Black Radical Congress Statement on Kosovo
The following statement was adopted by the National Council of the Black Radical Congress on April 18, 1999. [Originally drafted by the International Committee of the BRC].
The Black Radical Congress (BRC) opposes the bombing of Yugoslavia.
For African Americans, the Latino community and other peoples of color in the USA the moral claims of the US in its intervention in Yugoslavia ring hollow. The mass opposition of peoples of color in the USA to police killings, mass imprisonment of youth and the militarization of the streets and communities ensure that the opposition to militarism is deep in the oppressed communities in the USA. The shooting of Amadou Diallo in New York City and the killing of Tyisha Miller in California brought home to the poor the coast to coast violence against blacks and poor people. This police violence is supported by the campaign against crime since black and brown peoples are supposed to be by nature, criminals. Low intensity warfare that had been experimented in Nicaragua and El Salvador is now practiced on a daily basis in the poor communities by SWAT teams. The most overt expression of this militarization of the communities is the plan by the army to carry out exercises in the streets of Oakland, California. The exercises are part of the long-range plan of the Pentagon to fight urban guerrilla warfare in the USA. This leads us to the conclusion that a crucial way to oppose this war is to intensify the opposition to police brutality and militarism.
NATO was created as a military alliance between the capitalist powers of Europe, the USA and Canada. The justification for the existence of NATO ended in 1991 at the end of the cold war. In the past three months, the leaders of the US have declared that what is at stake is the "credibility of NATO." This is indeed the case since this military campaign should provide the catalyst for a worldwide campaign against aggressive military formations such as NATO. It is for this reason that one of the fundamental demands of the Black Radical Congress is for the dismantling of NATO. The bombing of Yugoslavia exposes the fact that organizations such as NATO will carry out illegal acts and undermines international law. The aggression in the Balkans undermines international law, undermines the United Nations as an organization dedicated to world peace and brings to the fore the need for alternatives to the present monopoly over force enjoyed by the USA. Since African Americans also feel the brunt of this force in the form of police violence, it devolves to organizations such as the BRC to lead the opposition to the military campaign of NATO.
In a major sense the war in the Balkans calls on the BRC to bring forth the anti imperialist radical traditions of dominated peoples. It is from within this tradition that the BRC is calling on all progressive forces to condemn the bombings in Yugoslavia, condemn the ethnic cleansing and brutality of Slobodan Milosevic, and to raise their voices to call for a negotiated end to the crisis in Kosovo before this conflagration explodes into the third world war. The BRC calls for negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations. Despite the fact that in the past ten years the USA has manipulated the UN to do its bidding (such as the bombing of Iraq), the UN remains an instrument for real international deliberation.
The Crisis in Kosovo also reinforces the need for international bodies to try war criminals. It is instructive that in 1998 it was the United States that opposed the formation of a new international criminal court. After one month of deliberations in 1998 more than one hundred nations meeting in Rome, Italy voted in the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries for the Establishment of an International Criminal Court on 17 July 1998. The statutes of this new court argued that it is a crime, "if any military operations begun with the knowledge such an attack will cause loss of life and injury to civilians."
Under that statutes of the international criminal court both the present leaders of the USA and those of Yugoslavia would be deterred from military actions and would be forced to seek political solutions to the ethnic and regional problems that beset the peoples of the region of the Balkans. NATO, by militarily intervening in this region, has intensified ethnic antagonisms and postponed the possibilities for democratic and progressive forces to intervene to move the various oppressed peoples towards peaceful solutions to centuries of ethnic rivalry. Africans in the USA and other peoples of color who have borne the brunt of militarism and police brutality know that ethnic and racial chauvinism are tools to divide the poor and oppressed. The struggle for democracy in multi ethnic and multi racial societies is a totally new terrain where the present leaders of the USA have no experience. It is with this in mind and with a clear knowledge of the history of US militarism in the world as an imperial force that the BRC opposes the military intervention in the Balkans and calls for manifestations all over this country to articulate this opposition. This opposition should ensure that there is information in every church, mosque, temple, town hall, library, web site and community center on the issues involved in the war and for people to move away from the war propaganda being fostered by the media.
The best way to oppose this war is to intensify the opposition to police brutality and militarism in the USA.
