Date: Fri, 1 Dec 1995 09:07:07 -0500
Anti-war activists demand: No U.S. troops to the Balkans!
By Gary Wilson, Workers World, 7 December 1995
What is the most revealing aspect of the Bosnia accord announced Nov. 21? Its terms are almost the same as two previous agreements the United States opposed.
The only significant difference in this agreement is that it will be implemented by a U.S.-led military force, not a European-led one.
That means the reality--for all President Bill Clinton's talk of "peace keeping" and protecting small, beleaguered nations in his Nov. 27 television address--is that the U.S. government is once again preparing to send troops to occupy another country.
Regardless of any public posturing by Republican or even some Democratic politicians, troops will be sent--because it serves the interests of U.S. big business.
This is raw imperialism.
Leaders in the anti-war movement say it requires a vigorous response. Richard Becker of the International Action Center said his group will fight the intervention "with a national campaign of education and protest."
Becker called the president's speech "an exercise in deceit, deception and hypocrisy." He said, "The billions of dollars earmarked for this latest military adventure should be used to fund education, health care, food and housing programs that are so desperately needed."
WASHINGTON BLOCKED EARLIER PEACE
With the dismemberment of Yugoslavia already begun under pressure from U.S. and Western European imperialist interests, Bosnia's future became a central issue.
It was the most multi-ethnic of the Yugoslav republics. The population was clearly split over the issue of breaking away and creating a separate country.
Finally on March 18, 1992, the Serbs, Croats and Muslims had agreed to terms dividing Bosnia in a way similar to the Dayton plan. That was the Cutileiro Plan, named for Portuguese diplomat Jose Cutileiro, who was the European Union's negotiator in Sarajevo.
The 1992 agreement was made before a civil war had erupted. The agreement fell apart when Washington indicated it was prepared to recognize Bosnia as an independent country broken off from Yugoslavia.
This was a signal to the regime of Alija Izetbegovic, which then canceled the agreement.
A year later, on May 2, 1993, the so-called Vance-Owen plan was accepted by the Serb, Croatian and Muslim leaders. It was named for former U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and former British Foreign Secretary Lord Owen, who represented the United Nations and the European Union respectively. It was similar to the Cutileiro Plan.
According to Lord Owen, Washington undermined the agreement and blocked its adoption.
A Nov. 23 New York Times report on the Dayton agreement made a veiled reference to this background: "One former European negotiator commented then, 'If the United States had supported a settlement instead of quietly urging the Bosnian government to fight on, we could have had peace a long time ago.'"
What makes this agreement different? The Dayton plan is under United States military and political control.
It puts the Pentagon and its arm in Europe--NATO--in charge. And it opens the door to expanding NATO imperialism into the formerly socialist countries.
REAL SIZE OF INVASION FORCE HIDDEN
Under the terms of the Dayton plan, the Pentagon-commanded NATO force will be an occupation army. And this force will for the first time include German troops on the ground in the former Yugoslavia.
Most details of the NATO force are not being revealed. For example, news reports say it will number 60,000, with 20,000 to 25,000 coming from the U.S. military.
The truth is it will really be a quarter-million troops all told. "The 20,000 only refers to forces on the ground in Bosnia," says Pentagon spokesperson U.S. Army Lt. Col Rick Scott. (Defense News, Nov. 25)
The actual total will be "anywhere between 150,000 and 240,000 troops" when support personnel and others based outside Bosnia in Croatia, Macedonia, Albania and Hungary as well as naval forces in the Adriatic Sea are included, Defense News reports. How many of these NATO troops will be from the U.S. is not clear.
Britain says it will have 13,000 troops in the NATO force. Turkish officers will also be a part of the NATO force-- though not Turkish soldiers, who are tied down in a genocidal war against the Kurds.
Reuter reported Nov. 27 that "German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government is set to agree on Tuesday to send 4,000 soldiers to the Balkans if parliament approves the plan next week, as expected." These will be the first German occupation troops in Eastern Europe since World War II.
The terms of the NATO plan are like a reprint out of the history books of colonial occupation armies.
The New York Times reported Nov. 23, "The agreement gives the American commander of the alliance force, Adm. Leighton W. Smith, broad authority." The Times reported that "NATO's control" will be "tight."
NATO forces will have the "right" to order anyone, anywhere within Bosnia to do whatever any NATO commander orders--or face military sanction. It will be a complete military dictatorship.
"NATO's broad authority," according to the Times, "is seen by the Serbs as an occupation." And, it should be added, by all the other peoples of the region, including Croats and Muslims.
Of course, occupation breeds resistance. There's no reason to believe the peoples of the region will submit to every NATO dictate. There will be strong opposition to the U.S.- led occupation force.
The occupation of Bosnia also opens the road to NATO's expansion into Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
Washington is already preparing to set up bases in Hungary and Albania as part of the NATO operation in Bosnia. Such bases are not necessary for Bosnia if this is only a temporary year-long campaign. Existing NATO bases in Italy and Turkey could easily handle the operation.
Reuter reported Nov. 6, "Bosnia will be split into three military sectors when NATO forces move in to enforce any peace agreement, Bosnia's vice president, Ejup Ganic, was quoted as saying." Ganic said the "country would be divided between U.S., French and British-administered military sectors."
Ganic said the French will be headquartered in the city of Mostar. The British will have their base in the town of Split. And U.S. troops will be headquartered in Tuzla.
While some have compared these zones of control to Berlin during the Cold War, a more accurate comparison might be with the Treaty of Berlin of 1878. The Treaty of Berlin divided the Ottoman Empire among the European Powers, principally Britain and Austria-Hungary.
It partitioned the Balkans into a melee of petty states that could not develop beyond a certain limit. Each was helpless in relation to the Great Powers of Europe, as they were then called.
One of the treaty's goals was to open the Balkans to unimpeded access for European capital.
What's different today is that the goal also includes dismantling whatever remains socialist in Yugoslavia.
SERBS DEFEND SOCIALISM
While Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Macedonia have been quick to "privatize" socialist industry, the two remaining Yugoslav republics--Serbia and Montenegro--have not.
On Nov. 16, Mirjana Markovic, a leader of the Yugoslav United Left movement (JUL), denounced "free-market reforms." Markovic is also married to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
According to a Nov. 17 Reuter report, Markovic said: "We support only those changes in ownership relations which enable the majority of people to live better.
"Changes which have been carried out in Eastern European countries with regard to ownership have brought a certain number of members of society into a position to live better than before. But this number is an exceptionally small minority."
In response to a call for extensive "privatization" made by Yugoslav central bank governor Dragoslav Avramovic, Markovic said "her political movement would not budge from its defense of 'social ownership,'" Reuter reported.
"JUL will be very firm in this commitment, and perhaps in the next few months even unpleasant."
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are reportedly demanding privatization as a condition for fully lifting the U.S.-initiated embargo against Yugoslavia. Otherwise, there may be no bank loans offered to offset the staggering debt and impoverishment brought on by the embargo.
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