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An Interview with Tariq Ali Neo-Liberalism and Protectorate States in the Post-Yugoslav Balkans

Neo-Liberalism and Protectorate States in the Post-Yugoslav Balkans

by GLOBAL BALKANS

An interview with Tariq Ali conducted by GLOBAL BALKANS in the fall of 2007 that sets the context for the most recent developments in the politics of neoliberal transition and the new protectorate states in the post-Yugoslav Balkans, as well as examining the legacy of the Yugoslav wars on western military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the shifting alignments of the western and antiwar left.

GLOBAL BALKANS: It is rather fortuitous that today is the 5th of October 2007, 7 years since the so-called October 5th revolution in Serbia when Slobodan Milosevic was overthrown. The post-intervention period since October 5th is known as the "tranzicija" or "transition" in Serbia. What we are witnessing now is an accelerated privatization program, mass unemployment, massive impoverishment following upon ten years of war, the highest number of refugees and internally displaced people in Europe, and a lot of promises of a better future through privatization and so on. I wanted to ask you what your perspective on transition in such post-intervention contexts is. How do you see this?

Tariq Ali: Well, I mean the first question which arises is: transition from what to what or from what to where? And for me the big tragedy of Yugoslavia is that it was split up.

This was a country in the middle of Europe where different communities lived with each other for 50 years quite well. And it is not suddenly that they developed ethnic hatreds and killed each other. It had material bases for it. And that material bases was the insistence of the IMF on the implementation of its program, which broke the unity of the Yugoslav Army which couldn`t be paid. It was the intervention of some of the European powers, mainly the new Germany after the collapse of the Wall, which encouraged the secession of Slovenia and subsequently encouraged the separation of Croatia. So I hold the Germans largely responsible for breaking up the Yugoslav federation.

Now this doesn`t mean that there weren`t contradictions within the country, but in my opinion these contradictions could have been sorted out by the European Union if it had been visionary and farsighted – offering a billion dollars to Yugoslavia to put its house in order, to democratize itself more, to remain a federation, to give to Kosovans the same rights as those enjoyed by the Croats and the Slovenians. And it probably would have happened.

But that`s not the way they decided to go about it. Then, once you have a process of separation and partition beginning–people panic, you know, the worst comes out in people, they sometimes want to drive what they regard as the enemy ethnic community out of their locality. We saw this all in India and Pakistan in 1947 when they were broken up and a million people died in that particular partition. It was horrific. This is what partitions tend to do.

So for me the starting point of any discussion on any component part of the old Yugoslavia has to be, “why did it happen?“ (which I explained) and ”was it avoidable?” And I think it was. Once a civil war begins, then anything can happen. Atrocities were committed by all sides, but because the West was backing one side in this conflict, the Serbs were demonized. And that is what I objected to the most. I didn`t say that Serbian irregulars didn`t carry out atrocities, but they were not the only ones. The largest numbers of refugees displaced from their homes have been Serbs from Krajina and from Kosovo. And this is something people who go on and on about refugees don`t want to recognize, because Serbs were considered the enemy. And I don`t like this way of categorizing people as enemies or friends.

I mean, there was a Yugoslavia, and many people used to think of themselves as Yugoslavs. And some of the best people from that world still do.

So the transition that we are now seeing is a transition to a state approved by the European Union and that will do what the IMF and the international institutions of capitalism want it to do to make itself look pretty. But this prettiness, you know, putting on make up and powder supplied by the internationals doesn`t go very deep. That`s what we see time and time again in what is going on. So this notion–the creation of a tiny elite class which is very rich, and a majority that doesn`t matter – is that the future we now accept for Serbia and the region? And if it is, I think it is a big tragedy. If you look at what has happened in the former Soviet Union–there has been a massive decline in health, mortality rates, education. The social infrastructure that was created–however defective–was much better for the majority of people than this mess that exists today, and the same applies to Serbia.

So I don`t think that transition to a neoliberal state run on neoliberal lines with the market determining everything can help the citizens of that state, whatever it is. So it is going to be and it is being–as we know–a messy and one-sided transition which will not benefit the bulk of the population.

GLOBAL BALKANS: Are you saying that there is a link between those initial factors that lead to the break-up along with the nationalist militarism that came out of it, and what is happening now with the neoliberal transition?

