"WWIII vs Vietnam"

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Wed Apr 7 15:55:00 PDT 1999

At 14:39 07/04/99 -0400, you wrote:
>Chris Burford wrote:
>>The illogicality of continuing massive bombardments of the whole of Serbia
>>while delaying for logistical reasons the arrival of Apaches that could
>>concentrate only on the territory of Kosovo is not challenged in public.
>Sort of calls your cheerleading for the NATO humanitarians into question,
>doesn't it? Sometimes what appears "illogical" is actually logical once you
>understand the starting premises.

My post was an attempt to move forward, but if Doug wants to challenge me on the earlier lines of demarcations OK. I will try to extend the argument. We still have a conflict of perspective. Yours is like Louis Proyect's although less sectarianly intolerant as a moderator of other viewpoints. It is to have a fairly simple rule: be against your imperialist ruling class.

Correct me if I am wrong.

I do not say your instincts are at fault. A previous post by you said modestly but penetratingly the feeling that it would be better generally if the USA had less power. Certainly. One thing that should come out of this war is that any policy of imposing peace through massive superiority of mainly one airforce is expensive and crude. Please support isolationist currents in the USA. In Europe we need to campaign to take our own responsbibility for security and do not rely on massive US air power.

But what you still do not see is a strategy of an international united front against fascism and for democratic rights (including social and economic rights). In such a united front actions by imperialist governments may sometimes have a progressive aspect, although more often a reactionary aspect.

Fascism must not be appeased: it must be opposed. Whether it is fascism in rightist clothing or fascism in leftist clothing.

You make play of the term "NATO humanitarians". Louis Proyect has used the term humanitarian bombing in his article including Zimmerwald in the title and taking issue 4 or 5 years ago with my view that it was progressive for the NATO countries to bomb the Serbian fascist gun emplacements rather than stand around making humanitarian gestures. My view was we should not oppose that action. The term "humantarian bombing" muddles up the two policies of humanitarian gestures and confronting fascist might with armed might.

John Major has just been interviewed about that period of time in Bosnia. The broad outlines are non-controverial in the west: NATO had indeed sent in a number of troops for humanitarian gestures offering food to refugees who had been expelled by wars of terror against the civilian population. They refused to arm the Bosnian muslim government and they refused to do anything about the gun emplacements. One of the main reasons was that their poor well-meaning troops would become hostage.

This spineless attitude to fascism had to stop. Otherwise where would it end?

Now 5 years on, at least NATO has made it clear that it would not accept slow ethnic cleansing spreading into Kosovo. The moral blackmail of the Serb racists who smugly dance while tacitly accepting a destruction of democratic rights in Kosovo, had been trumped by the propaganda effect of tens of thousands of people deported by naked racist terror. So confident that they have the moral authority of the victim that they can forget who they themselves are oppressing.

A political struggle has gone on within NATO as to whether to respond to this minor holocaust (substitute muslims for jews) by helpless humanitarian gestures and just shipping them all round Europe. And the answer has been largely no. That would be to collude in the fascist crime.

This is good.

Meanwhile the Serb nationalist have done a U-turn. The moderate wing of fascism has risen to a position of ascendancy again over the most ruthless, violent, and racist wing of fascism. The Albanians who were being driven over the border by terror suddenly are the victims of an Easter truce in the war of the Serbian fascists against the civilian population. Suddenly they are herded like cattle away from the border and back somewhere, possibly not actually to be killed in mass graves this time, although reports of mass graves from earlier are becoming more detailed.

They are now needed for another purpose.

But although the Socialist Party of Serbia is expert at playing the open fascist card against the moderate fascist card, it is not yet clear what that purpose is. It could well be a muddle even though the appeasers of fascism think that fascism is always strong.

Actually it may be that diplomatic channels are opening up. That the Serbian regime thinks it needs to use Greek contacts to make a display of generosity by releasing the 3 US soldiers. But more importantly it is negotiating through Russia. Gregor Gysi of the PDS was quite right there can be no peace without Russia, and Russia is there for negotiations. It will not be participating in World War III.

Why the turn round if the massive imperialist bombing of the Serbian economy, reactionary in character, has not had some impact? As well as the propaganda war, which Serbia has now lost? I don't support the massive scale of the bombing but it is possible that the calculations of NATO may have turned out to be partly correct.

The imperialist nature of the NATO intervention remains. There is little interest in arming the KLA, but instead in insisting NATO must substitute for the KLA. There is simply no explanation with all the massive air movements going on to bomb Serbia and to move the refugees around, why they cannot get the Apaches in operation over Kosovo within a week, which would allow them to have a more limited and proportionate armed air campaign largely restricted to Kosovo, and easing the suffering in Serbia as a whole.

Vanishing Deportees

Basically NATO of course cannot think of the people except as passive recipients of bourgeois politics. They cannot explain the politics behind the sudden vanishing of the columns of refugees on both sides of the Macedonian border simultaneously. The explanation lies in what I have called moderate Serb fascism. Clearly the move was co-ordinated and it was coordinated through Serb contacts on both sides of the border. The western media cannot explain this. The Serbs in Macedonia did not want any more Albanians in Macedonia so they crammed them on buses in the middle of the night separating families who could not even cling together. No one was actually killed but all at such speed that they could not even take their belongings. Meanwhile their humanitarian Serb fascist brothers decided on the other side of the border, where we do not yet know how many hundreds died in front of the eyes of the guards without food for days - perhaps thousands - that they must be shipped off like cattle again. Suddenly it is the Orthodox Easter.

Who I wonder is going to cheer lead this humanitarian gesture? Let us see how the left apologists for fascism can turn that into a story of more egg on NATO's face. If they try it will be useless as an argument that weakens imperialism.

Because at the end of the day, it of course does not matter what is said on an e-mail list like this if it somehow does not have a chance of connecting with the outside world. The peace movement is weak in the United States, and western Europe. Why? On what basis can it be made stronger? How can imperialist adventures be resisted more effectively?

Only by abandoning a posture of revolutionary cynicism and being prepared to get into serious discussion of revolutionary reforms. The Peace movement must unite with the desire of the people to oppose fascism, and instead point out and criticise what is imperialist in the way NATO has tried to stand up to fascism. Essentially by relying as much as possible on people, and using superior armaments only to the strictly limited extent that that is necessary to neutralise superior armaments of the fascists. By campaigning for a just peace. Not a bourgeois pacifist peace.

Doug's question to me suggests a lack of dialectics: A NATO government cannot be or do anything other than something reactionary. But although this seems revolutionary on the surface it is useless as a way forward. Correct me if I am wrong.

There is no point in having an anti-imperialist beauty competition on an e-mail list somewhere in cyber-space. It only makes sense if out of the dialectics of it, comes the possibility of a more effective policy that weakens the power of capital within our countries and the world.

That is why if we seriously wish to weaken the power of our imperialist governments we will help build an international united front not against that government as such but against fascism and for human rights in the broadest sense. That is what will weaken capitalists and imperialists in the course of uniting people to achievement political goals.

Western Europe has recognised an obscure group of people with muslim names as our fellow human beings, our fellow Europeans. James H is cynical about how deep this goes, but the emergency appeal for the Kosovans in the UK raised 5 million pounds in less than 24 hours, and public opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of sending in troops. A new concept of European solidarity is being built which embraces eastern Europe. We are opening the door to a European superstate that stretches to the former Soviet Union. That may take a generation to consolidate, but this war as a war against the fascist oppression of an oppressed people is a just war, albeit waged by imperialist means. The enlargement of Europe is progressive even though it will thereby become stronger as an imperialist power. Is that too dialectical?

Chris Burford


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