Category Archives: Yugoslavia

The Siege and Terrorism

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By Stephen Gowans
March 18, 2013

In his 2011 book Crisis in Korea: America, China and the Risk of War, Tim Beal writes,

The Americans, and their friends and allies, tend to have a disengaged attitude toward sanctions—disengaged both ethically and in terms of causality. Sanctions are, after all, but the modern version of the age-old military tactic of the siege. The aim of the siege is to reduce the enemy to such a state of starvation and deprivation that they open the gates, perhaps killing their leaders in the process, and throw themselves on the mercy of the besiegers.”

Later, Beal adds, “There are strong parallels between sanctions/sieges and terrorism: both inflict pain on ordinary, vulnerable people in order to turn them against their leaders…”

While Beal writes in connection with North Korea, Washington’s use of the modern-day siege extends to other countries, as well. Like North Korea, Iran is despised by Washington for its insistence on using its labor, markets and natural resources, not for Wall Street’s profits, but for self-directed development. And like North Korea, Iran is menaced by a campaign of sanctions. These sanctions, too, aim, as terrorism does, to make ordinary people suffer so they’ll pressure their government to change its policies to accommodate the interests of the besieger/terrorist (in this case, to replace the current economically nationalist government with one that will open the Iranian economy to ownership by foreigners and create business conditions favorable to foreign investors reaping handsome returns, albeit under the guise of building “democracy” and relinquishing an independent nuclear energy industry.)

The accustomed practice in mainstream journalism is to gloss over the effects of sanctions on besieged countries, or to insist that they’re targeted at a country’s leadership and therefore do no harm to ordinary people.

But in a March 17 Washington Post article, reporters Joby Warrick and Anne Gearan acknowledge that the sanctions on Iran are aimed at hurting ordinary people.

Warrick and Gearan write,

Harsh economic sanctions have taken a serious toll on Iran’s economy, but U.S. and European officials acknowledge that the measures have not yet produced the kind of public unrest that could force Iranian leaders to change their nuclear policies.

Nine months after Iran was hit with the toughest restrictions in its history, the nation’s economy appears to have settled into a slow, downward glide, hemorrhaging jobs and hard currency but appearing to be in no immediate danger of collapse, Western diplomats and analysts say.

At the same time, the hardships have not triggered significant domestic protests or produced a single concession by Iran on its nuclear program.

They continue,

The impact has been hardest on the middle and working classes, which have seen savings evaporate and purchasing power dry up. Yet, in recent months, Iran’s fiscal crisis appears to have eased, and economists say neither complete collapse nor widespread rioting appears likely in the near term.

So, sanctions aren’t working because they haven’t inflicted enough suffering to engender widespread unrest and rioting.

If sanctions do produce their desired effect, and wide-spread rioting does break out, the public unrest most assuredly will not be blamed by Western reporters on the suffering produced by sanctions, but dishonestly on Tehran’s “economic mismanagement.” And aid will continue to flow to opposition forces in Iran, who will be presented as “thirsting for democracy” (rather than relief from the suffering inflicted by the United States and European Union) to help them topple their government (which is to say, open the gate to let the besiegers in.)

The Warrick and Gearan article’s emphasis on the sanctions’ failure to promote rioting, may signal that policy-makers are coming to the conclusion that Washington’s goals for Iran cannot be achieved by sanctions alone, and that military intervention is also required.

Military intervention, however, may not be an alternative to the siege, but its complement. US Air Force Lt. General Michael Short’s explanation of the objectives of the 1999 US-led NATO air war on the former Yugoslavia resonates with the aim of the besieger/terrorist. Explained Short,

“If you wake up in the morning and you have no power to your house and no gas to your stove and the bridge you take to work is down and will be lying in the Danube for the next 20 years, I think you begin to ask, ‘Hey, Slobo, what’s this all about? How much more of this do we have to withstand?’” (“What this war is really about,” The Globe and Mail (Toronto), May 26, 1999.)

The modus operandi, then, of US foreign policy is to inflict pain on ordinary people who live in countries whose governments resist integration into the US-superintended system of global capitalist exploitation, in order to create public unrest that will either force the country’s leaders to change their policies, or step down and yield power to local representatives of global capitalist interests (deceptively labeled by Western state officials and establishment journalists as “pro-democracy” or “democratic” forces.)

The only thing “democratic” about US foreign policy is its insistence on democratizing suffering.

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Mladic, Libya and justice

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June 2, 2011

Politicians running the powerful imperialist countries in Europe and North America and their corporate media have unanimously hailed the arrest of Yugoslav/Serbian Gen. Ratko Mladic as a triumph of democracy. Even if you knew nothing about the civil war in Bosnia, you would have to be suspicious of these declarations. Why? Because the first thing the imperialists tried to do is use the arrest to justify the current war against Libya.

Editorials in Britain and the U.S., for example, presented the following Big Lie: Mladic’s case proves that NATO’s so-called humanitarian military interventions are needed. Then they argued that the “West” has to go after the Moammar Gadhafi government in Libya. If not, they contend, some massacre would happen like in Srebenica, a town in Bosnia.

If NATO’s “humanitarian” bombings kill a dozen Afghan children, as one did May 28, the same editorial writers pass it off as “collateral damage,” a phrase a NATO’s spokesperson invented during the 78-day bombing war against Yugoslavia in 1999. That war has many similarities to the current U.S.-NATO bombing of Libya.

There is not enough space here to review the 1990-2000 imperialist campaign that succeeded in destroying and tearing apart Yugoslavia or to review all the controversial statements about Srebenica. But there is no reason to accept the judgment from London, Paris, Berlin and Washington that Mladic and the Serbs were evil incarnate. Nor is there reason to consider the court in The Hague, Netherlands, fair.

There is good reason for thousands of Serbs to protest their government’s arrest of Mladic, as they did May 29. NATO set up this court to try Serb leaders and to put pressure on them. It was never fair. It brought few charges against other political elements or peoples in the former Yugoslavia. Like the International Criminal Court bringing charges now against Gadhafi and his government or against leaders in Sudan, the Yugoslavia court is a political weapon in the hands of the imperialists.

And this court never reviewed the serious war crimes that NATO leaders committed in the Balkans. From the beginning, German imperialism provoked the civil war in Bosnia when it recognized the split-off, right-wing Alija Izetbegovic government. U.S. imperialist diplomats prolonged the civil war for three years when they encouraged Izetbegovic to refuse a truce in 1992 quite similar to the one that ended the war in 1995. (For more information see the book “NATO in the Balkans” published by the International Action Center, 1998.)

The truth of Bosnia, Mladic and the town of Srebenica will never come out of a NATO court, where NATO’s own war crimes are being covered up. Even Phillip Corwin, the highest ranking United Nations official in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995, says that the international media “exaggerates” — diplomatic jargon for “lies” — when claiming there was a massacre of 8,000 civilians in Srebrenica. Srebrenica was a battle site, and, he says, there were civilians killed, as civilians are killed in all war zones. He says that about 800 died in the battle, most of them combatants. (“The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics”) It was NATO, under the same political leaders and generals who are now charging Mladic, that has committed serious war crimes in the Balkans, in Afghanistan and now in Libya.

No bomb, no “international court,” no news media in the hands of the imperialists can be trusted. Put the NATO leaders on trial. Hands off Serbia and Libya!

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The ICNC: Propagating Uncle Sam’s Narrative

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By Stephen Gowans

“The narrative we want to come out of this is that the Libyan people overthrew a dictator, not that we came in and toppled a despot,” said Stephen J. Hadley, a former national security adviser to President George W. Bush.

“And that’s the problem with going after command and control if it results in the death of Qaddafi, because what we really want him to do is for him to leave or to die at a Libyan hand, not an American hand,” said Mr. Hadley, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union.” (1)

To explain the 2000 overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic in the former Yugoslavia, the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict promotes the very same narrative Hadley wants for Libya.

Through its video, Bringing Down A Dictator, and articles written by scholars on its academic advisory board–at least one of whom has met with the CIA and RAND Corporation–the organization brazenly rewrites history to put forward the narrative that an indigenous pro-democracy movement overthrew a dictator, not that NATO intervened massively to topple an elected president.

At least three facts are at odds with the ICNC narrative:

• NATO carried out a 78-day terror bombing campaign whose purpose was to induce “Milosevic’s own people…to turn on him,” according to the commander of US Air Force units in Europe at the time, General John P. Jumper. (2). In 1999, US General Michael Short told The New York Times that the bombing campaign was based on “hopes that the distress of the Yugoslav public will undermine support for the authorities in Belgrade.” (3)
• The West engineered a sanctions campaign that uniquely targeted areas in which Milosevic had strong support. This added to pressure on Milosevic’s own supporters to oust their president.
• Washington spent $10 million in 1999 and $31 million in 2000 to train, equip and advise an overthrow movement to destabilize the former Yugoslavia and oust Milosevic. [4] It is this movement that the ICNC celebrates as a largely indigenous pro-democracy movement.

Wherever Washington is trying to topple an independent government, the ICNC’s scholars can be counted on to help build a narrative that says the people overthrew a dictator, not that Washington allied with part of the population to sweep the old government from office. Invariably the replacement governments have aligned themselves closely with US financial, commercial and military interests.

Of the ICNC founder and chairman Peter Ackerman, Edward Herman and David Peterson note: He “was a board member and eventual chairman of Freedom House (September 2005 – January 2009), an institution that has been as clear an instrument of U.S. foreign policy as has the CIA itself.” (5) Ackerman is also a board member of the Council on Foreign Relations, equally as clear an instrument of US foreign policy.

On Stephen Zunes, the organization’s chief scholar, the pair add: “It is disturbing to watch Zunes repeatedly downplay the role of foreign money, knowledge, and power at work behind regime-change campaigns, and hype the democratic credentials of the opposition to targeted regimes.” (6)

This, indeed, is another way of saying that Zunes works to make the narrative of US regime change operations come out the way Hadley wants it to come out in Libya – with a targeted leader’s fall seen to come at the hands of his own people with US complicity erased from history.

Herman and Peterson condemn this narrative-setting as “an especially powerful cocktail for sowing confusion among leftists and progressives, whose minds tell them to oppose imperial causes, but whose hearts warm to emotionally manipulative rhetoric about the ‘homegrown’ nature of ‘pro-democracy’ movements.” (7)

Zunes and other ICNC scholars claim to be on the left. Some even anti-imperialist. If so, what’s left?