Tariq Ali: Well, yes. All these states, they want them to look exactly the same. They want tiny elites in power. They don`t care what happens to the Balkan populations. So if you want them to look the same, why don`t you reunite them? Why keep them in separate little states? You know, the Americans could still have military bases in Tuzla and in Kosovo. But why break-up the country if that is all you want to do. No, it is not a good situation, and here, in my opinion, the European Union was even worse than the United States in what it did to the former Yugoslavia. The British capitulated–they had the best position and eventually they completely capitulated to the Germans in return for German concessions on Britain’s own demands inside the European Union. A lot of disgusting horse-trading went on, and it was the people in the former Yugoslavia who suffered – people of all ethnic groups. I cannot emphasize this enough.

GLOBAL BALKANS: At the time of the NATO intervention and bombing of Serbia and Kosovo (the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) in 1999, much of the western left became very divided. Alot of rifts and debates took place, with some supporting the intervention on what were considered humanitarian grounds and others opposing it. Looking back in light all of that has happened since, in terms of global politics and the military interventions that have taken place elsewhere in the world, can you talk about how you came to the position that you did – opposing the NATO intervention amidst all these rifts – and reflect on why you think it was important?

Tariq Ali: Well, I saw the intervention of the west in Yugoslavia, and of the United States and NATO, as being determined largely by western needs and not the needs of the populations in that region. That is what always determines these interventions. They give them a covering: "humanitarian intervention", "civilizational interventions", "interventions to save humanity." But deep down, and sometimes not so deep down, close to the surface, there is only one reason. It is to defend their own interests or what they see as their own interests in the region.

So the decision of NATO to bomb Yugoslavia was something that was necessitated by what the United States at that time were up to. I mean, we now have the information that every time the Serbian leaders agreed to what they were demanding, they would add an additional demand. They didn`t want an agreement at Rambouillet. And the Americans involved in that business–Albright and Richard Holbrook and these other Democratic party rogues–don`t make a secret of it. At one point, when the Kosovan people who the American set armed, were not prepared to accept the Rambouillet accords because they didn`t get full independence, Madeleine Albright called one of them and said you better behave yourselves because if you don`t accept them, we’re not going to be able to bomb Yugoslavia. So they wanted to have a show of force when it wasn`t necessary to do so. They just wanted to assert their power. And they wanted to remove Milosevic because they didn`t find him convenient even though they’d done deals with him in the past before.

GLOBAL BALKANS: Why do you think they didn’t find him convenient?

Tariq Ali: I think by that time, the Americans had more or less decided that the Europeans were not going to be able to It was partially the decision of the United States to re-enter Europe and to expand NATO. That is how I see the war in Yugoslavia, as a war to expand NATO and give it a new role. It was part of US global thinking, how they viewed their own interests. Because some people were arguing that since the old world is gone, "do we need NATO?” The United States needed NATO, and one goal of the war against Yugoslavia was to expand NATO to the very frontiers of the former Soviet Union. And that is what they did. The actual needs of the populations in that region were a secondary matter.

Why did part of the left support it? I think they were captured by the rhetoric and very moved by images of the Kosovans fleeing. These images were shown on television screens time and time again. The figures given by US propaganda outfits were that 30,000 to 100,000 Kosovans had been killed, which has since been disproven. Ultimately, the figures made available showed that under 4.000 Kosovans died, which is awful but it is not the figure that they were pointing to. Some people more or less openly said to me, “We hate Milosevic for what he did and for what the Yugoslavs did or the Serbs did in Bosnia That time we couldn`t do anything, this is now the time to get even." So it went quite deep with some people, and it also destroyed that section of the left. Many of the people who supported the NATO intervention in Yugoslavia did not remain on the left for too long. They moved on. Many of them were very supportive of the war in Iraq, for instance. So it basically shifted people who were ready to be shifted.

GLOBAL BALKANS: You have mentioned the war in Iraq, the ongoing militaristic bent of the US and NATO, and the events of 9/11. The catastrophic results of the US interventions into Iraq and Afghanistan have in some sense eclipsed attention to the post-intervention context in the Balkans. There are a number of reasons for this, some of which you have already pointed out. In this shift from the ‘humanitarian’ intervention’ of 1999 to the so-called ‘war on terror’ that started in 2001, there are some clear differences, but there is also a certain trajectory there. How do you view the NATO intervention in `99 in the context of what has come subsequently?

