Watching the war go by
Last year The Most Dangerous Man In The World was Saddam Hussain. Pronounced Sadaaam Hoosayn by the plastic propagandists employed to spin the latest line for CNN. There had never been a nastier dictator than the Evil Saddaaam and that was why forces of the American Empire—sorry, NATO—had to “go in there and kick ass”. Any resemblance to a gangland settling of scores should be ignored. After all, that upright defender of virtue, Slick Willy Clinton, had cast himself as Batman against the Iraqi Joker, with wee Tony doing his best to look like Robin.
But let us not distract ourselves with nostalgia. That was yesterday’s war. Now, in the world of CNN-speak, an even more demonic evil has come to threaten the stability of the globe. Plucky little Kosovo must be defended. Think not of the fact that nine out of ten Americans had never heard of Serbia, let alone Kosovo, until CNN told them about it fifty times a day. The threat to the New World Order has been identified. Milosevic must be banged to rights. The propagandists, using a script uncannily similar to Wag The Dog (a fictional account of a sleazy US President saving his reputation by a bogus war against Albania), invite us to shout and curse against the crimes of the Belgrade regime.
And, blinded by the light of the TV screen, large numbers of decent people are weeping for the oppressed Kosovars and cheering NATO as it drops its bombs on Serb towns and villages. Because most people are decent and they hate to see injustice against a defenceless minority, so they are sucked in to the drama of war.
But there are some other defenceless minorities whose plight is not shown on CNN. There are some defenceless minorities for whom NATO would not so much as fire a shot from an air gun. In fact, the NATO states are the very ones which have sold the weapons by which these defenceless minorities are oppressed. For example . . .
There are the Kurds in Turkey. Between 1990 and 1994 about one million Turkish Kurds were driven from their homes. Over 40,000 Kurds have been killed. And in 1994 Turkey became the biggest single importer of US military equipment and the world’s largest arms purchaser. Turkey is a member of NATO. Its troops are currently part of the NATO forces in Yugoslavia. Why is NATO attacking Serbia and not Turkey? The US administration justifies Turkish state atrocities on the grounds that they are defending “law and order” against Kurdish terrorists. The Serbian regime uses precisely the same logic: that it has only slaughtered people and burnt villages to the ground in a war against Kosovar terrorism.
Within the past month 10,000 people were killed in a war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. There are countless refugees. When did we hear about this on the TV News? Where are the calls from those incorrigible humanitarians, Albright and Cook, to send aid to these refugees and to stop the fighting? Since 1994 820,000 have died in Rwanda. Since 1986 a million and a half have died in Sudan. Where was CNN?
There is something deeply disgusting about the pretence that bombing is a civilising mission. The people who drop bombs from the sky upon towns and villages are bullying cowards and deserve no respect from anyone. The people who give them the orders to drop their bombs are self-serving hypocrites whose concern for the safety of Kosovar refugees is about as genuine as their domestic concern for single mothers, the unemployed and the disabled. The minority who own and control the world—the Directors of USA Inc and UK Plc—are ruthless, exploitative thieves whose primary interest is in the fast buck and protecting what they imagine their interests to be. The capitalists have never gone to war to promote justice and they never will. Indeed, the notion that justice can be furthered by violence can only make sense when you have a social system that is rooted in violence and plunder.
We will no doubt be told that by opposing the military escapades of Clinton and Blair we are siding with those who are committing unspeakable acts against defenceless Kosovars. Socialists side with no state, for all states are merely organised forces of national coercion. We are opposed to the lot of them and support the interest of the oppressed, not selectively, but wherever they are. In time of war we refuse steadfastly to be deluded by the crass propaganda of any section of the ruling class or to become entrapped in the rhetoric of militarist terror.
Instead of taking sides between this nation or that, we oppose all nationalism. Workers have no country. None to live for. None to die for. Workers should refuse to fight, for every drop of working-class blood shed in battles within capitalism is wasted.
CNN’s viewing figures have gone up since the war in Yugoslavia started. What exciting pictures the explosions make. What a terrific diversion from thinking about the poverty of life under the profit system it is for wage slaves to be presented with 24-hour live coverage of Clinton’s Heroes. CLOBBER SLOBBA, says the Sun, ever eager to find new depths of banality, illiteracy and tastelessness by which to woo its prey. So, we sit at home and we watch the war and just occasionally we might wonder how much it cost to build the US bomber planes (more than the total GDP of Albania, as it happens) and what kind of world we might live in if those resources were not used to produce ever more sophisticated weapons of death, but libraries, homes and hospitals for all.