The First War of the Internationalised Market Economy

Takis Fotopoulos



Abstract: After a brief discussion of the criminal character of the NATO war in the Balkans  and the mythology used to legitimise it, the article proceeds to examine the principal views that have been put forward about its causes. The main approach, supported by many sections in the Left, maintains that the implicit aim of the war is to establish US hegemony over every possible challenger (EU, Russia, China). The alternative approach proposed in this article is that the war is of a purely ‘systemic’ nature and in fact constitutes the first war of the New Order, i.e. the internationalised market economy. This is indicated by two facts: first, that the war has been fought by a new NATO whose role has been redefined in the Washington summit and, second, that a new doctrine of ‘limited sovereignty’ -- which is rapidly becoming the ideology of the New Order-- has been used to legitimise that role. Finally, the role of the Green movement in the war is discussed with reference to the issue of whether the war marks the end of it as a liberation force.


1. The mythology about the  NATO war

The criminal character of the war

At the outset, it has to be made absolutely clear that the NATO war is a criminal war. This is not just because of the fact that it is carried out in blatant violation of the UN charter and the original NATO agreement itself (before its recent amendment at the Washington summit). As Walter J. Rockler,[1]  the US prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial, stresses:

The rationale that we are simply enforcing international morality, even if it were true, would not excuse the military aggression and widespread killing that it entails. It also does not lessen the culpability of the authors of this aggression. As a primary source of international law, the judgement of the Nuremberg Tribunal in the 1945-1946 case of the major Nazi war criminals is plain and clear. Our leaders often invoke and praise that judgement, but obviously have not read it. The International Court declared:”To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”.

But, apart from the criminal character of the war in the above sense, there is another, even more sinister sense, in which the NATO war is unquestionably criminal. The NATO elites, in an effort to turn the Serbian population against the Serbian elite, pursued a campaign of terrorisation and gradual strangulation of the entire Serbian population. Thus, tens of hospitals, hundreds of nurseries, schools, colleges and students’ dormitories, farms, housing estates, hotels, libraries, youth centres, museums, churches and 14th century-monasteries on the World Heritage lists, even prisons, have been systematically destroyed.[2] On top of these, the economic infrastructure of the country (power plants, factories of all sorts) have been deliberately dismantled—as even Western analysts admit[3]-- not to mention the supposed ‘errors’ of bombing bridges full of trains, cars and people, geriatric homes, buses, and the Chinese embassy! ‘Errors’, which, at best, constitute manslaughter, although they are most likely to have been deliberate, judging from the past crimes of the same elites and military machines in Vietnam, Iraq etc. As Walter J. Rockler[4] again stresses:

From another standpoint of international law, the current conduct of the bombing by the United States and NATO constitutes a continuing war crime. Contrary to the beliefs of our war planners, unrestricted air bombing is barred under international law. Bombing the "infrastructure" of a country-- waterworks, electricity plants, bridges, factories, television and radio locations--is not an attack limited to legitimate military objectives. Our bombing has also caused an excessive loss of life and injury to civilians, which violates another standard.

There is no doubt therefore about the pure criminal character of the NATO campaign --in fact, many of their actions consist of pure war crimes (as Jonathan Miller, a US law professor, among many other legal experts claims) which of course will never be tried by the international courts that are controlled by the Advanced Market Economies (AMEs) which launched this war. Instead, the relatively minor criminal Milosevic is indicted, whereas the major criminals against humanity (because of their past record) Clinton, Blair and company are left free to continue their ‘humane’ work. Of course, nobody expected a different stance from the criminal elites which, in order to perpetuate their privileges, did not hesitate in the past to do exactly the same thing against many other peoples all over the world, from Latin America to Iraq, and from Vietnam to Timor. Still, the ‘left’ and ‘green’ ‘intellectuals’ who supported the NATO war did not have any hesitation to assign the role of liberator to the same elites and the same murderous machines, in a clear travesty of what liberation means and how it could be achieved.

The myths about the causes of the war

According to the official interpretation offered by NATO governments, the goal of their ‘intervention’ in Yugoslavia was humane. This claim is, of course, hardly original. As Rockler,[5] stresses, ‘the attack on Yugoslavia constitutes the most brazen international aggression since the Nazis attacked Poland to prevent ‘Polish atrocities’ against Germans’. Still, Tony Blair (probably, the most arriviste professional politician in the AMEs today, who had the least qualms in pursuing the criminal NATO war), was explicit, in a speech to fellow European ‘socialists’ in Paris, when he urged Nato to continue the war in Kosovo until "racial genocide" was defeated. As he put it: "If Europe is to mean anything, then the policy of ethnic cleansing must be defeated. The values of decency and democracy must win”.[6]

But, it is indeed ironic that the main perpetrators of the NATO crime talk about democracy when they were not able to keep even to their own democratic values and procedures. Thus, only a handful of NATO parliaments (not including Mr Blair’s parliament!) took a formal decision on the matter. Also, as regards how the Western elites understand freedom of information, it is enough to mention that NATO attempted to impose a number of hours of NATO propaganda broadcasting on Yugoslav TV (even Hitler did not have a similar idea!) and that when they had to abandon this idea they embarked on a systematic campaign to destroy every single Yugoslav TV studio (killing in the process the TV people inside them)  and  transmitter. This campaign of stifling ‘democratically’ any alternative view to the sanitised NATO view culminated with the decision they forced on the European Satellite Consortium in late May to exorcise Yugoslav TV broadcasts from the European satellite transmissions. The ‘lesson’ to be taught is obvious. In the future, what is truth will be exclusively defined by the Orwellian Ministry of Information of the ’international community’ (read: AMEs).  But, let us see more closely the ‘truth’ that NATO wanted everybody to assimilate.

The Western mass media, as John Pilger, a close observer of media practices pointed out, have been engaged in massive censorship by omission, which resulted in a situation in which, as he put it in desperation, ‘until there is a revolt by journalists and broadcasters  they (the NATO elites) will continue to get away with acts of murder’.[7] Thus, in a campaign of massive misinformation and sheer manipulation of public opinion, (which a Harvard University academic characterised as ‘an unprecedented propaganda, such that we did not see even during the Cold War’[8]), the western media have presented the mass exodus of Albanian refugees from Kosovo as a clear case of racial ethnic cleansing and ‘genocide’. So, how faithful to reality is this view?

