Letter: Rich man's war
Monday 12 April 1999
Sir: M Owen (letter, 8 April) suggests that many opponents of Nato's actions against Yugoslavia are of the "anti-American left" who are still "locked into Cold War attitudes". If "the Cold War is over", should not someone tell the Americans? We are witnessing a mopping-up operation in that unfinished war.
How else do we explain the unwillingness of the US to prevent or punish atrocities committed by Turkey against the Kurds and by Indonesia against the East Timorese? How do these states escape the wrath of the US, while Iraq and Yugoslavia suffer devastation? Is it simply coincidence that the states escaping Nato bombardment are those already safely locked into the global free market economy while Iraq and Yugoslavia are unwilling to open their economies to US or IMF priorities?
We are now being psychologically prepared for the aerial destruction of Yugoslavia's infrastructure, or a massive ground war, or both. In Iraq the destruction of infrastructure such as water and fuel supplies, and the impact of sanctions, are killing five thousand children each month.
The war is avoidable. The billions of pounds it would cost should be spent on emergency relief, homes, new towns and hospitals for the refugees and impoverished populations of the Balkans. That would reduce the economic pressures which have fuelled the crisis: historic hatred was the excuse for and manifestation of the conflict, not its cause.
But is global capital willing to be the servant of an effort to satisfy such human needs, or must it follow the flag, gunboat and free market ideology which Nato still clearly serves by in its selective exercise of power?
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