Washington gets a new colony in
by Sara Flounders, International
In evaluating the recent "declaration
of independence" by Kosovo, a province of Serbia, and its
immediate recognition as a state by the U.S., Germany, Britain
and France, it is important to know three things.
First, Kosovo is not gaining independence
or even minimal self-government. It will be run by an appointed
High Representative and bodies appointed by the U.S., European
Union and NATO. An old-style colonial viceroy and imperialist
administrators will have control over foreign and domestic policy.
U.S. Imperialism has merely consolidated its direct control of
a totally dependent colony in the heart of the Balkans.
Second, Washington's immediate recognition
of Kosovo confirms once again that U.S. Imperialism will break
any and every treaty or international agreement it has ever signed,
including agreements it drafted and imposed by force and violence
The recognition of Kosovo is in direct
violation of such law-specifically U.N. Security Council Resolution
1244, which the leaders of Yugoslavia were forced to sign to end
the 78 days of NATO bombing of their country in 1999. Even this
imposed agreement affirmed the "commitment of all Member
States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity" of Serbia,
a republic of Yugoslavia.
This week's illegal recognition of Kosovo
was condemned by Serbia, Russia, China and Spain.
Thirdly, U.S. Imperialist domination does
not benefit the occupied people. Kosovo after nine years of direct
NATO military occupation has a staggering 60 percent unemployment
rate. It has become a center of the international drug trade and
of prostitution rings in Europe.
The once humming mines, mills, smelters,
refining centers and railroads of this small resource-rich industrial
area all sit silent. The resources of Kosovo under NATO occupation
were forcibly privatized and sold to giant Western multinational
corporations. Now almost the only employment is working for the
U.S./NATO army of occupation or U.N. Agencies.
The only major construction in Kosovo
is of Camp Bondsteel, the largest U.S. Base built in Europe in
a generation.Halliburton, of course, got the contract. Camp Bondsteel
guards the strategic oil and transportation lines of the entire
Over 250,000 Serbian, Romani and other
nationalities have been driven out of this Serbian province since
it came under U.S./NATO control. Almost a quarter of the Albanian
population has been forced to leave in order to find work.
Establishing a colonial administration
Consider the plan under which Kosovo's
"independence" is to happen. Not only does it violate
U.N. Resolutions but it is also a total colonial structure. It
is similar to the absolute power held by L. Paul Bremer in the
first two years of the U.S. Occupation of Iraq.
How did this colonial plan come about?
It was proposed by the same forces responsible for the breakup
of Yugoslavia and the NATO bombing and occupation of Kosovo.
In June of 2005, U.N. Secretary General
Kofi Annan appointed former Finnish President Marti Ahtisaari
as his special envoy to lead the negotiations on Kosovo's final
status. Ahtisaari is hardly a neutral arbitrator when it comes
to U.S. Intervention in Kosovo. He is chairman emeritus of the
International Crisis Group (ICG), an organization funded by multibillionaire
George Soros that promotes NATO expansion and intervention along
with open markets for U.S. And E.U. Investment.
The board of the ICG includes two key
U.S. Officials responsible for the bombing of Kosovo: Gen. Wesley
Clark and Zbigniew Brzezinski. In March 2007, Ahtisaari gave his
Comprehensive Proposal for Kosovo Status Settlement to the new
U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.
The documents setting out the new government
for Kosovo are available at unosek.org/unosek/en/statusproposal.HTML.
A summary is available on the U.S. State Department's Web site
An International Civilian Representative
(ICR) will be appointed by U.S. And E.U. Officials to oversee
Kosovo. This appointed official can overrule any measures, annul
any laws and remove anyone from office in Kosovo. The ICR will
have full and final control over the departments of Customs, Taxation,
Treasury and Banking.
The E.U. Will establish a European Security
and Defense Policy Mission (ESDP) and NATO will establish an International
Military Presence. Both these appointed bodies will have control
over foreign policy, security, police, judiciary, all courts and
prisons. They are guaranteed immediate and complete access to
any activity, proceeding or document in Kosovo.
These bodies and the ICR will have final
say over what crimes can be prosecuted and against whom; they
can reverse or annul any decision made. The largest prison in
Kosovo is at the U.S. Base, Camp Bondsteel, where prisoners are
held without charges, judicial overview or representation.
The recognition of Kosovo's "independence"
is just the latest step in a U.S. war of reconquest that has been
relentlessly pursued for decades.