Tariq Ali: Well, there were different allies then. This is why it is so sad–I was going to say entertaining, though it isn’t exactly entertaining–to see how the western needs of the United States, its allies and its media networks have changed. During the intervention in Yugoslavia, the line they put out was: "we are defending the poor Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo against Milosevic." It was very pro-Islamic, and they utilized religion. They appealed to supporters of Al-Qaeda to come and fight in Bosnia. American planes were sent to pick them up. British intelligence recruited Islamic fundamentalists to go and fight in Bosnia, which they don’t like talking about. This great big book The Looming Tower written by Lawrence Wright on Al-Qaeda does not mention Bosnia at all, even though that was the last joint intervention by the West and Islamic fundamentalism before 9/11. Not talked about too much, because it’s embarrassing now.

So they took allies from wherever they wanted because the aims were different. Once the aims changed–then they changed. So they don`t talk about that too much. After 9/11, the Americans wanted some of these Al-Qaeda people who fought with the Bosnians in Bosnia for questioning. At first, the Bosnian government resisted, because some of them had been given medals for their heroic struggle in Bosnia. But finally, they handed them over. Because they are an American colony.

That’s what Bosnia and Kosovo are today. They are technically UN protectorates, but essentially they are US colonies. And I talk to many friends in Bosnia, and they say it is awful whether they are Serbs or Croat or Bosnians. They say Sarajevo is a depressing, sad town to live in, and that the needs of the occupying armies and the United Nations bureaucracies and these so called third-rate politicians from Europe who go and become high representatives in Kosovo and Bosnia their needs have to be fulfilled by the local population. That has been a tragedy in that region as well, in both Bosnia and in Kosovo, which people don’t like talking about.

And how long are they going to stay there, how long are they going to be protectorates? In my opinion, sooner or later, an intelligent leadership of the European Union should try and put Yugoslavia back together again–not in the old way, but as a federation. The people have much more in common with each other than they have with people outside that region. It is a tragedy. It is not going to happen immediately, but I hope it does happen.

GLOBAL BALKANS: You wrote in Masters of the Universe that the war against Serbia was the first to be waged by NATO, and that it could be the last. You predicted that a future pattern might be direct US action aided by Britain. It seems to be quite prescient in terms of Iraq, and I was wondering if you could comment more on that.

Tariq Ali: [laughs] Well, I mean, there was so many divisions within NATO during the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. The French openly said that they had to stop NATO commanders, US NATO commanders, from bombing more bridges and more cities. And it wasn’t a good experience for the United States either, because politicians were interfering too much with the operation. And so I felt that, in the future, the United States would prefer to go it on their own because they couldn’t totally trust NATO to do what needed to be done.

It was prescient in relation to Iraq, but not in relation to Afghanistan, which was a NATO intervention and which is creating problems for them now precisely because of that. But I think the United States will use anything. When they can use the UN, they’ll use UN. When they can’t, they’ll use NATO. When they can’t use NATO, they’ll go in directly. And increasingly, the pressure within the United States is to do things on their own with a few allies. People were prepared to support them, because they are in total control like they’ve done in Iraq. I mean, the British have totally supported NATO.

GLOBAL BALKANS: I am wondering if you can talk about the ways in which the NATO intervention prepared the ground for these later interventions, in terms of the precedent it set in international law of overstepping the UN security council.

Tariq Ali: Well, I think that the intervention in Yugoslavia, which was not sanctioned by the United Nation’s Security Council, but which the United States said was sanctioned by humanitarian needs that overrode all laws, created a mood for going to sort everyone out who the West didn’t like.

There were two groups of Western liberals who agreed with this. One was the new wave of human rights professors on American campuses, who are basically put there to defend new wars: Ignatieff, Ian Buruma, people like that. Then you had others who said, "No, the world has changed, and we need to have a big power which actually defends the enlightenment and defends democracy and freedom." I would argue against these people. The United States have never done that. You can look at its record in the past and in the present. They are not going to do that, because that is not in their interests. They do what is in their own interests. This has got nothing to do with universal needs, or what some people regard as universal needs.

So that is why quite a large number of liberals who had supported the war in Yugoslavia supported the invasion of Iraq. Then they began to backtrack. But initially they supported the invasion of Iraq. And this was very strong in France. Chirac didn’t go along with the invasion of Iraq. But there were French intellectuals, especially around Le Monde and Libération and all these liberals, who would have been quite happy to go into Iraq. So it completely changed it was very decisive, the Yugoslav war, in shifting the alignment of left and liberal intellectuals and bringing them on the side of the American Empire. That played a very, very big role in it and they haven’t look back since.

GLOBAL BALKANS: Could you talk about the role of the corporate media in the politics and process of demonization that has been deployed towards these regions? In your work, you have examined, for instance, how Hitler analogies have operated and have been repeatedly invoked in such parts of the world as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Serbia as part of the rationale given for such interventions.