1. Kareem Fahim and Mark Mazzetti, “Allies defending actions in Libya after airstrike”, The New York Times, May 1, 2011.
2. Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger, “Nato says it is stepping up attacks on Libya targets”, The New York Times, April 26, 2011.
3. New York Times, May 13, 1999. Cited in William Blum’s Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower.
4. Dobbs, Michael, “US advice guided Milosevic opposition,” The Washington Post, December 11, 2000.
5. Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, “Reply to Stephen Zunes”, December 30, 2010. http://www.zcommunications.org/reply-to-stephen-zunes-by-edward-herman
6. Herman and Peterson.
7. Herman and Peterson.

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NATO’s Kosovo Air War Redux

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By Stephen Gowans

NATO’s military intervention in Libya began as an enforcement of a no-fly zone to protect civilians but has quickly morphed into an attack on civilian targets to undermine the morale of Gaddafi loyalists in order to turn them against the country’s leader.

NATO has struck Gaddafi’s residence repeatedly, and in recent days attacked a TV broadcast center.

If it sounds like a rerun of NATO’s 1999 air war on Yugoslavia, when NATO showered bombs on civilian targets in order to “protect” civilians, that’s because NATO has dusted off an old script.

The campaign over Libya, according to senior US officers, draws on lessons from 1999. (1)

Here was US General Michael Short 12 years ago on the logic of the NATO bombing campaign.

If you wake up in the morning and you have no power to your house and no gas to your stove and the bridge you take to work is down and will be lying in the Danube for the next 20 years, I think you begin to ask, “Hey, Slobo, what’s this all about? How much more of this do we have to withstand?” (2)

Short told The New York Times that the bombing campaign was based on “hopes that the distress of the Yugoslav public will undermine support for the authorities in Belgrade.” (3)

Here’s US General John P. Jumper today, who was commander in 1999 of US Air Force units in Europe.

It was when we went in and began to disturb important and symbolic sites in Belgrade, and began to bring to a halt the middle-class life in Belgrade, that Milosevic’s own people began to turn on him. (4)

Jumper says NATO is following the same logic in Libya today.

How NATO got away with bombing civilian targets in Belgrade in 1999 offers insight into how it’s getting away with bombing civilian targets in Tripoli in 2011.

First, then as now, no one was big enough and strong enough to stop them.

Second, NATO bamboozled enough people into believing Serb forces were slaughtering ethnic Albanians in Kosovo to win support for an intervention as the only way to avert a bloodbath (sound familiar)? The tens of thousands of corpses NATO ministers warned would be found scattered across Kosovo and buried in the Trepca mines, were never found.

Third, NATO simply made the definition of a military target so malleable that it could fit just about any site NATO planners wished to destroy. Roads and railways were said to be legitimate quarry, because they were used by military vehicles. Bridges allowed military units to move easily from one point to another, and therefore could be taken down as legitimate military targets. Radio-television buildings were fair game because they were deemed to be part of the enemy’s “propaganda apparatus” (which means, if we’re to apply a consistent standard, that The New York Times’ building is a legitimate target for any country the United States attacks.) Government buildings were part of the enemy’s command and control infrastructure, and as a consequence could be obliterated as lawful targets. And the schools, hospitals and people destroyed by NATO bombs that couldn’t be passed off as legitimate military targets were dumped into the convenient category of “collateral damage.”

Peter Ackerman, the moneybags who hobnobs with Zbigniew Brzezinski and Robert Gates on the US foreign policy elite’s Council on Foreign Relations, and who founded an organization to promote color revolutions, created a documentary about the downfall of Milosevic, called Bringing Down a Dictator. It credits so-called nonviolent pro-democracy activists—not NATO’s bombing of civilian targets to turn Milosevic’s supporters against him–with bringing about Milosevic’s ouster.

Maybe Ackerman’s definition of non-violence (and of dictator: Milosevic was elected in multiparty elections which continued to be carried out after he became president) is as malleable as NATO’s definition of a military target.

What’s clear is that NATO and the color revolution outfit Ackerman founded have the same goal: to sweep leaders of non-satellite countries from power in order to integrate their countries unconditionally into the global economy as Western vassal states.

If the goal can be achieved by bombing civilians to weaken their morale, NATO is up for it, as much today as it was in 1999.

1. Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger, “Nato says it is stepping up attacks on Libya targets”, The New York Times, April 26, 2011.
2. Washington Post, May 24, 1999.
3. New York Times, May 13, 1999. Cited in William Blum’s Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower.
4. Shanker and Sanger.

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Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya: beware the lies of March

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by Neil Clark
March 20, 2011

It’s March, the sun is shining and spring is just around the corner. Oh, and Britain is bombing a foreign country again. If you’ve got a distinct feeling of deja vu about what’s been going on this weekend, then it’s hardly surprising.

In this very week in 1999 Britain took a leading role in the bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

And on this very day in 2003, Britain took a leading role in the bombing – and invasion – of Iraq.

And now we’re at it again in Libya.

We’re being told we have to intervene in Libya to “protect the Libyan people” from being murdered by the forces of Gaddafi. We’re told that having declared a ceasefire, Gaddafi “stepped up the attacks” on civilians. And that doing nothing about the dictator is simply not an option.

Now all this could be true – but our experience of other March military assaults in which Britain has played a prominent role suggests we should, at the very least, treat with one huge barrow-load of salt the claims currently being made about why we’re going to war.

Back in March 1999 we were told that we had to intervene because the Yugoslav leader, Slobodan Milosevic, was “set on a Hitler-style genocide equivalent to the extermination of the Jews during world war two“. That wasn’t true.

In March 2003 we were told that we had to invade Iraq, because Saddam had WMDs that “could be activated within 45 minutes”.

That wasn’t true either.

Far from Milosevic engaging in a “Hitler-style genocide”, what was occurring in Kosovo was a civil war between Yugoslav forces and the western-backed Kosovo Liberation Army, with atrocities committed on both sides. And the claims about Iraqi WMD were pure hogwash put forward to justify a military intervention to topple a regime that the west, having supported in the 1980s, now wanted out.

Both in 1999 and 2003 our leaders lied to us about the real reasons for our country’s involvement in military conflict. How can we be sure that what is happening in 2011 is any different?

If the US, Britain and France are acting out of genuine humanitarian concerns for Libyan civilians, why has there been no discussion of similar action against the government in Bahrain – which last week invited into the country military forces from that great democracy Saudi Arabia to crush pro-democracy protests – or against the regime in Yemen, where 45 anti-government protesters were killed on Thursday?

The other lesson to draw from the previous March conflicts is that military interventions – sold to the public as reasonably straightforward operations against dictators with little public support – rarely go to plan. Nato thought that a few days of heavy bombardment would force Milosevic to cave in – they were wrong: the war lasted 78 days and at the end of it the Yugoslav federal army was undefeated.

The invasion of Iraq, its neocon cheerleaders assured us, would be a cakewalk, with grateful Iraqis – all of whom hated Saddam Hussein – lining up to hand bouquets of flowers to their “liberators”.

And today, supporters of the Libyan action, such as the Tory MP Colonel Bob Stewart, predict that Gaddafi’s forces are likely to desert. But what if the advocates of military action are wrong – as they were in 1999 and 2003? What if support for Gaddafi within Libya is stronger than we have been led to believe? Then we could be involved in yet another Middle Eastern quagmire.

The Libyan intervention is of course different in one respect from the assaults on Yugoslavia and Iraq in that it has been officially sanctioned by the UN security council. But UN backing doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t remain cynical about the real reasons for the attack.

For all the talk of “liberating” the people and protecting civilians, the wars against Yugoslavia and Iraq were classic imperialist ventures whose real aim was to extend western economic and military hegemony. It’s unlikely that this latest March assault on an independent sovereign state is any different.

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U.S. progressives must tell truth about Libya and impact of foreign intervention

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By Brian Becker
MARCH 9, 2011

Washington looking for a gateway to domination

This F-14 fighter jet, launched from the USS America, participated in the bombing of Libya, 1986.

March 23, 2011, will mark the 25th anniversary of the murder of 35 Libyan sailors whose patrol boat was destroyed by missiles launched during an aerial and naval assault by U.S. air forces in waters along Libya’s coast in the Gulf of Sidra.

The operation began in the evening of March 23, 1986, with an armada from the U.S. Sixth Fleet. It consisted of three aircraft carriers, 250 fighter aircraft and bombers, 12 destroyers, five cruisers, six frigates and 27,000 personnel.

Former President Ronald Reagan and the Pentagon brass carried out the large scale incursion into Libyan waters as a deliberate provocation. It was part of a larger, on-going military plan. The goal was to weaken the Libyan regime and foment an internal rebellion to topple it. It was similar to the strategy employed five years later against the Iraqi government led by Saddam Hussein.

The next phase of the operation began three weeks later. On April 15, 1986, the U.S. Air Force attacked the cities of Tripoli and Benghazi. The United States dropped 120,000 pounds of bombs in a matter of minutes. There were scores of Libyan civilian casualties, as homes, schools and other buildings were destroyed in the middle of the night by the “surprise” attack. Libyan government buildings were hit, and the home of Gaddafi was hit with several bombs.

The Reagan administration claimed that the April 15 bombing attack was retaliation for an April 5, 1986, bomb explosion in a Berlin discotheque that claimed the life of a U.S. service member. The implication was that Libya planted the bomb in Berlin to retaliate for the March 23 U.S. attack that killed the 35 Libyan sailors. Later documents proved, however, that advanced planning for the April 15 bombing attack on Tripoli and Benghazi had been going on for at least one year and that a full scale mock rehearsal, including the use of mock bombs, had taken place in July 1985—11 months before the explosion at the Berlin disco.

‘Regime change’

The Libyan regime, which came to power in a 1969 coup against the western-backed monarchy of King Idris, was targeted for regime change by the United States and Britain after it nationalized Libya’s oil wealth and used the resources to develop the country.

During that same time period—the 1980s—the U.S. government armed, financed and propped up dictatorships in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, other Arab client states, along with the regime in Tel Aviv. The CIA also funded Osama Bin Laden and other reactionary forces that sought to topple the government in Afghanistan.

U.S. policy had nothing to do with human rights, democracy or the war on terror. It employed terror to maintain a system of proxy regimes and to overthrow governments that were outside the U.S. sphere of influence. These are historical facts.

