The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

NATO Bombs Belgrade

Mar 28, 2022

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France, issue 2799, March 25, 2022.

When the war started in Ukraine, the media repeated nonstop that it is the first war in Europe since the end of the Second World War, and that NATO is an institution of peace.

But on March 24, 1999, NATO planes began bombing Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo, which were what remained of the federation of Yugoslavia, which had started falling apart nine years earlier. This bombing lasted 78 days. Hundreds of civilians were killed, and hundreds of thousands had to flee the bombs and take refuge in neighboring countries. There was much material destruction in Serbia, most of all in the capital city Belgrade. Government buildings, bridges, power stations, and factories were demolished.

NATO justified these bombings by the need to protect people on the ground from “ethnic cleansing” organized by the regime of Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic in Kosovo, formerly a province of Yugoslavia and north of Albania. Milosevic’s regime had been committing abuses for years. Since 1987 he had relied on Serbian nationalism to cement his power, especially at the expense of the Albanian-speaking population. Calling himself the defender of a Greater Serbia, he constantly whipped up national antagonisms. The people of Yugoslavia had lived together for decades but were drawn into war by this nationalist posturing. The other local leaders were motivated by the same thirst for power as Serbia’s boss.

The leaders of the imperialist countries—American and European—saw nothing wrong with Milosevic’s criminal actions which set the stage for ethnic cleansing. When they changed their minds, it was not because of the interests of the people. Their only objective was to make sure that they would maintain control over the Balkan region.

NATO’s so-called humanitarian intervention provided fuel for the nationalists and Milosevic’s paramilitary supporters. The imperialist leaders always serve up the same lies to make people forget their complicity in war.