I think that to discuss meaningfully the issue of ethnic cleansing (the case of ‘genocide has already been demolished by Chomsky[9] and others) we must make the crucial distinction between the refugee problem before the war and after the war started.

There is no doubt that before the massive bombings started the refugee problem was of a very low scale. Furthermore, despite the indisputable fact that Albanians have been oppressed by the Serbians since 1989, when the Milosevic regime cancelled the autonomy of Kosovo (reciprocating for the oppression of the Kosovar Serbian minority at the hands of the Albanian majority before that[10]) there is no evidence that the refugee problem before the war was the result of ethnic cleansing rather than the by-product of Serbian military operations against the KLA.

In fact, it is the latter view which was adopted by the German Foreign Office and various regional Administrative Courts in Germany for the entire year before the war started. Thus, an Administrative Court at Baden-Wurtemberg after the ‘massacre’ at Racak declared:[11]

Single instances of excessive acts of violence against the civil population, e.g. in Racak, have in world opinion been laid at the feet of the Serbian side or have aroused great indignation. But, the number and frequency of such excesses do not warrant the conclusion that every Albanian living in Kosovo is exposed to extreme danger to life.

Also, another German  Court at Munster, a month before the bombings, was declaring that:[12]

There is no sufficient actual proof of a secret program, or an unspoken consensus on the Serbian side, to liquidate the Albanian people, to drive it out or otherwise to persecute it in the extreme manner presently described…the measures taken by the armed Serbian forces are in the first instance directed towards combating the KLA and its supposed adherents and supporters.

In the same vein, just two weeks before the war started, the same court declared:[13]  

ethnic Albanians in Kosovo have neither been nor are now exposed to regional or countrywide group persecution in Yugoslavia.

But, even if one accepted, (against the German Foreign Ministry and courts’ view!) that there was some ‘ethnic cleansing’, this is of course nothing unique in the Balkan history, or the recent history in general. Ethnic cleansing of a much bigger scale took place against the Serbians themselves at the hands of the Croats during the Bosnian war when hundreds of thousands were expelled from Croatia to no objection by the West, not to mention the ethnic cleansing of the Greeks at the hands of Turks in Cyprus after the Turkish invasion, or the massive ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Needless to add that in the last two cases, despite numerous UN resolutions condemning the ethnic cleansing, no action has ever been taken against the perpetrators of such crimes and today’s ‘humanistic crusaders’ of the despicable Cohn-Bendit type never called for bombing the Turks or the Israelis.

So, there is no doubt that the massive exodus of refugees started after the bombings began and not before. It is therefore only for the period after the bombings that the issue arises at all. But, first, the  mass  exodus after the bombings was predictable by everybody[14], including the NATO commander General Wesley Clark. Given that the Rambouillet ‘agreement’ was in fact an ultimatum presented to the Serbs (with the full knowledge that no sovereign country in the world could ever accept its terms[15]), it is obvious that the massive exodus was, to all intends and purposes, induced by NATO for propaganda reasons, if not for military reasons as well, in case a ground attack were to develop. Second, it is obvious that the Serbian elite did not have any incentive to start a massive campaign of ethnic cleansing at the very moment that NATO was desperate for a propaganda coup to justify its criminal campaign to Iraq-ise Serbia and in full knowledge that it had no chance at all to defeat NATO and therefore legalise ‘de facto’ the ethnic cleansing. The massive exodus of refugees into neighbouring countries may therefore be attributed to a multiplicity of causes which have little, if anything, to do with ethnic cleansing, let alone ‘genocide’. Thus:

  • part of it may be seen as an element of the Serbian war strategy to fight the KLA and/or create instability in the region[16]

  • another part may be seen as the result of acts of Serbian revenge ‘from below’, particularly in the first days of bombings, when --in the heat of the massive destruction caused by NATO-- Serbian paramilitary units and Serbian Kosovars may have turned against the Albanians, who  invited NATO in the first place.[17]

  • Last, but not least, a significant part of this exodus was caused by fear of the bombings themselves.[18] 

When the massive bombings started and, as predicted, they were accompanied by the massive exodus from Kosovo, there was a parallel massive TV bombardment of western audiences with the drama of the refugees, whereas the simultaneous destruction of the people of Yugoslavia was shamelessly censored by such bulwarks of media ‘objectivity’ as the BBC, not to mention the miserable role of the papers of the centre-‘left’ like The Guardian, The Observer, Le Monde, Liberation and so on. This parallel TV bombardment had the double effect of diverting attention from the pure war crimes committed against the people of a small and backward technologically country by the most technologically advanced murderous machine ever invented and, at the same time, of galvanising public opinion and --most important— a very significant part of the ‘left’ and ‘green’ supporters,  in favour of the war aims. I will  not repeat here[19] the evidence I have collected myself of the despicable role of British media during the war. Suffice it to say that the role of the media as pure mouthpieces of the elites in periods of crises, which we considered elsewhere,[20] was never perhaps shown as clear as during this war. 

2. The War in the Balkans as a ‘hegemonic’ war

The common view shared among various sections of the Left about the war in the Balkans was that it is a war to confirm the hegemonic position of the U.S. According to this approach, the implicit aim of the war is to establish US hegemony over every possible challenger (the European Union, Russia, China, the UN). The alternative approach I would like to propose is that the war in the Balkans has a pure ‘systemic’ nature and, in fact, constitutes the first war of the internationalised market economy, i.e. of the New Economic Order. I will consider in this section the first approach and I will continue in the next section with the alternative approach proposed here.

An attack against Europe?

A commonly held view among supporters of the ‘hegemonic’ war  approach is that the war was basically unleashed by the US elite not just against Yugoslavia, which was only the direct target, but, also, against the European Union in general and the Euro € in particular, which were the indirect  targets.