Washington did not succeed in toppling the Gadaffi government, but Libya did indeed go through regime change. The regime itself shifted its domestic and international policies. It moved steadily to the right.

In the last decade, it has adopted a variety of neoliberal reforms, embraced and collaborated with the Bush administration’s so-called war on terror, increasingly exported Libyan resources to invest in Italian corporations and banks, while becoming politically friendly with the right-wing government of Silvio Berlusconi, and opened Libyan oil business to BP.

If there had been no recent revolt in Libya, the United States, Britain and Italy would have been content to have the Gadaffi regime—with its neoliberal orientation—remain in power. Although Gadaffi was neither a puppet, nor a client, it was clear that the regime’s neoliberal, collaborationist orientation made it a satisfactory partner with the imperialist governments of the west.

Pleading for intervention

Following the peoples’ uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and throughout the Arab world, a civil war has broken out in Libya. Disaffected elements from within the regime, including those inside of its military and security units took up arms. Long standing regional rivalries also played a big part. The revolt was particularly strong in Benghazi and other cities in the oil-rich eastern part of the country.

Both the regime and its opponents have armed units. Both have a political and social base within parts of the population. It is not possible from outside the country to really know the extent of the support for either side. Within the revolt there are contradictory political trends. While the opposition is politically heterogeneous, what is decisive is the position and orientation of the dominant leadership inside the movement.

The Libyan people generally have a high anti-colonial consciousness and are undoubtedly opposed to U.S./NATO intervention. But under the circumstances of mass upheaval and armed struggle, the orientation of the leadership is central.

Leaders of the opposition National Libyan Council (also calling themselves the National Transition Council), while having initially opposed foreign intervention, are repeatedly calling for both economic sanctions and military action by the US and NATO countries.

“We will complete our victory when we are afforded a no-fly zone,” Hafiz Ghoga, spokesman for the rebel National Libyan Council, said in the rebel base of Benghazi, according to Reuters, March 9.

It could not be more obvious now that U.S., British and French imperialism are working hard to influence and support the National Libyan Council. Covert operations have been reported, and arms shipments are surely underway.

While the stakes are high and the outcome is uncertain, U.S., British and French imperialism see the situation in Libya as a new opportunity. Just because Gaddafi collaborated with imperialism, especially in the last decade, does not mean that world imperialism does not see a major opportunity in the overthrow of the regime now.

Lessons of Iraq, Yugoslavia

Let no person who calls themselves progressive forget that U.S. imperialism eagerly collaborated with Saddam Hussein in its struggle to bleed and exhaust the Iranian revolution, but then suddenly turned around in 1988. It began targeting Iraq for regime change and saw the overthrow of the Baathist regime as a huge opportunity for imperialism to recapture Iraq’s vast oil reserves.

A no-fly zone, no matter if it is declared by U.S.-run NATO or a U.S.-dominated United Nations, would include the massive bombing of Libyan installations. And as we saw in the case of Yugoslavia and Iraq in the 1990s, a no-fly zone is both the suspension of sovereignty and the precursor to a larger war.

Yugoslavia, a significant regional force, was literally disintegrated by the onslaught. It has been torn into small pieces that remain under foreign occupation. Iraq too has been shredded and ripped apart and will be under U.S. occupation for a very long time, unless the people rise up as they have in the past.

It would be the greatest tragedy for Libya and its people if the anti-Gadaffi opposition allows its struggle to be the pretext and gateway for imperialism to re-subjugate the country.

Progressive and ant-war activists inside the United States must expose the lies of the U.S. war machine and the intrigues of “their own” ruling class. The U.S. government never says that its wars of aggression are for imperialist aims; rather, it is always for the noblest cause. While it condemns Gaddafi for the use of Libya’s air force in a domestic civil war, it is dropping bombs and missiles on the children of Afghanistan 7,000 miles from U.S. shores.

When the Libyan revolt began, some in the U.S. left erroneously argued that the West would back Gaddafi to the hilt. They mobilized for street demonstrations against Gaddafi’s government, while neglecting to include demands opposing U.S. intervention. They attacked those in the U.S. anti-war movement who insisted on the primacy of the slogan: “No to U.S. intervention.”

When U.S. and European imperialist powers proceeded to slap economic sanctions on Libya, moved warships off its coast, and began rapid preparations for intervention, these same left forces were caught flat-footed, apparently in denial. They only began to adjust their slogans several days later.

Shame on those U.S. liberal groups and “progressives” who consider the prospect of U.S. and NATO intervention to be a secondary factor in this unfolding struggle.

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Libya: Is This Kosovo All Over Again?

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by Diana Johnstone
March 7, 2011

Less than a dozen years after NATO bombed Yugoslavia into pieces, detaching the province of Kosovo from Serbia, there are signs that the military alliance is gearing up for another victorious little “humanitarian war”, this time against Libya. The differences are, of course, enormous. But let’s look at some of the disturbing similarities.

A demonized leader.

As “the new Hitler”, the man you love to hate and need to destroy, Slobodan Milosevic was a neophyte in 1999 compared to Muammar Qaddafi today. The media had less than a decade to turn Milosevic into a monster, whereas with Qaddafi, they’ve been at it for several decades. And Qaddafi is more exotic, speaking less English and coming before the public in outfits that could have been created by John Galliano (another recently outed monster). This exotic aspect arouses the ancestral mockery and contempt for lesser cultures with which the West was won, Africa was colonized and the Summer Palace in Beijing was ravaged by Western soldiers fighting to make the world safe for opium addiction.

The “we must do something” chorus.

As with Kosovo, the crisis in Libya is perceived by the hawks as an opportunity to assert power. The unspeakable John Yoo, the legal advisor who coached the Bush II administration in the advantages of torturing prisoners, has used the Wall Street Journal to advise the Obama administration to ignore the U.N Charter and leap into the Libyan fray. “By putting aside the U.N.’s antiquated rules, the United States can save lives, improve global welfare, and serve its own national interests at the same time,” Yoo proclaimed. And another leading theorist of humanitarian imperialism, Geoffrey Robertson, has told The Independent that, despite appearances, violating international law is lawful.

The specter of “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” is evoked to justify war.

As with Kosovo, an internal conflict between a government and armed rebels is being cast as a “humanitarian crisis” in which one side only, the government, is assumed to be “criminal”. This a priori criminalization is expressed by calling on an international judicial body to examine crimes which are assumed to have been committed, or to be about to be committed. In his Op Ed piece, Geoffrey Robertson made it crystal clear how the International Criminal Court is being used to set the stage for eventual military intervention. The ICC can be used by the West to get around the risk of a Security Council veto for military action, he explained.

“In the case of Libya , the council has at least set an important precedent by unanimously endorsing a reference to the International Criminal Court. […] So what happens if the unarrested Libyan indictees aggravate their crimes – eg by stringing up or shooting in cold blood their opponents, potential witnesses, civilians, journalists or prisoners of war?” [Note that so far there are no “indictees” and no proof of “crimes” that they supposedly may “aggravate” in various imaginary ways.) But Robertson is eager to find a way for NATO “to pick up the gauntlet” if the Security Council decides to do nothing.]

“The defects in the Security Council require the acknowledgement of a limited right, without its mandate, for an alliance like NATO to use force to stop the commission of crimes against humanity. That right arises once the council has identified a situation as a threat to world peace (and it has so identified Libya, by referring it unanimously to the ICC prosecutor).”

Thus referring a country to the ICC prosecutor can be a pretext for waging war against that country! By the way, the ICC jurisdiction is supposed to apply to States that have ratified the treaty establishing it, which, as I understand, is not the case of Libya – or of the United States. A big difference, however, is that the United States has been able to persuade, bully or bribe countless signatory States to accept agreements that they will never under any circumstances try to refer any American offenders to the ICC. That is a privilege denied Qaddafi.

Robertson, a member of the UN justice council, concludes that: “The duty to stop the mass murder of innocents, as best we can if they request our help, has crystallized to make the use of force by Nato not merely ‘legitimate’ but lawful.”

Leftist idiocy.

Twelve years ago, most of the European left supported “the Kosovo war” that set NATO on the endless path it now pursues in Afghanistan. Having learned nothing, many seem ready for a repeat performance. A coalition of parties calling itself the European Left has issued a statement “strongly condemning the repression perpetrated by the criminal regime of Colonel Qaddafi” and urging the European Union “to condemn the use of force and to act promptly to protect the people that are peacefully demonstrating and struggling for their freedom.” Inasmuch as the opposition to Qaddafi is not merely “peacefully demonstrating”, but in part has taken up arms, this comes down to condemning the use of force by some and not by others – but it is unlikely that the politicians who drafted this statement even realize what they are saying.

The narrow vision of the left is illustrated by the statement in a Trotskyist paper that: “Of all the crimes of Qaddafi, the one that is without doubt the most grave and least known is his complicity with the EU migration policy…” For the far left, Qaddafi’s biggest sin is cooperating with the West, just as the West is to be condemned for cooperating with Qaddafi. This is a left that ends up, out of sheer confusion, as cheerleader for war.

Refugees.

The mass of refugees fleeing Kosovo as NATO began its bombing campaign was used to justify that bombing, without independent investigation into the varied causes of that temporary exodus – a main cause probably being the bombing itself. Today, from the way media report on the large number of refugees leaving Libya since the troubles began, the public could get the impression that they are fleeing persecution by Qaddafi. As is frequently the case, media focuses on the superficial image without seeking explanations. A bit of reflection may fill the information gap. It is hardly likely that Qaddafi is chasing away the foreign workers that his regime brought to Libya to carry out important infrastructure projects. Rather it is fairly clear that some of the “democratic” rebels have attacked the foreign workers out of pure xenophobia. Qaddafi’s openness to Africans in particular is resented by a certain number of Arabs. But not too much should be said about this, since they are now our “good guys”. This is a bit the way Albanian attacks on Roma in Kosovo were overlooked or excused by NATO occupiers on the grounds that “the Roma had collaborated with the Serbs”.

Osama bin Laden.

