Co-editors: Seán Mac Mathúna • John Heathcote
Consulting editor: Themistocles Hoetis
Field Correspondent: Allen Hougland


That was the Cold War
John Heathcote
Background to the Russian assault on Chechnya: a power struggle over Caspian oil

News archive: The war in Chechnya: Russian version

December 1999

As we predicted in our previous Editorial, the new Cold War has begun to accelerate. The Russian Federation has been dragged into another unwinable Vietnam-type scenario in Chechnya; the U.S. is engaged in a "low-intensity" war in the countries of Southern America; and middle Europe is still ruined by the legacy of the destruction wrought around the Danube by the NATO bombing campaign.

To summarise the results of the last mentioned act of imperial aggression, many of the countries such as Hungary and Romania who were pressurised into allowing the NATO forces to use their airspace and territory during the undeclared war now find that their economies are ruined, their rivers polluted by ordnance and toxic spillage's and their fragile political structures are more unstable now than ever before.

In Kosovo itself, so-called peacekeepers of the Western Armies have to stand by as the Serbian minority is terrorised by paramilitary gangs, killing not just those who may have taken part in the undoubted atrocities carried out against the Albanians during the war, but anyone who they do not consider ethnically Albanian. This includes the minorities such as Romanies and Montenegrins, as well as a number of Albanians who they considered fellow-travellers with the Yugoslav authorities.

The result will soon be an ethnically pure Kosovo, which. ironically. the war was meant to prevent. Already a third to a half of the Kosovan Serbs have been driven from their homes and over the border into what is left of the once multi-racial Republic of Yugoslavia.

Just a short distance away, the man who probably can be regarded as initiating the whole Balkan crisis of the 90's, Franco Tudjman, slips into a coma and leaves Croatia with a vacuum of power. It will probably only be in the long light of history that his contribution to the bloody racialism that has re-emerged in Eastern Europe will be truly analysed. It is worth reflecting how much enthusiasm was shown for this reconstructed Nazi by the leaders of the Free West throughout his time in power, even during the ethnic cleansing of Krajina by the paramilitary gangs of HOS, who provided fertile training grounds for more than a few western fascist groups.

Even Tudjman's love of fancy uniforms and overt anti-Semitism, as well as his rehabilitation of many of the old boys who had kept their heads down since the forties did not seem to alert our democracy-loving representatives in the West to the fact that they were dealing with a classic Nazi dictator.

Or maybe they just did not care.

What seemed to stick in their throat more was the fact that the relatively prosperous and liberally non-aligned Yugoslavia kept on voting for Socialist Governments.

The final result of the war in Yugoslavia can be seen now in the Federation of Russia, where the political initiative has been hijacked by the Generals and their ally from the FSB, Prime Minister Vladimar Putin.

Yeltsin, who was the principal beneficiary of a previous army coup, is occasionally wheeled out of the sanitorium to give credence to the illusion that a legitimate democracy exists in Russia. It is clear that the Russian high command watched the NATO war on Yugoslavia with alarm. Not only had the European Community begun to take ever greater bites out of the Russian trading area, but NATO had already started to swallow up the armed forces of its former allies. When the US-West European alliance began to wage a technological war of destruction on the Republic of Yugoslavia, many Russian generals probably saw it as the rehearsal for the real assault on Moscow. They also perceived the value of "news - management" in war, and the advantage of laying waste to an enemy's territory before advancing; both values pursued remorselessly in the NATO campaign.

These factors, combined with the ideological vacuum at the centre of Russian political life, where those in power have the one aim of staying in power; to prevent the inevitable inquiries into how they are so rich and Russia so poor; have allowed the military to slip into the driving seat of a superpower. The banks and corporations in the West which have profited from the chaos in the Russian economy since the downfall of Gorbachev, only hope that things continue as normal. The US arms and technology manufacturers gear themselves up for another decade of rich living, as their chosen candidate for the next President, Bush Jnr.,combines a complete ignorance of foreign policy with the old sabre-rattling sounds of a draft-dodger urging people onto war.

He, and the other Republicans are being given a perfect opportunity by the destruction of Chechnya to point to the East and immediately send a shiver of fear through all good Americans.

After the defeat of the Reagan Administration's Star Wars Systems proposals in the 80's , the same team have have regrouped behind the old V-P's offspring, whose grasp of the intricacies of dealing with foreign peoples is probably even closer to Dan Quayle than old Ronald, who was no Machiavelli or Mandela. But that probably suits them fine, the invisible advisors with unlimited cash accounts. This new Republican "isolationist" cabal has already engineered a Republican defeat of the US ratification of nuclear weapons limitation treaties, which would outlaw the new "defense" system.

In fact, even though the European states have expressed dismay, the US is setting up the first components of the system in the UK.

Soon a minority of the US public will sheepishly trail to the polls and guarantee another big slice of their wealth goes straight into the bank accounts of a few anonymous billionaires, to pay for even more unreliable and dangerous high technology.

It is no surprise that in the week that the WTO got a taste of things to come in Seattle, that the Euro reached parity with the dollar.

Suspicions that the US enthusiasm for a re-ignition of a conflict in the heartland of its main trading competitor on the world stage were not motivated purely by the treatment of an oppressed people, but were following the old aphorism that war is economics pursued by other means, might be close to the truth. It is the European Community who will bear the brunt of the costs of reconstruction along the Danube, and their political systems which will suffer the consequences of both the Yugoslav war and the one now raging in Chechnya.

Instead of the peoples from Russia and the Caucasus, Kazakstan to the Western European mainland benefiting from the oceans of oil being opened up around the Caspian Sea, the new-age pirates of the US oil corporations will ensure an endless supply of cheap petrol to their customers back home. The American people should not have to pay more to play their little part in hastening our ecological Armageddon.

And if they can destroy communism, socialism and any other ideology which conflicts with the 'free market', where you are as free as the your wallet allows and only the poor have to wear chains, then the dollar will truly have been triumphant.

We who live in the rest of the world hope that the citizens of America will take notice of their compatriots, who risked being clubbed and gassed on the streets of Seattle in the last week to show unity with their fellow workers and wage-slaves across the planet.

Corporate capitalism is a swindle that only works with the acquiescence of those being conned, and it works on two assumptions of human nature.

The first is that everyone is subject to unbridled greed for material possessions, or everyone has their price.

The second is that everyone has a reason to resent someone else; and that division is a precursor to competition.

The only way to take on the invisible many-headed hydra of World-Wide capital is by unified protest which does not rely on leaders, stars or deals done in restaurants and across red carpets.

So the real struggle has just begun . .

© 1999