Thus, according to one version of this approach, the main goal of the  American elites was to secure their own political and military hegemony. Wallerstein[21], for instance, argues that the war has shown that NATO is necessary ‘to prevent the West Europeans from straying too far from U.S. control and above all from establishing an autonomous armed structure separate from NATO’. However, one may counterargue here that, as the redefinition of NATO’s role in the last Washington summit clearly showed, NATO has been assigned a much more important role than the role of controlling the Europeans: the role of the gendarme of the New Order. Furthermore, there is no evidence whatsoever that the European elites have any intention of  ‘straying too far from US control’.  Instead, at the same summit meeting, they recognised the political and military (although not the economic) hegemony of the US in the common fight of the AMEs to protect the New Economic Order .

Similar arguments apply to a slight variation of the above version which is supported by parts of the soft ‘Left’ in the Euro-parliament who may oppose the bombings but are otherwise  enthusiastic supporters of the centre-‘left’. In this scenario, the European centre-‘left’ governments have simply been trapped by the US elite and their participation in the war is just an ‘error’ of judgement. Their argument is that, had the EU developed an integrated foreign policy, the European block would have been able to play the role of balancing US hegemony, taking the place of the extinct USSR in a new bi-polar world.

However, a bi-polar world, like the one characterising the Cold War period, was based on two blocks of countries with fundamentally different socio-economic systems and  social paradigms to legitimise them. But, the US and the EU are two blocks of AMEs with identical dominant social paradigms. Furthermore, the two blocks are the pillars of the present internationalised market economy and, as I will try to show in the next section, despite the fact that competition among the AMEs which constitute the components of this world economy is more intense than ever, still, wars between them to sort out differences arising from this competition are inconceivable. No wonder therefore that, given the common aim of AMEs to protect the New Economic Order and despite the unavoidable tactical differences between them, the elites of all AMEs who are members of NATO took a decisive part in the crime against the people of Yugoslavia. The enthusiastic participation of the major AMEs who are members of both NATO and the EU (Britain, Germany, France) --despite the rhetoric of the leaders of some of them which was clearly intended for internal consumption in order to ameliorate the discontent of their electorate-- clearly shows that the approach promoted by the soft ‘left’ is just a myth to disguise the ‘systemic’ nature of the war.

Another version of the ‘hegemonic war’ approach emphasises the ‘economic war’ between the US and the EU, as expressed by recent trade conflicts (‘bananas war’ etc), as well as by the concern expressed by part of the American elite over the launching of the Euro which, potentially, could threaten dollar supremacy. Implicitly, this version is based on the old theory of imperialism concerning the conflict between capitalist countries over the division of markets.

However, one may point out here that in  today’s internationalised market economy this theory does not make much sense anymore. Despite some differences as regards trade policies, which are unavoidable among competing capitalist blocks, the opening of the commodity and capital/money markets --an integral part of the New Economic Orde-- has made this theory completely outdated. Today, the economic conflicts are not between nations, or even between economic blocks, but between huge multinational corporations which control world production and trade. Although these multinationals are nation-based, or block-based, and they still require the assistance of the nations or blocks in which they  have their bases, still, they fight their oligopolistic wars exclusively through the use of economic means. This means that the EU ruling elites, far from having opposing interests to those of the US elite on the war, they expect to benefit from it, not only directly, through the expected boom of the construction and armaments industries, but also indirectly, through the full integration of the Balkans in the EU. In fact, for some in the European Left it is only the EU which had a vital interest in this war (containment of conflict and particularly of refugee movements) rather than the USA which ‘does not even have that stake in the region’s future’.[22]  However, one may counterargue here that neither the conflict between the Serb army and the KLA has reached, or could ever reach, the dimensions of a potentially non-containable conflict, nor the refugee movements were significant before the mass bombings. The conflict in Kosovo was very localised and it is almost certain that, without the massive support provided by the West to the KLA, it would have ended soon with some kind of Albanian autonomy restored.

Finally, similar arguments apply with respect to the $/€ competition. Whether Euro will succeed in gaining a position similar to that of the dollar and the yen will be determined exclusively by the relative economic strength and stability of the EU. The present relative strength of the US$ versus the Euro€ simply reflects the current relative strength of the US economy versus the European economy, a fact which in the problematique of this article reflects the higher degree of ‘marketization’ in the former relative to the latter.

An attack against the UN, Russia and China?

According to another version of the ‘hegemonic war’ approach, the aim of the war was to discredit the UN and/or ‘surround’ Russia. The UN, according to this view, expresses an outdated balance of powers which does not express the present political/military hegemony of the US and the economic dominance of the major AMEs (the US, but also the defeated powers of the Second World War, i.e. Germany and Japan). Furthermore, as regards Russia, ‘a network of bases and fortified positions must be constructed to contain Russia in future, plugging the gap in the Balkans from Greece in the south to Hungary in the North’.[23]

However, one may point out here, thst as far as the UN is concerned, the elites of the AMEs do not have any incentive to take action for the dismantlement of the UN, particularly if it is effectively controlled by them, as it was during in the Gulf war.[24]  It is only when there is a conflict of interests between the various elites of the Security Council (as in the present case) when the UN becomes unusable. But then, it was exactly for such occasions that the new NATO has been designed.

Also, as regards the role of Russia and China, it is true that the war gave an opportunity to the AMEs to show the Russian and Chinese counterparts their true role in the New World Order, as parts of the periphery and semi-periphery. The present Russian elite, which is  committed to fully integrate the country into the internationalised market economy, does not present any serious problem to the West.[25] Particularly so, when it seems that even the opposition communist and nationalist parts do not dispute this commitment, whereas the possibility of the emergence of a new liberation movement from below, which would really threaten the West, is still remote. It is therefore only in the transitional period before the full integration of Russia into the internationalised market economy that the resurgent nationalism (partly, as a result of the war itself) creates potential problems to the AMEs.

So, to the extent that the NATO war had an educational goal it was simply to give a lesson to any aspiring nationalist movement, as well as the communist supporterss --in case they start thinking about abandoning their present commitment to the market economy reforms-- about the fate awaiting anybody challenging the New Order. By the same token, as long as the Chinese party elite continues to play the ‘rules of the game’ and keeps integrating the Chinese economy into the New Economic Order the possibility of any real conflict with the West is ruled out. Still, the bombing of the Chinese embassy had a clear educational goal: to teach any aspiring challengers of the New Order a lesson about the West’s might.