Another resemblance between former Yugoslavia and Libya is that the United States (and its NATO allies) once again end up on the same side as their old friend from Afghan Mujahidin days, Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden was a discreet ally of the Islamist party of Alija Izetbegovic during the Bosnia civil war, a fact that has been studiously overlooked by the NATO powers. Of course, Western media have largely dismissed Qaddafi’s current claim that he is fighting against bin Laden as the ravings of a madman. However, the combat between Qaddafi and bin Laden is very real and predates the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Indeed, Qaddafi was the first to try to alert Interpol to bin Laden, but got no cooperation from the United States. In November 2007, the French news agency AFP reported that the leaders of the “Fighting Islamic Group” in Libya announced they were joining Al Qaeda. Like the Mujahidin who fought in Bosnia, that Libyan Islamist Group was formed in 1995 by veterans of the U.S.-sponsored fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Their declared aim was to overthrow Qaddafi in order to establish a radical Islamist state. The base of radical Islam has always been in the Eastern part of Libya where the current revolt broke out. Since that revolt does not at all resemble the peaceful mass demonstrations that overthrew dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, but has a visible component of armed militants, it can reasonably be assumed that the Islamists are taking part in the rebellion.

Refusal of negotiations.

In 1999, the United States was eager to use the Kosovo crisis to give NATO’s new “out of area” mission its baptism of fire. The charade of peace talks at Rambouillet was scuttled by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who sidelined more moderate Kosovo Albanian leaders in favor of Hashim Thaci, the young leader of the “Kosovo Liberation Army”, a network notoriously linked to criminal activities. The Albanian rebels in Kosovo were a mixed bag, but as frequently happens, the US reached in and drew the worst out of that bag.

In Libya, the situation could be even worse.

My own impression, partly as a result of visiting Tripoli four years ago, is that the current rebellion is a much more mixed bag, with serious potential internal contradictions. Unlike Egypt, Libya is not a populous historic state with thousands of years of history, a strong sense of national identity and a long political culture. Half a century ago, it was one of the poorest countries in the world, and still has not fully emerged from its clan structure. Qaddafi, in his own eccentric way, has been a modernizing factor, using oil revenues to raise the standard of living to one of the highest on the African continent. The opposition to him comes, paradoxically, both from reactionary traditional Islamists on the one hand, who consider him a heretic for his relatively progressive views, and Westernized beneficiaries of modernization on the other hand, who are embarrassed by the Qaddafi image and want still more modernization. And there are other tensions that may lead to civil war and even a breakup of the country along geographic lines.

So far, the dogs of war are sniffing around for more bloodshed than has actually occurred. Indeed, the US escalated the Kosovo conflict in order to “have to intervene”, and the same risks happening now with regard to Libya, where Western ignorance of what they would be doing is even greater.

The Chavez proposal for neutral mediation to avert catastrophe is the way of wisdom. But in NATOland, the very notion of solving problems by peaceful mediation rather than by force seems to have evaporated.

Source

Libya and the Arab revolt in perspective

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By the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL)
FEBRUARY 24, 2011

Imperialism has nothing to offer the Middle East

The Arab world

“From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli, we fight our country’s battles in the air, on land, and sea.” So begins the official hymn of the U.S. Marines, setting out in one short sentence the long history of U.S. expansionism and intervention across the globe. Tripoli, the current capital of Libya, has a special place in this history because of the Barbary Wars, the first wars waged by the U.S. government in the early 1800s to protect its commercial interests in the Mediterranean Sea.

Starting in the 1940s, the Middle East and North Africa—which hold two-thirds of the world’s known oil reserves—again assumed a central place in U.S. foreign policy and geopolitical strategy. Reading statements from the State Department and the White House, one might think that all Washington cares about is peace, democracy, human rights and freedom of speech. They have continuously expressed “alarm” and “disapproval” at the incidents of violence.

A quick review of U.S. foreign policy in the region reveals that the government has never had an interest in peace, democracy or universal rights. They care not one whit about the Arab masses. Every word out of their mouths, no matter how it is sugar-coated, flows from their desire to retain U.S. political and economic hegemony.

To maintain access to the region’s vast natural resources, the U.S. government has propped up the most violent dictatorships of all kinds, from secular to religious. It has poured in hundreds of millions of dollars to buy politicians and influence elections. It has carried out countless covert operations—sabotage, assassinations, infiltration—to undermine popular figures and movements that have resisted U.S. domination. It has armed the colonial-settler state of Israel to the teeth, allowing it to strike out against its Arab neighbors and suppress the Palestinian people’s struggle for self-determination. It has helped divide nations, artificially created new ones, fought against all attempts at real Arab unity, and worked tirelessly to prevent any strong, independent countries from emerging in the region.

Washington imposed sanctions that took the lives of over one million Iraqis, including hundreds of thousands of children before 2003. Well over 1.3 million Iraqis have died as a result of the current war and occupation. In addition, there are 2 million people displaced inside of Iraq, and 2.5 million who are refugees in neighboring Syria and Jordan.

There are no figures available for the number of Iraqis wounded, but the most conservative estimate would be twice the number killed. Altogether, nearly one in three Iraqis have been killed, wounded or displaced since 2003. The spirit of resistance has not died in the Iraqi people, but their nation has been torn apart.

A third wave of Arab revolution

What is taking place across the Middle East and North Africa is the third great wave of revolts and revolutions against colonialism, neo-colonialism, and the regimes installed and sustained by imperialism. It is a reaffirmation that there is indeed an Arab Nation divided into many countries. While there are many differences between (and often within) Arab countries, there are also powerful elements of shared nationhood: language, common territory, culture and so on. How else can it be explained that the upheaval that started in Tunisia in January has spread to at least 10 other countries in the Arab world—and none outside?

The first revolutionary wave following World War I fought the takeover and division of the Middle East by British and French imperialism. The revolts were so strong in Egypt and Iraq that the British granted nominal independence to Egypt in 1922 and Iraq in 1932, while in reality retaining colonial control of both.

The second wave followed World War II with the overthrow of the old dependent regimes and monarchies in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Libya in the 1950s and 1960s, the victorious anti-colonial wars in Algeria and Yemen in the 1960s, the rise of the Palestinian revolutionary movement in the late 1960s, and the civil war in Lebanon in the 1970s, where the progressive Lebanese National Movement/PLO alliance was on the verge of victory until Syria intervened against it. There were also mass Palestinian intifadas in 1936-39, 1987-1991 and 2000-2002.

During these first two waves, the U.S. government and its allies were able to preserve the police-state hereditary monarchies in Jordan, Morocco, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and, above all in their estimation, Saudi Arabia. Starting with Anwar Sadat, and especially with his successor Hosni Mubarak, the U.S. government was able to buy off Egypt and bring it decisively into their sphere of influence.

These states became strategic beachheads for U.S. imperialism, especially important in checking the influence of Iran after its popular, nationalist revolution of 1979.

Taken collectively, the protest movements and uprisings today in the Arab world have threatened this whole arrangement of power. They have proven once again—to the dismay of Washington—that it is the masses of people who make and change history. The U.S. government is not in control of events, but is desperately trying to influence them behind the scenes to guarantee the preservation of its political and economic interests.

Yemen and Bahrain

While the U.S. government now speaks about “universal rights” and “freedom of expression” in Yemen, just last year they were bombing it with drone attacks. In 2009, special-operations commandos began training President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s security forces—the same forces now firing on protesters.

In 2010, the U.S. government pumped in $155 in military aid to help the Yemeni president fight against two separate rebel movements. While all of this was justified under the “war on terror,” the U.S.-backed airstrike in December 2009 killed 42 civilians, the vast majority of whom were women and children. A released Wikileaks cable from 2009 revealed that Saleh gave the Pentagon an “open door” to launch bombing assaults on any person or group deemed a “terrorist” by Washington.

The absolute monarchy in Bahrain has been fully backed by Washington for its entire existence.

Bahrain was a long-time protectorate of Britain, which exerted all of its pressure to keep the country from holding democratic elections. The majority Shia population occupies the lowest rungs in the Bahraini economy and is disenfranchised in every way. Until 2002, women could not vote. All political opposition has been suppressed. But the United States has protected the kingdom throughout. Why? Because of Bahrain’s oil wealth, its increasingly important role in regional and world finance, and its location on the geo-strategic Persian Gulf.

Does Washington care about democracy in the Middle East? Hardly!

The White House declares its concern for the protesters only to protect their own image and mythology. In reality, it is an enemy of the Arab masses who have taken it upon themselves to reclaim their countries and their destinies. To the extent that the people succeed in defeating the dictatorships and replacing them with freer and more just societies, they will have to confront the Empire. It will not, and cannot, be an honest partner in this process. The Arab people, of course, know this all too well. From Tunisia to Yemen, the deep skepticism and hostility toward Western governments is well-deserved.

Western powers bring death and destruction, nothing else

This must be a starting point for activists located in the United States and Europe when it comes to the Libyan revolt.

Unlike in Egypt, where it was clear that all of society with the exception of a tiny comprador elite opposed Mubarak, there is comparatively little information about the remaining base of support for Col. Moammar Gaddafi. If it is substantial, the country could fall into civil war with a scale of violence that far exceeds that seen in Egypt. If such a tragedy ensues, a variety of political forces—from liberal to neoconservative—will begin to call for the United States government to “do something.” This could take the form of sanctions, U.N. intervention, or the imposition of no-fly zones.

Already some, like neoconservative Paul Wolfowitz, an architect of the Iraqi genocide, are advocating for such a “pro-active” approach. Sen. John Kerry, another pro-imperialist politician, is calling for sanctions, despite the horrific toll such a policy took on the Iraqi people during the 1990s.

Such threats must be absolutely rejected by progressive people. For one, the West would love to get boots on the ground in the region, with which they could influence and pressure the emerging Arab revolution. Secondly, these measures would be perceived as, and amount to, acts of war. The “peacekeeping” missions of the United States in Somalia and Yugoslavia were nothing other than bloody and destructive wars that widened conflict instead of solving it. Ask the people’s movements in Haiti or Palestine if the United Nation’s blue-helmeted occupations are any better.

The language of “we have to do something” is based on a fundamental misconception; the U.S., U.N. and NATO militaries are not “ours” to begin with, so “we” cannot use them for progressive aims.

The Libyan revolt

The revolt in Libya appears to have started among the long-time opposition to Gaddafi in the city of Benghazi. Initial reports indicated that the movement in Libya was not primarily composed of youth, as in Egypt and elsewhere, but of lawyers, judges, doctors and police officers. Very early on, it appeared that the defection of police and military units provided the anti-Gaddafi movement with arms. The fact that they have now reportedly “seized” entire cities in both the east and west of the country reflects a high degree of military sophistication.

