The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.63/No.11           March 22, 1999 
Washington Keeps Up Threats To Yugoslavia  

The Clinton administration is confronting new hurdles in its plans for military intervention in the Kosova province of Yugoslavia. At the same time, the U.S. rulers' threats to bomb Yugoslavia have not abated.

U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke warned of a "collision course" between Belgrade and the imperialist NATO military alliance if the Yugoslav government continues to reject Washington's attempt to impose a "Bosnia-style" military occupation in Kosova. "The threat of greater war is ever present," Holbrooke declared March 9 upon his arrival in Belgrade.

A bipartisan debate has broken out among U.S. capitalist politicians, who are growing increasingly nervous over whether the imperialist intervention is the best use of U.S. firepower. "We are playing with a scorpion in the Balkans, and it is only a matter of time before we get stung," wrote Rep. Thomas DeLay, the majority whip of the House of Representatives in a March 9 Wall Street Journal opinion piece titled, "Autonomy for Kosovo Isn't Worth American Blood."

The next day, Speaker of the House of Representatives J. Dennis Hassert announced that Congress would vote on a resolution March 11 authorizing the White House to deploy U.S. GIs to "Kosovo as part of a NATO peacekeeping operation." Another resolution against sending troops is being backed by Democratic Rep. Barney Frank and Republican John Kasich.

At a March 10 hearing before the House Committee on International Relations, Henry Kissinger, who was national security adviser to President Richard Nixon, raised doubts about committing U.S. military forces in Kosova. Recalling Washington's defeat in Vietnam, he mused, "Under what circumstances should American military forces be used to pursue national objectives, and what should these objectives be?"

U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright has appealed to Congress to hold off debate "at this critical time in our negotiations and in our attempts to secure a settlement." Albright's efforts to ram the "peace" deal down the throats of the Kosovar Albanians and the Yugoslav government ended in a fiasco February 23 when they rejected her browbeating after 17 days of "negotiations" at a conference held in Rambouillet, France.

Pressing for a "settlement," the Clinton administration has sent a string of emissaries to the region, including U.S. ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill; former Senator Robert Dole, who traveled to Macedonia to entice ethnic Albanians, who comprise the big majority in Kosova, into signing the most-recent agreement; and Holbrooke. The talks reconvene March 15. The U.S. rulers would like to get at least a section of the forces who call for self-determination for Kosova to approve the plan. "We need acceptance from the Kosovars - clear and unconditional - as soon as possible to allow time to wring a deal out of Belgrade," said an unnamed official in London taking part in a NATO conference.

Since February 17, the big-business press has touted coverage on the supposed willingness of Kosovar Albanians to accept the deal brokered by Washington at Rambouillet, but no one has yet signed the agreement. James Rubin, spokesman for Secretary of State Albright, acknowledged March 7 that Washington had "misjudged" the delegation from Kosova at Rambouillet.

The U.S.-crafted deal is an 83-page document that calls for a NATO "peacekeeping" force of 28,000 troops that would carve up Kosova into zones controlled by Washington, London, Paris, and Bonn. It would allow Kosova limited "self-government," though less than the autonomy scrapped by Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic in 1989. And the plan would mandate the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) to surrender its weapons over a six-month period.

The UCK is fighting a guerrilla war for Kosova independence. Albanians, who make up 90 percent of the population in that country, have faced severe repression from the Milosevic regime. For months the Clinton adminstration has used that repression as a pretext for NATO intervention. Some 430 NATO warplanes, including 260 U.S. jets, are poised for military action in the region.

NATO forces, led by Washington, have stationed 8,000 troops in neighboring Macedonia. NATO spokesman Maj. Jen Jonsen told the press March 8 the number of troops is expected to reach 10,000 by the end of the week. Troops from France, Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, Belgium, Greece, and Turkey are participating in the occupation force under the pretext of "peacekeeping."

So far, the Milosevic regime has refused to accept a NATO occupation force. According to the International Herald Tribune, Holbrooke will insist on NATO troops to oversee the disarmament of the UCK and preserve the status Kosova as part of Yugoslavia, which Albanian Kosovars are opposed to. In order to get NATO troops into Kosova, Holbrooke may also acquiesce to the Serbian regime's demands for dropping words in the "settlement" like "constitution" and "president" in describing self-government because they imply a status of Kosova independence.

This, however, won't sit well with Albanians fighting for self-determination. According to the New York Times, a rebel news agency reported a new condition from the UCK, that the Serbian forces should cease all military operations in Kosova before they sign. Pro-independence forces have also said they expect a referendum on independence after the three years of autonomy under Serbia to be stipulated in the "peace" plan.

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