A matter of credibility?

Finally, according to still another version of the ‘hegemonic war’ approach, which is supported, for instance, by Noam Chomsky[26] and in a sense sums up the other versions, the NATO war machine was unleashed ‘to preserve the credibility of NATO (i.e. of the U.S.)’ that would have suffered badly had NATO not implemented its threats. However, taken at face value, this argument, as Wallerstein[27] pointed out, ‘is a curious argument because it is circular. If NATO threatens something and then doesn’t do it, of course its credibility would be undermined. But, it didn’t have to make the threat in the first place’.

It is obvious that preserving the credibility of NATO as such does not make sense. The NATO alliance does not exist for its own sake, it is not an end in itself, but has a specific goal. In fact, the supporters of the credibility thesis, explicitly or implicitly, do perceive NATO’s real goal as aiming to secure US’s political/military hegemony. But, to my mind, political/military hegemony, in the institutional framework of an internationalised market economy, is not an end in itself either. Military/political hegemony is important only as a means for the protection of this institutional framework. This is because in any social structure which can be characterised as a market economy, as I pointed out elsewhere,[28] the dominant element is the economic one. It is therefore clear that ‘preserving NATO’s credibility’ cannot just mean US’ s credibility, as a military power --unless it is added that US’s credibility matters not just for its own sake but because US has undertaken the role of the guarantor of the system of the internationalised market economy.

To my mind, the main problem of the ‘credibility’ version, as well as of the other versions of the ‘hegemonic war’ approach, is that they fail to take into account the fundamental link between the political and the economic dimensions of the New Order and therefore cannot see that the Balkan war is, in fact, the first war of the New Order, in the sense that it aims in maintaining the stability that the internationalised market economy requires. It is because of this failure that the approach just considered cannot explain  two basic facts: first,  that the elites of all major AMEs  (and not just the US elite) were enthusiastic supporters of the war (despite their public utterances) and, second, that the same elites accepted wholeheartedly the new role of NATO, which de facto implies the political/military hegemony of the US elite. But, let us consider the alternative approach suggested here.

3. The Balkan War as the first war of the Internationalised Market Economy

The New World Economic Order

A useful starting point in interpreting the NATO war against Yugoslavia  is to examine  the political and economic contours of the New Order. I will identify the New World Economic Order with the ‘internationalised market economy’, i.e. the present phase of marketization, which is defined as the historical process that has transformed the socially controlled economies of the past into the present system of the market economy[29]. Internationalisation, as I tried to show elsewhere,[30] should be distiguished from globalisation. Internationalisation refers to the case where markets become internationalised and, as a result, the economic policies of national governments and  the reproduction of the growth economy itself are conditioned by the movement of commodities and capital across frontiers. The present neoliberal form of the internationalised market economy may be seen as completing the cycle which started in the last century when a liberal version of it was attempted. Thus, after the collapse of the first attempt to introduce a self-regulating economic system, a new synthesis is attempted today. The new synthesis aims to avoid the extremes of pure liberalism, by combining essentially self-regulating markets with various types of safety nets and  controls, which secure the privileged position primarily of the “over-class” and secondarily that of the “40 percent society”, as well as the mere survival of the “under-class”, without affecting the self-regulation process in its essentials. Therefore, the nation-state’s role is restricted today in securing, through its monopoly of violence, the market economy framework and in maintaining the infra-structure for the smooth functioning of the neoliberal economy.

So, the internationalisation assumed here does not imply the elimination of the regulatory role of the state, let alone its physical disappearance at the political level. What it does imply is the loss of the state’s economic sovereignty not just in terms of the disappearance of major state controls over markets but also in terms of important social controls, which are ruled out by today’s institutional framework of free commodity and capital markets. Furthermore, the internationalisation of the market economy does not mean that its intra-state regulation is redundant. Companies which are active in the internationalised market economy need a degree of stability in financial markets, a secure framework of free trade and the protection of commercial rights. All this implies the need for international economic regulation (through the G7 group, the WTO etc) as well as the need for international political ‘regulation’.

Therefore, in the same way that in the first phase of marketization, when the market economy was basically national, the nation-state was assigned the role of enforcing—through its monopoly of violence—the market rules, in today’s internationalised market economy the corresponding role of enforcing the internationalised market rules is assigned not to the state, but to international organisations like NATO and a capitalist- controlled UN. It is not therefore surprising that (as it was shown by a team of reporters led by Nicholas Kristof in a recent series of articles in the New York Times), it became part of the State Department’s job and therefore, indirectly, of the US-controlled NATO, to push deregulation and the dismantling of all barriers to trade and finance both with individual governments and in international negotiations on economic matters (WTO).[31]

Wars in the New Order

It is in the context of internationalisation, in the sense of a gradual loss of economic sovereignty of nation-states, that we may develop a useful analytical framework to discuss the war in the Balkans. In Europe, the internationalisation of the market economy has proceeded very unevenly due to its division, up to the beginning of the decade, into a capitalist Western Europe and the Eastern Europe of ‘actually existing socialism’. The main effect of the uneven integration of Europe into the internationalised market economy has been that there is still a significant degree of tension between nationalism and internationalisation, with immediate ramifications in today’s war.

Thus, in Western Europe, there is a movement towards a federal supra-national state, which reflects the fact that the core EU countries have already entered the highest phase of the marketization process. In fact, Western Europe is in a transitional period, which is however qualitatively different from that in the East. The present political conflicts with respect to the future organisation of European integration arise out of the fundamental contradiction indicated by the fact that the economic structure of each nation-state has already been internationalised, whereas the political structure, formally at least, still bears the hallmarks of a nation-state.

On the other hand, in Eastern Europe, where the marketization process was violently interrupted by the advent of `actually existing socialism', the state is still supposed to be able to play  the role that it used to play in Western Europe during the past century, when it was involved in the process of establishing the system of the market economy. Of course, with the exception of Russia, this is a false supposition, given the degree of interaction among the components of the internationalised market economy. It is only in Russia where nationalism is still relevant due to its huge scale. However, this fact alone does not prevent the resurgence of nationalism in other parts of East Europe and particularly the Balkans where the integration of their  economies into the internationalised market economy has not as yet been completed.

