Economic motives behind the war on Yugoslavia
Source Louis Proyect
Date 99/07/04/12:23


By Barry Lituchy

28 June (Vidovdan) 1999

(*Adapted from his speech at the June 5th Demonstration at the Pentagon)

Is there anyone left who still believes that Yugoslavia was destroyed by
"ancient ethnic hatreds," and not from without by Western - particularly
American - imperialism and covert action? The potency of this big lie
diminished greatly as 20,000 tons of bombs were dropped on Yugoslavia over
79 days, exposing the pure bloodsucking savagery that is American
imperialism. But not before it served its purpose in providing the
necessary diversion for the White House, the Pentagon and the State
Department to carve up Yugoslavia once again, detaching Kosovo from Serbia
and occupying it, looting its resources.

When investigating a crime one must learn both the motive and the modus
operandi of the perpetrator. Some of the best evidence of the economic
motives driving this war are in the perverted documents of the criminals
themselves, such as the infamous "Rambouillet Accords." Chapter 4 of this
85 page Nazi-like ultimatum deals exclusively with what is to be done with
the economic assets of Kosovo. At the very top of the list, Article 1 (page
45) calls for the privatization of the whole economy. Since Kosovo's large
industry is almost entirely state owned, this document amounts to nothing
less than an organized theft of Yugoslav resources by Western corporations.
Indeed, as the New York Times admitted in a 1998 article, "below Kosovo, a
war's glittering prize" awaits the conqueror.

Kosovo's mineral resources are the richest in all of Europe west of Russia.
In particular, the N.Y. Times noted, "the sprawling state-owned Trepca
mining complex, the most valuable piece of real estate in the Balkans, is
worth at least $5 billion," producing gold, silver, pure lead, zinc,
cadmium, as well as tens of millions of dollars in profits annually. Trepca
was built by the British before World War II, and is now once again back in
the hands of British capitalists. Kosovo's mines also possess 17 billion
tons of coal reserves, and Kosovo (like Serbia and Albania) also has oil

But these were not the only economic motives driving this war. Serbia
itself is also rich in mineral resources, especially oil. And the port of
Bar on the Montenegrin coast is the most valuable, cost efficient deep
water port in the entire Eastern Mediterranean Sea - the cheapest route for
the flow of goods in and out of Eastern Europe and beyond. Also, extremely
valuable oil and natural gas pipelines flow through Serbia from Russia to
Central Europe.

Finally, let's not forget the interests of the military-industrial
contractors themselves. Having used up their inventory of certain weapon
systems, the Pentagon got Congress to rush through a $15 billion military
spending bill for just the first six months following the outbreak of the
war. The NY Times reported that Congress is expected to request an
additional $120 billion for the next five years and over $250 billion
through the year 2010. This is a bonanza for the munitions makers but a
looming catastrophe for humanity, for as the criminal American ruling class
prepares this vast expansion of military power they are also preparing to
plunge humanity into a state of constant war with the rest of the world, a
vision of the future not unlike the one portrayed in George Orwell's novel

But the economic prizes are not the only motivation behind the war. Also
important is the fact that Yugoslavia represents an alternative to
capitalism, and no such alternative can be permitted to exist -- especially
not when it is outperforming many of its capitalist neighbors economically.

Yugoslavia has the last socialist economy in Europe. 65% of all firms are
either state owned or self-managed cooperatives. The combination of
private, cooperative and state run enterprises is -- and always has been --
the hallmark of the Yugoslav socialist model. Most heavy industry is state
owned, and it was the exclusive focus of the 79 day bombing campaign. The
banking and financial system is also state controlled. Only 20% of the
workforce is in the private sector. And Milosevic has moved away from
privatization in recent years.

Despite Western-imposed sanctions Yugoslavia's economy managed to show one
of the best growth rates in Eastern Europe last year. Unable to wreck the
Yugoslav model through sanctions, the US and its European allies financed
mercenary armies in the guise of "democratic opposition movements." When
even these proved insufficient, the US and its henchmen resorted to an
outright terrorist bombing campaign.

The modus operandi of US imperialism in the Balkans follows a pattern that
by now should be altogether too familiar: incite ethnic conflict by
supporting secessionist movements; invent a new fake history of the region
to justify the secessionists; covertly finance and arm the secessionists
(using the narcotics trade for financing); exaggerate and misrepresent
internal suppression of that rebellion into human rights violations;
disseminate cooked stories of atrocities to the media, the human rights
groups and Jewish organizations; and then, in the wake of the media clamor,
threaten war to "defend human rights. Yugoslavia will serve as the
precedent for all future "humanitarian" wars of the 21st century. Soon we
shall need to refer to the coming century as "Orwell's Century" (or perhaps

It is funny to recall that when America blew up the Chinese Embassy, the US
corporate media simply could not comprehend what all the fuss was about in
China. Of course, having not received their cue from the State Department
and the human rights organizations, the American media was puzzled as to
what the big deal was in China. "What are they getting so worked up about,"
they asked? So much for a free press. Likewise, the faces and names of
hundreds of thousands of Serbian and other Yugoslav victims of the NATO
bombings were rarely seen by the American public and the destruction of the
country of Yugoslavia was obscured by blanket coverage of "the plight w as
Albanians rape, murder and pillage their way back into Kosovo against the
half million Serbs, Gypsies, Turks, Goranies and other nationalities in
Kosovo, the human rights "watchers" have all gone on holiday. This in the
end is the "Kosovo autonomy" that all of these human rights fakers (and not
a few "leftists") clamored for. So much for human rights.

