What's My Line

Jim heartfield jim at heartfield.demon.co.uk
Tue Apr 13 01:22:50 PDT 1999

In message <000501be8567$c7e127a0$6a15b0cf at sawicky>, Max Sawicky <sawicky at epinet.org> writes

Max's points were interesting, though I did not agree with all of them, but cutting to the chase:

>8. What's the right demand for the left? Support self-determination for

Self-determination for Kosova? Who amongst the Kosovars is demanding self-determination? I thought they were demanding autonomy within the Yugoslav republic (in the period from 1970 to 1989), restoration of autonomy with Western support (1989 to Rambouillet) and to be made a UN Protectorate (from Rambouillet to now). At no time have the Kosovars sought to be an independent state. The only historically viable proposition is economically unviable: union with Albania.

> I'd say the
>task for the left is not dissimilar to how it might support any liberation
>struggle. The difference this time is that the U.S. and EU are not directly
>and overtly aligned against the struggle, but for assorted non-humanitarian
>reasons may do things to advance it. But it's still a liberation struggle.

No, put simply, its not. Not when the central demand from the KLA is for Nato intervention in Kosovo, and, as I heard on the British ITN news last night, for the continued bombing of Kosovo - action that has already killed Albanians in Pristina. The KLA does not want an independent state, it wants to switch its dependency from Yugoslavia to Nato. That would be rational, considering the economic unviability of an independent Kosovo, but as Max rightly notes, Nato's support for the KLA is entirely instrumental, and will quickly turn sour (as has their support for the Bosniaks and Kurds).

>9. Why not simply say, stop bombing? Because that leaves the Muslims
>hanging out to dry. Better to focus on doing something -- using military
>force to protect Muslims inside Kosova -- rather than on not doing
>something. Though not bombing Serbian civilians follows from protecting

The error here is to imagine that the US (or UK in my case) military is somehow at your disposal. Popular sentiment is encouraged to support military interventions on a wide range of pretexts, but it is a mistake to imagine that that means that it is at our disposal. The allies firepower is not a force that can be used for good. It will always follow the basic dynamic of Western domination. Currently it is engaged in expanding into the strategically weakened Balkan region. Any concern expressed for the people of the region is entirely functional to that expansion.

So do what? 'First do no harm' (The Hippocratic Oath, quoted in this context recently by Noam Chomsky). Western intervention has accelerated the ethnic disintegration and the refugee crisis. Stopping Western intervention is the best thing that any of us can try to do.

>10. What do you say to Muslims as to their proper path? Pledge allegiance
>to a democratic, secular Serbia? Where is that place?

It might be far from perfect, but the Yugoslav Federation still elects its governments (hence the refusal of the Montenegrin local govt to support Serbia - though in that they are clearly out of step with the populace). It is also secular. The best first step to challenge the grip that Milosevic and his Serb chauvinism have on Yugoslavia is indeed to stop the bombings.

> Support Serbia's
>demand for an end to bombing? How does that help them?

It might stop them being killed, as those muslims killed in Pristina were. IT might also stop the destruction of their homeland, which is taking place under nightly bombing raids. And it would lay the basis for a return of refugees to their homes.

> Why deprives Muslims of the right to
>fight for their independence, other than the misfortune to have as their
>enemy a ruler who aggravates the U.S. and EU?

If they were fighting for their independence, that might be a consideration. But they are fighting to create a Nato enclave in the Balkans. That is a threat to the self-determination of all the people of the region. -- Jim heartfield

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