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by Mr. Barry Lituchy

Thursday, 4 April 1996

It was payback day in the former Yugoslavia.

In the biggest loss of American life since the U.S.-instigated civil war in Yugoslavia began, some 33 Americans died in a plane crash outside the port city of Dubrovnik as their U.S. military jet approached the city's airport on the Adriatic coast. On board were some 27 elite figures of the U.S. political, military, corporate, media and intelligence establishment, along with a military crew of six.

The most famous of those killed was U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. Brown, a long time Democratic Party faker, had been under continuous criminal investigation for years for illegally using his various political posts to build a massive fortune in the hundreds of millions of dollars in a long series of conflict of interest deals. Ron Brown was widely regarded by Washington observers as the single most corrupt individual in the Clinton administration.

Also among the dead are at least six military personnel, one State Department official (probably an intelligence operative), one translator, one N.Y. Times reporter, and at least ten top corporate executives, as well as an unknown number of "government officials." The identities of all those aboard will not be released until the ruling elites decide "the time is right." But that time may never come.

This accident offers us a unique opportunity to view a highly important but not normally observed aspect of U.S. imperialism close up. U.S. military and political power is used to help U.S. multi-national corporations control and exploit the world economy and impose their economic and political power on the peoples of the world. Moreover, this power is used in the interests of a single, elite socio-economic class. It is used against the interests of the majority of Americans and against the interests of the human race in general. However, it is rare that the public gets to see in the media the direct connections between American military aggression and the economic interests driving it.

The very fact that representatives of all segments of the American capitalist ruling class were on board this plane with a single economic objective dramatically illustrates the truth about U.S. imperialism far better than any theoretical treatise. The borders between the government, the corporations, the media and the military are non-existent when it comes to imposing U.S. military and economic power abroad. Their interests are those of a single socio-economic class. U.S. foreign policy always amounts to one thing: the rape of the world for the benefit of the tiny elites at the top of U.S. capitalist system. U.S. foreign policy is a class policy for plunder, violent aggression and exploitation on a global scale. These are the true inner workings of contemporary imperialism.

Indeed, not only are the borders between these various ruling class institutions seamless, but in fact the biographies of some of the deceased on board this plane neatly illustrate how these ruling elites are interconnected by revolving doors that allow military leaders, corporate execs or journalists to become government or intelligence officials, and vice versa, and always with ever greater loot.

Among the deceased take Charles Meissner. A former vice-president of Chemical Bank, Meissner also served on the World Bank, in the Treasury Department, in Congress, the diplomatic service, and finally the Commerce Department. Take Robert Donovan. Prior to his executive post with the electrical generator manufacturer Asea Brown Boveri Inc., Donovan served around the world as a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. military, including in Vietnam. Take Paul Cushman the 3d. Cushman's duties as executive vice-president and head of international banking for Riggs National Bank in Washington DC involved handling banking accounts for U.S. embassies in Europe. Take New York Times reporter Nathaniel Nash. As the financial reporter for the Times in the European financial capital of Frankfurt, Nash nurtured close ties with financial and corporate elites as well as with the U.S. government and intelligence agencies, with whom he had already had close ties as a result of his post in Latin America in the 1980's. Take Ron Brown himself. Throughout his career Brown hopped from government position to lobbyist and private business and back again. Now his hopping days are over.

The purpose of the ill fated trip was to ferry top corporate leaders across Yugoslavia, to seek out "business opportunities" and to present them to the new puppet regimes of Bosnia and Croatia put into power by the U.S. and Germany. The dead execs were conducted from place to place by top U.S. political and military brass, whose presence reminded the Croats and Muslims who's in charge, and guaranteed that the corporate bosses got whatever deals they wanted. Having secured the rise to power of these fascistic regimes in Croatia and Bosnia after five years of civil war, the U.S. expects to bring in swarms of these corporate vultures, and with full confidence of compliance say to the Croats and Muslims: "Listen up, boys, we want this, this and this. Sign here." A difference of opinion at this point is unthinkable. Puppets are easily replaced.

