International Majority and ISG/Matthieu/SA
Lines on Ex-Yugoslavia
IMPERIALISM OUT OF THE BALKANS!
Submitted by the
International Left Tendency
5 June 1995
There is a school of thought in the Fourth International that says Bosnia and the Bosnian Muslims and not Serbia and the Serbs are the main targets of imperialism in the present conflict. The people of Serbia, who are suffering from the effects of large-scale unemployment and the absence of medicines and other necessities as a result of the imperialist economic sanctions, not to speak of the Bosnian Serbs, who have been bombed by NATO warplanes, will doubtless be very grateful to know that they are not the "major victim of imperialism", as some in the FI would have it. The truth of the matter is that all the peoples of ex-Yugoslavia are victims of imperialism.
The imperialists seek to restore capitalism in the whole of the Balkans. At first they attempted to destabilise Yugoslavia through encouraging its economic dependency on imperialism, promoting competition among the Yugoslav republics, and sponsoring dissident nationalist movements. As the crisis deepened, they cut off aid to the Yugoslav Federation, demonised Serbia, recognised the secession of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia, and implicitly promised economic and military aid. This inevitably led to war, as multi-national Yugoslavia and then multi-national Croatia and Bosnia fractured along national lines. At that point, the imperialists were faced with a dilemma: how to complete the destruction of the old Yugoslav Federation without things getting entirely out of hand, without losing control of the situation.
At a certain point in the development of the war it became necessary for the imperialists to subordinate their strategic objective of restoring capitalism to their need to prevent the war from spiraling out of control into the whole of the Balkans, including Greece and Turkey. Their main immediate objective, therefore, became that of maintaining enough stability to allow for a smooth, controlled transition to capitalism. To do this, they needed to clip Serbia's wings (cf. Saddam Hussein in Iraq) and to use the Croatian army and state machine in the north and a broken Serbian army and state machine in the south to oversee the transition to capitalism.
Yes, imperialism does want the carve-up of Bosnia, and so do Serbia and Croatia. Trotskyists are, of course, opposed to the territory being divided up according to the brute force of Serbia and Croatia and the wishes of imperialism. But it is more complicated than this -- and here is where some in the FI have come unstuck. The Bosnian Serbs and Croats are divided between the urban population, which wants to live in a multi-ethnic Bosnia, and the rural Serbs and Croats, who want to merge their areas with Serbia and Croatia. The fact that the Bosnian Serbs and Croats are a largely rural population, while the Muslims and multi-nationalists are largely urban, also has implications when we talk about percentages of land occupied.
The Left Tendency argues that Trotskyists must defend the right of self-determination of all the peoples of Yugoslavia, who are all victims of imperialist national oppression. The International majority, the International Socialist Group/Matthieu tendency, and Socialist Action all refuse to do this. With NATO planes bombing Serbian targets, it is evident that slogans like "Defend Bosnia!" are too simplistic, since they ignore the right of self-determination of the rural Bosnian Serbs and Croats, who were part of the Yugoslav republic of Bosnia but do not wish to be part of an independent Bosnia, and ignore the imperialist economic intervention against Serbia and military intervention against the Bosnian Serbs.
A major problem with the International Workers Aid to Bosnia campaign, in which several sections of the FI are involved, is its lack of political independence from imperialism. Why did the Bosnia campaign call for UN protection of the aid convoy and fax trade unions all over Europe with requests for this -- an action which created illusions in the nature of the UN and contradicted demands for the UN to get out of the Balkans? Why were some in the FI so slow to condemn the aerial bombardments of the Serbs by NATO? The Swedish FI comrades at the Manchester Bosnia conference were correct to propose that "solidarity with the workers of the Balkans" should be the objective of the campaign. The campaign should adopt this aim in its title -- International Workers Aid in Solidarity with the Workers of the Balkans. It should extend its remit to provide aid to all parts of ex-Yugoslavia, although Bosnia has suffered the most and should still receive the most aid. This would help change the political character of the campaign, making it more independent of imperialism and more truly internationalist.
