This Issue
Current Issue
Next Issue
Back Issues
Marxist Theory
Socialist History
Left Politics
Left Groups
New Interventions
Islamophobia Watch

Bosnia: A View From Argentina

Luis Oviedo

This article, entitled "Arms for Bosnia!", was published in the 8 October 1998 issue of Prensa Obrera, the weekly paper of the Partido Obrero, which is the only one of the four sizeable Trotskyist groups in Argentina that does not originate in the MAS (Movement for Socialism), founded by the late Nahuel Moreno. We are grateful to John Sullivan for providing us with a translation.

IN AUGUST 1993 the then MP, Luis Zamora,1 moved a resolution in parliament asking that "the Argentine government lifts the embargo and sends arms to the Bosnian Moslems" (Semanario Socialista, 25 August 1993). The demand was supported by MAS, the PTS and MST2 who had made the slogan "Arm the Bosnian Moslems!" their key demand in the war then raging in the Balkans.

The arms scandal has shown that Menem3 has more than fulfilled the demands of Zamora and the Morenoite parties: thousand of tons of Argentinian weapons have been given to the "Bosnian Moslems". If the MAS, MST or PTS were at all consistent they would now be organising a mass demonstration in support of Menem, Emir Yoma and Di Tella for having "evaded" the imperialist embargo and followed what is, for them, the highest expression of internationalism: armed support for Bosnian independence.

The discomforture of those "masters of internationalism" could not be greater. It turns out that Menem sent the arms to the "Bosnian Moslems" and their Croatian allies at the request of the American government. We learn this from a long report in Clarin4 of 4 October which confirms all the allegations that have been made since Argentinean weapons appeared in the Balkans. The story says "Argentina provided arms to Croatia and to the Bosnian Moslems at the express request of Washington [...] in other words, they did the ’dirty work’ which Washington needed". American imperialism thought this work so important that "the sending of arms was linked to the later decision to allow Argentina to become an associate member of NATO".

That shows that Bosnian independence – which the Morenoists present as an "internationalist" demand was only one of the alternatives which American imperialism deployed during the war. It was also the solution which was finally imposed: the Bosnian republic, born as a result of the infamous Dayton agreement, is today a toy state occupied by NATO forces and completely subordinate to imperialism.

The Menem government, was clearly acting as an instrument of imperialism in the Balkans in carrying out the Morenoist demands in full. The Partido Obrera did not need to know about the arms smuggling to realise that "the demand [’Arm the Bosnian Muslims’!] was really a plea for imperialist intervention in the Balkans, just at the time when the key socialist demand should have been ’Imperialism out of Yugoslavia’" (Prensa Obrera, 19 October 1993).

There is no hope that that the MAS, the MST or the PTS – or their factions and sub-factions – will admit that their positions when faced with the break-up of Yugoslavia and the war in Bosnia were objectively pro-imperialist. The most that we can expect of them is that they follow the advice Menem gave to his ministers who were involved in the arms scandal: "keep your mouths shut".

Editorial Notes

1. Luis Zamora was the MAS’s MP.

2. The PTS and the MST are respectively left- and right-wing splits from the MAS.

3. The Argentinian President.

4. A Buenos Aires daily.