Who are the good guys in Bosnia?

War in the Balkans

THE REACTIONARY wars waging across the borders of ex-Yugoslavia have produced an interesting split amongst the revolutionary left in this country. There have been some surprising - if not shocking - ideological realignments.

Completely out of character, thankfully, both the Socialist Workers Party and Militant Labour have adopted a relatively principled position. They have correctly denounced all sides as equally reactionary and have not attempted to paint the war ‘red’ in any shape or form. This is a positive development. During the Falkland/Malvinas Island war, ML tried to give British imperialism a progressive tinge by transforming the conflict into a “socialist war” against “Argentinian fascism”.

Of course, the SWP’s ‘a pox on all houses’ approach is motivated more by moralism and semi-pacifism than by revolutionary defeatism (the necessity to transform a reactionary civil war into a revolutionary civil war). However, at least it runs against the tide of bourgeois opinion.

Not so with other ‘revolutionary’ left organisations. The events in Bosnia and elsewhere have seen these organisations diverted from the general orbit of working class politics by the gravitational pull of pure bourgeois politics. The perfect example of this is the Workers Revolutionary Party.

Disgracefully, the WRP has aligned itself with explicitly anti-working class pressure groups such as the Bosnia Solidarity Campaign and The Alliance for the Defence of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Both back the reactionary muslim-dominated regime in Bosnia. They both call upon the imperialist powers to bomb Serbian forces, if not Serbia itself. The fact that the WRP is quite prepared to uncritically dovetail with these organisations - even appealing for donations to be made to them in its paper, Workers Press - demonstrates its anti-Marxist and thoroughly reactionary world outlook.

On the ‘Stop the Rape of Bosnia’ march and rally on July 29 the WRP stood alongside the Bosnian ambassador, Michael Foot and the Muslim Solidarity Committee. Not a single word of criticism is offered by the WRP, which wants to be part of a (very) ‘popular front’ in support of the Bosnian regime.

True to its paranoid tradition, the WRP has conjured up a fantastic conspiracy theory. Apparently the Serbian forces of Milosevic and Karadzic are “backed by their allies among the Great Powers”. The WRP propagates the view that the entire conflict is purely the product of a “Serbian war of aggression against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia” (Bosnia Special, July 29).

The grisly events of this week expose the grotesque nature of WRP-style politics. The Croatian blitzkrieg against the Krajina Serbs, leading to the mass exodus of up to 200,000 Serb civilians, has not been met with a united roar of disapproval from the ‘pro-Serb’ Western powers. The biggest single population move during the whole war is, strangely enough, not an example of ‘ethnic cleansing’, but ‘evacuation’. Indeed, the US secretary of state, Warren Christopher, said the Croatian victories could result in a “new strategic situation that may turn out to be to our advantage”.

Ghoulishly, Martin Woollacott of The Guardian, enthused: “Croatian victories in Krajina bring possibilities ... One is for the progressive defeat of the rebel Serbs in Bosnia” (August 7). We can only presume that the WRP would endorse Woollacott’s ‘optimism’, given their shameless tail-ending of Croatian and ‘Bosniac’ (Bosnian Muslim) chauvinism.

The WRP’s rapid descent into the gutter is the logical outcome of its ‘lesser of two evils’ method. This subordinates all tasks to the “anti-fascist” struggle (ie, against anything the Serbs do). Communists, on the other hand, condemn all anti-working class forces, and fight for a working class solution to the meltdown in ex-Yugoslavia.

Eddie Ford