Majority Position and ISG/Matthieu/SA Lines
Adapt to Liberal Moralism
The positions of the International majority and the ISG/Matthieu/SA on ex-Yugoslavia can only be described as appalling. They have echoed every piece of imperialist propaganda about the origins of the war. They have denied that imperialism played a crucial role in weakening and destabilising ex-Yugoslavia (as well as Eastern Europe generally) through its sponsorship of nationalist-restorationist movements. They have denied that the recognition of Slovenia and Croatia was a conscious act by Germany making the civil war in Bosnia inevitable. They have refused to undertake a serious Marxist analysis of the socio-economic background to the break-up of the Federation: e.g., the effects of the debt burden, which exacerbated the north-south economic divide, and the effects of this on the development of a nationalist reaction within the republics.
The goal of US policy towards Eastern Europe was set out in "National Security Decision Directive, No. 54", dated 2 September 1982. This was aimed at creating and promoting "differentiation" within the Eastern bloc:
Differentiation will aim at:
Encouraging more liberal trends in the region;
Furthering human and civil rights in East European countries;
Reinforcing the pro-Western orientation of their peoples;
Lessening their economic and political dependence on the USSR and facilitating their association with the free nations of Western Europe;
Encouraging more private, market-oriented development of their economies, free trade union activity etc...
To implement its policy, the US will calibrate its policies to discriminate carefully in favor of governments which:
Show relative independence from the Soviet Union in the conduct of foreign policy...
Show relatively greater internal liberalisation...and pursue a degree of pluralism and decentralisation, including a more market-oriented economy...
The US Government will employ commercial, financial, exchange, informational, and diplomatic instruments in implementing its policy towards Eastern Europe.
("National Security Decision Directive, No. 54", Sept. 1992, in US Policy Towards Eastern Europe)
A separate directive on Yugoslavia said:
US policy will be to promote the trend towards an effective, market-oriented Yugoslav economic structure.
("National Security Decision Directive", no. 133, March 1984, in United States Policy Towards Yugoslavia)
The deteriorating terms of trade experienced by Third World countries also applied to Yugoslavia. The industrial exports of the advanced northern Yugoslav republics increased in price, while the agricultural exports of the southern republics declined. For four decades, imperialism parceled out economic aid to the individual Yugoslav republics through the US-dominated IMF. The funding consistently exacerbated the divisions between republics by favoring the more developed, Western-oriented northern republics. Over the years, the distorted and decentralised Yugoslav economy became strongly dependent on imperialist financing.
In November 1990, in the immediate aftermath of the 1989 events elsewhere in Eastern Europe, all US economic aid, including credit, was cut off completely. The legislation -- the Foreign Appropriations Bill of 1990 -- banned all aid to the Federal central government, while stating that funds would flow again only to individual republics if the US was satisfied with the results of elections in 6 months time. Funds would also continue to flow to "democratic" (read right-wing anti-Communist) parties. The central government thus lost its ability to renegotiate debt, credit or trade with imperialism. At the same time, the 28 November 1990 New York Times described an unusual CIA report which "predicted that federated Yugoslavia would break apart most probably in the next 18 months and that civil war is most likely". The New York Times article cited the expected impact of cutting all funds to the government as the basis of impending civil war. Other media also matter-of-factly talked about a coming civil war, even though it was not then in evidence.
The US legislation was a death sentence for Yugoslavia, which had an astronomical debt of $31 billion in 1990. Unemployment was over a million, out of a population of 10 million, and inflation was 200 percent. The country was completely in the grip of the Western banks, which had placed austerity conditions and on the debt financing. The legislation also empowered the US to oppose IMF financing to Yugoslavia. The condition that funds would go only to the republics and not to the central government meant the green light for nationalist-restorationist movements to smash up the Federation. Right-wing nationalist movements mushroomed, while the centre lost all credibility.