Libya sits between Tunisia and Egypt, and it was only natural that the Arab revolt would draw in and inspire discontented youth in Libya. Their protest against Gaddafi undoubtedly has different roots than that of the middle-class opposition, which for decades resented Gaddafi’s formerly anti-imperialist stances. Like their counterparts elsewhere, they are in the streets because of high unemployment, inequality, and to demand a more open political system. The Libyan state’s military response—which, according to Al-Jazeera, included indiscriminate bombing of certain sections of Tripoli where protesters had gathered—appears to have only intensified opposition to the regime. As we write, the revolt appears to have control over broad sections of Libyan territory.

At present, the revolt has not produced any organizational form or leader that would make it possible to characterize it politically. It does not appear to be led or directed by “foreign forces.”

The National Front for the Salvation of Libya, an exile group that has been interviewed constantly by foreign media as a leading opposition force, was for decades trained by the CIA. They are loudly demanding that the imperialist countries “take action” against Gaddafi, and have appeared frustrated that the West has so far only issued statements. It is unclear what the NFSL has on the ground in Libya, and what role they are playing in the revolt.

Protesters have hoisted Libya’s first national flag, that of the exploitative, U.S.-backed monarch King Idris (1951-1969) over the areas they have seized. Some in the Libyan exile community consciously call for the return of the Idris monarchy, but it is unclear how deeply this sentiment runs among those in revolt.

Until the 1969 revolution, Libya was home to the U.S. Wheelus Air Force base—the largest airbase in the world at the time—and the average Libyan lived in dire poverty. For these reasons, there was essentially no resistance when Gaddafi and other military officers overthrew Idris. To return to such a kingdom—the goal of opportunistic monarchists in exile—could only be considered a step backward for the Libyan people, and would stand opposed to those striving for democracy.

During its leftist phase after 1969, the Libyan government used the country’s vast oil resources to carry out profound economic and social development, including in the fields of education, health care, nutrition, and a massive water project. In its proclamations, the Libyan government placed the country’s development within a radical and populist context, and promoted semi-socialist political and economic concepts.

Whereas in the 1950s over 80 percent of the population could not read or write, illiteracy was almost completely wiped out by the early 1970s. The Gaddafi government also provided significant aid to neighboring states and to national liberation movements around the world. Libya is still ranked the highest among African countries in the Human Development Index—which includes such factors as living conditions, life expectancy and education.

It was during the 1970s and 1980s that Libya was demonized, sanctioned and attacked by the U.S. government and its allies. In 1986, President Reagan ordered the bombing of downtown Tripoli in an attempt to assassinate Gaddafi. Gaddafi survived, but his infant daughter and more than 300 others were killed this murderous assault. Many more were maimed and wounded.

Although the Libyan regime appealed to the popular masses in its political program, the regime also included bourgeois forces within both the military and civilian sectors. Over time and under relentless pressure from western imperialism, these bourgeois forces—many of whom looked to the West—strengthened. In recent years, inequality has increased as the Libyan government has ushered in neoliberal reforms that have stripped social programs and subsidies for the poor and increasingly turned over the country’s oil wealth to foreign corporations.

Gaddafi is not a puppet of imperialism like Mubarak was, but he has decisively broken with the Arab popular liberation movements and has made many concessions to imperialism over the past decade. He has dismantled Libya’s weapons programs, officially supported the U.S. “war on terror,” and grown increasingly close to Italy, the former colonizer. In 2008, Gaddafi signed an accord with right-wing Italian leader Sergio Berlusconi to stop African immigrants from entering Italy in exchange for $5 billion in assistance over 25 years. While continuing to condemn Israel rhetorically, he expelled Palestinian migrant workers in the 1990s.

Gaddafi praised the popular uprising in Egypt, while also praising Tunisia’s former dictator Ben Ali after he was overthrown.

The developments in the last decade have greatly and understandably diminished his credibility among progressive and anti-imperialist forces in the region, almost all of which have declared their solidarity with the Libyan revolt.

While the U.S. media is in a particular frenzy against Gaddafi—speaking very suggestively about military intervention—Washington’s official line on Libya is at present similar to their messages regarding their puppets in Bahrain and Yemen. But as the revolt continues, taking on the characteristics of a civil war, U.S. policy may be shifting.

President Obama said about Libya on Feb. 23: “I have also asked my administration to prepare the full range of options that we have to respond to this crisis. This includes those actions we may take and those we will coordinate with our allies and partners or those that we’ll carry out through multilateral institutions.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed this: “Everything will be on the table. We will look at all options.”

While the U.S. policymakers dream about owning Libya outright, and replacing Gaddafi with a client regime, their main concern is now, as it has always been, stable and guaranteed control over Middle East oil resources. To the extent Washington becomes more “pro-active” against Libya, it will mean they have devised a plan—or found someone better—to do that job.

As the third wave of revolution spreads, deepens, and faces new contradictions, it is the people of Libya and the Arab world who will determine their future. For activists here, our main task is to mobilize in opposition to any and all U.S. threats against Libya and the other countries of the Middle East and North Africa.

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Interview with Krsljanin: ‘Serbia is an occupied country’

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Published Oct 17, 2010

On Oct. 5, 2000, a coup engineered by U.S. imperialist agencies and supported by Western European imperialist governments overthrew the Socialist Party government in Yugoslavia led by Slobodan Milosevic. At the time — only 16 months after a vicious 79-day U.S.-led NATO air war against the people of Yugoslavia — there was much confusion even among progressive and anti-war forces in the imperialist countries due to the overwhelming anti-Milosevic propaganda in the corporate media. The following interview by Cathrin Schütz with former Milosevic aide Vladimir Krsljanin throws light on those events and the developments in Serbia in the last 10 years.

Ten years ago, on Oct. 5, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was overthrown. What is hidden behind this “democratic revolution for freedom” celebrated by the Western media and politicians?

For 10 years Serbia had successfully resisted the war against Yugoslavia, which began in the early 1990s. After NATO’s war of aggression against our country ended in 1999 without a clear victory, London and Washington carried out a vast special operation to overthrow Milosevic; it was the mother of all subsequent “color revolutions.”

Through a presidential decree, Bill Clinton gave the CIA carte blanche to carry out a coup in Yugoslavia. Enormous sums were invested in political parties, NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and media. The fragmented opposition [to Milosevic and the Socialist Party of Serbia] was unified under foreign guidance. A coalition of 18 parties under the umbrella called the “Democratic opposition,” or DOS, formed with one goal: overthrow Milosevic.

William Montgomery, the person later named as U.S. ambassador to Belgrade, set up a specially equipped office in Budapest [in neighboring Hungary]. Opposition activists attended courses that were run by CIA agents. The so-called student group known as “Otpor” (Resistance) used the slogan “Gotov je” (He is finished) to conduct the election — this was all a project of Western intelligence agencies.

How did the overthrow take place?

In the Yugoslav presidential election on Sept. 24 the incumbent Milosevic obtained 15 percent fewer votes than Western-backed candidate Vojislav Kostunica. However, since neither of these two leading candidates won an absolute majority, it should have come to a run-off ballot. The DOS parties claimed that Milosevic had falsified the elections and Kostunica was victorious in the first round of voting. Otpor led violent street protests.

DOS wanted to prevent the runoff, although they would have won for sure. Milosevic refused to accept a resignation without a second round of voting.

At the height of the dispute, the Supreme Court issued a strange decision: Because of rumors of irregularities in the first ballot, all votes from the southern Serbian province of Kosovo were simply canceled. Of course, the vote in those districts would have to be repeated.

With Kosovo’s votes cancelled, Kostunica’s vote share increased to more than 50 percent. Milosevic acknowledged the decision and on Oct. 5 congratulated Kostunica’s victory. This step, which had barely been reported, was buried in what was a media-constructed “popular uprising.” As Otpor set the Parliament on fire, the Kostunica forces immediately and completely seized the government apparatus. With this coup they avoided a controlled handover of power.

It was thus not simply an electoral victory for the opposition?

The years-long image of Milosevic as a “dictator” in the Western media would have appeared absurd if he were simply removed by a Democratic vote. The West didn’t want to risk this loss of credibility. Mainly though, the “revolution” needed to be carried out violently to shorten the time until the new regime could allow far-reaching Western interventions in the state and economy, thus making the transformation irreversible.

After Oct. 5, government offices and businesses were occupied by so-called crisis units, and those previously in charge were dismissed. After a few months 40,000 officials had been illegally removed from office. Today’s economy minister, Mladjan Dinkic, began his illustrious career by using machine guns to take over the National Bank.

Dinkic’s party, G17 Plus, was originally set up as an NGO by the West. Despite its marginal election results, for the last 10 years it has controlled public finances under successive governments. Dinkic’s first act as a national bank director was to dissolve the four largest Serbian banks at the behest of the International Monetary Fund — with the result that the Serbian banking system is now in foreign hands, and every year 6 billion euros flow out of the country. I remember Milosevic’s words before the election: “They are not targeting Serbia to grab Milosevic, but Milosevic to grab Serbia.”

But beyond the Western propaganda, there was in reality a great discontent among the population [in 2000]. … Under the guidance of and in close collaboration with their foreign sponsors, the opposition understood how to blame on Milosevic the suffering caused by Western sanctions and NATO’s war and how to make big promises should they win the elections.

The bombs had destroyed the economy and infrastructure, which aggravated the social discontent. When the government used up the remaining government funds for repairing the main road and rail links, the voters felt even more pain and were susceptible to opposition propaganda that claimed voting out Milosevic would stop the foreign pressure and increase the standard of living. It is in this sense that one should understand White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer’s comments that the war was part of the “regime change” strategy of NATO and the United States, because it weakened Milosevic and led to his fall.

Why did the leading Western countries carry out such an aggressive intervention policy in Yugoslavia and Serbia?

Since the early 1990s there have been not many different wars in Yugoslavia — in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo — it was all one war: that of the West against Yugoslavia. In this statement I fully agree with Milosevic. Former U.S. President George Bush Sr., while speaking during the celebration of German reunification, discussed the elimination of the consequences of the Versailles Treaty in Europe. A key point regarding Versailles at the beginning of the 20th century was to weaken Germany in favor of the Eastern European countries, which Germany had considered as satellites within the “Central Europe” doctrine.

