Peace, but no peace
NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia lasted exactly 11 weeks, from March 24 to June 10. The aggression now continues in the form of a military occupation under a United Nations flag. NATO air strikes killed 2,000 civilians and injured 6,000 (figures are for June 1, 1999). Damage to installations, houses, schools, hospitals, etc, amounts to millions of dollars. While there has been a huge media blitz covering the Albanian refugees who are also casualties of the war, almost nothing is said about the Serbian casualties. They are "the enemy" as far as the media is concerned. Twenty-three bridges and viaducts, a dozen railway lines, many roads and eight airports can no longer be used. More than 50 factories, two out of three refineries, several dozen fuel depots and a dozen power stations and transformers are unusable. About 30 administrative buildings, some 100 hospitals and medical centres, nearly 200 schools and thousands of residences have been either destroyed or damaged. Earlier in the war 24 medieval monasteries, churches and museums were damaged. Some 600,000 people have lost their jobs due to the bombing, putting more than two million into poverty. The Serbian Red Cross estimates that more than 200,000 people have been forced to leave their homes because they have been destroyed or in fear that they will be the next target. There are more than 700,000 refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia in Yugoslavia and the numbers will be increase as Kosovar Serbs and other non- Albanians seek safety in Yugoslavia. Madeleine Albright, the USA Secretary of State, declared that the Serbs needed — "a little bombing to see reason" — and this is the result. Largest demonstration At the largest demonstration in the US so far, 10,000 anti-war protesters marched on June 5 from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC to the Pentagon. The former US Attorney-General Ramsey Clark said: "We must abolish NATO. It is a relentless killing machine made up of the former colonial powers who enslaved Africa, Asia and Latin America." He went on to say that Clinton and other US officials are guilty of "crimes against peace for their role in the break-up of the Yugoslav Socialist Federation". Kadouri Al-Kaysi, an Iraqi American and member of the Committee in Support of the Iraqi People told the rally that "the bombing of Yugoslavia and Iraq is the same thing. Clinton says they are bombing to save Muslim people in Kosovo. Well, what about the 1.5 million Muslim and Arab people in Iraq who have been killed by sanctions?", he asked. Brian Becker, the chairperson of the rally said of the settlement: "This is not a settlement between two equal partners, No, this was nineteen NATO countries with a total population of 600 million carrying out 33,000 bombing attacks on Yugoslavia for more than 70 days. "This so-called peace settlement is not about peace, but about the outright occupation by US/NATO troops of a sovereign country". Mr Becker stressed that "US imperialism has no right to dictate to the Yugoslav people who their leaders will be. We must reject this completely." More guns, less butter Many of the speakers spoke about a dramatic slashing of spending for programs designed to meet people's needs. A cut of 20-30 per cent in spending on domestic programs is expected, including veterans benefits, education, housing, health care and food stamps will take place while defence spending will jump. The Clinton Administration has asked for a US$112 billion increase in defence spending over the next six years; the Republicans have added an additional US$37 billion on top of that. The peace plan and the decision to accept it by the Yugoslav Government was a difficult one to make as the document imposes many obligations on Yugoslavia. It was accepted because it upholds the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia. It declares for the protection of the population and calls for the United Nations to be involved in the Kosovo problem. What is written on paper is one thing, what is happening on the ground is turning into quite a different interpretation. NATO has already cynically violated a number of international laws and has trampled on the United Nations Charter and it will do it again. The real purpose of the war — the destruction of Yugoslavia — remains the US-NATO agenda. The tactics have changed but not the aim. The NATO occupying forces are being called "peace-keepers", but how can warmongers and aggressors be peace-keepers? NATO military leaders have declared that they will be "even-handed". But it is already apparent that, while disarming Serbs, even though they have 11 days in which to withdraw, the KLA troops have no inclination to disarm and the NATO forces are making no effort to enforce their commitment to do so. The KLA is a NATO ally and has been protected and assisted by NATO forces throughout the conflict. Empty gesture NATO's declared commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia will turn out to be an empty gesture unless forced to honour its commitment by international demands. Once NATO troops are established in Kosovo, they will proceed to put in motion a process which will inevitably lead to the separation of Kosovo from the Yugoslav state, turning Kosovo into a micro-state occupied by NATO troops. This has always been NATO's aim. Although Russian troops were to be part of the peace-keeping force, NATO politicians and military commanders became apoplectic when the 200-strong Russian convoy, which had travelled from Bosnia to Pristina, arrived ahead of the NATO troops. NATO arrogance had already carved up Kosovo into zones of occupation by the US, Britain, Germany, Italy and France and had earmarked Pristina's military airfield as NATO HQ. Russian political leaders and many around the world welcomed the Russian move and applauded it as a stand against NATO. "Our boys did the right thing by going in", said Gennady Seleznev, the Communist speaker of the Duma (Russian Parliament). "At last we have done what Yugoslavia asks of us", he said. What is NATO's problem? The Russians are also there as peace-keepers. They have had experience in Bosnia from where they came; the Serb population of Pristina welcomed them as brothers ... Can it be that a Russian presence, even though small at this time, will bear witness to what NATO troops are up to? NATO contingents may be popular with Albanian nationalists but otherwise they are seen for what they are — invaders and occupiers. Protests Protests against NATO forces are not confined to Kosovar Serbs. US marines encountered a hostile crowd in Greece which had been consistent in its opposition to bombing, despite being a NATO member itself. "Killers, go home" said the signs greeting US marines landing on a Greek beach. Canadian troops had to disembark at night with flak vests and helmets on as a precaution against anti-war protesters. As The Guardian goes to press a tense and fluid situation exists in Kosovo. NATO may yet find that the occupation of Yugoslavia turns into a nightmare as it did for the Nazi occupiers just over 50 years ago. NATO is planning to stay in Kosovo for a long time, some say for a generation. Already, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Italy and Greece are also occupied countries. Time will show whether the people of these countries come to accept the invaders.