At the point at which the Federal army came into conflict with the Slovenian separatists in July 1991, the European Community, under pressure from Germany, cut off aid, imposed an arms embargo, and threatened that its members would recognise Slovene and Croat independence, if the Federal army conducted further offensives. While Trotskyists defend the right of self-determination for Slovenia and the other seceding republics, we must appreciate that at this point the EC changed its policy from one of maintaining the Federation to one of undermining it, not to promote self-determination, but to restore capitalism in a dependent form. It was not in the least interested in the self-determination of these states, but in creating unviable mini-states that would be dependent on imperialism, in the first place German imperialism.
Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were created by the imperialist victors after World War I as relatively large states which would be independent of Germany and limit its sphere of influence. Now Germany has once again broken them up into small, unviable states which it can dominate: the Czech Republic and Slovakia out of Czechoslovakia, and Slovenia and Croatia out of Yugoslavia. This indicates the new strength of German imperialism in today's Europe. The other imperialist powers had a temporary common interest in undermining the Yugoslav Federal state as a step towards restoring capitalism in a dependent form, even if they were nervous about Germany's growing influence in the Balkans.
After the EC's intervention over Slovenian separation, Croatia was given the green light to follow. Was it really all that surprising that the Croatian Serbs were unwilling to live under a restored Croatian regime, after the Ustasi had murdered tens of thousands of their people in World War II? Was it really so surprising that recognition of Croatian independence led directly to the Bosnian war or that this would trigger a declaration of independence by Serbs from the Bosnian Republic, given the role of Bosnian Muslims in the World War II genocide against the Serbs?
The point at which the Bosnia war began, economic sanctions were implemented against Serbia and Montenegro, as the final measure to strangle what was left of the old Federation.
The Response of the FI
The International majority position was epitomised by the French LCR leadership's support for an appeal in Le Monde which created dangerous illusions in the UN. In addition, they have echoed the imperialist demonisation of the Serbs and made the ludicrously simplistic suggestion that Slobodan Milosevic as an individual was responsible for starting the war. The upshot of this is that the FI has played the role of left apologists for imperialism. The failure to recognise the way in which imperialism has used the debt as a way of destabilising the Federation is particularly disgraceful for a Trotskyist organisation which is largely based in the imperialist heartlands.
The FI has also acted as left cover for the paternalistic "humanitarian" demagogy used by imperialism as a Trojan horse for its creeping military intervention into ex-Yugoslavia. The politics of the Workers Aid convoys echoes the paternalistic liberal clamour for intervention by imperialism. This has been evident in demands calling not just for UN military protection for the convoy but also for UN military forces to open Tuzla airport. These slogans legitimated the presence of the UN forces and encouraged military action by the UN and NATO to achieve these objectives. The demands on the UN quite clearly contradicted the demand for the UN to get out of ex-Yugoslavia. The demands for safe passage for the convoy and for the opening of the Tuzla airport should instead have been addressed to the Serbs (i.e., that they cease fire and withdraw), while simultaneously demanding that the UN get out of the Balkans. The Serbs would have been far more likely to respond positively if some of the aid were going to ravaged Serb areas too.
While it is clear that many comrades involved with the convoys did not wish to promote imperialist military intervention and opposed the NATO air strikes, others such as Joanna M. in the Fourth International Caucus/Solidarity do not. She openly stated her support for the presence of the UN forces on the ground in ex-Yugoslavia and her support for the imposition of the no-fly zone at the May 1993 International Executive Committee meeting.
The FI has consistently refused to defend the right of self-determination for all the peoples of ex-Yugoslavia through its denial of the right of the rural Bosnian Serbs and Croats to secede from the Bosnian state, if they so wish -- and they clearly do. This amounts to forcibly incorporating these communities into a Bosnian state at the point of a gun. The Left Tendency has opposed this.