In this problematique, wars between the states of AMEs are no longer possible since these states are nothing more than the municipalities of the internationalised market economy and their job is to provide, at the cheapest possible cost, the infrastructure and the ‘public goods’ required for the effective functioning of business.[32] Therefore, the ‘hundred years peace’ (1815-1914) described by Polanyi,[33] which accompanied the first (failed) attempt for the creation of a liberal internationalised market economy may become a ‘millennium peace’ in the framework of today’s neoliberal internationalised market economy. It is not difficult to see, for instance, that, in the framework of this internationalised economy, any attempt by an AME to use military force against another AME in order to achieve its economic aims  is inconceivable, since it will incur the immediate sanctions of the global financial markets and the first casualty will be its own currency.

But, if wars among AMEs which control the New Economic Order are, almost by definition, ruled out this is not the case as regards wars between them and dependent economies, as well as those among dependent economies (in which case the advanced economies may be fighting wars ‘by proxy’).

As regards wars between AMEs and countries in the periphery and semi-periphery, the explosion in the world inequality, which is a built-in element of the New Order and an inevitable by-product of liberalising and deregulating the markets, implies that attacks against any ‘rogue’ regimes challenging in any way the New Order will continue unabated. The same applies of course with respect to any liberatory movement that might develop in the future, which will have to be crushed in the kind of total victory that we have seen in the case of Iraq and, possibly, Yugoslavia. It is with the purpose of fighting wars of this type that the armies of AMEs have been fast converted into armies of professional killers (a kind of samurai) who are not susceptible, as conscripts are, to ideological influences and feelings of solidarity with the social groups from which they are recruited (usually the poorest groups). Despite the higher cost of professional armies,[34] the elites of the New Order do not have any choice but to finance the extra expenses, since wars are not any more for the defence of the country but purely for the defence of the New Order and the privileges of those mainly benefiting from it.

With respect to wars among states in the periphery, conflicts of cultural, religious, nationalist or ethnotic nature may easily arise between dependent states. Particularly so, since conflicts of this type serve also to give outlet to their peoples’ socio-economic frustrations (see, for instance the present conflicts among the Indonesian peoples). In this sense, the old dream of economic liberalism that ‘war would become the recourse of failed and economically backward societies and political forces, driven by economically irrational goals like ethnic homogeneity or religion’[35] may indeed be near materialisation. In some of these cases, as for instance the ethnic wars in the Balkans, such conflicts may threaten the stability of the New Order and have to be crushed through the military arm of the New Order, i.e. the new NATO or, if possible, the UN. On the other hand, if these tensions do not threaten as such the New Order, but they are useful in financing the expansion of the armaments industries of the AMEs whereas, at the same time, they legitimise their elites in playing a role of arbitrator, (as, for instance, in the case of the chronic tension between Greece and Turkey) then, such tensions are left to keep simmering.

Integrating Yugoslavia through its dismembering

In this analytical framework, we may see the dismembering of Yugoslavia as an attempt by the AMEs to fully integrate the area into the New Economic Order of the internationalised market economy. Thus, given the resurgence of nationalism in the Balkans after the collapse of socialism and the fact that the old Yugoslavia was the strongest Balkan state, with a long history of independence from both the Western and Soviet blocks, it is obvious that the Western elites at some stage drew the conclusion that the normal  methods of economic integration, which were successfully used in the rest of the Balkans (Albania, Bulgaria, Romania) would not be sufficient to fully integrate the old Yugoslavia into the internationalised market economy and its economic and military institutions (EU/NATO). Therefore, the policy adopted by the AMES was one of encouraging Yugoslavia’s dismemberment[36] through the creation of a series of protectorates. Either on a ‘voluntary’ basis, (as in the cases of Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia), or by force, (as in the cases of Bosnia and now Kosovo and Montenegro, if not Serbia itself). So, the elites of AMEs throughout the present decade exploited in every way possible the nationalist and ethnotic divisions which emerged after the collapse of Yugoslavian ‘socialism’. In this task, the elites of AMEs have found a useful ally in part of the Yugoslavian nomenclature which used these divisions for a different reason: to perpetuate itself in power.[37] In fact, the nationalist part of the nomenclature was in more than one sense an important ally of the AMEs since it was also in favour of marketization. Thus, the so-called ‘Milosevic Commission’ report of May 1988 was advocating market-oriented reforms in which the ‘world market and world competition represents the strongest generator of economic operation’ whereas Milosevic himself urged Yugoslavs to overcome ‘their unfounded, irrational and…primitive fear of exploitation ‘ by foreign capital.[38]

The outcome of the dismembering of Yugoslavia was the return of the Yugoslav peoples to the pre-World War II condition of dependence, which had been interrupted by their partial separation from the world market and the corresponding political independence they achieved under the Tito regime. It is therefore obvious that it is not something in the nature of the Balkan peoples (as the Western propaganda presents it) that pushes them towards ethnotic or nationalist and religious conflicts but the system of the market economy itself. The very fact  that a variety of peoples in the Balkans were able to live harmoniously with each other for centuries in the framework of a pre-capitalist empire like the Ottoman empire and also during the period of ‘actually existing socialism’ is a proof of this. But, it is not just the system of the market economy in general which creates conditions of uneven development and huge inequalities that constitute the perfect background for the emergence of this sort of conflicts. The marketization process in Yugoslavia was directly relevant to the resurgence of the ethnotic conflicts.

The intensification of marketization, which started in Yugoslavia in the early eighties and accelerated in the early nineties, had similar catastrophic effects to the ones I examined elsewhere[39] with reference to the rest of Eastern Europe: disintegration of the industrial sector, a gradual dismantling of the Yugoslav Welfare State etc. Furthermore, an IMF-initiated ‘financial aid package’ in 1990 crucially contributed to the crippling of the federal State system, as state revenues which should have been distributed as transfer payments to the republics and autonomous provinces were instead channelled towards servicing Belgrade’s debt.[40] So, the economic basis of the federal state was effectively undermined by the IMF program which substantially helped the secessionist tendencies that were already flourishing in a climate of economic decay and freezing wages and salaries. On the basis of such considerations, Chossudovsky draws the conclusion  that ‘the ruin of an economic system, including the take-over of productive assets, the extension of markets and ‘the scramble for territory’ in the Balkans constitute the real cause of conflict.