Tariq Ali: Well, the Hitler analogy is always invoked, because among the only things that Western public opinion agrees on is that Hitler was a bad guy. Second World War movies and documentaries never stop. It is the only experience in the West that people do identify with in a positive way. So they use it all the time. The Hitler analogy has been used ever since the British decided with the French and Israelis to invade Egypt in 1956. The Egyptian nationalist leader Nasser was described as the Hitler on the Nile. Then Gaddafi was often described as a Hitler figure. But now he is a friend again. So he is not Hitler, he is now Jefferson. Than you have Milosevic described as Hitler. Than when the needs changed, Saddam Hussein became Hitler. So you would think that, actually, the defeat of Hitler in the Second World War was not a defeat at all, because so many more Hitlers have been produced. But Western propaganda needs are served by this.

And the images of fleeing Kosovans was used time and time again in the media. One guy said to me quite seriously, "The reason I couldn’t support the war in Iraq was because there were no images." So I asked what he would have thought if some images had been manufactured just three weeks before the war, of Saddam Hussein’s troops going into a Kurdish village and driving people out. He said "Well, I might have supported it then." So the media plays a very critical role, and has become a central pillar of the new wars in what it does. The repetition of decontextualized images shown on every news bulletin for two weeks can make a population hysterical and push it to go to war. Iraq has now slowed that, so that alot of people are very nervous about doubtful interventions because of Iraq. If Yugoslavia pushed people in the direction of intervention, Iraq is now pushing them in the other direction again. So it is an interesting thing to see how will it pan out.

GLOBAL BALKANS: Perhaps this is one of the things that has been hard to understand for those people in the West who see themselves as having a social democratic or humanitarian disposition, that in the case of Yugoslavia, there wasn’t an interest as clear as oil at stake.

Tariq Ali: This is true. But, you know, the interests of the United States are not totally dominated by oil. They have to look at their position in the world economy, and they have to look at their position in Europe as well. They managed to get very large military bases established in the former Yugoslavia. Tuzla (Bosnia) is a nuclear base, and they have the largest helicopter base now in Kosovo. So they have expanded themselves. They say it is a NATO expansion, which is also true, but it is their expansion as well. That is how they see it in a changing, fluid world, to take the initiative and move forward. They now have surrounded Russia in military bases. Which is why there is now a response building after a long, long time from the Russians saying, "hey, hang on, we were collaborating with you, but you are treating us like an enemy."

So this notion that big empires act only out of narrow economic interests is not true. They act to defend their political hegemony on a global scale, and we`ve seen this time and time again. Why did the British take Africa when they were an Empire? Not because they got more money out of Africa–the figures are very interesting. The British made more money from their investments in Argentina, which they never occupied, than they did from most of Africa. They did it because it suited their global strategic needs. And the occupation of Yugoslavia suited the global strategic needs of the United States once it saw that the Europeans had made a big mess, breaking up a country and not being able to deal with it. Then they went to show the Europeans that "we are still around and we are the power here."

GLOBAL BALKANS: Many ascribe the disastrous policies of the United States post-9/11 solely to the Bush administration and the neo-conservatives surrounding him, and see the defeat of the Republicans as key to ending the aggressive imperialist policies the United States have engaged in. In Bush in Babylon, you cite a Clinton advisor, Philip Bobbitt, stating that shifts in US imperial policy in a post-communist world were launched by Clinton and not Bush. Can you talk a little about this and the implications for anti-war organizing?

Tariq Ali: If any intelligent observer looks at what has been happening in the United States, the Americans won a massive victory with the fall of communism. One shouldn’t underestimate that. When this happened, the question arose, "how are they going to deal with this victory?" One of Bush senior, Bush the First`s advisors, Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghan-American, posed the question: "Are we prepared to use force against other capitalist powers in order to preserve our hegemony? And I think we should." This has been a big debate which has been going on in the administrations. Bush Senior and Clinton both went along with it, saying, "we have to use force." Clinton did use force, as we`ve been discussing.

So there is an imperial continuity, and I think it is far too easy to blame everything on Bush and Cheney. I mean they are a particular noxious pair of rulers, but they do not act alone. The American ruling elite is quite a large group, and though it was split on Iraq, the Democratic Party was not split. Its leadership totally supported bombing Iraq. Clinton was in Britain at a Labor Party conference, supporting Blair and saying why an attack on Iraq should be supported. Hilary Clinton supported the war on Iraq. Barack Obama is in favor of bombing Iran, Hilary Clinton is in favor of bombing Iran.

