On March 24, 1999, NATO forces under US command began their criminal aggression against the sovereign state of Yugoslavia. The armed forces of the US, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada, and other NATO member countries began a massive aerial bombing of Yugoslavia which lasted till June 10, 1999. US led NATO forces launched the war against Yugoslavia without the approval of the United Nations Security Council. They carried out a brazen, unprovoked, violation of the sovereignty of a country which was a founding member of the United Nations.
In order to justify the bombing of Yugoslavia, the US imperialists and their allies declared that the then government of Yugoslavia was carrying out a genocide of the Albanian population of the region of Kosova in Yugoslavia. This has been subsequently proven to be a lie.
The then Milošević government of Yugoslavia did not carry out any genocide. On the contrary, the US imperialists were provoking a civil war in Yugoslavia, by financing, arming, training and setting into motion armed terrorist groups amongst the Albanian population.
The Milošević government was targeted because it refused to barter away the sovereignty of the country. It did not agree to the stationing of NATO troops in Yugoslavia and to the further division of the country. (See Box: The trial of Milošević)
Yugoslavia was a multinational state comprising the republics of Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia and the autonomous region of Kosova. It was a country which came into being at the end of the First World War following the disintegration of the Austro- Hungarian Empire and the Turkish Empire. During the Second World War, Yugoslavia was occupied by the fascist forces of Germany and Italy. The peoples of Yugoslavia fought valiantly to win their liberation from the Nazi fascist occupiers.
Yugoslavia is part of the Balkan Peninsula in South East Europe. The US on one hand, and Germany and France on the other, viewed the control of Balkans as crucial to establish their domination over the whole of Europe. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact signalled that the Cold War was coming to an end. The US, Germany and France colluded and contended with each other to establish their domination over the countries of Eastern Europe. They regarded control and domination over the territories and peoples of Yugoslavia as crucial to achieve their aims. These imperialist powers organised to carve up Yugoslavia, beginning with the secession of the republics of Croatia and Slovenia.
The imperialist powers set in motion various armed groups in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosova to carry out massacres on the basis of religion and nationality and to smash the unity of the peoples. They demanded that the Yugoslav government agree to the complete breakup of what remained of their country and allow the US – NATO forces to occupy their country, in the name of “keeping peace”.
The NATO onslaught on Yugoslavia resulted in massive death and destruction. Lakhs of people lost all their belongings and were turned into refugees. More than 80 per cent of the bombardments were directed at civilian targets — bridges, residential areas, factories, industrial installations, offices, hospitals and schools. Thousands of people were killed. The depleted uranium from more than 50,000 rounds of bombings created long-term health problems. The bombing of chemical production facilities contaminated the environment, while the use of cluster bombs and mines continued to kill and maim people till several years later.
The NATO aggression on Yugoslavia was launched in flagrant violation of international law. It served as a precedent for violating international law. It was carried out in violation of the UN Charter which explicitly forbids any country from violating the sovereignty of another country. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia was blatantly violated.
The aggression on Yugoslavia was NATO’s first open military operation since its formation. It marked a turning point in the crimes committed by the US and other western imperialist powers against humanity and against the independence and sovereignty of nations.
The NATO military alliance was established in 1949 by the US together with 11 other countries of Western Europe to allegedly protect these countries from the threat of invasion from the Soviet Union. Subsequently, West Germany, Greece, Turkey and Spain became members of the NATO alliance. The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 exposed the lie that the US led NATO military forces were for protecting member countries from the Soviet Union. It showed what NATO was and is —an instrument of war to expand US domination over other peoples and countries and an instrument to keep the peoples of the member countries under US subjugation. Following the war in the Balkans, NATO has been steadily turned into a global military force in the service of US imperialism’s strategy for world domination.
US strategy for world domination
The war to subjugate Yugoslavia was part of the US strategy to establish its unrivalled domination over the whole world in the 21st century.
Since 1999, the NATO military alliance has been steadily expanded to now include 30 countries of Europe. All the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe are its members. All the countries that emerged from the breakup of Yugoslavia, apart from Serbia, are its members. Three of the Republics that emerged from the breakup of the Soviet Union — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — are NATO members. The US is trying to incorporate Ukraine, Georgia and other republics that emerged from the disintegration of the Soviet Union into NATO.
Its international area of operations has spread well outside of the Euro-Atlantic zone into the Caucasus, Central Asia, East Africa, West Asia, North Africa and the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf region. NATO warships are deployed in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, off the coasts of Somalia, Djibouti and Yemen as part of the aim of US imperialism and its NATO allies, of controlling important strategic waterways and maritime transit routes.
NATO has been the instrument to carry out wars of aggression against and subjugation of other sovereign nations that US imperialism considers a roadblock to its aims of global domination. These wars of aggression have been justified in the name of waging war against terrorism, defending human rights, etc. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and many other countries have been wrecked by the US imperialists and their allies.
US imperialism has unleashed and is deliberately prolonging the devastating war in Ukraine. Its aim is to encircle and weaken Russia, weaken Germany and France, destroy Ukraine, and strengthen the US domination of Europe.
In East Asia, the US is trying to build the QUAD military alliance on the lines of NATO with the aim of encircling China and establishing US domination over Asia.
US imperialism acts as the policeman of the world, claiming to defend democracy, human rights and a rules-based order. In fact, US imperialism is the biggest violator of all international norms and conventions governing relations among countries.
US imperialism is the biggest enemy of the sovereignty of countries and of world peace. The dangerous course being pursued by US imperialism is threatening to hurl the peoples of the world into a new world war. The peoples of the world need to unite and stop the aggressive march of US imperialism.
The trial of Milošević
After the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia, the US and other NATO powers tried former Yugoslav President Milošević in a war crimes tribunal. This tribunal, called the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, was set up by these invading powers themselves. It had no international sanctity. Milošević was charged with unleashing genocide and war crimes. During the trial, Milošević rejected all the charges hurled against him. He exposed the long-standing strategy of the imperialist powers to weaken and destroy Serbia and smash-up the Yugoslav Federal Republic. The President and Parliament of Serbia condemned the trial of Milošević as illegal. Milosevic died in custody during the trial. After his death, the trial was abandoned.