Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Independence For Kosovo!

As the fight for independence in Kosovo heats up with the recent parliamentary elections and the attempts by the Europeon Union and others to stall on this question I am reposting a recent commentary.



In an irony that is probably wasted on both Democratic and Republican bourgeois politicians caught up in the midst of an Iraq War the justification for which the Bush Administration has declared as its objectives ‘peace, freedom, democracy’ and all kinds of other good things the question of Kosovo rates nothing but space on the back pages, if that. For those with short political memories a few years ago that was the American-led NATO air war against Serbia in ‘support’ of the besieged Kosovo Albanians. That too was supposedly fought under the democratic banner – yet today it still has not produced the national right to self-determination for the Kosovars that it was allegedly fought for. And the Kosovars are rightly mad as hell about it. If one will recall Serbia claimed (and still claims) Kosovo as part of historic Serbia. Like many another oppressor nation it plunged its jack boot into the predominantly Albanian province of Kosovo in an attempt to ‘ethnically cleanse’ that little trouble spot. The professed goal of the American-led NATO air war, a goal that was unquestioningly supported by these same Kosovar, was to ‘stop’ the genocide. Of course in that attempt NATO tried to bomb Serbia back to the Stone Age, and came close. Now almost eight years later the province is still part of Serbia, still administered by the United Nations and defended by NATO and the Kosovars are still no closer to real independence. If the Kosovars think that they were the witting or unwitting pawns in an international con game they are, of course, right. However, there is a lesson for leftists to be learned here, as well.

Let us be clear, socialists support the democratic right to national self-determination where the basis for a nation exists not as some supra-historical advance for humankind but as a way to take the national question off the agenda and place the class question to the fore. There are thus occasions where we do not raise that demand just as on other occasions we not only support the demand but call for independence. We call, for example, today for independence for Quebec. Kosovo calls for the same slogan as well. However, during the NATO air war, as I mentioned above, the main political organization of the time- the Kosovo Liberation Front- acted as direct military agents for those same NATO forces therefore subordinating themselves to an arm of international imperialism. At that point to invoke, as many on the international left did, the Kosovars’ right to self-determination, as the rationale for supporting the war against Serbia was incorrect. As witnessed by subsequent history that support moreover did not advance the Kosovo cause a step. An analogous situation to that of Kosovo then applies today in Kurdish Iraq. The Iraqi Kurds have voluntarily placed themselves and their militias under direct American military power and thus in Iraq we do not raise the call for the formation of an independent Kurdish state. But, as an indication of how complicated the dispersed Kurdish nation’s national self-determination question is (to speak nothing of other situations like the almost intractable Palestinian question) we certainly would today call for a separate Kurdish state in places like Turkey and Iran. More later. But for now- Independence for Kosovo! Serbia Hands Off!

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