Divide and rule
The Balkans has been a vibrant patchwork
of many oppressed nationalities, cultures and religions. The Socialist
Federation of Yugoslavia, formed after World War II, contained
six republics, none of which had a majority. Yugoslavia was born
with a heritage of antagonisms that had been endlessly exploited
by the Ottoman Turks, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and interference
by British and French imperialism, followed by Nazi German and
Italian Fascist occupation in World War II.
The Jewish and Serbian peoples suffered
the greatest losses in that war. A powerful communist-led resistance
movement made up of all the nationalities, which had suffered
in different ways, was forged against Nazi occupation and all
outside intervention. After the liberation, all the nationalities
cooperated and compromised in building the new socialist federation.
In 45 years the Socialist Federation of
Yugoslavia developed from an impoverished, underdeveloped, feuding
region into a stable country with an industrial base, full literacy
and health care for the whole population.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union
in the early 1990s, the Pentagon immediately laid plans for the
aggressive expansion of NATO into the East. Divide and rule became
U.S. policy throughout the entire region. Everywhere right-wing,
pro-capitalist forces were financed and encouraged. As the Soviet
Union was broken up into separate, weakened, unstable and feuding
republics, the Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia tried to resist
this reactionary wave.
In 1991, while world attention was focused
on the devastating U.S. bombing of Iraq, Washington encouraged,
financed and armed right-wing separatist movements in the Croatian,
Slovenian and Bosnian republics of the Yugoslav Federation. In
violation of international agreements Germany and the U.S. gave
quick recognition to these secessionist movements and approved
the creation of several capitalist ministates.
At the same time U.S. finance capital
imposed severe economic sanctions on Yugoslavia to bankrupt its
economy. Washington then promoted NATO as the only force able
to bring stability to the region.
The arming and financing of the right-wing
UCK movement in the Serbian province of Kosovo began in this same
period. Kosovo was not a distinct republic within the Yugoslav
Federation but a province in the Serbian Republic. Historically,
it had been a center of Serbian national identity, but with a
growing Albanian population.
Washington initiated a wild propaganda
campaign claiming that Serbia was carrying out a campaign of massive
genocide against the Albanian majority in Kosovo. The Western
media was full of stories of mass graves and brutal rapes. U.S.
officials claimed that from 100,000 up to 500,000 Albanians had
U.S./NATO officials under the Clinton
administration issued an outrageous ultimatum that Serbia immediately
accept military occupation and surrender all sovereignty or face
NATO bombardment of its cities, towns and infrastructure. When,
at a negotiation session in Rambouillet, France, the Serbian Parliament
voted to refuse NATO's demands, the bombing began.
In 78 days the Pentagon dropped 35,000
cluster bombs, used thousands of rounds of radioactive depleted-uranium
rounds, along with bunker busters and cruise missiles. The bombing
destroyed more than 480 schools, 33 hospitals, numerous health
clinics, 60 bridges, along with industrial, chemical and heating
plants, and the electrical grid. Kosovo, the region that Washington
was supposedly determined to liberate, received the greatest destruction.
Finally on June 3, 1999, Yugoslavia was
forced to agree to a ceasefire and the occupation of Kosovo.
Expecting to find bodies everywhere, forensic
teams from 17 NATO countries organized by the Hague Tribunal on
War Crimes searched occupied Kosovo all summer of 1999 but found
a total of only 2,108 bodies, of all nationalities. Some had been
killed by NATO bombing and some in the war between the UCK and
the Serbian police and military. They found not one mass grave
and could produce no evidence of massacres or of "genocide."
This stunning rebuttal of the imperialist
propaganda comes from a report released by the chief prosecutor
for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia,
Carla Del Ponte. It was covered, but without fanfare, in the New
York Times of Nov. 11, 1999.
The wild propaganda of genocide and tales
of mass graves were as false as the later claims that Iraq had
and was preparing to use "weapons of mass destruction."
Through war, assassinations, coups and
economic strangulation, Washington has succeeded for now in imposing
neoliberal economic policies on all of the six former Yugoslav
republics and breaking them into unstable and impoverished ministates.
The very instability and wrenching poverty
that imperialism has brought to the region will in the long run
be the seeds of its undoing. The history of the achievements made
when Yugoslavia enjoyed real independence and sovereignty through
unity and socialist development will assert itself in the future.
Sara Flounders, co-director of the International
Action Center, traveled to Yugoslavia during the 1999 U.S. bombing
and reported on the extent of the U.S. attacks on civilian targets.
She is a co-author and editor of the books: "Hidden Agenda-U.S./NATO
Takeover of Yugoslavia" and "NATO in the Balkans."