Thus, those in Versailles for the first time recognized Yugoslavia as a state. Until Yugoslavia’s breakup, Catholic and Muslim groups in Yugoslavia were used by Western powers to counteract Russian influence, which was based on historical closeness with Serbs. In the 1990s, however, a resurgent Germany’s role was to serve as a NATO member to weaken Russia and Eastern Europe, which was to be transformed into a “Euro-Atlantic region” — but of course only as a colony. In line with the long-cherished desire of the British, Serbia especially should be weakened as a potential ally of Russia.

With Milosevic it could never happen. Kosovo is now home to Camp Bondsteel, the largest U.S. military base in Europe, in the area of the proposed major oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea.

Did Milosevic’s fall pay off for Serbia’s population?

Immediately after Oct. 5, 2000, the Milosevic-SPS dominated Serbian Parliament was rendered powerless through the formation of a transitional government. Early parliamentary elections were held. DOS won a two-thirds majority and named Zoran Djindjic, the number one favorite of the West, as prime minister, the most powerful office of Yugoslav politics. Thus, the coup was completed.

Serbia is now an occupied country. Foreign “advisers” are sitting in government, army, police and secret service. The economy is flattened; the banking system in foreign hands. Privatization and sale of large companies bring poverty and hunger to Serbia. The army consists of only four brigades; the media have been silenced, the politicians corrupted. Montenegro has separated and Kosovo has declared its independence.

And while before Oct. 5, 2000, the Belgrade District Court tried in absentia and convicted the NATO leaders of war crimes, sentencing them to 20 years in prison, the sentence was repealed shortly after the coup. The head of the government TV station was found responsible for the death of his staff — those who died from NATO bombs. Afterwards Milosevic and several high-ranking state officials and generals were delivered to the NATO Inquisition in The Hague, in violation of the Constitution.

Thus nothing has improved. On the contrary, our remote-controlled president and the choir of the bought politicians and “experts” talk about great victories on the road to joining the European Union. But it seems obvious that this way is not the right way.

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Freedom Road looks at the international situation

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This piece was obtained through the blog of The Marxist-Leninist, and originally came from the International Section of the Main Political Report from the 6th Congress of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, which took place in May 2010. The other two sections of the MPR, the Economic section and Domestic report have both been previously published. Taken as a whole, the FRSO’s MPR gives a concrete, Marxist-Leninist analysis of the concrete situation facing us:

Introduction

The world has changed, and the pace of change is accelerating. From the mountains of Colombia to the jungles of the Philippines to the streets of the Middle East, and in the cities and town across the United States and Europe, something new has come into being. The camp of resistance is growing and monopoly capitalism is in decline. The principal contradiction in the world today is between the peoples of the Third World(1) and imperialism. The U.S. is the principal imperialist power in the world today and as such it is the main danger to the world’s peoples.

Three years ago, we stated that we are “entering a new phase in the overall decline of U.S. imperialism.” Reality has confirmed that analysis. The economic crisis, which has plunged tens of millions into deeper poverty and brought untold suffering o the world’s peoples, has weakened the power and prestige of the imperialist countries and the capitalist system itself.

The “war on terror” launched by the Bush administration was a dramatic attempt by the rulers of the United States to counteract the long running decline of Wall Street’s empire, by using military means. It ended in a series of defeat and stalemates, causing the phrase “war on terror” to be quietly dropped from the Pentagon’s lexicon The result is that on every continent, the U.S. finds itself struggling to find the methods and forms to maintain its domination, in the context of a declining ability to do so.

The political authority of the United States inside international institutions and on the diplomatic front is increasingly being disputed. Today, the US is forced to acknowledge the existence of other surfacing powers – such as China, India, Russia and an alliance of progressive regimes in Latin America.

Throughout the era of imperialism (monopoly capitalism), where the world has been divided up by the advanced capitalist countries, there are four basic contradictions at play: 1) between imperialism and the peoples of the oppressed nations, 2) between the imperialist powers, 3) between the working class and the capitalists and 4) between socialism and capitalism. While this is a general description of things as they have been and are, it’s important to see what is new and developing in this overall context.

For example, while it is a constant that the contradictions among the “great powers” sharpen throughout the era of imperialism, in the framework of retaining or expanding their respective spheres of influence, the imperialist powers at times collude with each other to weaken the socialist counties (e.g. U.S./Japan hostility towards Democratic Korea ), to oppose national liberation movements in the Third World (e.g. U.S./European efforts to criminalize Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army), and to weaken the power of the working class in general (e.g. an aspect of many trade agreements).

One can make the point there is always contention within the environment of imperialist collusion, but at times this is a secondary aspect, for example, in the debates going on in U.S. and European military circles over Afghanistan.

The bottom line here is that while understanding the general features and contradictions of imperialism is extremely helpful in making sense out of things, it is vital to grasp the particulars that make up this general picture. This is the only way that it is possible to arrive at a correct estimate of the balance of forces on a world scale, the overall motion of the basic contradictions, and an understanding of how the international situation is likely to impact on the situation here in the U.S.

A final point here is that we approach our evaluation of the international situation in a partisan way – from the standpoint of working class internationalism. Setbacks and defeats for imperialism help working and oppressed people in the United States, as they weaken our common enemy, bringing us closer to the day when we are free from the rule of the rich and powerful.

Change and continuity

Since the emergence of the United States as an imperialist power, the essence of American foreign policy has always had a remarkable degree of consistency – the basic aim was, and is, to build an empire extending across the globe. The underlying motive of empire is to systematically exploit the labor and the loot the land and natural resource of others in order to enrich the monopoly capitalists who rule the United States.

That said, the election of Barack Obama means that there will be elements of continuity with past U.S. foreign policy as well as some important changes. Both elements are shaped by key events in the recent past.

Iraq and Afghanistan

The two key events to grasp are the decisions by the Bush administration to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. In both cases, overthrowing those countries’ independent governments, attempting to install puppet regimes, and then failing to suppress popular insurgencies which aim for liberation from occupation. No doubt there are many other important focal points of struggle in the world, ranging from Cuba to Nepal, but Iraq and Afghanistan have special significance.

Iraq and Afghanistan represent something where quantity adds up to a qualitative change. The U.S. is intervening in many places, directly and indirectly. But in Iraq and Afghanistan, imperialism, following the lead of the U.S., is undertaking large scale armed confrontations against the forces of national liberation.

In Iraq, the independent, nationalist government of Saddam Hussein presented a direct challenge to the dominance of imperialist countries over the oil-rich Middle East. In Afghanistan, the US’s interest stems from the desire to occupy a strategic base in Central Asia, where there are large deposits of oil and gas, and to contain the rising influence of Russia, Iran and China.

The reason that there are still more than 100,000 troops in Iraq is because the puppet government put in place by the United States can not remain in power without them. The Bush administration said that the occupation of Iraq would be some sort of cake walk. Instead they found that the Iraqi people had the courage and capacity to wage an heroic struggle for national liberation. Time and time again the Bush administration’s agenda, domestic and international, floundered on setbacks in Iraq. While the people of Iraq have not yet achieved victory, time is not on the side of the U.S. occupation. (2)

In Afghanistan the story is the same. Using the events of September 11, 2001 as a pretext, the government of Afghanistan was overthrown in a military crusade. A puppet government was established in Kabul. And a popular insurgency took root to end the occupation.

Afghanistan and Iraq are critical because they both represent major set backs for U.S. imperialism. (3)

The large scale resistance that is being waged by the people of Afghanistan has increasingly confined foreign occupiers to the big population centers and has created an unending crisis in the occupation regime. It has left U.S. foreign policymakers and the Pentagon in a difficult situation, with no easy solutions.

The days of Bush, when U.S. policymakers could seriously debate invading Syria, or having Israel do it for them, are over, at least for now. The U.S. is not in a position to fight another major war. So Washington finds itself in a bind. Victory is impossible and defeat is unthinkable. The imperialists have picked up a rock only to drop it on their own feet.

While the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq do not, in and of themselves, settle the issue of the balance of forces on a world scale, they serve as indicators of the place of U.S. imperialism for the immediate period ahead.

Capitalist Crisis

There is a consensus among U.S. policymakers and in ruling-class think tanks that the crisis that has engulfed the capitalist world is of real importance and will weaken the power of imperialism.(4) Of course they do not put it in quite those terms, but when they speak of a decline of western “influence” and economic “threats,” that is exactly what they mean. On every level, from the military to the ideological, the capitalist crisis serves to limit their options.

On the ideological and political level, the model of privatization, free markets and no state intervention is basically dead. Governments that are propped up by one or another imperialist power find themselves under pressure from within and without. And in a practical sense, the centers of imperialism do not have endless resources and the capitalist crisis means they have less to work with – so when they pick and choose their fights, they do so from a weakened position. And, no foreseeable changes on the economic front will make for a qualitative change in this situation over the next few years.

Current Situation

McCain was defeated, and Barack Obama was elected in part because people rightfully wanted change, here at home and everywhere else. However, the place where the least change will be seen is in the sphere of how the United States relates to the rest of the world, especially the Third World. This is not because the corporate elite or the U.S. government is running on auto pilot, unable to consider any meaningful alternatives. The problem is much more fundamental. We live a capitalist county where the largest of corporations and a class that has the most wealth has the most power. So the framework which is used to analyze investment patterns, how issues of war and peace are decided and foreign policy serves those wealthy and corporate interests. There is never a real debate about ending U.S. domination abroad. The false idea projected by the ruling class is that everything from U.S. corporate investment to U.S. military bases abroad somehow benefits those who are dominated.

Because there is a consensus in the ruling class, for now, that Afghanistan cannot be “lost,” President Obama will continue to escalate the war there. Not only does Afghanistan have a strategic importance for the imperialist powers, the political impact of a defeat would be immense. And the strategic importance transcends the relative importance South Asia – i.e. there is a general view among the elite that the war in Afghanistan cannot end in defeat without endangering the U.S. position in the world.

Likewise the occupation of Iraq will continue. And the stakes are much higher than Afghanistan. The rulers of the United States cannot cede Iraq to Iraqi patriots or to some other power without endangering the U.S. domination of the Middle East as a whole – and its position as the leading imperial power.

There will be no significant change in the US occupation, although the rhetoric might be different from the Bush administration. Instead the US will continue to have its own military bases in Iraq and will use the puppet government army to oppress the Iraqi people. ”End the US Occupation of Iraq” needs to continue to be an important demand of the anti-war movement in this period, regardless of the focus on Afghanistan and the President’s claim that he is starting to end the war.