I mean if one were to be perfectly blunt, one would say that in the United States, we essentially have one party rule. There are two factions of one party – the republican faction and democratic faction. And in terms of imperial interventions and defending US interests abroad, there is not much difference. The differences are cosmetic. One likes to do it with a large coalition if it can be organized, and the other doesn’t care whether there is a coalition or not.

GLOBAL BALKANS: Another question about the liberal-left interventionists. I am interested in how these debates played out at the New Left review of which you are an editor and contributor. I know that Branka Magas and Quintin Hoare were former contributors who had a public split with the New Left Review over these debates. They went on to found The Bosnian Institute which played a very vocal role in lobbying for an aggressively interventionist position in relation to Bosnia and Serbia. I was wondering if this is something you would be willing to comment on after several years of hindsight.

Tariq Ali: I don’t mind talking about that. In the New Left review, there is no doubt that there was a division on the Yugoslav war. We had people who do not like being described as Croatian nationalists, but that was certainly the impression they gave us. They were certainly part of the demonization of Serbia. They refused to see it as a civil war and saw it essentially as a war waged by Serbia. Many of us saw this as a civil war brought about by the European Union and by German intervention to break up the country – two totally different ways of seeing the thing. There was a discussion on it, and many other issues related to the discussion, and finally a group of people left the New Left Review. Or they would say we got rid of them. Which I don’t mind, I mean I`m glad we got rid of them. Because all of them moved to the right–some became Zionists, most of them supported the war on Iraq.

So what started as a scratch turned to gangrene very quickly. Branka Magas and Quintin Hoare – who were dear friends of mine, I feel very sad about it, I have to be honest I liked them very much – used to be total Yugoslav supporters, Yugoslav nationalists. And initially, they made alot of correct criticisms of the nationalist currents in Yugoslavia. Branka wrote some stuff which was quite prescient, predicting that Yugoslavia would break up over this. But when the civil wars began, in my opinion, they lost their balance and they shifted. That shift on Yugoslavia led them further and further away from anything to do with the universalist projects of the left.

It would be strange if, at the time after the collapse of communism, when the whole left was divided–people were changing their allegiances–it would have been a bit odd if the New Left Review had not been affected by this. It would have meant that we were totally isolated from these movements. We were not, and I think people went their own way.

I regret that they went that way, but I don’t regret that we retained control of the New Left Review. Because if we hadn’t, just imagine what the position of the New Left Review would have become – hostile to Palestinian nationalist aspirations, sympathetic to Israel, sympathetic to American Empire, sympathetic to the war in Iraq. You know, a sort of universal cosmopolitism to justify US interventionism. That is what the New Left Review would have become. It wouldn’t be the New Left Review anymore. Then, we brought in a whole number of young people, revitalized the magazine, and today I am very pleased to say that it is more influential than ever before. It is translated all over the world, it has a Spanish edition. It`s ironic that this division came about as a result of Yugoslavia. I have no idea what they (Magas and Hoare) do. I mean, I know about the existence of The Bosnian Institute. I don’t know who funds it, and I don’t care. These are people who have moved on. And I don’t think much about them. There are other things to do in the world.

GLOBAL BALKANS: In The Clash of Fundamentalisms, you strongly challenge Samuel Huntington’s "clash of civilizations" doctrine and how it has been mobilized to legitimize militarist incursions in parts of the Muslim world. In the same piece, Huntington also wrote of orthodox Christianity as separate civilizational sphere, and situated the conflicts of the Yugoslav wars in that context. What role do you think such imperialist doctrines may have played in shaping the international community’s policies towards the former Yugoslavia?

Tariq Ali: Well, alot of people use that as a model, saying that this is a fight between Catholicism and the Orthodox Church. I don’t buy that at all. Where were these fights for 50 years? Obviously all sorts of religious maniacs on all sides came out of the woodwork in order to defend their particular brand of nationalism. But that was already post-factum, that was not the cause of the civil war that split Yugoslavia after the secession of Slovenia. That is not how it happened.

When I think back on that period, if the Serbians had had a more effective leadership, they might have been able to stop this. I think Milosevic, his provocative attitude to the rest of the country, did not help matters. There was another leader at the time, Ante Markovic, who would have been much better in preserving the unity of Yugoslavia against these rising nationalisms. And Milosevic, in terms of the sort of political leader he was, was a divisive leader, that has to be said. But that was not the only problem. People made that the only problem. I mean, Tudjman was no better and that is what used to annoy me–the people that attack Milosevic, that’s fine. But why do you not attack Tudjman?