However, once the dismembering of Yugoslavia has effectively been achieved by the end of this decade and half of its ex-members (Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia) have already been converted into Western protectorates and on the way to become fully integrated into the internationalised market economy (with Bosnia still in the process of ‘pacification’), the new Yugoslavia of Serbia and Montenegro presented a problem to the AMEs since it was the only part of the Balkans not yet fully controlled by them. Then, the same method, which was used with such success for the dismembering of the old Yugoslavia, was put once more into operation. The extreme nationalist elements in Kosovo, who wanted not just the restoration of the province’s autonomy but full independence from the truncated Yugoslavia, were encouraged by the AMEs. Thus, KLA, an organisation which up to a few years ago was characterised as ‘terrorist’ by them, suddenly became a liberating force to be supported in every possible way. The inevitable intensification of the reppression of Albanians which followed gave the pretext for the direct intervention by the AMEs, in the form of the present NATO war.

Today, the AMES, despite the inescapable differences between them as to the client states and the ‘zones of influence’ they  support in the Balkan conflict, they all share a common aim: to ‘pacify’ the area in a way which would secure the full integration of it into the New Order, political and economic. This is evident, for instance, by the explicit reference to marketization in the Rambouillet document, which was served in the form of an ultimatum to the Yugoslav leadership (‘the economy of Kosovo shall function according to market principles’[41]). Also, Clinton and Blair have repeatedly stated that, after the war ends, all Balkan countries should become members of the economic and political expressions of the New Order in the area, i.e. the EU and NATO[42]. Finally, the EU’s Stability and Association Pact for the Balkans explicitly seeks to bring all the forner Yugoslav republics and Albania into the EU prosperity club and under the security umbrella of NATO.[43]

There are however two important novel aspects in this war which mark it as the first war of the internationalised market economy. These are:

  • First, the way it has been carried out. This is the first war which has been fought by the ‘new’ NATO, i.e. a NATO whose role has been fundamentally redefined to transform it into the main military institution of the New Political Order, which complements the new Economic Order, the internationalised market economy.

  • Second, the ideology used to legitimise it. This is the first war which has been legitimised on the basis of an ideology that aims at the protection of human rights, as universal values to be protected throughout an internationalised market economy, irrespective of national sovereignty considerations. 

The New World Political Order and the new NATO

The New Political Order, which is the necessary complement of the New Economic Order, is defined by two basic institutional changes:

  1. the redefinition of the role of NATO, as effected in the latest Washington summit

  2. the limitation of the concept of national sovereignty which constitutes the ideology of the New Order and was endorsed by NATO’s new strategic concept

As it is well known, NATO was founded in 1949 as a collective defence organisation against the communist threat posed by the Soviet block. The heart of the North Atlantic Treaty and thus of the NATO alliance was Article 5, in which the signatory members "agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all; and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area."

However, the Washington summit of an expanded NATO that included several formerly Soviet block countries, which convened in Washington in April 1999, adopted a new ‘strategic concept’[44] which radically changed the nature of this crucial military organisation in which all main AMEs (apart from Japan) take part. The new NATO constitution redefined the role of NATO from a mutual defence organisation (after the collapse of the Soviet block there was not much to defend against!) into a regional policeman, i.e. the main military institution of the internationalised market economy. Thus, as article 6 explicitly states, ‘the Alliance therefore not only ensures the defence of its members but contributes to peace and stability in this region.’

Then, in a section entitled ‘The evolving strategic environment’ the document delineates the NATO/UN relationship by stating that ‘the United Nations Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security’ (article 15). It is indicative that at the time of the summit meeting, President Chirac interpreted this clause as implying that NATO could not act without UN authorisation, but this interpretation was immediately contradicted by Solana who stated that a Security Council resolution would not be necessary before making an intervention outside NATO territory.[45] The issue has been resolved in practice, through the Balkans war: if the AMEs cannot secure the votes of all permanent members of the UN Security Council they will have no hesitation to start military action without prior UN mandate.

Further on, in a section entitled ‘Security challenges and risks’, the new strategic concept is clearly defined:

Notwithstanding positive developments in the strategic environment and the fact that large-scale conventional aggression against the Alliance is highly unlikely, the possibility of such a threat emerging over the longer term exists. The security of the Alliance remains subject to a wide variety of military and non-military risks which are multi-directional and often difficult to predict. These risks include uncertainty and instability in and around the Euro-Atlantic area and the possibility of regional crises at the periphery of the Alliance, which could evolve rapidly. Some countries in and around the Euro-Atlantic area face serious economic, social and political difficulties. Ethnic and religious rivalries, territorial disputes, inadequate or failed efforts at reform, the abuse of human rights, and the dissolution of states can lead to local and even regional instability. The resulting tensions could lead to crises affecting Euro-Atlantic stability, to human suffering, and to armed conflicts. Such conflicts could affect the security of the Alliance by spilling over into neighbouring countries, including NATO countries, or in other ways, and could also affect the security of other states (article 20)

Article 20 makes clear that the AME-controlled NATO is transformed from a defensive alliance which protects specific areas from the communist threat to an aggressive alliance which protects it from a series of vaguely defined ‘risks’ emerging in a vaguely defined very broad area (‘in and around the Euro-Atlantic area and the periphery of the Alliance’). In effect, any kind of conflict situation (including ‘the disruption of the flow of vital resources’) within a region or even a single nation-state in this broadly defined geographical area, which would  directly or indirectly threaten the stability of the internationalised market economy, may be considered as threatening the Alliance, as article 24 makes clear:

Any armed attack on the territory of the Allies, from whatever direction, would be covered by Articles 5 and 6 of the Washington Treaty. However, Alliance security must also take account of the global context. Alliance security interests can be affected by other risks of a wider nature, including acts of terrorism, sabotage and organised crime, and by the disruption of the flow of vital resources. The uncontrolled movement of large numbers of people, particularly as a consequence of armed conflicts, can also pose problems for security and stability affecting the Alliance