An analogy can be made with the break-up of Yugoslavia. Trotskyists should have supported the right of self-determination for the nations of the former Yugoslavia but opposed the actual secession of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia, since the separations were led by nationalist-restorationists, would facilitate the restoration of capitalism and imperialist domination, and would provoke national and civil wars. We would have supported only independent workers' republics. But Trotskyists should also have opposed the attempt by the Serbs in Belgrade to forcibly prevent the secessions. Similarly, Trotskyists should have supported the right of self-determination of the nationalities of Bosnia but opposed the actual secession of the Serbs and Croats. At the same time, we should have opposed the attempt of the Bosnian government to forcibly keep the rural Bosnian Serbs and Croats in the Bosnian state. We should also have opposed -- independently of the warring sides and arms in hand -- attempts by the Bosnian Serbs, Croats or Muslims to "ethnically cleanse" minorities from areas they controlled.
People identifying with Bosnia and wanting to live in multi-ethnic communities should be allowed to do so, but the rural Bosnian Serbs and Croats who wish to secede from Bosnia and live as part of Serbia or Croatia should also be allowed to do so. It follows from this that demands such as "Defend Bosnia!" and "For a multi-ethnic Bosnia!" are simplistic in the extreme, since they ignore the existence and rights of the rural Bosnian Serbs and Croats. Rather, it is necessary to pose the question in independent working-class terms: "For the right of multi-ethnic communities to live as such", "For the defence of all communities against ethnic cleansing", and "End the siege of Sarajevo, Tuzla and other besieged towns".
The FI has supported continuation of the war through its uncritical support for offensive actions by the Bosnian army. It has sown confusion through its demand "Arm the Bosnian resistance!", which has inevitably been interpreted as a demand for imperialism to arm, sponsor and intervene on behalf of the Bosnian government. The Left Tendency, on the other hand, has consistently opposed all imperialist intervention through its clear calls for all imperialist troops out of ex-Yugoslavia and an end to all the imperialist economic sanctions and arms embargoes imposed on ex-Yugoslavia.
The Left Tendency has consistently condemned both the Serb attacks on the non-Serb population of Bosnia and the air strikes and other imperialist attacks on the Bosnian Serbs. The Left Tendency, unlike the FI majority and the ISG/Matthieu/SA leadership, calls for an end to offensive actions on all sides to end the war. At the same time, we do not support the status quo in terms of land occupation. Unlike the FI and the ISG/Matthieu/SA leadership, the Left Tendency has also consistently called for the emphasis to be shifted towards revolutionary action to overthrow the nationalist-restorationist governments on all sides, which alone could lay the basis for a just, negotiated territorial settlement in the context of the struggle for a Socialist Federation of the Balkans.
The ISG/Matthieu/SA on Ex-Yugoslavia is Not an Alternative
The ISG/Matthieu and SA tendencies are putting themselves forward as the "left alternative" to the International majority. Yet, their line on East Europe and Yugoslavia is not an improvement on the International majority's line. In fact, its line on the collapse of Stalinism at the last World Congress was in many ways to the right of the International majority. While the International majority position was overly pessimistic, the ISG/Matthieu/SA position was ludicrously over-optimistic.
Yes, it was true that the collapse of Stalinism removed a misleadership from the international workers' movement, although this can be over-exaggerated, since the Stalinists are still there, even though they might call themselves social-democrats. And it was true that a certain temporary liberalisation in the workers' states allowed the left to organise and regroup. But don't blink: Yeltsin has other ideas. Some things the ISG/Matthieu/SA missed out on have hit them between the eyes since the last World Congress: the collapse of Stalinism has a retrogressive side to it, not only the process of capitalist restoration in the degenerated and deformed workers' states but also the collapse of national liberation struggles in the world's hot spots. There is no longer any leeway for petit-bourgeois nationalist movements to manouver in. They can't threaten to "sell out to the reds", if the imperialists don't come up with some goods like the post-World War II decolonisation, greater economic independence, etc. The collapse of the Palestinian, South African, Central American and Irish revolutions are a byproduct of the collapse of Stalinism, but hardly a progressive one.
Even more importantly, the ISG/Matthieu/SA implicitly abandoned the Trotskyist position on the Stalinist degeneration of the Soviet Union. Did comrades actually read what the ISG/Matthieu/SA said at the last Congress? For example, in "After the Fall of the Berlin Wall" (IMR no. 11/12), the ISG leadership and Matthieu, still united with Matti, wrote:
Without democracy, state control does not constitute social progress in relation to capitalism. When the proletariat loses democracy, it loses nearly everything else, including its social conquests, the gains of the revolution.