That's what the visit was about. But this important visit by U.S. corporate leaders would have never received the massive attention and scrutiny it deserves had these vultures not died in this crash.

Consider for a moment the types of corporations represented by the dead executives and what their intentions were. Robert Donovan of Asea Brown Boveri represented a company that manufactures electrical generator plants; Robert Whittaker and Leonard Pieroni represented multi-national heavy construction firms; P. Stuart Tholan represented the giant Bechtel construction firm specializing in oil production facilities; I. Donald Terner represented his housing construction business; Claudio Elia was the C.E.O. of Air and Water Technologies Corporation. The U.S. and Western sponsored war in Yugoslavia destroyed much of the infrastructure of Bosnia and parts of Croatia. Now these same countries will pour billions of our tax dollars into reconstructing it (not to the Serbs though!). But this money goes directly into the pockets of U.S. (and to a lesser extent other Western) corporations. It's a multi-billion dollar gravy train for the multi-nationals and their financial backers who will also control these assets in the future.

But guess what Yugoslavia's greatest export industry was before the war? That's right, construction. Communist Yugoslavia's construction industry was internationally renowned as one of the most cost efficient and technically competitive in the world. It won contracts for construction projects throughout the Third World. (An interesting example is the underground system of bunkers in Iraq which proved impenetrable to America's air strikes during the Gulf War and were built by a Yugoslav construction firm.) Now those firms will be shut out and shut down by U.S. firms. Yugoslav petroleum engineering firms were second to none in the world; they built facilities around the world. Now they too will displaced by U.S. corporations. Consider two other dead execs: Barry Conrad of Barrington Hotels and Walter Murphy of AT&T. Conrad was there to buy up at bargain prices hotel facilities in Bosnia and especially on the beautiful Adriatic coast. Murphy was there to take over and rebuild the former Yugoslav communications system.

All of these economic assets previously were built, owned and operated in Yugoslavia by the people of Yugoslavia for the benefit of the people of Yugoslavia. They were built by Yugoslav firms with Yugoslav technology and personnel and were publicly owned. As a result of U.S. military intervention, all that was created by several generations of Yugoslavs is now to be destroyed and replaced by enterprises owned and operated by U.S. or Western corporations for the benefit of the super-rich in those countries. Not only did Yugoslav firms build the infrastructure of their own country, but these corporations competed successfully on the world market for contracts in other countries with U.S. and Western multi-nationals, and were able to complete the same projects at a fraction of the cost. This alone was ample reason for U.S. imperialism to destroy socialist Yugoslavia and to partition it into several, economically unfeasible mini-states. Of course, had the U.S. really wanted to rebuild Yugoslavia they would have helped the peoples of Yugoslavia to rebuild their economy on their own -- but that's exactly what they don't want. Imperialism is a system for plundering the world and reducing other countries to a position of permanent economic dependency, backwardness and slavery. It's the reason why countries have (and need) socialist revolutions in the first place.

The U.S. and Western powers made the decision to destroy the multi-national state of Yugoslavia in 1989 when it became obvious that Yugoslavia would be the one country in Eastern Europe that would not voluntarily overthrow their socialist system and Communist political leadership. In other words, one of the richest territories of Eastern Europe would remain beyond the grasp of the capitalist multi-national corporations and financial elites whose main goal since World War II was nothing less than the recapturing and plundering of the socialized wealth and property of the Communist Eastern European countries.

Having achieved their objectives everywhere else in Eastern Europe, the U.S. and Germany could not accept the continued existence of a powerful, multi-national socialist country smack in the middle of Eastern Europe. They therefore poured hundreds of millions of dollars into right wing nationalist-secessionist political parties in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo to tear the country apart. Much more went to provide covert military shipments and intelligence operations. Another sizable amount went to supposedly "non-governmental" cultural institutions -- like the Soros Foundation, etc. -- which served similar purposes (the undermining and overthrow of the existing pro-socialist leaderships through propaganda).