In reality, the conflict in Kosovo that supposedly compelled NATO to
intervene was never really about Serbs versus Albanians -- except in the
Western imperialists' imagination. It was a struggle between Western
sponsored Albanian fascism that went by the name of the KLA versus
Yugoslavism. And when the Yugoslav army smashed the KLA, the West
intervened directly.

We supported Yugoslavia in this struggle, not merely because it was the
right thing to do, but because of what it stands for: the last
multi-national state in Europe, the last socialist society in Europe, the
last free people in Europe. This is why Yugoslavia proved to be such a
powerful obstacle to IMF and NATO domination of southeastern Europe. And
this is why it was so savagely demonized, slandered and slaughtered.

Since the truth would be unpopular, the US foreign policy establishment had
to cast about for lies to justify their aggression. The lies took the form
of a virulent racist diatribe against the Serbs. The "enemy" was always
"the Serbs" -- never the Yugoslavs. Although Serbs make up a majority of
present day Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia consists of 27 nationalities, so the
bombs were falling on lots of non-Serbs. But the main purpose of the
anti-Serb propaganda was to misrepresent the history of Yugoslavia as some
sort of "Greater Serbian nationalist state." However, rather than
advocating "greater Serbian nationalism" and ethnic cleansing, the Serbs
have always -- both before and after the initial dismemberment of
Yugoslavia in 1991 -- supported a multinational, socialist and independent
Yugoslavia. It was for this "crime" against global capitalism and US
corporate power, and this "crime" alone, that they were demonized.

Indeed, the fierce anti-colonial and revolutionary traditions of the Serbs
were well known long before this crisis ever began, for the Serbs have a
long tradition of resistance to imperialism. It was known in 1804 when the
Serbs led the first uprising against the Ottoman Turks in the Balkans. It
was known in 1878 when the Serbs forced the Turks to retreat from much of
the Balkans and completely in 1913. It was known in World War I when a
million Serbs died to throw the Habsburg Germans out of the Balkans. And it
was known again after World War II when Serbian anti-fascists played the
leading role in stopping 33 Nazi Wehrmacht divisions. Most importantly, it
was known by the US, British and West German governments throughout the
Cold War which harbored and supported the former Croatian, Albanian and
Bosnian Muslim fascists for fifty years until they could give birth to
neo-fascist movements which once again could destroy Yugoslavia and come to
power in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo as they had back in 1941 at the behest
of Il Duce and Der Fuhrer. It has always been known by would-be conquers,
that in order to conquer the Balkans you must first conquer the Serbs.

During this war the Serbs held out for an ideal they believed in and for
their independence. They hoped their struggle would resonate with other
forces in the world. They waited and listened as their cities were blown up
and burned, as their electricity and water supplies were destroyed, as
their children and people were poisoned and murdered. But in the end they
stood alone -- there was no response. The big lie triumphed. The defeat of
the Serbs leaves us all with a much more dangerous world. It has fully
exposed the dark, criminal nature of William Jefferson Clinton - a rapist,
a murderer, a gangster and a fascist -- and his entire government. But we
should not compare Clinton to Hitler; it does not do justice to the full
range of Clinton's social pathology. He's best compared to a Ted Bundy or
John Wayne Gacy: sexual predators who murder the weak.

But this is not the first time that the Serbian people have been
subjugated, nor the last time that they shall rise up in struggle against a
bloody dictator and empire. The Serbs must plan for their day of liberation
today. They must make a record of every person murdered by American pilots
and sailors, a record of every person crippled or injured, of every piece
of property damaged, destroyed or stolen, of every bridge, car and school
bombed. The total cost to the American and Western European taxpayers for
these crimes will be around one trillion dollars. Americans especially
must pay up, since well over 90% of the damage was done by American forces.

We must promise ourselves to do better this time than after Jasenovac. We
must promise ourselves that there will be a reckoning for the crimes
committed by American fascism, and that there will be a punishment
extracted - in blood if need be - from those who committed these atrocities
and crimes against humanity. There can be no justice for the peoples of the
Balkans without justice for Yugoslavia and for the Serbian people. That is
our central demand. And there can be no peace as long as Western colonial
troops occupy the Balkans. NATO imperialists out of the Balkans! Long live

(Barry Lituchy teaches European history at Kingsborough Community College,

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