Comrades, isn't this just plain old Shachtmanism?
It certainly has nothing to do with Trotsky's methodology on the Stalinist degeneration of the Soviet Union. The whole of the Trotskyist analysis of the degenerated and deformed workers' states is thrown out the window in a couple of sentences. If there is nothing progressive about the nationalisation of the means of production in the absence of workers' democracy, then clearly Trotsky was wrong to talk about the "continuing social gains" of the October Revolution under Stalinism. There was, consequently, no reason to defend the degenerated/deformed workers' states against imperialism, since it was never Stalinism we were defending, but the social gains, including the nationalisation of the means of production.
This is precisely what the ISG/Matthieu/SA did, when they applauded the reunification of Germany, i.e., the restoration of capitalism in East Germany. If there was nothing progressive about the collectivisation of the means of the production in the former East Germany, then there was in fact no logic to defending it. And they didn't defend it. To be sure, this abandonment of Trotskyism in the concrete reality of recent events (if not in abstract lip-service) was dressed up with the usual outraged liberal moralism typical of petit-bourgeois democratism the world over. The reunification of Germany was wonderful according to the ISG/Matthieu/SA:
We rejoiced without reservations (!). It is a step forward for all humanity. (Ibid., our emphasis)
Never mind that the twelfth largest economy in the world was wiped out over night. The East German workers could exchange their useless "non-progressive" social gains (e.g., their right to a job) for the joys of bourgeois democracy and the kind of "self-determination" that the workers of the Third World have always known and loved in relation to imperialism!
Such a view elevates bourgeois democracy into the be-all and end-all and reduces the social gains of October to nothing. This approach is also consistent with the other bankrupt strand of the ISG/Matthieu/SA position: "unconditional" defence of the right of self-determination of nations in Eastern Europe, even under conditions where secession would mean capitalist restoration and imperialist domination. They equate the position of nationalist movements in relation to imperialism with those in the Eastern bloc. Trotskyists are unconditionally in favour of the right of self-determination of Third World national liberation movements vis-à-vis imperialism, that is, in favor of the right without insisting that Trotskyists lead the liberation movement first. But we are not unconditionally in favour of the right of self-determination in relation to the degenerated and deformed workers' states. Why? Because, unlike the ISG/Matthieu/SA, consistent Trotskyists place the defence of collectivised property before the overthrow of the bureaucracy, before the right of national self-determination, and before bourgeois democracy -- witness East Germany.
Are the ISG/Matthieu/SA really saying that the collectivisation of the means of production should be sacrificed in the name of national self-determination? In the name of bourgeois democracy? Do the ISG/Matthieu/SA actually realise the full implications of what this position implies?
The ISG/Matthieu/SA protest that they do not give political support to the Izetbegovic regime in Bosnia. But at the last World Congress the ISG/Matthieu/SA (still united with Matti) made no distinction between the national question in their imperialist West and in the Eastern bloc when their text said:
We are and always have been, unconditional in our defence of the right of nations to self determination (up to and including secession), and unconditional means that we place absolutely no conditions of any kind whatsoever on our defence of that right. ("The Soviet Union, Gorbachevism and the Crisis of Stalinism", IDB, no. 2., our emphasis.)
Once again, this erases any notion of there being any other consideration in the Eastern bloc, such as the defence of collectivised property. It is as though the degenerated/deformed workers' states didn't exist -- as though they were and are no different than the capitalist states of the West.
Trotskyists do not cede to the imperialists or their counter-revolutionary, CIA-sponsored nationalist agents the right to overthrow Stalinism. Read Christopher Simpon's extremely well researched and documented book Blowback for the history of the CIA's recruitment of ex-Nazi East European nationalists for its efforts to destabilise the Eastern bloc, including Yugoslavia.