In all these situations, article 31 declares,  ‘in pursuit of its policy of preserving peace, preventing war, and enhancing security and stability and as set out in the fundamental security tasks, NATO will seek in co-operation with other organisations, to prevent conflict, or, should a crisis arise, to contribute to its effective management, consistent with international law, including through the possibility of conducting non-Article 5 crisis response operations’ (article 31)

Although the above formulations imply that all members of NATO would take part in defining a ‘risk situation’ and in proposing the appropriate measures to be taken, it is obvious that, given the military hegemony of the US, generally recognised by the AMEs, it is basically the US elite which takes the responsibility of defending the New Economic Order. No wonder that the US Pentagon explicitly declared that "a prosperous, largely democratic, market-oriented zone of peace and prosperity that encompasses more than two-thirds of the world’s economy” requires the “stability” that only American “leadership can provide.[46] The same goal of ‘stability’ (i.e. pacification securing the integration of all countries into the internationalised market economy) was stressed with reference to the Balkans war, as Christopher Layne & Benjamin Schwarz  point out:

The belief that the U.S. must use military power to create a tranquil international environment in which trade can flourish is not an abstract concept… On March 23, the day before the bombing of Serbia began, President Clinton himself justified the impending air strikes by noting that “if we’re going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world, Europe has got to be a key. . . That’s what this Kosovo thing is all about.”…. As Cohen has said, the administration’s strategy seeks to “discourage violence and instability, which destroys lives and markets.”

But, for Layne & Schwarz what is even more frightening is the open-endedness of the new US commitments. Thus, the protection of the internationalised market economy and free trade, >depend on America’s overseas military commitments and power. But, as the authors emphasise, ‘according to U.S. >policymakers, the logic of global economic interdependence leads to the >proliferation of American security commitments, since instability and >aggression are regarded (even in places like Kosovo) as a threat to the >global stability upon which U.S. prosperity depends’. This thinking they conclude, is >similar to the domino theory that got US in so much trouble in Southeast Asia.

The Ideology of the New World Order: the doctrine of ‘limitl crisis.

However, the new element in the present crisis is that it is not only mainstream Greens who supported this crime. The important new element is that even supposed radical intellectuals of the ‘red-Green’ variety, like Alain Lipietz, the proponent of regulation theory (no less!), supported the NATO campaign, provided it was going to be accompanied by a ground attack! What is worse is that Lipietz, in endorsing the ‘just’ character of this criminal war, adopted the entire ideology of the New Order about the need for intervention (even using the elites’ murderous machines) to save the world from human rights violations, irrespective of national sovereignty considerations.

This brutal war may have an important beneficial effect: to make clear once and for all the division among the supporters, one way or another, of the New Order  and the radical opponents of it. It is clear that all those Green parties which supported the governments that carried out this criminal war, the  ‘intellectuals’ who legitimised it, as well as the Green parties in the European Federation which, instead of condemning those criminal Greens and expelling them from the Federation, just saw the war as a ‘policy error’, cannot claim anymore that they are part of a liberation movement.

It is therefore obvious, in the aftermath of this criminal war, that the Green movement is at a crucial crossroads: either it will become an element of the New Order, as it seems to be the dominant trend, and will be engaged in environmental ‘statecraft’ on behalf of the middle classes, or it will be a basic element of a new radical Left against the New Order and for the building of a new society which secures equal distribution of power. In the first case, this will be the end of the Green movement as a liberatory force, if not as a radical new social movement altogether. In the second case, the war will function as a catalyst within the green movement and the Left as a whole for the building of a new broad radical movement for political, economic and ecological democracy

To my mind, the outcome of this war will seal for many years to come the fate not just of the Greens but of the Left in general. I can see three distinct possibilities. The first possibility is that of a total NATO victory with minimal, if any, losses on their side. Such an outcome might have a catastrophically demoralising effect on the democratic Left. The elites of the AMEs will have shown their ability to crush at will not just any repressive regime but, by implication, any radical democratic movement bent on the radical transformation of society. The lethal combination of the formidable NATO war machine, the ‘intellectuals’ of the New Order and the elite-controlled media might create the impression of an invincible New Order which might thwart any effective challenge to it.  

The second possibility is that the war itself, irrespective of its outcome, may lead to the creation of a kind of popular ‘resistance front’ against the New Order, on the basis of a program (expressing the lowest common denominator of various trends), which however does not include any clear vision and strategy about the building of an alternative society. This is the strategy adopted by some organisations and intellectuals like Chomsky which, as I attempted to show elsewhere[56] not only leads to inconsistencies and contradictions but also to the marginalisation or the integration of such a movement into the existing institutional framework.

The third possibility is that the war may function as catalyst for the development of a new radical Left, which will explicitly question the institutional framework of the market economy and its political dimension, on the basis of a new liberatory project that would transcend both the barbaric existing capitalism as well as the failed former ‘actually existing socialism’, towards an inclusive democracy.




Takis Fotopoulos is a writer and the editor of Democracy and Nature; he is also a columnist for the Athens Daily Eleftherotypia. He was previously (1969-1989) Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of North London. His latest book is Towards An Inclusive Democracy--The Crisis of the Growth Economy and the Need for a New Liberatory Project (London & New York: Cassell, 1997). He is also the author of Dependent Development: The Case of Greece, The Gulf War: The First Battle in the North-South Conflict, The Neo-Liberal Consensus and the Crisis of the Growth Economy and The New World Order and Greece.

[1] Walter J. Rockler, ‘War Crimes Law Applies to U.S. Too’, Chicago Tribune , May 23, 1999

[2]  John Pilger, ‘Acts of Murder’, The Guardian, 18/5/99

[3] Michael Dobbs, ‘NATO’s Latest Target: Yugoslavia’s Economy’, Washington Post, 26/4/99

[4] Walter J. Rockler, ‘War Crimes Law Applies to U.S. Too’

[5] Walter J. Rockler, ‘U.S. Aggression’ A Letter to the Chicago Sun Times (reproduced in Znet, May 1999)

[6] Daily Terlegraph, 28/5/99

[7] See, for instance. John Pilger, ‘Acts of Murder’,

[8] S. Chaviaras, Eleftherotypia, 29/5/99

[9] See, for instance, print interview of April 8, 1999 with Noam Chomsky, Znet.

