- Capitalism and Alternatives -

More War Analysis

Posted by: bill on May 05, 1999 at 12:55:17:

Following are some exerpts of a commentary by Boris Buden - "Bastard
Editor in Chief, Zagreb/Vienna" Some very interesting insights.

"New graffiti is to be seen these days in bombed Belgrade. SLOBO
KLINTONE (Slobo, you Clinton!). This simple but poignant message
reveals the abyss in which a genuinely democratic stance has fallen
since the beginning of the NATO military campaign against Yugoslavia.
It illustrates not only the political deadlock of the democratic
option: the intrinsic impossibility of a choice between the
front-lines of two antagonistic sides; or an extremely dangerous folie
a deux, which has developed its own dynamics of escalation
without predictable consequences."...

[From here he developes an arguement that both sides have swept aside
so-called "buraucratic" institutions in the name of pragmatic
responses to "humanitarian" issues.]

The famous switch from communism to nationalism did not occur
directly. There was a "humanitarian mediator". Milosevic offered to
protect the rights of a minority oppressed by a majority, and
under the auspices of the given constitutional framework of Albanian
autonomy, the majority had the state on its side. For Milosevic the
system was too narrow to cope with the problem, and therefore he
stepped outside of it. His solution was to be found "either through
the existing institutions or not. On the streets or inside, by
populist or elite methods." This was the start of Milosevic's
so-called "anti-bureaucratic revolution": encouraging the solution of
a political problem by ignoring the "bureaucratic obstacles" inherent
in a given institutional system. The analogy between the way Milosevic
and Clinton treat similar political problems is obvious. Was it not
the humanitarian argument - instead of a clear political objective -
that has been used by NATO to justify its military intervention in
Yugoslavia? Have the interventionists not ignored the legal,
institutional framework of the UN Security Council, the UN Charter and
consequently international law? Both Milosevic and Clinton have done
the same: they identified some fundamental human right, hegemonized
it, bypassed an "obsolete" institutional framework and acted. In this
respect, one could say that Milosevic already has won the war. He
lured NATO into playing his dirty game. The breakdown of former
Yugoslavia showed us all how dangerous this kind of game can be. It
was Milosevic who started to ignore the Yugoslav institutions in 1987,
to undermine their authority, and ultimately to demolish them. What
are the dangers of a world-wide "anti-bureaucratic revolution" today,
set into motion by NATO? This remains to be seen."...

[One such institutional framework is of course the UN...}

"...NATO has treated UN institutions in the manner which Bolsheviks
treated the democratic institution of parliament - as a bourgeois club
where genuine rights have no chance of being recognised and will be
blocked by some particular class interest. Therefore, the Bolsheviks
eliminated the parliament, and the consequences thereof are today
usually summed up under the concept of totalitarianism. They did it in
the name of some common good, of course, in the same manner in which
NATO is demolishing the institutions of international law today.
However, NATO is acting as much in the favour of the so-called common
good as the Bolsheviks did, and it represents an instance of universal
human rights, just as the Serbian Communist Party leader Milosevic did
12 years ago in Kosovo Polje. This fact should be obvious to the world
public. After all, how can one claim to be a protector of minority
rights after having provided extensive military and political support
for severe oppression of some other minority, like the Kurds?"...

[And now irony upon irony...]

"...What is then the political objective of the NATO intervention in
Yugoslavia? As far as we know, this ought to be a political autonomy
for the Albanians within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia: something
they already had under the Tito Constitution of 1974 and which was
taken away from them by Milosevic in 1989. NATO wants to give this
institutional framework back to them. As a political project, this
endeavour is a historical scandal: nineteen of the most advanced
liberal-democratic states of the world bombing an ex-communist one to
reinstate a communist political status quo ante. NATO is bombing its
political way into a better past. How can this desperate political
eclecticism be understood? Why has NATO turned communist or
"Yugo-nostalgic," now that it is really too late? The pre-1990
Yugoslav Federation (which actually was a confederation) in which
Serbs accounted for no more the 37 % of the entire population was the
only realistic institutional and political framework for the political
autonomy of Kosovo. Under democratic conditions in that Yugoslavia, a
politician such as Milosevic never would have had a chance to win an
election with a Serbian nationalist program."...

[What follows is an intriguing analysis...]

"This political nonsense of the NATO military engagement in Yugoslavia
reveals its very sense. Bombs are not falling to enforce some
political solution. They ARE this political solution. After only a
week of bombing president Clinton stated explicitly what the objective
of this bombing was: victory. Whatever this means politically. There
is no political strategy behind NATO. Its members have never made a
choice between two contradictory principles: state sovereignty or
national self-determination, both they have chosen to recognise
and violate at the same time. NATO is without a global democratic
solution for this dilemma: one that can claim universal validity,
challenge the existing world order, and insist upon its radical
reform. This circumstance explains best why NATO cites "humanitarian
causes" as a motive for military intervention and not the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights? For the "humanitarian cause" is the
highest possible level of universalisation, that the USA and its
NATO-allies can afford, not merely a rhetorical excuse for the
promotion of some dirty power interests, as so many leftists claim
today. There is no so-called hidden agenda of the NATO military action
in Yugoslavia: an alleged plan to control the Central Asian oil over
Kosovo-crossroad or even to seize the gold which, as is rumoured, has
recently been found there. The old-fashioned materialistic fantasy
about politics as a superstructure of some basic economic interests
doesn't help us to understand the true motive of the NATO
intervention. Rather it suppresses its real political meaning in the
same way as the humanitarian rhetoric does. For what is hidden behind
the both is not an insatiable imperialist giant, but a poor,
frustrated and confused political dwarf. Nothing expresses this fact
better then the ever-larger waves of moral scandalising over the
tragical fate of the innocent victims of war and genocide. The real
scandal today, at the end of 20th century is not the fact that people
are being expelled from their homes, raped and killed before the eyes
of a helpless democratic audience, (in view of our own historical
experience made in this century, this is rather trivial) but the truth
that this democratic audience and its political representatives still
don't have any political answer to this challenge..."

[There is more and it is worth reading. The important point here, I
think, is how carefully the U.S. & NATO have steered clear of the
precise formulations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
which could serve as a fundamental basis for concerted action. The
vague "hmanitarian causes" can be molded and fashoned to suit
particular cases, countries, and customs. Meanwhile, the
institutions an ideals of democracy lie in the ashes. (When I find
time, I would like to be able to apply this view to the methods
employed by STRAFOR in the way IT analyses problems)

The entire piece can be found at:


Follow Ups:


The Debating Room Post a Followup