The BRC calls for the following:
1. the dismantling of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
2. the support of the democratic and non violent forces in Serbia and Kosovo
3. the investigation of the support of the USA for forces of repression and genocide (especially among NATO allies such as Turkey and France)
4. strengthening the United Nations and for the US to ratify the treaty creating the international criminal court and for
5. the reduction of the military budget in the USA, and the diversion of the resources from the Pentagon to health care, affordable housing, childcare, public education, transportation and for the clean up of the environment. Below the International Committee spells out the rationale for these demands.
1. THE DISMANTLING OF NATO
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed in April 1949. In April 1999, all of the leaders of these 19 European countries will gather in Washington to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NATO. This anniversary is being celebrated with a new focus and expanded role for NATO as the international police to protect capital. During the cold war the citizens of Europe were called upon to subsidize high military spending under the guise that NATO was created to combat communism. However, after the fall of the Eastern bloc countries in 1991, NATO has been searching for a new role and in a series of meetings redefined its role as the police for the USA all over the world.
It was General Colin Powell, who while being the Chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for the military capacity of the USA to fight on many fronts at the same time. It was in this spirit that the military planners in the Pentagon sought to recalibrate the mission of NATO from a defensive alliance to a world wide military police force to protect those who consume seventy per cent of the world’s resources, (the North Americans and the western Europeans). Because of this unequal distribution of the resources of the globe, there is the calculation that to achieve global domination, the United States must maintain sufficient forces to conduct simultaneous military operations in widely separated areas of the world against multiple adversaries. To achieve this the USA must revise its existing security alliances--most of which, like NATO, are defensive in nature--so that they can better support US global expeditionary operations.
Many public officials, most recently, the former Secretary of Defense, William J. Perry has openly spoken of the global role of NATO beyond the borders of Europe. It is in this sense that there is the oftimes repeated claim that the present campaign in Yugoslavia is a test of the credibility of NATO. The credibility is being assured by 3000 sorties over Yugoslavia using over 600 aircraft and twenty warships, including aircraft carriers. Certain elements in the US Congress are at the same time raising the call for the immersion of ground troops into this part of Europe. There is no legal basis for the bombings of Yugoslavia and the BRC should join in a campaign to bring the issue of the illegality of the operations of NATO in Yugoslavia.
The 19 states of NATO, led by the United States. are violating international law by massively bombing military and civilian targets in Yugoslavia without an official declaration of war. Legal scholars have pointed to the precedents being set by using force outside of the sanction of international legal statutes. The problems of Kosovo are an internal matter where international pressure should and must be brought to bear to ensure that the rights of ethnic and religious minorities are not violated. There is more need to intervene in Turkey to stop the brutal repression of the Kurds. NATO is quite aware of the illegal nature of the present military campaign, hence the US refuses to go to the Security Council of the United Nations to even seek the usual Chapter VII clause that was used to justify the bombing of Iraq. The NATO states deliberately by-pass the entire United Nations organization and set aside the consultative procedures it, and especially its Security Council, offers for the discussion and settlement of international Disputes. These include in particular those that guarantee human rights and those that may threaten the peace. Thereby the NATO member states, including the United States, are blatantly abrogating - even more than violating – the mainstay of international law.
This is the dangerous precedent that is being set by the bombing campaign in Yugoslavia as it also threatens the escalation of a truly global conflict. The BRC is mindful of how a similar breakdown in international law in the midst of the last capitalist depression was the prelude to the Second World War. Then, the world refused to listen as the militarists bypassed the League of Nations to carry out illegal bombings and use mustard gas against the Africans of Abyssinia (present day Ethiopia). Then, both Hitler and Mussolini had visions of enforcing peace and prosperity by waging war. Humanity paid a high price for the break up of the League of Nations and for the use of force to solve political and economic problems. Oppressed peoples in the USA who feel the brunt of this force in their communities are taking the lead in calling for political solutions to the problems in the Balkans and for forces of NATO to be removed from the region and replaced by international forces under the United Nations.
The BRC supports a negotiated settlement and the more the bombings, the more the specter of war threatens Europe and the rest of humanity. Many brothers and sisters believe that the Europeans should fight out their battles, but in the army of the USA are hundreds of thousands of youth of color who will be the main canon fodder in any ground warfare. Every military intervention opens up uncharted actions and counter actions while inflicting misery. The NATO forces started bombing Yugoslavia in an effort to force the leadership to accept a peace plan for the protection of the ethnic Albanians of that province. Instead of protecting the citizens, these bombings precipitated a mass exodus of over half a million refugees from Kosovo, and an equal number of citizens of Yugoslavia fleeing in order to escape the bombing.
