A Socialist Labor Party Statement—

Stop the War on Yugoslavia!

In the name of all that is decent and humane, the Socialist Labor Party calls upon the working class of the United States to demand a complete and immediate stop to the war on Yugoslavia.

The lie—and a monumental lie it is—that the U.S.-led NATO attack on Yugoslavia was prompted by a “humanitarian” desire to save the people of Kosovo from the savage “ethnic cleansing” campaign being waged under the direction of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is as cynical as it is false.

The United States has callously and systematically turned its back on numerous conflicts, massacres and human tragedies all over the world. Its spokespersons have frankly admitted that the United States cannot “police” the globe and that it must pick and choose where it will use its military might to enforce its will.

Why a War?

How does Washington decide what country to invade, what tyrant to support or what despot to depose? Why, for example, does the United States oppose the Kurdish people fighting for their independence from Turkey while it arms and supplies the same Kurdish people just across the border who are trying to break away from Iraq and Saddam Hussein?

The answer is simple. It is that the interests of the tiny class of capitalists who own the economy need “spheres of influence” all over the world. They need these spheres of influence and control to secure access to foreign sources of raw materials to feed their industries, and to protect and expand foreign markets in which to sell their wares and rake in their profits. They need these things because without them the capitalist system would collapse. These necessities of capitalism are the “national interests” that determine where and when American soldiers, sailors and pilots will be sent to kill or be killed in conflicts such as the present war on Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia is one of those East European countries that used to be called “communist.” Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the bureaucrats who controlled the state-owned industries and lands of those countries have been scrambling to keep control. Their squabbles lit the spark that ignited the “ethnic disputes” that led to Yugoslavia’s disintegration into five petty “nations” and to the wars in which unspeakable atrocities have been committed on all sides.

Who’s to Blame?

The United States and the European Union (EU) share responsibility for the chaos and human suffering that have descended on Kosovo. Their efforts to hasten the transition from Soviet-style “communism” to capitalism have placed enormous political and economic pressures on every country in the Balkans—on Bulgaria and Romania as well as on Albania, Yugoslavia and the four breakaway countries of Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia. These pressures have led to massive layoffs for workers from what were state-run industries that are slated to be “privatized” once they are made profitable. The U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the source from which much of that pressure has come.

However, the transition from so-called communism to capitalism is not the only, or even the primary, source of concern for the U.S.-EU-NATO “alliance” now waging war on Yugoslavia. The strategic location of the Balkan Peninsula in relation to the rest of Europe, to Russia and to the Middle East overshadows every other concern. Indeed, it explains why Russian President Boris Yeltsin angrily rattled his country’s nuclear sword and threatened to forge a new military alliance with Belarus and Yugoslavia unless the war was stopped. It explains why cries for an all-out ground war are being heard through the mass media and from Capitol Hill. The stakes are enormous and could easily bring the world back to the brink of a nuclear holocaust that the end of the Cold War seemed to eliminate.

What’s at Stake?

American corporations sell more to and buy more from the countries that make up the EU than anywhere else. What threatens European capitalist interests threatens the interests of U.S. capitalism. EU countries such as Germany have huge investments in the Balkans, and their ability to export much of the wealth produced by the working classes of the EU depends on the markets of southern Europe.

Apart from that, however, is what may be called the ABC line of access to the enormous oil reserves of the Caspian Basin. That strategic line runs from the Adriatic Sea that washes the West Coast of the Balkan Peninsula across the Black Sea to the oil-rich Caspian Sea. Control over the Caspian oil fields may well depend on who—the U.S.-EU-NATO alliance or Russia—dominates Yugoslavia and the Balkans. That is why the 50-year-old NATO military alliance that failed to intervene in the anti-Soviet rebellions in East Germany, Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the 1950s and 1960s has suddenly gone to war—not for “humanitarian” reasons, but in a struggle for control over markets, natural resources, human labor and strategic advantages that are indispensable to the ruling classes of the United States, the EU—and Russia.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and its stultifying system of bureaucratic state despotism did nothing to change these imperialist compulsions of world capitalism. Indeed, the Soviet collapse had precisely the opposite effect. It expanded the system of capitalist rapacity to embrace Russia, the former Soviet-style societies of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states that border the Adriatic, Black and Caspian seas.

The threat to world peace is clear. Already the Pentagon wants to mobilize 33,000 National Guard and reservists in preparation for an all-out ground war that President Clinton still insists won’t be needed to protect U.S. and EU interests in the Balkans. Is that a risk that American workers want to take?

Workers Must Act!

Every day the American working class marches into the nation’s industries and performs every useful service that makes our country the richest and the most powerful on Earth. To stop the war and prevent its spinning out of control, the American working class must take a stand. It must demand the complete and immediate cessation of hostilities against Yugoslavia and the total disengagement of all American forces in the conflict. But it must do more. It must act soon to prevent any recurrence of future conflicts by ridding itself of the capitalist system that has caused every major war of the 20th century.

The American working class is the only force capable of establishing a permanent and unbreakable world peace. But to establish that peace it must organize its political and economic might to declare its determination to end capitalism and to build a new democracy—an industrial democracy—based on collective ownership of the economy. In short, genuine socialism.

The Socialist Labor Party’s program of Socialist Industrial Unionism provides the strategy and the tactics the working class needs to consummate a peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism. It calls upon the working class to organize a political party of its own to express its will to abolish capitalism, and to organize itself in the workplaces of the country to enforce that decision by taking, holding and operating the economy in the name of society.

Only then can the working-class majority take control of its own destiny to ensure permanent economic prosperity, to uproot the cause of international conflicts, and to lay the foundation for international cooperation and a lasting peace.


Socialist Labor Party of America, P.O. Box 218, Mountain View, CA 94042-0218 • www.slp.org • socialists@slp.org

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