The Independence of Kosovo

“Threatening the Foundations of a World Order”

Russia has repeatedly made it very clear that it will not recognize nor accept an independent Kosovo but rather uphold Serbia’s historic claim to the province.

Recall how World War I broke out after a Serbian nationalist assassinated the Austro-Hungarian archduke in 1914 in Sarajevo, Bosnia. When the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, Russia came to the defense of its ally. The alliance system kicked in; Germany and the Ottoman Empire joined the Austro-Hungarian, while France and Britain joined Russia. That system is long gone, but the relationship between Russia and Serbia, deeply rooted in ethnic and religious ties, should not be taken lightly.

Recall how Bill Clinton’s big war was “Operation Allied Force,” conducted by a somewhat reluctant NATO at U.S. insistence in 1999. Building upon NATO’s “Operation Deliberate Force” targeting Serbian fighters in Bosnia four years earlier, it resulted in the aerial bombing of a European capital (Belgrade) for the first time since 1945. Human Rights Watch concluded in 2000 that between 488 and 527 Yugoslav civilians were killed as a result of the bombing, which forced Belgrade to obey Washington and withdraw its troops from the heart of the Serbian homeland.

That heart, of course, is Kosovo. Since the seventh century, when the Serbs pressing eastward from Dalmatia established themselves in the old Roman province of Upper Moesia, Kosovo has been the spiritual core of the Serbian nation. The Serbs have shared it with others, notably Albanians, and the Serbian gene pool is itself complex and changing over time. But Serbian identity was shaped by the Battle of Kosovo Polje (The Field of Blackbirds) against the Ottoman Turks in 1389, in which both Serbian King Lazar and the Ottoman sultan Murad were killed. Modern historians differ about whether this was a draw or heroic defeat of the Serbs; nationalist mythology depicts it as the latter.

During over four centuries of Muslim Turkish rule the Serbs preserved their Orthodox religious identity, maintaining the Gracanica Monastery and at least half a dozen other religious centers which have survived from the fourteenth century to the present day — threatened though they have been in recent years by desecration, vandalization and destruction.

On Sept. 13, 1999, the Church of Saints Cosma and Damian, built in 1327, was obliterated by a bomb blast. The initials of the Kosovo Liberation Army were painted at the site. By that time some 20 Serbian religious sites had been blown up, including the Dormition of Mother of God parish church, built in 1315. Another 40 others had been attacked or looted. All of this took place after Serbia’s capitulation to Washington in June 1999, and the arrival of the NATO-led “peacekeeping force” (Kosovo Force; KFOR) presiding over NATO’s new protectorate. KFOR, currently 16,000 strong in a province of two million, has provided some protection for Serbian holy sites; in June 1999 French troops prevented the rape and murder of nuns and a priest at Devic Monastery after the fifteenth century structure had been desecrated and looted by KLA militants. But NATO basically empowered and legitimated forces that proceeded to destroy or desecrate over 70 churches or monasteries by October 1999 (21 in the U.S. zone of responsibility). Meanwhile more than 200,000 Serbs fled the province. During the summer of 1999, 40,000 Serbs fled Pristina.

The destruction continued; 35 sites were attacked in 2004. Last March Decani Monastery (founded in 1327) came under mortar attack. Such incidents are seen by Serbs as not only as assaults on their culture and history but efforts to erase that history.

Some Albanians claim that they were the original inhabitants of Kosovo, a land four-fifths the size of Connecticut. They claim descent from the ancient Illyrians who inhabited the area from about the fourteenth century BCE. It appears as likely they migrated from what is now Albania during the Ottoman period, coming to outnumber the Serbs. One hundred years ago, however, migration into the region brought the Serb population up to the level of the ethnic Albanian: 50/50. Thereafter the greater Albanian birthrate reduced the Serb population to a mere 10% of the total. Following the ethnic cleansing of the last decade, the figure’s down to maybe 4%.

Kosovo was the poorest region in Tito’s Yugoslavia, but it enjoyed the status of an autonomous province and was treated as a de facto republic in accordance with Tito’s philosophy that “Weak Serbia equals strong Yugoslavia.” Following Tito’s death in 1980, there were large demonstrations demanding full republic status. When ethnic Serbs were targeted, the little-known politician Slobodan Milosevic postured as defender of Kosovo’s Serbs. As president of Serbia, he (foolishly) withdrew Kosovo’s autonomy in 1989, provoking Albanian protests and the formation of the KLA in 1995. The KLA targeted police, army and civil officials, taking control of about one-quarter of the province.

Belgrade hesitated for several years before taking firm action against the KLA. After the rebels failed to seize the town of Orahovac in the summer of 1998, it launched an offensive, regaining control of almost all the province. At this point Washington became actively involved. President Clinton had sent a special envoy, Robert Gelbard, to the region in February 1998. At that time he stated that the KLA was, “without any questions, a terrorist group” in Washington’s view. Indeed the State Department had concluded it was a heroin-financed terrorist group with some ties to al-Qaeda (Washington Times, May 4, 1999). A few months later, however, Gelbard was meeting with KLA leaders; the organization was soon removed from Washington’s terror list. Later that year another U.S. special envoy to Kosovo, Richard Holbrooke, was photographed with KLA leaders, further encouraging their violent secessionist movement.