In this war there is a perverse unity between the interests of extremists and militarists in the USA, in Yugoslavia and in Kosovo. For these extremists, military means are essential for their goals, irregardless of the loss of life or the misery caused. Behind the media hype on the question of refugees lay the refusal to lay the cause of the humanitarian disaster on the illegal bombing initiated by NATO. NATO was created as a defensive military alliance. It was not created to attack countries and the war in Yugoslavia should create the conditions for a global rethinking of the role of military alliances such as NATO. The Black Radical Congress should take the lead in calling for the United States to leave NATO and for the $40 million being spent every day on the bombing campaign to be spent on the social needs of the most oppressed in the USA. The planned expansion of NATO will cost the citizens of the USA close to one hundred billion dollars. The long term plans to make NATO a global police force were put on the table in January when President Clinton announced that he intended to add $112 billion to the Defense Department budget over the next six years. This sum, which is separate from the cost of expanding NATO, will be used to procure additional warships, cargo planes, assault vehicles and other equipment intended for "power projection" into distant combat zones. The war in Kosovo is needed in order to justify this expansion of power projection, which is basically to protect the most rich and powerful in the USA and in Europe. NATO troops in Kosovo.
In the March issue of the Indian weekly magazine Frontline, readers were treated to an analysis of the long-term goals of NATO and the way in which Kosovo fitted into this goal. It was argued that the aim of the forces of NATO was not to assist the citizens of Kosovo but to use the ethnic and religious struggles as the basis for permanently stationing NATO troops in the Balkans. It has been argued that, in the face of massive opposition to the neo liberal economic policies all over the world of poverty one, of the strategic goals of the USA is to dominate Europe and to bind the European Union to a military partnership where the USA can maintain troops to protect investments in petroleum from the Gulf of Arabia to the Caspian sea. This doctrine was most recently articulated by the head of the Central Intelligence Agency who testified before the US Congress arguing that ," US citizens and interests are threatened in many arenas and across a wide spectrum of issues." Those perils range from regional conflict and insurgency to terrorism, criminal violence and ethnic unrest. "
A careful analysis of the ways in which this crisis festered and the issues that were placed on the table in the "peace" talks in Rambouillet bear out the thesis that the Balkans crisis is being used as a testing ground for a new strategic deployment of troops to meet threats from "regional conflict, terrorism and ethnic unrest." The persecution of the ethnic Albanians had gone on for a long time (but more especially in the last seven years) . At the conference that lasted for seventeen days in February the USA and NATO gave the Yugoslavians an ultimatum by laying terms for negotiations that were bound to be rejected by any sovereign state.
The terms were as follows:
1. the granting of autonomy for the ethnic Albanians within the Yugoslavian federation
2. the stationing of NATO troops in Yugoslavia to guarantee the autonomy and
3. a referendum after three years that would decide if Kosovo should be an independent state.
This conference broke down over the question of the stationing of NATO troops in Kosovo inside an independent state. While the question of the violation of human rights are burning questions in Kosovo, they are no more burning than the question of the massacres of the Kurds by the government of Turkey. Turkey is one of the members of the NATO alliance and the pressures on Yugoslavia demonstrate the fact that the reason for the military confrontation has less to do with the plight of the Albanians than with the strategic goals of the USA. The allies of the USA in Colombia in South America and in Mexico carry out brutal murders against the poor and the media in the USA remain silent on these massacres. The BRC supports the struggles of all oppressed peoples and the record of the USA inside the African American community and in the world is not one where the peoples of color of this country and other oppressed peoples can support the expansion of an aggressive military formation such as NATO. Why is the issue of Kosovo more a burning issue than the independence of East Timor or the independence of the Western Sahara? It is the view that the USA and NATO want a war and the confrontation with Yugoslavia provides the best opportunity to initiate a military conflict that would eventually ensnare all of the Balkans and include Russia. This is the danger that demands vigorous opposition to both the regime of present Yugoslavian leadership and the NATO alliance.
2. THE STRUGGLE OF DEMOCRATIC AND NON VIOLENT FORCES IN YUGOSLAVIA
Where is Yugoslavia and what are the issues?