GLOBAL BALKANS: I guess one of the questions that preoccupies GLOBAL BALKANS politically is how to formulate and distinguish a contextualized critique of Serb and other local nationalisms, one that takes into account the complex factors that gave rise to them, against a very demonized, decontextualized stance towards nationalisms, particularly Serbian nationalism, in the region in a way that erases these contributing factors and legitimizes "international" intervention in some form.

Tariq Ali: Most of the stuff written about Yugoslavia from either side was very decontextualized, actually. The work which I like a great deal is Susan Woodward`s books, which I found extremely useful, extremely objective, giving a proper account of the break-up of that country and explaining its origins. She is a scholar with no axe to grind.

Look, I used to go to Yugoslavia–I had friends, Yugoslav friends, who are part of the global movement. We hated what was going on, and hated taking sides in this civil war. And I didn’t take sides, in that sense. I said "this is a big tragedy." But what used to anger me was when other people, who formerly used to be known as internationalists, would take sides on the side of one petty nationalist agenda against another. And that is what I refuse to do.

GLOBAL BALKANS: As the situation now stands, neoliberal economic policies are being implemented at a vastly accelerated pace throughout the Balkans. Most of the population, whatever their political orientation, are caught between what in Serbia are now called the "tajkuns" (tycoons), that is new term for these local tycoons who have profited off of all the instability, and, on the other hand, foreign multinational capital. Can you talk a bit more about what you would see as the prospects for organizing to be able to escape the rock and the hard place that the dramatically impoverished majority are finding themselves caught in, between the tycoons and foreign speculators? What would need to happen on a grassroots level?

Tariq Ali: It is very difficult to challenge this within the framework of these little states. You need regional cohesion as the South Americans are showing in order to challenge it. Because the tycoons are basically in cahoots with the multinational corporations, even though there are contradictions between the two. They feed off each other, and they do deals with each other all the time. The best thing from the point of view of these states would be that people, in five or six years time, realize they had more in common with each other against their respective tycoons than anything else. It might happen, you know, one should not give up on this. I think that the memories of the old Yugoslavia, the historical memory, will exist for some time. After the memory of the atrocities of the civil war have been forgotten, people will think there was a time they used to live together. I hope so. I don’t want to sound over-optimistic. But if all these countries join the European Union, why can`t there be a Balkan federation within the European Union, which might even include other countries–like Bulgaria for instance. It is worth thinking in those terms, just to break out of the narrow nationalism which has wrecked these countries, and to get rid of these occupation bureaucrats and armies that have been placed there. Because no country can exist being permanently occupied.

GLOBAL BALKANS: My last question concerns the two most recent political scenarios that have been presented for the resolution of the Kosovo question. Following the diplomatic failure of so-called "supervised independence" proposed by former UN Special Envoy for the Kosovo status process Marti Ahtisaari in the summer of 2007, we are now faced with the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo, backed by the United States and some EU states. In such a grim, tense situation, and with all the players adopting increasingly militaristic positions in response to the conflict, what sort of outcome do you foresee?

Tariq Ali: It is very difficult to predict. There are some people who talk about a new war, if the United States pushes this through without any safeguards for the minority communities, many of which have already been expelled, but some remain. And with Russia today no longer the Russia it was when the first NATO attack on Yugoslavia took place, it is an open question what is going to happen. My own feeling is that the Russians will not do anything, and the Serbian elite, already very heavily neoliberalized, will ultimately do a deal. That is my prediction. As to what will happen to the Serbian and other minority population, I hate saying this, but the only logical solution now given that everything else has been partitioned is for Kosovo to be partitioned. I don`t like saying this, but that is probably the only way to protect the minorities now. Which is a sad business, but that is the logic of ultra-nationalism.

GLOBAL BALKANS is an emerging activist research, media and organizing network that works locally and in solidarity with Balkan social movements to investigate, publicize and impact political, social and economic struggles in the former Yugoslav and wider Balkan region. They view and analyze the Balkans in the context of other global incursions by interventionist forces, both historical and contemporary. GB is working to build a transnational, anti-nationalist, anti-capitalist, and anti-authoritarian network with a pan-Balkan and internationalist outlook (currently based in San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, Paris, and Milan). They can be reached at globalbalkans[at]yahoo.ca.