“Arm Bosnia, Abolish NATO”?

Against the Current, No. 54, January/February 1995

Eric Hamell

YOUR EDITORIAL “BILL Clinton and Genocide” (ATC 51) was by and large excellent. You laid out a clear line of solidarity with the Haitian people through support for economic sanctions while opposing military intervention, and solidarity with Bosnia through the call to lift the arms embargo.

But there was a serious ambiguity in your slogan “Arm Bosnia, Abolish NATO.” The second part is a longstanding demand of our movement, whose morality as you noted is proven by recent events. But the first part leaves unanswered: Who should “arm Bosnia”?

Those steeped in our tradition will answer, “The international workers’ movement, to the best of its ability.” But many, less familiar with our politics, will assume we are calling on the U.S. and other Western governments to send arms.

This is dangerous, since any military aid from this source is bound to be directed to the most conservative forces in the Bosnian state, and used as leverage to exercise further political control. More generally, it fosters illusions in the capacity of imperialism to play a progressive military role anywhere in the world.

“Arm Bosnia” may be shorter and punchier than “Lift the Embargo, Organize Workers’ Aid”–but I’m convinced the latter slogan is much more correct.

ATC 54, January-February 1995