For a short while this region had promised to be the one place where the multi ethnic and different religions of the world could seek new ways of living in a society. This was the task of the bold experiment started by President Tito when he established the Socialist Federation of the Republic of Yugoslavia in 1948. Under the Yugoslav constitution, there was a federal (or central) government based in Belgrade, of which Tito was president. Within the SFRY were six ``republics'' and two ``autonomous'' regions: Slovenia; Croatia; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Montenegro; Macedonia; and Serbia. The Republic of Serbia was sub-divided into two ``autonomous regions'': Vojvodina and Kosovo. These two regions had a measure of local self-rule, more-or-less at the municipal level. Each republic had its own government and president and they were each allocated reasonably broad-reaching powers. This was essentially Tito's method for accommodating the various ethnic minorities within Yugoslavia. For the previous six hundred years militarism and warfare were the means by which the varying elites sought to maintain political power. In the process there was the exploitation of the racial, ethnic and religious differences in this region where so many cultures met. This region provided the spark that enveloped the world in two world wars this century.
It was from Yugoslavia that there was the most sterling resistance to Hitler and the fascist forces that were supported by both Hitler and others. President Tito, who had been the anti fascist fighter in the second world war, sought to remain independent of both the Warsaw Pact and NATO during the period of the cold war; he remained non aligned and supported the struggles for national liberation in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It was in this spirit that Tito granted autonomy to the peoples of Kosovo in 1974. However, the death of Tito in 1980 exposed the reality that the deep-seated ethnic and religious tensions had simmered below the surface. These differences were exacerbated by the turn to capitalism at the end of the eighties where different competing interests sought to mobilize their ethnic and religious base as a component of the competition in the market place.
President Milosevic came to power in 1987 on the basis of Serbian nationalism and his faction of the political leadership fanned the flames of ethnic chauvinism. Overnight citizens who had lived together, studied together and worked together were fighting. Milosevic abolished the autonomy of Kosovo and Vojvodina in 1989 and repressive measures were instituted against the ethnic Albanians. As nationalist pressures grew throughout Yugoslavia, Serbian nationalists embraced the traditional nationalist concept of a Greater Serbia – the unification of all areas with Serb populations so that no Serb community would be left under the control of another nation.
The competition and tensions inside the Yugoslavian federation were exploited by those external forces that were opposed to an independent society that was based on multi national and multi ethnic principles. It was the Germans, who had supported the fascists in this region during the Second World War, who initially led the call for the support of an independent Croatia as a way of weakening Yugoslavia and destabilizing the region. The independence of Slovenia and the nasty struggles over Bosnia Herzegovina brought the issues of nationalism and chauvinism of this region to the attention of the world.
Within Yugoslavia itself, the democratic forces that opposed Milosevic were sidelined and the extreme nationalists came into political prominence. The necessities of war in Bosnia demanded uncritical support for the regime. Despite the opposition to the militarism of this government the USA sought to make Milosevic a partner in the Dayton Accords that brokered a shaky peace between the different forces in Bosnia. The international media presented Milosevic as a person with whom the West could deal in seeking peace in the region. This image was presented over the protestation of the various human rights groups within Yugoslavia who faced the repression of the authoritarian leadership of Milosevic.
Repression within Yugoslavia meant that ethnic chauvinism festered in these conditions leading to even more extreme repression in the region of Kosovo. This region in Yugoslavia was up to April 1999 inhabited by Serbians, ethnic Albanians and Montenegrins. It was estimated that ninety percent of the population was made up of ethnic Albanians. However, the region occupies a special place in the consciousness of Serbian nationalists since Kosovo is supposed to be the homeland of Serbia. In the fourteenth century, the Serbs were defeated by the rising Islamic forces and the folklore and traditions speak of reconquering the heartland of Serbia and reclaiming it from the ethnic Albanians.
The leadership in Belgrade isolated the political forces in both Serbia and in Kosovo that wanted peaceful negotiations to end warfare, violence and suspicion between peoples of differing religious faiths. In Kosovo itself, armed elements calling themselves the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) started military actions against the Yugoslavian army. These acts served to strengthen Milosevic while weakening the non military opposition to Serbian nationalism in Kosovo. The militarization of the politics of Yugoslavia and Serbia took a new turn in 1998 when in March the extremists around the Yugoslav leadership decided to send police to attack Albanian separatists in Kosovo. By doing this, Milosevic undermined the political legitimacy of moderate Kosovo Albanians and strengthened the hard liners, who have anyway grown in number in the wake of the brutality of the repression.