"Balkanisation" and "Beruitisation"
The process of separation under restorationist regimes, i.e., "Balkanisation", inevitably risks the further collapse into "Beruitisation", as we have seen in Yugoslavia. The tensions between Russian minorities and non-Russians in some former Soviet republics contains the same danger, if economic conditions continue to deteriorate. This is because all nationalist-restorationist regimes play upon national tensions to legitimate themselves and de-fuse class movements. The danger of a "carnival of reaction" is a reason why Trotskyists generally should not advocate or politically support secessions from workers' states under nationalist-restorationist leaderships
More generally, how should Trotskyists assess the relative importance of defending collectivised property and defending the right of national self-determination in a degenerated or deformed workers' state? We have to remember Trotsky's priorities:
We must not lose sight for a single moment of the fact that the question of overthrowing the Soviet bureaucracy is for us subordinate to the question of preserving state property in the means of production in the USSR; that the question of preserving state property in the means of production in the USSR is subordinate for us to the question of the world proletarian revolution. ("The USSR in War", 1939, in In Defence of Marxism)
The need to correlate the right of national self-determination with the higher priorities of overthrowing the Soviet bureaucracy, preserving state property in the means of production, and the world proletarian revolution led Trotsky put forward the slogan of an independent Soviet Ukraine, not just an independent Ukraine or even the right of the Ukraine to secede. An independent Soviet Ukraine would advance the struggles for the overthrow of the Soviet bureaucracy, the preservation of state property in the means of production in the USSR, and world revolution. An independent capitalist Ukraine would set them back..
Applying these priorities to the August and December 1991 Yeltsin coups, we have to say on the negative side that, while the collectivisation of the means of production was not immediately abolished as a consequence of the coups and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the coming to power of avowed restorationists has accelerated the process of capitalist restoration and caused a plummeting of living standards and a loss of many of the remaining social gains of the October Revolution. Decontrol of prices, inflation and speculation have taken their toll. On the positive side, a certain self-determination from the Soviet "prison house of nations" has been achieved by the non-Russian republics, although this is being challenged by the imperialist project to semi-colonialise the region through an IMF dictatorship over the economy. Whether this will succeed is questionable, but true independence has yet to be achieved. How could it be otherwise outside of a voluntary Eurasian union of healthy workers' states?
On balance, it can be seen that the progressive development of ending the forced union is greatly outweighed by the retrogressive developments of restorationist governments coming to power and erosion of the gains of October.
Applying Trotsky's criteria further, revolutionaries should not have supported the separation of the nationalist-restorationist Sajudis regime in Lithuania. Supporting the right to self-determination is one thing; knee-jerk support for separation regardless of the class character of the seceding state or regime is something else. We could have supported the secession of an independent workers' republic, but we should not have supported the secession of a regime dedicated to restoring capitalism and subordinating Lithuania to Western imperialism. Neither should we have supported the military-bureaucratic response of the Stalinists, sending the army to crush the seceding republic. We could only try to help the pro-socialist domestic opposition.
If the Soviet Union had still been a healthy workers' state, it would have been appropriate for it to declare solidarity with domestic opponents of restoration, to aid and arm them, and to provide volunteers under domestic command, as requested. The problem was that decades of Stalinist oppression had atomised the working class in the oppressed nations, so that the domestic opposition to restoration was not strong enough to make a difference. Stalinism also erased any possibility of aiding such oppositions through solidarity action. All that Trotskyists could do was make propaganda for the need for a pro-socialist domestic opposition and the need for solidarity action in the Russian Federation. The FI did not do that, and the ISG/Matthieu/SA opposed it, tail-ending petit-bourgeois liberal opinion in the West and giving unconditional support to the pro-imperialist, capitalist-restorationist secession.
Yugoslavia was different from the Soviet Union. There was not a comparable history of national oppression, except in the case of Kosovo. Efforts had, in fact, been made in the post-World War II period to integrate the Slavic republics, including Bosnia. Even Kosovo had gained under Tito. This was despite the fact that the Serbs had suffered at the hands of the pro-Nazi Croatian regime, which had included Bosnia. Bosnian Muslim militia were implicated in the massive Nazi-backed genocide against the Serbs in World War II, which is one reason why the Serbs today are not a majority, as they once were in Bosnia. This is also an important reason why many Bosnian Serbs do not want to be a part of an independent Bosnian state.