Having overseen the destruction of Yugoslavia for the sake of capitalist restoration and the creation of fascistic mini-nation states in Croatia and Bosnia with puppet dictators controlled from Washington -- all at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives -- the time had come for the U.S. government to present their prize to their corporate bosses. Like a flock of flying vampires, America's financial and industrial executives were flown across the devastated land to decide how to carve up the economic assets and markets of the former Yugoslavia, to decide what they can plunder and how much more blood and profits they can suck out of the long suffering peoples of the Balkans. Only this time it was the bloodsuckers' blood that got spilled.

And how the bloodsuckers' media let out such a howl when their bosses died! It was a mournful howl heard round the world. Truly the howl of a beast that has been mortally wounded.

As usual, the American media immediately turned the truth upside down and inside out. Instead of admitting the obvious, that these corporate executives were not there for charity, but rather for material self-interest, the media spun a web of incredible lies. There were two whoppers in particular. The first was the "we want to re-build Bosnia" lie. On the day after the crash, a New York Times editorial called the Ron Brown junket "a mission of faith and hope." Once again the New York Times comes away with the Joseph Goebbels prize for excellence in big-lie journalism. Not only is the U.S. responsible for the Yugoslav civil war, but it is also responsible for destroying the economic achievements of three generations of Yugoslavs. The other big lie was the heroic portrayal of Ron Brown as a legendary civil rights activist and rags to riches phenomenon. Actually, the opposite is true. Brown came from a privileged background: his family had money and he attended the best prep schools in Westchester and then the exclusive private college of Middlebury. While some literally gave their lives during the sixties for the civil rights and anti-war movements, Brown went into the ROTC, became an Army officer and then a lawyer. He later amassed a fortune by illegal methods and became an advocate in the Clinton administration for rolling back the very same social and civil rights legislation the New York Slimes claims he championed. This is not the profile of a great man, but rather of a slick and despicable con artist.

To top it all off, the media even tried to hold off the inevitable news that all aboard were dead. No they weren't dead, said NBC, CBS and ABC, they were just "missing!" Oh, sure, that made sense. They were just hiding out somewhere. Actually, this kind of deliberate mind control by the media serves an extremely important psychological and political function for the ruling class in times of crisis in that it preserves the stability of the system. Too much bad news all at once can destabilize or paralyze the political and economic system. Thus, the media withholds as much bad news for as long as it can, letting it seep out only in drips and drabs, thereby preserving the status quo. For a comparison, consider how the media rushes to report the deaths of working people, foreigners or criminals in disasters, often in unsympathetic or even gloating ways. Rather than respect for life -- for which the media has none -- the cautious reporting of bad news is inspired only by a respect for power and self-interest.

Typically, one must always expect cover-ups by the media with mishaps like this. One detail that may be withheld from the public is whether the plane was shot down or blown up by Serbian or other Yugoslav forces. Contrary to the myth of a "free press," information not in the interests of the U.S. government is usually censored. Several Serbian shoot- downs of U.S. aircraft went unreported in 1994. A more notorious example was the shooting down of KAL 007 over the Soviet Union in 1984. The truth about how the Reagan administration organized this as a planned provocation against the Soviet Union went unreported for years. Likewise, the media covered up the fact that the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle in 1986 would never have happened had the Reagan administration not rushed the take-off so that it would coincide with Reagan's State of the Union Address the same day and thereby advance Reagan's reelection campaign. The examples are too numerous to cite here.

In a related news story, the Stock Market set new record highs on news of the plane crash in Croatia.

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o History of the Balkans

o Big powers and civil wars in Yugoslavia
(How was Yugoslavia dismantled and why.)

o Proxies at work
(Muslims, Croats and Albanians alike were only proxies of the big powers)

o The Aftermath

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Last revised: March 24, 1997