The war in Kosovo, waged by Police and Military units since March 1998, reached levels of ferocity and plain military destruction not seen since the worst days of the war in Bosnia. Civilians have been targeted for simply living in villages where KLA activity has taken place; whole families have been wiped out on the presumption of guilt by association. To Federal Republic of Yugoslavia authorities, most ethnic Albanians in Kosovo are, by definition, suspect in their loyalties. The relationship between the forces calling themselves the Kosovo Liberation army and the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States created even greater concern for the ethnic Albanians who were seeking democratic and non violent means to end the attacks. These elements were working with democratic forces within Serbia who were opposed to Milosevic.
Does the CIA support freedom fighters?
The Black Radical Congress has many grounds for interrogating the politics of the KLA. In the first place the KLA advocates a form of Albanian nationalism that places them on par with the Serbian extremists. They have sidelined the democratic, pluralist and non violent political leaders and are calling for the ridding of the province of Serbs. But more significant is the linkage between the KLA and the CIA. The CIA has no history of supporting genuine liberation forces anywhere in the world. In fact, the opposite is true in that the Central Intelligence Agency has been the main force fighting against elements seeking national liberation whether it was in southern Africa, Central America, Palestine, or in East Timor. All freedom fighters in the world and those who seek peace and an end to the cold war seek an end to the secrecy and covert actions of the Central Intelligence Agency. There is at present a court case pending in the African American community over the relationship between the CIA and the distribution of crack Cocaine in the African American and Latino communities.
There have been stories in the British newspapers of the involvement of the KLA in drug running. It was this link between the KLA and the forces of destabilization that provided the Milosevic leadership with the reasons for clamping down on the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Yet, it was ironic that the plan of the west and NATO to protect the ethnic Albanians actually served the interests of Milosevic and the extreme nationalists by creating the conditions for the mass exodus of the Albanians from Kosovo. The stated military objective of NATO in undertaking the military campaign against Milosevic was to bring him to the conference table to accept the terms of the "peace" conference at Rambouillet. Instead, the military assault strengthened Milosevic politically, isolated the democratic forces in Serbia and emptied Kosovo of nearly half the very same population that the operation was supposed to protect.
The experience of both NATO and Milosevic point to the need for concentrated interventions to build new concepts of democracy. The search for democracy in multi ethnic and multi racial societies is a major challenge and the Europeans have no experience in this form of democratic participation and expression. The form of democracy that is required is one that is not associated with a single event such as elections but a "process of struggles to win, defend and protect the rights of all peoples (producers, women, minorities, religious groups etc) against one-sidedness. This includes the rights of self organization for autonomy for oppressed nationalities." This is the antithesis to the democracy based on the number of parties and on elections only. This form of democracy is what Samir Amin terms low intensity democracy. This form of democracy is required for the management of the state on behalf of capital. Democracy requires the strong organization of the working peoples, women, youth, students, traders, farmers, religious leaders and trade unions and a government that is genuinely interested in protecting the rights of all. The Balkans need democracy that respects diversity. The basis for democracy must be genuine respect for diversity, whether national, ethnic, religious, cultural or ideological. Ethnic and regional diversity in the Balkans cannot be managed by warfare but through the genuine application of democratic principles, openness, transparency, accountability and the limits on the role of police violence. By using force in the Balkans, NATO has strengthened the anti democratic forces. The failure of the USA and NATO to protect the peoples of this region from militarists require the urgent intervention of the United Nations. An international peacekeeping force without the nations of Germany, Britain and the United States of America will be the only basis for preventing an even greater humanitarian disaster than the present military bombings and persecution of both Milosevic and the forces of NATO.
3. GENOCIDE AND THE FIGHT AGAINST GENOCIDE INTERNATIONALLY
The US media has been at the forefront of calling for the deployment of ground troops by NATO to prevent genocide in Yugoslavia, especially Kosovo. There are reports of brutal murders and of pogroms by the military and para military police of Serbia. The issue is whether the question of genocide is being manipulated and cheapened by the United States and NATO. The massive outpouring of refugees from Kosovo is certainly to be opposed by all progressive forces internationally, but the peoples of Latin America, Asia and Africa have first hand knowledge of the forces who have carried out genocide and who have not yet been condemned by any international body.
What is genocide.
According to the UN convention on genocide adopted in 1948, genocide is," the intentional mass destruction of a national, racial, ethnic, or religious group." This definition of genocide is familiar to peoples of color who have suffered genocide at the hands of European and US capitalists over the past five hundred years. The massive genocide against the native American peoples in this country has been romanticized and legitimized as a component of progress. Hence, certain countries can carry out genocide and have this celebrated in their history. It is for this reason that African Americans do not take the issue of genocide lightly. The massacres and murders of colonized peoples all over the world, (most spectacularly in the Congo where the Belgians massacred more than ten million Africans), but more recently in Rwanda and in Guatemala did not fall under the category of genocide for the forces of NATO because this genocide was being carried out either by the allies of NATO or with the tacit support of these allies.