Stepping back and looking at the U.S. relationship with the Third World, in general there is a striking continuity with the policies of the Bush administration, with some important nuances. On way to put this is that there will be more carrots, and less sticks, but sticks in general will be the main thing. For example the U.S. is on a collision course with Iran, and “talks” or diplomacy will not change this. It is a question of balance of forces in the Middle East and what needs to be done strategically to maintain U.S. domination. Another examples is Colombia, where the Pentagon is expanding its presence.

Of course the U.S. or its surrogates don’t have an unending supply of sticks with which to beat others, meaning that given the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, it would be very hard to launch and handle a war of a similar or greater scale.

Many welcome the emphasis that the administration has placed on diplomacy and “talking things out.” Diplomacy is simply another method to obtain things, and it is self-evident that in places such as Afghanistan or Somalia, the U.S relies on force and will continue to do so. Force can be used to compel and money can purchase ‘friends.’ For the United States, the goal of diplomacy is to maintain an empire. The Bush administration played with the idea of overthrowing the anti-imperialist government of Syria. The current administration’s talks with Syria have the goal of splitting that country off from the other progressive and anti-imperialist forces in the region. The goal of maintaining U.S. influence over the region is the same as Bush’s or Clinton’s, or depending how far on wants to go back, Eisenhower’s or Truman’s.

U.S. military strategy is being reshaped. Gone is the cornerstone of fighting two conventional wars at the same time. The main stress is now on counter-insurgency. The formulation being used in the Pentagon is that we deal with the current situation while preparing for the future. And the future includes maintaining a big navy, for purposes of “force projection” and maintaining access to shipping lanes.

“Multilateralism” is in vogue and it is simply a way of describing collusion between the imperialist powers. The U.S. has had long periods of going it alone and long periods of acting in concert with other imperial powers – depending on time place and conditions. Contention is absolute and collusion is relative.

It is not helpful to describe agreements that provide for U.S domination of Third World as “multilateralism.” For example the Pentagon’s Proliferation Security Initiative, which allows for the boarding ships to hunt for “weapons of mass destruction,” is in the main a mechanism to project U.S. power. It is also used to interfere with the ships of, or leased by, Democratic Korea.

Concerning the Obama administration’s policy towards the socialist countries, it seems likely that there will be a return towards the policy of “peaceful evolution” which means relying on economic ties, along with political and cultural relations to help create a climate for the destabilization, and eventual overthrow of socialist governments. The exceptions being the contradiction with Democratic Korea, which has its own dynamics and China, where the U.S. hopes for and promotes “peaceful evolution” while actively preparing for a military confrontation in the decades to come.

The economic crisis has also increased economic tensions between the United States and China. The United States has stepped up its scape-goating of China, in an attempt to blame China for the high unemployment in the United States.

Europe and Japan, competing centers of Imperialism

Bush’s post 9-11 offensive was mainly aimed at the Third World but also included radically stepping up contention with Europe. As the offensive ended with defeat and exhaustion, the U.S. has returned to a more multilateral model.(5)

The other side of the issue is developments in Europe and Japan. Here the center of gravity is also opting for a multilateral approach. For example, European complicity in the occupation of Afghanistan will not stop anytime soon.

European economic integration is facing new challenges created by the economic crisis. There are growing tensions within the Euro-zone. Those countries hardest hit by economic crisis, such as Spain, are running large government budget deficits and need lower interest rates and a cheaper Euro to help stimulate their economy. At the same time Germany and others less affected by the crisis want smaller government budget deficits, higher interest rates and a strong Euro.

Many of the new members of the European Union in Eastern Europe are being hit hard from a fall in their exports to western Europe, falling remittances from workers who moved to western Europe, and tighter credit from western European banks. The IMF and western European countries are forcing harsh austerity measures on eastern European countries, in contrast to the deficit spending in the west. This is leading to growing protests and opposition to capitalism among the people.

It is not likely that the Euro can seriously compete with the dollar on a world scale in the period ahead. The issue is not the valuation of respective currencies, but rather that the U.S. is able to sell its debt with Treasury Bonds. Europe as a whole cannot. Instead this falls to all the respective individual central European banks, which have widely different polices, rates of maturing and uneven liquidity. This means that the Euro will not replace the dollar as the world currency any time soon and the prospect of an integrated, unitary European economy now appears to be a more distant goal than it seemed three years ago.

European unity is following the lead of Germany, the largest economy on the continent. Popular resistance to European integration, for example, votes to reject joining the European Union, are a good thing for both the peoples of Europe and the peoples of the Third World, as such resistance tends to weaken imperialism.

Britain is somewhat different, insofar as it is historically and at the present time much more attached to U.S.

There are some other trends in Europe worth noting. One is that the class struggle continues at a high level; for workers in the United States it is something we can learn from. Another is that racism and national oppression directed at national minorities from former colonial positions is on the rise (for example, the oppression of the Algerian national minority in France).

In Asia, Japan has attached itself to U.S. imperialism, playing a similar role to Britain. It shared strategic objectives with the United States to contain China and destroy socialist Korea. In the 1980s Japan’s rise as an economic power fueled an ambition to create an Asian capitalist bloc and have the Japanese yen be a major international currency like the U.S. dollar.

However the aftermath of the stock and real estate boom created an economic crisis in Japan in the 1990s with similarities to the crisis in the United States today. Japan spent more than ten years in economic stagnation, followed by a weak recovery based on exports. Japan’s economic weakness and China’s growing economy is affecting both Japan’s and the U.S. desires to dominate the rest of Asia.

Former Socialist countries, the USSR and in Eastern Europe

For the people of the former Soviet Union, the collapse of socialism has been a disaster. Gorbachev opened the door not to “reformed socialism,” but to plunder by native gangsters and their foreign sponsors. The collective wealth produced by the Soviet people was stolen in the largest privatization in history. The result: Nothing but misery for workers and farmers. Millions of workers went unpaid, lost their pensions and have been robbed of their life savings. Throughout the former Soviet Union, life expectancy is declining.

The destruction of the USSR paved the way for a great scramble among the imperialists to loot the land, labor and resources of one-sixth of the globe. Of particular importance are moves to seize energy resources in the Caspian basin and central Asia. The intervention in Afghanistan and the conflict with Iran are key elements of this strategy.

The results of the counter-revolution in the Soviet Union, as well as the socialist counties of Eastern Europe, such as Albania, Poland and Yugoslavia, are vivid examples of a simple truth – capitalism is a failed system that cannot meet the political, economic or social aspirations of the vast majority of people.

From the standpoint of understanding the international situation there are some important developments that need to be noted, especially in some of the more developed former socialist countries like Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic.

In the case of Russia, the continuing political rise of Vladimir Putin is the reflection of changes in Russia’s economic base. In Russia today, there is a rising capitalist class that has both comprador and national aspects. This means that Russia has some capacity to act independently of the main imperialist centers.

As for Poland and the Czech Republic, their rulers have shown some capacity to utilize contradictions among the respective imperialist powers.

In all the former socialist counties, construction of a Marxist-Leninist movement and new Communist Parties that fight for the re-establishment of socialism is an extremely positive development. In the face of serious difficulties and, at times, heavy repression, they are standing firm. We owe them our support and solidarity.

Third World

Imperialism means national oppression. Third world countries face famine, poverty, war, epidemics, environmental destruction, restructuring and dismantlement. On a world scale, the main form of national oppression today is neocolonialism. Recognizing this fact, it should be stated that one of the particular features of U.S. imperialism has been the reversion to what resembles the earlier form of direct colonial rule, as with the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Objectively, the countries of the Third World are at the center of the revolutionary process and the gains made over the past period are remarkable.

Middle East

The peoples of the Middle East are standing up to imperialism, Zionism and reaction of all kinds. Because of the region’s strategic importance to western imperialism, developments here can lead to a shift in the balance of forces on a world scale.

The powerful and determined struggle of the Palestinian people has swept away repeated attempts to impose solutions that come up short of complete liberation. We support the Palestinian people in their fight to regain their homeland, including the right of return, and to create a democratic, secular state in all of historic Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.

We expect there will be some differences between the current administration and the former on the issue of Palestine. A “two state solution” will now have a lot more emphasis, as there is a consensus among U.S. policymakers that if this does not happen sooner, it will be impossible later. This means there will be more contradictions between the administration and the forces that dream of a “greater Israel.”

We call for an end to all U.S. aid to Israel. Israel is a creation of U.S. and British imperialism – it is a dagger that the U.S. wields against the Arab peoples. The 2006 defeat of Israel by the Lebanese resistance demonstrated the underlying weakness of the Zionist state and the power of the Arab peoples. It also showed that the patriotic and progressive forces of Lebanon are an extremely important factor in the in building the camp of resistance to imperialism and Zionism.

Whatever weakens Israel or U.S. support for Israel strengthens the hand of the people of Palestine, the Arab peoples and ultimately the world’s peoples.

Over the past decade, there has been a steady radicalization of the masses of Arab peoples. With a few notable exceptions, the vast majority of governments in the Middle East are western-dominated and hated by the people they rule. The protracted struggle in Palestine will further destabilize the puppet governments which are unable and unwilling to confront Israel.

The ongoing efforts of the Iraqi national liberation movement to win freedom from the U.S.-led occupation are of vital importance for the Iraqi people, the people of the Middle East and the world’s people.

In evaluating the situation in the Middle East, Iran is of real importance. U.S. threats of war against Iran must be taken seriously, even as the U.S. military is stretched to its limits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Increasing political, economic and military strength, especially compared to its besieged neighbors, allows Iran to be relatively independent of U.S. domination. We uphold Iran’s right to develop its nuclear capacity, and oppose the U.S-Israeli nuclear monopoly in the Middle East. Moreover, while the role of Iran in Iraq is complicated, and we cannot support any policies that undermine the unity of the patriotic Iraqi national resistance, nonetheless Iran makes it objectively more difficult for the U.S. to unilaterally control the situation in Iraq and stabilize its illegal occupation.

Should the U.S. or Israel widen their war on the people of the Middle East, whether by attacking Iran or any other enemies of imperialism, the U.S. anti-war movement will need to orient itself towards whatever the principal contradiction is at that time, focusing on the battlefront that most strongly serves to weaken U.S. imperialism.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean have long suffered under the yoke of U.S. imperialism. Since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, U.S. rulers have viewed this region as their own backyard. Neocolonialism is the main form of national oppression in Latin America today, and the U.S. does not hesitate to use political and military means to dominate the peoples of Latin America.

