepped up its campaign of destroying factories, infrastructure, and working-class neighborhoods across Yugoslavia. The resulting death toll in rising. These events reveal a bit more of the brutal face of imperialism.

Whether or not the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and the hospital and market in Nis were planned targets for Washington's bombers, the devastating results are no accident. Referring to the systematic destruction of factories that are union strongholds, Branislav Canak, president of the Nezavisnost independent trade union in Yugoslavia, told Militant reporters who traveled there in April, "The main target of the bombing is the working class in Serbia and throughout Yugoslavia."

Far from stopping the expulsion of Albanians from Kosova, as the imperialist war makers claim is their aim, the U.S.- NATO assault is making it easier for the regime of Slobodan Milosevic to carry out the chauvinist "ethnic cleansing," which many workers of all nationalities in Yugoslavia vigorously oppose. A growing number of working people in the region are coming to understand this, including among those forced to flee Kosova, most of whom had illusions that NATO intervention could help advance their struggle for self- determination.

"Age-old ethnic rivalries" are not the cause of the carnage in Yugoslavia. The rich legacy of the Yugoslav revolution in 1940s proves the opposite. Workers and farmers of all nationalities fought together in the struggle against fascist occupation during World War II and against the capitalists and landlords, taking power out of their hands.

This continuity can be reknit only on the basis of genuine equality and the right to self-determination - including independence - for oppressed nations such as the Albanian majority in Kosova, who have suffered discrimination and repression from the regime in Belgrade, particularly over the last decade since the Milosevic administration revoked Kosova's autonomy. The U.S. rulers have made clear they completely oppose the just demand for Kosova's independence. Instead, Washington is planning the occupation and possible partition of the region, like in Bosnia before, as a beachhead against the entire Yugoslav workers state.

"America and Europe are each pushing their own interests in Kosova, and they are competing about it. They mean no good for us. They are damaging our cause, the workers' cause," Minella Bela, a retired truck driver who was one of the leaders of the 1997 rebellion in Albania against the pro- imperialist regime of Sali Berisha, told Militant reporters.

Those competing interests become increasingly clear as the military assault continues. The aim of the imperialists' intervention is to put themselves in the strongest possible position to try to reimpose capitalist domination in Yugoslavia and the rest of Eastern Europe. Rivalry over who will dominate that process comes through in debate over the proposed "peacekeeping" occupation force. U.S. officials insist that the NATO alliance, which they dominate, will do it. Paris is pushing for a United Nations-organized force. And the rulers of France and Germany have renewed talk of a "European defense," possibly merging the military Western European Union with the economic European Union bloc.

The war in Yugoslavia is also increasing tensions between Washington and the regimes in China and Russia. This is not just because of the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. The imperialist assault in Yugoslavia is ultimately aimed against these workers states as well. It is another piece of the military ring Washington has been putting in place around Russia, to get in a position to someday attempt to roll back the remaining conquests of the Bolshevik-led revolution there by force. And it goes hand-in-hand with Washington's encirclement of China, including plans to place theater missile defense systems surrounding the country, from Korea to Alaska.

The space to discuss all these questions among working people in the United States and other imperialist countries is wide open today. Many workers and farmers, especially those who have been through struggles against the employers, know from their own experience that the bosses, their government, and the big-business media lie about strikes and fights for justice by working people. Many mistrust what they are told about the war in Yugoslavia, and are hungry to get the workers' side of the story - the side they can only find in the Militant, its sister magazine Perspectiva Mundial in Spanish, and books from Pathfinder Press, especially the recently published Capitalism's World Disorder: Working-Class Politics at the Millennium.

Supporters of the Militant should not let up in campaigning to get these and other books that explain the truth about Yugoslavia into as many hands as possible -at plant gates, picket lines, community tables, and social protest actions.

At the same time workers and young people who oppose Washington's slaughter in Yugoslavia should participate in and help initiate forums, teach-ins, and public protests in the streets to demand: Stop the U.S.-NATO bombing of Yugoslavia! Independence for Kosova! Open the borders to those forced to leave Kosova! All imperialist troops out of the Balkans!

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