In international law there is a major difference between ethnic cleansing and genocide. International law mandates the signatories of the UN convention to intervene once genocide takes place. Ethnic cleansing takes place when the intention of the ethnic cleanser is to eliminate a group from a territory, to drive them out using any means of terror, sexual violence, torture, and other crimes against humanity to get the group to leave. Milosevic and the Serbian extremists may be guilty of ethnic cleansing in the province of Kosovo. Ethnic cleansing, rape, violation, murder and the wanton abuse of human rights must be opposed and those responsible brought to justice. However, that for countries (like the United States in Guatemala and France in Rwanda that have not come to terms with their complicity in genocide), unilateral intervention of this sort only furthers a selective morality. The reality is that the United States and the UN failed to respond to the real genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994 and instead pontificated that "acts of genocide " may have taken place. Whether genocide or ethnic cleansing is taking place in Kosovo is an urgent matter that cannot be left to the countries of NATO.
The Rwanda genocide in 1994 is still a most burning question for Africans every where because the authors of the 1994 genocide are still living in France and other European capitals and there is no major international movement to bring these genocidists to justice. Such an international push would call into question the roles of France, the United States and Belgium before and during the genocide. The present Secretary of State of the United States would be one of the officials to be investigated for the role of the international community in the period of the genocide in Rwanda. Interestingly, as the US began the bombing campaign, the State Department called in certain human rights groups and urged then to blow the trumpet about the genocide in Kosovo. It was then that Human Rights Watch released a report on the complicity of the US and other nations refusing to recognize the slaughter of over 800,000 persons in Rwanda as genocide. This same organization has been defending some of the authors of genocide in their publications. Earlier, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, called for an investigation of the role of the UN before and during the genocide in Rwanda. The BRC wants to go on record that there can be no meaningful investigation while both Kofi Anan and Madeline Albright are in positions of authority in the international community. Otherwise such an investigation would only serve the same purpose that the supposed investigation served for the government of France (that is a cover up of their role). In that investigation, the inquiry absolved the French government and military from any active role in the genocide in Rwanda.
The BRC is calling for an investigation into the genocide in Rwanda and for the international community to give more teeth to the International war crimes tribunal in Arusha to persecute the authors of genocide, especially those who are living in comfort in Europe. The strengthening of the United Nations is one of the most urgent questions of this period. The US has weakened the role of the UN as a genuine force for peace by manipulating this body to bring untold suffering on the children of Iraq. Yet, the UN is the only basis for ensuring world peace and stopping the slow but inescapable path to massive war in the Balkans and beyond.
4. REVITALIZING THE UNITED NATIONS
The United Nations was established in 1945 in the aftermath of the genocide and war in the world. Despite its weaknesses, the UN represents all of humanity and this is the period to revise the charter to provide scope for the democratization of the United Nations. The Security Council of the United Nations is still dominated by the very forces that were responsible for colonialism and imperial adventures all during the twentieth century. At the dawn of the twenty first century, there is no basis for a security Council that excludes Japan, Nigeria, India, Germany and Brazil.
In bypassing the United Nations in seeking a solution to the problems in Kosovo, the United States was aware that both China and Russia would not authorize the use of force against a country dealing with an internal rebellion. At this moment, instead of covert actions by the CIA in Kosovo and the overt military actions of NATO, the world needs negotiations to bring the issues before a body that is not compromised by militarism and the rush to war. The BRC is calling for the convening of the Security Council to tackle the issue of Kosovo and is calling on all representatives of the Congressional Black caucus to oppose the rush to war. In March 1998 the Security Council had determined that the Kosovo crisis amounted to a threat to peace and adopted Resolution 1160 (1998) calling on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Kosovar Albanians to work towards a political solution. As the crisis deepened, in September 1998 the Security Council followed up the discussion with another resolution 1199 (1998) demanding a cessation of hostilities, a cease-fire as well as steps by both sides to improve the humanitarian situation and to enter into negotiations with international involvement. These efforts of the Security Council were scuttled by the USA because it was clear that for NATO to act, there would be legal issues before the international community. As an imperial force, the US and NATO want to undermine the present rules of international law.