Applying Trotsky's criteria to the situation, Trotskyists should not have supported the separation of the liberal nationalist-restorationist Slovenian regime or the reactionary nationalist-restorationist Tudjman regime in Croatia. Neither should we have supported the separation of the Serb-dominated regions of Croatia and Bosnia, which were also headed by reactionary nationalist-restorationists.
The parallels which have been drawn, particularly in the ISG, between Bosnia and Ireland are completely erroneous. The Bosnian Muslims were not an oppressed nation under Tito. We do not decide our position in wars or civil wars on the basis of which side is the underdog because it has the least arms. A community does not become an "oppressed nation" because it is less well armed than its opponent. Did "poor little Belgium" become an "oppressed nation" in the World War I because it was smaller and weaker than Germany? Should we have supported Belgium against Germany, as the British and French imperialists demogogically demanded? Obviously not. Neither should we simplisticly base our position in wars on how "multi-ethnic" one side is, compared to the other. This is not because we are uncaring about repression and genocide. We oppose all oppression and genocide and call for the formation of workers' militias to defend all communities in ex-Yugoslavia faced with "ethnic cleansing".
Imperialism has always sought, where possible, to dress up its predatory incursions in the garb of democratic, "civilised", pretensions. It often does this through support for an "underdog" country or community within its target country. The Western media always attempts to legitimate its interventions by converting its enemies into "monsters" and demonising them. "Poor little Belgium and Serbia" in World War I, "poor little Finland, Poland and Belgium" in World War II, "the oppressed Kurds" in Iraq, "overthrowing the drug mafia" in Panama, "feeding the starving" in Somalia. Imperialism does this in part because it knows that petit-bourgeois liberal opinion will be blinded to the real issues by such demagogy. And it is, of course, able to count on the seemingly congenital incapacity of sections of the left to maintain their political independence from such elements. It can always rely on them to echo the moral outrage and liberal clamour of the empty-headed "frothy democrats".
And we do have to take account, don't we, of the fact that US imperialism is sponsoring the Bosnian-Croatian Confederation against its primary enemy, the Bosnian Serbs. You wouldn't know this through reading the FI press, however. The fact that imperialism does not care a damn about Bosnia does not alter the fact that it is using and manipulating Bosnian Muslim fears as a weapon to dominate all the ex-Yugoslav republics, Bosnia first of all. In their haste to outdo the imperialist anti-Serb hate-machine, the ISG/Matthieu/SA, even more than the International majority, rarely, if ever, mention the defence of Serbia against imperialism or the defence of the remaining collectivised property in Bosnia or the rump Yugoslavia. Neither does it appear to enter their heads that imperialism hates the Serbs most, because they represent, in however limited and distorted a way, what is left of Yugoslav political and economic independence from imperialism.
The ISG/Matthieu/SA, even more than the International majority, prefer to act as cheerleaders for the compradors of the northern, economically privileged republics and the anti-Communist fundamentalists of the Izetbegovic regime. When, for example, are they going to openly and clearly condemn the Bosnian regime for calling upon imperialism and NATO to carry out massive air attacks on the Serbs? And when will they explain that the Bosnian government's military offensives and attempts to establish an anti-Serb alliance with imperialism contradict its "multi-ethnic" pretensions and mean that its policy is, in reality, merely a self-interested, pragmatic attempt to preserve the Bosnian state and with it the positions and jobs of the restorationist bureaucrats of the Bosnian regime. Trotskyists must take a more independent stand than this.
Imperialism out of the Balkans!
Self-determination for all the peoples of ex-Yugoslavia!
End all the sanctions and embargoes!
Defend Serbia and the Serbs against UN/NATO attack!
No support to any of the warring governments!
For multi-national workers' militia to defend all communities against "ethnic cleansing" and genocide!
For a Socialist Federation of the Balkans!