The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.63/No.16           April 26, 1999 
Stop The Imperialist Bombing Of Yugoslavia!
Support fight for self-determination in Kosova!  
The big-business media and U.S. officials would have us believe that workers and farmers in the Balkans have been reduced to weeping Albanian refugees from Kosova, "uncivilized" Serbs seeking "ethnic cleansing," and corpses. Even to those repelled by the brutality that U.S., British, and German warplanes are unleashing on the people of Yugoslavia, the message is: these are helpless victims who can only be saved by the "civilized" military forces of NATO led by Washington.

This is false. These war images and so-called news reports are propaganda to justify the U.S.-led assault on Yugoslavia. They reflect the contempt the ruling rich have for working people everywhere, especially for those who fight for their rights.

Working people have a big stake in opposing this attack on our fellow toilers in the Balkans, who earned the undying hatred of the imperialist ruling families, from Washington to Bonn, by carrying out social revolutions in Yugoslavia and Albania in the 1940s that threw the landlords and capitalists out of power.

Central to the fight to defend these gains of working people in Yugoslavia against the imperialist onslaught is the struggle for national self-determination by the Albanian population and other oppressed nationalities in the region. Despite the premature obituaries in the capitalist media, this struggle has not been stamped out. While the mass mobilizations in the cities of Kosova and the guerrilla struggle led by the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) have been dealt heavy blows for now, the desire for independence is more deeply rooted today than it was a decade ago when the national struggle there began to re-emerge. Once working people step into the political arena as independent actors and gain a greater sense of their power and self-worth, it's not so easy to shove them out of politics.

The imperialist powers have ganged up with the Slobodan Milosevic regime to try to undercut the struggle by the people of Kosova. White House officials have repeatedly stated their opposition to Kosova's independence. At the U.S.-orchestrated "peace" talks in France, Washington attempted to ram through an agreement by excluding any Kosovar leader who would not go by the script. Today, the objective of the NATO bombing campaign is to pressure Milosevic into a deal to partition Kosova and establish an imperialist-led military occupation force there. Washington seeks to advance toward its goal of dismembering the Yugoslav workers state and reestablishing capitalist social relations there, while giving U.S. imperialism a stronger edge over its European rivals.

In their effort to dehumanize working people there, spokespersons for big business bombard us with assertions that the people of Serbia and throughout Yugoslavia are by nature prone to "age-old ethnic conflict." This too is false. The Yugoslav socialist revolution triumphed because millions of workers and peasants of different nationalities united in a common struggle that defeated the German imperialist army and then the native capitalist exploiters. This living legacy still shapes the views of many working people today who continue to see themselves not as Serbs, Croats, or Slovenes but as Yugoslavs. This is true despite the chauvinist misleadership in Belgrade.

Likewise, despite their pro-capitalist, middle-class misleaders, working people in Kosova will learn through struggle that NATO is no friend but a deadly enemy. Their fight for self-determination strengthens the Yugoslav workers state and tends to break down, not reinforce, national borders and divisions.

The working class in United States and other imperialist countries should reject the efforts to drag us into supporting the employers' war drive through their nationalist "yellow ribbon" campaign around the three U.S. soldiers captured in Yugoslavia, as well as their stepped-up "antiterrorist" propaganda, which seeks to legitimize FBI harassment and victimization and the curtailing of civil liberties at home.

Our demands should be: Stop the U.S./NATO bombing of Yugoslavia! Independence for Kosova! Open the borders to all Kosovars seeking refuge abroad!

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