The "Liberation" of Kosovo
Posted to www.marxmail.org on
(This article was a
submission originally to Revolution Magazine in
When imperialism forced Serb troops out of Kosovo in 1999 and toppled Slobodan Milosevic, the alleged tormentor of the Albanian people, one year later, one might have expected an end of violence in the region.
Such hopes were dashed as a series of pogroms were unleashed against the small remaining Serb and Roma minority in the region by nationalist reactionaries. The entire Albanian population seemed swept up in ethnic cleansing, including juveniles. In a report supervised by former UN colonial administrator and long-time demonizer of the Belgrade government Bernard Kouchner, official observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) were quoted as saying that there are "case after case of young people, some only 10 to 12 years old, harassing, beating and threatening people, especially defenseless elderly victims, solely because of their ethnicity."
Shortly after the triumph of imperialism and its KLA allies, there was an attempt to create the appearance of a kind of bourgeois normalcy. Key to this was the transformation of the KLA into something called the Kosovo Protection Corps, an aptly chosen name in light of the following:
"The KPC has been running protection rackets across
Kosovo - in Pristina, Suva Reka, Dragash,
Istok and Prizren -
demanding 'contributions' from shopkeepers, businessmen and contractors. In
Suva Reka, KPC members are alleged to have forced
petrol stations to accept coupons rather than money for fuel." (The Observer,
The KPC is commanded by Agim Çeku, who certainly has the proper background for cleansing
Serbs. As a brigadier general in the Croatian army, he helped to push 300,000
Serbs out of Krajina during the infamous Operation
Storm of August 1995. Bojan Munjin,
of the Croatian Helsinki committee, a branch of Human Rights Watch in
Çeku was arrested in
Second in command to Çeku is Ramush Haradinaj, a former nightclub bouncer and martial arts instructor, jobs with a dubious connection to nation-building. According to reporter Thomas Walker, Haradinaj had an appetite for Albanian as well as non-Albanian blood:
"Forty civilians were killed during several months in
1998 in the
In July of 2001, Haradinaj led KPC
fighters in an assault on the compound of the Musaj
clan, a longstanding Kosovar rival. After being injured by a grenade, he was
flown to an American military hospital in
Although it would appear that the goal of splitting up
"There is little doubt that
the GSZ [demilitarized zone surrounding Kosovo] has been used by smugglers.
Intelligence sources say they have no doubt weapons and money are being channelled to the KLA
from ethnic Albanian groups in
"The flow of money from smuggling keeps local Mafias intent on fighting and destabilising because, as one military official said, 'peace in the Balkans is bad for the racketeers. They gain too much from disruption'".
Although a good section of the international radical
movement, especially that wing of the Trotskyist and post-Trotskyist movement
susceptible to Serbophobia, cheered for the KLA, there has been diminished interest in
their cause for the past several years. What you will find occasionally is a
kind of special plea for "self-determination" in Kosovo that is
directed now against NATO and the UN rather than the government in
An example of this line of thinking can be found in the
Militant, the newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party, a small sect in the
Although there certainly is grumbling in Pristina about
economic conditions, it appears that the more forceful protests involve a
different set of issues entirely. One article, written just 4 months previous
to Manuel's, cited Sadik Halitjaha, president of the
Association of War Veterans of the KLA. He had "rejoiced at the entry of
NATO troops and United Nations administrators into Kosovo. We greeted them with flowers and we hoped we would send
them off in the same way." But according to the October 21, 2002
What could have led self-avowed revolutionary socialists to hitch their wagon to the murderous KLA? The root cause is a schematic understanding of Lenin's writings on the national question mixed with Stalinophobia. Although Lenin can quite rightly be considered as the leading theorist of self-determination of the revolutionary movement, his ideas have to be considered in their context.
In the first quarter of the twentieth century, the national question was tied to the task of constructing a worldwide revolutionary movement and overthrowing capitalism. Lenin broke with a schematic version of Marxism put forward by Rosa Luxemburg which saw assimilation of lesser nationalities as progressive. It is not too difficult to understand how she arrived at her analysis since Marx and Engels wrote:
"There is no country in
Interestingly enough, they included the "
In the case of modern
The revolutionary movement has never really thought through
the implications of nationalist struggles in the
Although few Marxists have made the connection between these questions and the Trotsky-Shachtman debate, there certainly are parallels. Liberal public opinion was up in arms when Stalin signed a pact with Hitler. This tended to have an impact on some American Trotskyist leaders, especially James Burnham who traveled in those circles as a highly-placed academic. In the same fashion that some on the left emphasized Milosevic's rather fleeting ties with the West in the 1980s, Burnham and Shachtman viewed the diplomatic agreements between Hitler and Stalin as proof that the two countries were identical in class terms. When Stalin invaded Sweden, the opposition raised as much of a hue and cry as was found in some circles when Serb troops finally went in to Kosovo to clean out the KLA.
Trotsky wrote a "Balance Sheet of the Finnish
These words should give pause to those who wrote blank checks for a counter-revolutionary armed band that is now hounding elderly Serbs from their homes and making life a living hell for the Roma, one of the most despised and oppressed ethnic groups for over a half-millennium.