[10] See e.g. The New York Times, 1/11/1987

[11] Opinion of the Upper Admin. Court of Baden-Wurttemberg, February 4, 1999 (Az:A 14 S 22276/98)-see ‘Important Internal Documents From Germany’s Foreign Office Regarding Pre-Bombardment Genocide in Kosovo’ Znet reprinting from the German daily Junge Welt, 24/4/99 

[12] Opinion of the Upper Admin. Court at Munster, February 24, 1999 (Az:14A 3840/94.A)

[13] Opinion of the Upper Admin. Court at Munster, March 11, 1999 (Az:13A 3894/94.A) 

[14] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘The War in the Balkans and the Criminal Role of the Centre-Left’ Democracy & Nature, vol. 5 no 1 (March 1999) pp. 195-98.

[15] See e.g. John Pilger, ‘Acts of Murder’ and ‘The Diplomatic Scene’ by M. Albert on the basis of material made available by Noam Chomsky, Znet, 8/5/99

[16]  Washington Post, citing Western officials, 11/4/99

[17]  See independent testimonials mentioned in Regis Debray’s, ‘An Open letter to President Chirac’, Le Monde, 13/5/99

[18] Eve-Ann Prentice, The Times, 24/5/99

[19] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Mass Media and Western Totalitarianism’, Eleftherotypia, 28/4/99

[20] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Mass Media, Culture and Democracy’ Democracy & Nature, vol. 5 no 1 (March 1999) pp. 33-64

[21] Immanuel Wallerstein, ‘Bombs away’ Znet, 5/4/99

[22] Peter Gowan, ‘The NATO powers and the Balkan strategy’, New Left Review, March-April 1999, p. 105

[23] See e.g. Tariq Ali, ‘Springtime for NATO’, New Left Review, March-April 1999, p. 66

[24] See Takis Fotopoulos, The War in the Gulf:the first battle in the North-South Conflict (Athens: Exantas, 1991)

[25] Takis Fotopoulos, ‘The Catastrophe of Marketization’ (In this issue)

[26] Noam Chomsky, Print Interview, April 8 1999,

[27] Immanuel Wallerstein, ‘Bombs away’ Znet, 5/4/99

[28] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘The catastrophe of Marketization’ (in this issue)

[29] Takis Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy,  The Crisis of the Growth Economy and the need for a New Liberatory Project (London: Cassell, 1997) ch 1.

[30] Takis Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy, pp. 46-50

[31] International  Herald Tribune, February 16-19, 1999

[32] K. Ohmae, "The rise of the region state", Foreign Affairs, Spring 1993

[33]  Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation,  Beacon, 1944, p. 5

[34] Adrian Hamilton, The Observer, 25/2/96

[35] P. Hirst & G. Thompson, Globalization in Question, (Cambridge:Polity Press, 1996), p. 188

[36]  See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘The War in the Balkans and the Criminal Role of the Centre-Left’ Democracy & Nature, vol. 5 no 1 (March 1999) pp. 195-98.

[37] As Milovan Djilas put it, ‘the catastrophe for the Yugoslav ideal was that all of the communist elites in Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia, turned to nationalism to save themselves when the communist ideology began to decay in the early eighties after Tito’s death’ The Observer, 14/3/93

[38] Lenard J. Cohen, ‘Broken Bonds:Yugoslavia’s Disintegration and Balkan Politics in Transition’ quoted in ‘The Balkan War and Leftist Apologetics for the Milosevic regime by Harald Beyer-Arnesen, Oslo, Norway, 11/5/99

[39] Takis Fotopoulos, ‘The Catastrophe of Marketization’ (In this issue)

[40] Michel Chossudovsky ‘Dismantling Former Yugoslavia, Recolonising Bosnia’, Znet, April 1999

[41] Interim Agreement for Peace and Self-Government in Kosovo, 23/2/99, Ch. 4a, article 1.

[42] Clinton, for instance,  stressed the need for ‘encouraging trade and investment and helping the nations of the region join NATO and the European Union’ (W.J. Clinton, ‘A Just and Necessary War’, New York Times, 23/5/99). Similarly, Tony Blair declared in a meeting od fellow ‘socialists’ in Paris during the Euro-elections campaign that once ‘genocide’  is defeated ‘let us give this pledge to the people of the Balkans. We will help you build a future based on membership of the EU, of security within Nato, a future of prosperity and peace, not ethnic conflict." (Daily Telegraph, 28/5/99)

[43] Martin Walker, The Guardian, 1/6/99

[44] North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, The Alliance’s Strategic Concept, 24th April 1999

[45] Ben Macintyre, The Times, 26/4/99

[46] Christopher Layne & Benjamin Schwarz ‘>Making the World Safer for Business. > Instability and aggression are regarded as a threat to the global stability >upon which U.S. markets depend’ Los Angeles Times, 2/4/1999

[47] Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Mass Media, Culture and Democracy’, Democracy & Nature, vol. 5 no.1 , pp. 33-64

[48] Stephen R. Shalom, ‘Reflections on NATO and Kosovo’ New Politics, Summer 1999

[49] Financial Times, 28/5/99

[50] Daniel Cohn-Bendit, ‘Le recours, c’est la force’, Liberation, 6/4/99

[51] Alain Lipietz, ‘Ce qu’il faut savoir avant une guerre terrestre’, Liberation, 13/4/99

[51] John Pilger, The Guardian, 4/05/99 & 20/5/99 

[52] Niki, Kortvelessy, Franz Floss , European Federation of Green Parties, **Press Release** , May 1999

[53] Paul McGarr, ‘European Greens, Shades of Deep Khaki’, Socialist Worker, 23/4/99

[54] Takis Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy, pp. 36-38

[55] T. Fotopoulos, «Mass Media, culture and democracy»,  Democracy & Nature, vol. 5 no 1 (March 1999), pp. 33-64