The exploitation and expropriation of wealth is the fundamental objective of imperialism. Economic instruments of imperialism include neocolonial structural adjustment projects, privatization and the massive debt foisted upon most developing nations and administered by U.S.-dominated multi-lateral financial institutions, like the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

In Latin America, the policies of looting and theft are codified in international, bilateral and trilateral free trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA, AFTA and others. Agriculture, public health, social services, public education, workers’ rights and the environment all come under heavy fire from these agreements. In the end, thousands are left impoverished and unemployed, while U.S. companies laugh all the way to the bank – tax-free. Imperialist domination further impoverishes the peasantry and pushes small farmers off the land.

The U.S. has dominated Haiti through both military and economic policies for almost a century. The 2010 earthquake merely provided the U.S. with an excuse to increase it’s foothold in the poorest part of Latin America. The U.S. efforts are focused on maintaining its control over Haiti and propping up its puppet government rather than on offering meaningful humanitarian relief.

The contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed nations is intensifying across Latin America, where the great masses of people are unable to live in the old way and the rulers are unable to rule in the old way. Colombia is at the leading edge of this process, where armed revolution is meeting armed counter-revolution on the battlefield. The war in Colombia is of vital importance to the imperialists – around 1,000 U.S current and former military personnel are engaged in combat there and the U.S. is now talking about setting up more military bases. A victory for Colombia’s national liberation movement will be an incredible blow to U.S. imperialism.

Moreover, a profound revolutionary process is taking place in the northern part of South America. This includes the progressive and patriotic governments of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and that of Evo Morales in Bolivia. The elections of social democratic or left-leaning governments of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, Ecuador, and the FMLN of El Salvador amount to a rejection of the U.S. and reflect the dissatisfaction of the masses of people. The spread of this process to Central America pulled Honduran President Mel Zelaya to the left, until he was overthrown in a right wing coup in June 2009.

With a U.S. military base in Honduras, the U.S. government was no bystander to the coup. Although the U.S. has not intervened with its military, it has given support to right wing forces. The U.S. government has clearly stood with the Honduran oligarchy and used the coup in Honduras to send a chilling message to leftist governments throughout the region.

Progressive forces in the U.S. have a special responsibility to support the progressive and revolutionary forces in Mexico. The southwest part of the United States – Aztlan – was formerly Northern Mexico. A distinct Chicano nation has developed in this region and there is a relationship between what takes place in Mexico and the developments in the Southwest. One indication of this is the inspiration many Chicano youth took from the uprising in Chiapas. Revolutionary struggle in Mexico weakens U.S imperialism, and will contribute to shaping the Chicano national movement (and other movements as well).

Finally, note must be made of socialist Cuba – which is a beacon of liberation to people through out the hemisphere. Socialist Cuba has built a health care system that is the envy of nations across the globe; thousands of Cuban doctors travel to Africa, Asia, and Latin America to provide free services to the poor and needy. Cuba has eliminated unemployment and created a superb educational system that eradicated illiteracy. Today Cuba is leading the charge in sustainable development and agriculture. All of this was done while under the most intense pressure of the U.S. blockade.

Africa

Africa is the poorest continent. It was conquered, divided and stripped of great amounts of its natural resources by imperialism. Now Africa faces an AIDS crisis affecting tens of millions, while Western drug corporations plot how to make more profits. In past decades, Africans waged many victorious national liberation struggles. Unfortunately, comprador forces allied with neocolonialism seized power in a number of countries, thus reaping the fruit of many of these heroic struggles.

With the aim of grabbing the resources, land and labor of the African peoples, the United States is utilizing domestic proxies, direct intervention, regional “security” agreements and military assistance programs. About 15% of the oil coming to the U.S. is from sub-Saharan Africa. This amount could well go up another 10% over the next decade, particularly as more fields producing low-sulfur oil are opened up. Africa has huge mineral reserves, including copper, bauxite and uranium. The U.S. is moving to strengthen its control of key shipping and communications lines – for example those that pass by the Horn of Africa.

In 2007, the United Stated formed a military command to focus on Africa (AFRICOM). Teaming up with its proxy, Ethiopia, the U.S. is waging a war on the people of Somalia. We support the patriotic people of Somalia who are fighting to free their country from foreign domination.

Sudan is another target of U.S. intervention, where Washington is interfering in the internal affairs of that country, and cynically using the turbulence in the Darfur region to weaken a government it opposes. We opposes sanctions on the Sudan.

In Zimbabwe there has been an ongoing attempt by the west, headed up by the U.S. and Britain, to bring down that country’s progressive government, and end the national democratic process that is taking place there. We are against any sanctions on Zimbabwe and support the revolutionary measures adopted by its government, such as land reform.

Nearly every region of the continent has been ravaged by war. In general, the basis for these conflicts can be found in the legacy of colonialism and the ongoing maneuvers of the western powers, especially the U.S., France and Britain. We are opposed to western military intervention under any guise, including that of “peace keeping.”

Asia

Asia is a focal point of the four major contradictions in the world. Thus, of anywhere in the world, Marxism is the most alive in Asia today. There are more communists here than in the rest of the world combined. There are huge mass movements of communists in India and Bangladesh numbering in the tens of millions. There is also a growing armed struggle led by communists in India. The outcome of great struggle taking place in Nepal, where communists led an overthrow of a reactionary monarchy and continued to struggle for a national democratic revolution, has implications for Asia and the world as a whole.

In the Philippines, the Communist Party of the Philippines holds substantial liberated areas and is leading the masses of people in a national democratic revolution with a socialist orientation. Locked in a direct confrontation with the U.S. and its puppets, advances in the revolutionary process here are of real importance for Asia as a whole. The Philippines were the first big base of operations for the U.S. empire in Asia, the point from where the U.S. projected its power. Victories won by the revolutionary movement in the Philippines affect the balance of forces in the region, and set back U.S. imperialism’s plans to build an anti-China alliance.

There are also more socialist countries in Asia than anywhere else. China, Laos, Vietnam, Korea all espouse Marxism-Leninism and see themselves on the road to communism. Taken as whole, Asia is a weak link in the chain of imperialism.

Note should be made of U.S. efforts to provoke a second Korean war. While the strength of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea and the patriotic movements in the south of the peninsula constrain the U.S., ongoing provocations, such as the fabrication of a “nuclear crisis” and war preparations (troop redeployments, deployment of advanced weapons, agreements with other countries to seize north Korean shipping vessels) constitute serious danger to peace on the Korean Peninsula.

In a similar vein, we understand that when the Pentagon speaks of a “regional competitor” in Asia, it means the People’s Republic of China. We support the efforts of the Chinese people to achieve reunification with the Taiwan province and oppose U.S. efforts to threaten China with “missile defense,” a system of military bases aimed at encirclement and subversion.

The growing international influence of China is also posing a challenge to U.S. imperialism. China has growing economic and political relationships with many countries of the Third World in Asia, Africa and Latin America. China has been able to unite with other Third World countries in international forums on trade and the environment to challenge the hegemony of U.S. and other other imperialist powers. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is a military alliance that includes Russia, China, and other Central Asian countries presents a direct challenge to the expansion of NATO in Central Asia.

Finally, the growing struggle of Afghani people to win national independence and liberate their country from U.S. and NATO control has made real strides forward. The U.S. is expanding its military attacks to Afghanistan’s neighbor, Pakistan. There is growing opposition by the Pakistani people to their government’s cooperation with U.S. imperialism.

Socialist Countries

China, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of Korea are countries where the proletariat has established power. These countries are an important factor in the world revolutionary process. Whatever strengths or weakness the respective socialist countries have, we count ourselves in the ranks of those who hold that actual existing socialism is a good thing.

A quick compare and contrast demonstrates that socialism has been extremely positive for the Third World. Those countries that overthrew imperialism and its local servants, established New Democracy, and transitioned to socialism under the leadership of the working class and its Party have improved the lives of their own people and inspired millions more.

For example, Cuba’s infant mortality rate ranks far above that of Mexico or El Salvador, and many major U.S. cities. On issues of equality, heath care, education, culture, housing, and food the people of the socialist countries fare better.

In the cases of Korea and Vietnam, the mass destruction of U.S. wars attempted to send those nations “back to the Stone Age.” However, due to the victories against U.S. imperialism, they have fared well compared with similar Asian nations.

However, socialist countries also face major contradictions, from external and internal sources, including those stemming from market reforms and the opening of the economies to the world market. In spite of this, the socialist countries have demonstrated in practice the bright future in store for humanity.

Notes

(1) Third World is a reference to the developing countries that are oppressed by imperialism.

(2) From 2003 to 2008, a powerful national resistance movement emerged in Iraq and that seemed to be relatively close to victory. The U.S. responded by instigating sectarian warfare, both openly and covertly. The divide-and-rule tactics of the U.S. and Al Qaeda’s sectarian actions served the same purpose: to fracture the resistance and create an opening for the occupation. The result was the creation of large pro-puppet militias like the ‘Sons of Iraq’ in areas where the resistance was the strongest. Nonetheless, the Iraqi resistance was never defeated and continues to wage armed struggle against the occupation.

(3) Defense Secretary Gates acknowledged as much, stating “We are unlikely to repeat another Iraq or Afghanistan anytime soon – that is, forced regime change followed by nation-building under fire,” in a speech at National Defense University, September 2008.”Nation building” is a code word for creating a stable puppet government.

(4) According to USA TODAY, February 25 2009: Leon Panetta told reporters that his agency was producing, at the request of the Obama administration, a new “economic intelligence brief” and distributing it to key policymakers. Reflecting the comments of the director of national intelligence, who called the economic crisis a serious national security threat, the new brief will focus on global economic issues, Panetta says. “It will cover overseas developments, economic, political, leadership developments,” he says. “Obviously, the implications in terms of the U.S. economy will be analyzed as well.” The first EIB was sent out today to “key players” in the administration.

(5) As we noted in our 2004 Main Political Report, while the contradiction between the U.S. and Europe has its own dynamics, at its core is a struggle of rivals to re-divide the world for their respective benefit. Given the setbacks the U.S. has met with in the Middle East and elsewhere, we can expect that those in the U.S. ruling class who favor a more “multilateral” approach of “let’s get together and share the spoils” will make their voices heard.