Globalization = Militarization = Ramboization
Interview with Maria Mies on the War against Yugoslavia and its Aftermath
[Maria Mies, feminist scholar and author, interprets the war against Yugoslavia as a consequence of neoliberal globalization policy.. Under the term "ramboization", she explains the reasons for the increasing brutality of warfare. This violence is not only limited to Yugoslavia or non-European states. The consequences are also clearly visible in western Europe. This interview originally published in: ak - analyse & kritik, Journal for Leftist Debate and Praxis, September 23, 1999 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, www.akweb.de.]
ak: According to statements of NATO representatives and politicians responsible for the war against Yugoslavia, the enforcement of human rights was central. This was a war directed against persecution, expulsion and rape of the Kosovo-Albanian population. What do you say to this argument which has partly succeeded in introducing "humanitarian intervention" instead of war in the public debate?
Maria Mies: The Orwellian newspeak about "humanitarian interventions" is necessary to promote acceptance of worldwide offensive wars. After the end of the East-West conflict, NATO - and the military-industrial complex - needed a new strategy and a new legitimation for further arms production and wars. National or regional defense can no longer suffice in a global in a global economic system. Rather the interests of transnational corporations must be protected. For such out-of-area deployments - now they are called crisis-reaction deployments - other "humanitarian" or "civil" justifications must be given to the people and the soldiers only when such "humanitarian wars" are rewarding. For example, this was not the case in Ruanda or in the Congo where there were similar "humanitarian catastrophes" as in Kosovo.
This "humanitarian" newspeak not only veils the real causes of war and the introduction of a simple black-white pattern to justify wars but also instrumentalizes human compassion and even feminist outrage about rapes for the justification of such wars.
The Pentagon pursues this ideological warfare by speaking very officially of "rogue states" and "rogues" which must be taught a lesson by the "good" US or NATO. In Germany, this system functions very well when these "rogues" are compared with Hitler.
Ak: You titled your address "Globalization - Militarization - Ramboization: the right to plunder and kill" at a demonstration against "The new world military order". Does the capitalist world economic order which has long been described with the slogan "globalization" presently cohere with a militarization and a "ramboization"?
Maria Mies: The war in Yugoslavia has nothing to do with humanitarian reasons. It is the direct consequence of neoliberal globalization policy which has already led to similar so-called ethnic conflicts, expulsions and mass murders in many countries. These are consequences of the collapse of the national economy everywhere. This collapse is caused by the austerity policy which the World Bank and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) imposes on these countries for the "recovery" of their economies. In Somalia, Ruanda, Peru, Columbia and now in Yugloslavia, so-called "ethnic" or religious reasons are cited why a part of the impoverished population suddenly explodes against another part. Strictly speaking, the young men of different segments of the population band together and begin to terrorize and even massacre their fellow human beings. These "genocides" would not explode if these young men had no weapons or money to buy such weapons. In the case of the UCK, this money comes from the drug trade and organized crime. The weapons come largely from Germany.
This direct armament of young men is accompanied by what Cynthia Enloe calls the "ramboization" of men. The construction of the new male identity is modeled after Rambo who claims the right to kill because he has the superior weapons. Since men in most of these impoverished countries cannot do anything socially useful anymore, they are given rifles and then are men again. This is not different for the NATO soldiers in Yugoslavia. In the globalized high-tech economy, there is hardly anything useful for them to do. The micro-electronic "revolution" makes them more and more superfluous. What is left is war. War creates jobs and makes "men" out of "boys". During the bombardments, Germany was described as "adult" through participation in the NATO war.
When NATO "intervenes" to "bring peace" to "ethnic conflicts", we face again the old colonial pattern: 1. The divide-and-conquer principle, 2. The occupation of the land as a peace-keeping and civilization mission, 3. The promotion of the military-industrial complex since "war is good for the economy" as the economist Hazel Henderson said after the Gulf war. This war drew the US out of recession. Presumably Schroder and German industry expect similar blessings from the Balkan war. First Yugoslavia must be thoroughly destroyed by bombs so that a Marshall plan can arise. That the rebuilding will be done by German firms goes without saying. The "peace troops" in Kosovo will enforce the neoliberal agenda for the next 30 years over the whole Balkan region as provided in the Rambouillet treaty.
Ak: Do not women in western countries also profit though to a lesser extent than men from the international division of labor reflected in a clear political, economic and military dominance of these lands?
Maria Mies: Women of the rich lands and classes naturally profit from such colonial wars like the current war in the Balkans. This was true a hundred years ago. For this reason, woman have supported colonial wars. It has become increasingly clear that women in the rich countries ultimately cannot expect anything from the combination globalization - militarization - ramboization. Not only will they be made "call girls of the global market" like the women of the South and East (of the low-wage countries) but they will also experience more and more ramboization in everyday life. The "private" violence against women has intensified in all our countries. The truth of our slogan "peace in patriarchy means war against women" is clearer today than ever. The war logic cannot be clinically restricted to "out-of-area actions". Many women report that their husbands were far more brutal when they returned from war operations.
Ak: The relative social strengths are hard for system-oppositional circles, for social movements that are in no way necessarily radical social movements going to the roots and for engagement in the base. What perspectives result? What hopes do they have despite an often deplored misery - an inversion of terms, an increasing depolitization and so forth - to attain their goals, encourage critical debates and meet with enthusiastic response among many people?
Maria Mies: On one hand, the times are bad for system opposition. When the "democratically secured license to plunder" (MAI) is supplemented by the "democratically legitimated" "license to kill" (new NATO strategy), when parties which arose out of the peace movement and out of the struggle for socialism declare wars contrary to international law "legitimate", then it becomes difficult to find a place for social protest movements. The adoption of NATO war propaganda by the media has destroyed what we call the "critical public".
On the other side, a system that depends on such wars and such lies is not only morally but politically and economically at an end. What democracy meant in the past has already been destroyed by the MAI and even more by the Balkan war. This situation presses to a much more radical rethinking or shift in thinking than was necessary before. This is clear today to people who earlier were hardly interested in politics. What is most important is presently a thorough enlightenment abut the economic backgrounds of this and other wars in the global context. We need a kind of economic literacy. People must understand that capitalism from the beginning rested on a war logic. Only that these wars are now raging (again) in Europe is new.
A new public must arise which no longer depends on the interests of large corporations. This is already possible through international networks of many movements which all urge a radical turning away from neoliberalism.