Up to the moment, the USA continues to refuse to ratify a number of international treaties that would weaken the militarists and aggressive elements in the world. The most important new treaty that the US refuses to sign is the treaty establishing the International criminal court. The Pentagon led the opposition to this treaty and the USA is seen in most parts of the world as a rogue state in its refusal to sign this treaty. The USA has similarly refused to sign the international treaty on landmines. Again, the Pentagon holds the rest of humanity in contempt by refusing to sign these international instruments to eliminate the rush to military force. Is NATO using shells encased with depleted uranium in the bombing raids? Are there reasons for congressional inquiries into the rules of war that are being employed in this conflict?
These issues raise the unity of purpose between leaders such as Milosevic and the military/political establishment of NATO. Peace is defined in terms of the interests of the most powerful and the defense of those who plunder the resources of the globe. In the past fifteen years, the economic policies of the international financial institutions have brought ruin to millions around the world. From East Asia to Russia and from Brazil to Rwanda millions have lost their livelihood as a result of the policies of the world capitalist system. In 1948 CLR James wrote of the barbarism of the capitalist system. He declared that: "the unending murders, the destruction of peoples, the brutal passions, the sadism, the cruelties and the lust, all the manifestations of barbarism of the past thirty years are unparalleled in history. But this barbarism exists only because nothing else can oppress the readiness to sacrifice, the democratic instincts and creative power of the masses of the people."
The rush to war and militarism is one more effort to smash the democratic instincts and creative power of the masses of the people. The US has assisted Milosevic in crushing the democratic forces in Serbia and Kosovo. The CIA and the KLA have marginalized the non violent opposition to Milosevic. The rush to war requires the crushing of the democratic forces in the USA. At the vanguard of the struggle for dignity and self worth in the USA are the oppressed peoples of color. It is for this reason that the youth are warehoused in the booming sector of the economy called the prison industrial complex. Peoples of color in the USA cannot support any military action that is supposed to benefit the interest of those who shoot them down in the streets of the USA. Militarism and uncontrolled actions abroad embolden the police forces who claim to be fighting crime in the streets of the USA.
5. OPPOSING MILITARISM IN THE USA
The bombing in Yugoslavia is a necessary aspect of the nature of capitalism at the present moment. When one stealth fighter goes down the ordinary citizen sees over $45 million dollars going down, but this is a plus for the manufacturers of weapons. Bombing sells weapons and tests them, it legitimates military expenditures as well. Consider for example the reports from the military magazines that officials of the US Department of Defense were using the bombing to test a new weapon, the latest air-dropped anti-armour munition, the Textron-built CBU-97 Sensor-Fuzed Weapon (SFW). The warriors in the military industrial complex spoke of the debut of this new weapon during NATO's 'Allied Force' air campaign in Yugoslavia, targeting Serb main battle tanks and other military vehicles. The same reports on the air campaign also speak of the bad weather and the fact that the USA has been forced to use the expensive satellite guided cruise missiles in Yugoslavia. The USA's supply of Conventional air Launch Cruise Missiles (CALCM) has dwindled dangerously low, and so the producers of weapons are encouraged to produce more weapons. This shortage of weapons has USAF planners and officials and the builders of the missiles, rushing to convert stockpiles of nuclear-tipped missiles to conventional warheads. The capitalists who make these weapons want the war to continue so that the order books can be filled and the same capitalists who dominate the corporate media are influencing public opinion to call for an intensification of the undeclared war by the introduction of ground troops. It is not by accident that the war so far is an air war since the most active lobbyists for the defense manufacturers are those from the aerospace industries.
The BRC is opposed to the expansion of the war and the intention to place ground troops in the Balkans. Any peacekeeping force must be one initiated by the United Nations and not by NATO. More importantly, in any ground war the main casualties will be the hundreds of thousands of youths of color who are in the infantry units that would be deployed into Yugoslavia. The military goals of the present government of the USA are not consistent with that of a government seeking to strengthen peace and democratic relations. The USA wants the world to cry genocide in Kosovo when the same USA stood by when close to a million were slaughtered in Rwanda. There can be no support for this military until there is an open declaration and acknowledgment that the USA supported dictators and that the struggle for democracy would take a new turn. A concrete step in this direction would be for the USA to turn over the information on General Pinochet so that he can be prosecuted for crimes against the peoples of Chile. The USA cannot expect human rights activists all around the world to accept its moral judgment on Yugoslavia when it is known that elements from the Pentagon refuse to declassify the documents that would substantiate the charges against Pinochet.
The BRC joins those forces in the USA and internationally who are calling for demilitarization and democratization of the international institutions. This would include aggressive investigation of the role of the USA in the real genocide in Rwanda and of taking steps to stop the excessive repression that is now going on in places such as Colombia and Turkey. Progressive forces in the USA and the BRC must take the lead in breaking the psychological and propaganda war against US citizens. The propaganda of the media seeks to mobilize the citizens to support a long war. All forms of communication and information available from the song to the spoken word and the written word, should be mobilized to expose the militarism and dangers of world war.
The BRC should recognize that the military campaigns against Milosevic and Saddam Hussein are not goals in themselves but means to obtain political goals. The peoples of Yugoslavia are pawns in this goal. The political goal is to mobilize the citizens of the USA to support the agenda of the militarists and those elements who want the USA to maintain global hegemony , even if this brings the world to the brink of a nuclear war. The present crisis of the world economy has had a devastating impact on the citizens of Russia. There are many in that society who want a confrontation with NATO and the crisis over Kosovo is creating the political conditions for the rise of these military/ nationalist elements. For the long term strategists, this would be the required result of the war in the Balkans since this would certify the humiliation of Russia once and for all.
The BRC must intensify the opposition to militarism and police brutality at home . This is a concrete way to oppose the militarists at home and abroad. The progressive left in the USA has been demobilized by the idea that the left was soft on crime. This same left has been unable to mount a serious opposition to the policies of the government either in Rwanda, Iraq or Yugoslavia. This places additional responsibility on the peoples of color who bear the brunt of the militarism. It is for this reason that the BRC is calling for a reduction in the military budget and for the resources from this reduction to be diverted to public education, health care, day care centers, cleaning up of the toxic waste dumps and generally moving the society away from the rapacious forms of capitalism that disregard the lives of human beings.
For many African American youth, the cynical position is that it is about time that the Europeans devour themselves and that this war has nothing to do with black people. War dehumanizes all peoples and it is the African American community, the Latino Community, the Native peoples and other oppressed who must reorganize to change the direction of government policies.
The end of the cold war undermined one of the fundamental justifications for high military spending. Yet, the capitalist class that invested in the military industrial complex wants the economy to be locked into this form of economic organization that privileges the production of sophisticated weapons. In the face of the end of the cold war and the economic melt down in Asia and Latin America, a war is the most important requirement for the legitimacy of the present forms of political and economic organization.
This has meant that the US government has carried out a massive ideological campaign against the middle classes to bind these forces to the consent of militarism and external intervention. This same mobilization of the middle classes calls for militarism abroad requires the demonization of the poor, and to divide the poor whites from the brown peoples. The rise of the prison industrial complex completes the unity of the militarism abroad and at home. Poor communities are thus mobilized to think that the privatization of prisons can bring economic recovery to their communities. The BRC must point to the political and economic alternatives to this propaganda war against poor whites and the divisions of the most oppressed in this country.
The alternative to the present political and economic direction is not a simple task but small steps must be taken to move the political culture away from the celebration of warfare, violence and destruction. The first step must be an intense campaign against the military operations in Yugoslavia.. The BRC must take a stand along with all other progressive forces to bring this opposition to every section of the USA society. All representatives of the African American community should be put on notice that the principal task of the moment is to oppose police violence against the youths. These representatives must restrain the rush by certain representatives to move the USA in the direction of deploying ground troops.
The alternative to the present political and economic system requires a long struggle. It is a democratic struggle that seeks a new mode of politics and a new mode of economic organization. The political experience of the oppressed in this society places it in the central role in charting the alternatives to the present barbarism of the capitalist system. The campaign must be linked to other campaigns. While NATO is celebrating its 50th anniversary in Washington, the millions campaign for Mumia should send a strong signal that the fighters for social justice in the USA oppose the militarism at home and abroad. The BRC is calling for millions to go to Philadelphia on April 24 and to carry banners declaring opposition to the prison industrial complex and the military machine abroad.
Free All political Prisoners
End the Bombing of Yugoslavia
Use the United Nations to bring a negotiated settlement to the issue of Kosovo.
Set up an independent international investigation on the role of the USA and their inaction during the genocide in Rwanda.
Hand over the documents so that Pinochet can be brought to justice.
--International Committee of the Black Radical Congress
--National Council of the Black Radical Congress
Black Radical Congress P.O. Box 27423 Philadelphia, PA 19118