Yugoslavia (“land of the southern Slavs) had been a peaceful, nonaligned nation with cordial relations with both the Soviet bloc and the West for decades. But from 1991 the federation began to fall apart. First Slovenia declared independence. The U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker, was unhappy with the move thinking (correctly) that it would lead to regional destabilization. But reunited, powerful Germany encouraged the breakup. Croatia and Macedonia followed suite, then Bosnia-Herzegovina descended into civil war. Washington recognized Bosnian independence in 1994. Accusing Serbian forces of atrocities, NATO bombed Bosnia in August and September 1995, paving the way for the Dayton Agreement in November and the deployment of NATO forces in Bosnia. Now Bill Clinton and his Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, accustomed to making demands and being obeyed, demanded that Milosevic cease his offensive against the KLA. He did.

Following a ceasefire in October 1998, by agreement with Milosevic, peace monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) arrived in Kosovo. But the ceasefire broke down with a few months. Washington then demanded that Milosevic withdraw his troops from Kosovo. That is to say, it demanded that a sovereign state remove its troops from one of its provinces where a group the U.S. had earlier termed “terrorist” was waging a war for secession.

Washington summoned the “Contact Group” (including the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Russia) as well as Belgrade and Albanian secessionist representatives to Rambouillet, France in February and March 1999. The “Rambouillet Accords” were signed by all parties — except for Yugoslavia and Russia. The agreement specified that Kosovo would obtain autonomy but remain part of Serbia. That was the one concession to Belgrade, and an initial cause for the KLA representatives to balk. But the separatists were won over, no doubt realizing that they would gain independence in time. (They just declared that, with Washington’s approval, February 17.)

The Accords dictated that Belgrade accept a NATO force with liberty to act throughout the territory of Yugoslavia. It was a demand no sovereign state could accept. A top French official accused the U.S. of behaving like a hyper-puissance (“hyper-power”); NATO itself was divided and disturbed by U.S. demands. (The Spaniards, Italians and Greeks in particular were troubled about the NATO bombing of Belgrade.) Washington was calling for an organization founded to defend Western Europe from Soviet attack to intervene in a friendly, non-threatening country, to force it to accept further dismemberment. From March 24 to June 10 NATO air forces, including the German Luftwaffe deployed for the first time since 1945, bombed Yugoslavia.

I didn’t think at the time that Clinton’s actions resulted from some geo-strategic designs on Kosovo. (There’s not that much there, other than lots of coal.) But had he done nothing, and the violence continued, he would have been criticized for failing to use American power (“to prevent genocide”) and left the door open for other interested parties (Germany) to take unilateral action. He had to rally NATO to send a message to the world that the U.S. remained the leader and policeman of the western camp. Ongoing chaos in the Balkans would have suggested that the U.S. was sloughing off the responsibilities of power. Strong action would signal allies, as well as the Russian Federation, that the U.S. facing an increasingly united and competitive Europe could continue to deploy NATO in pursuit of its own aims. (Similarly the use of NATO in Afghanistan after 9-11 has served to bind the alliance around a U.S.-dictated agenda, while the public in member states increasingly questions the value and logic of the mission.)

We associate the Bush administration and its neocons with the systematic dissemination of disinformation designed to justify war. But the Clinton administration used the same tactic as it prepared to bomb Yugoslavia. There were horror stories about “ethnic cleansing,” and Yugoslav government forces’ attacks on innocent Kosovar Albanians. Defense Secretary William Cohen, echoed Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), and former Sen. Bob Dole accused Belgrade of “genocide.” “We’ve now seen about 100,000 military-aged men missing… They may have been murdered,” warned Cohen. “There are indications genocide is unfolding in Kosovo,” declared State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin.

But German reports told a different story. Four German court opinions from October 1998 to March 1999; two Foreign Office intelligence reports in January 1999; and one report from the Foreign Office to the Administrative Court in Mainz in March 1999 all challenged such accusations. According to the Opinion of the Upper Administrative Court at Munster (March 11, 1999), “Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo have neither been nor are now exposed to regional or countrywide group persecution in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.”

After the glorious victory of NATO over Yugoslavia, it was discovered that as few as 2,108 people were actually killed in the province during 1998-9 before the bombardment began. Quite likely more Serbs have been killed by Albanians than vice versa since 1998. The “genocide” charge (reminiscent of the rhetoric of those urging U.S. intervention in Darfur) had been exaggerated, if not contrived; the depiction of Milosevic as a “new Hitler” (reminiscent of the hysterical characterization of Saddam Hussein) equally overblown.

Washington got what it wanted, almost. It destroyed the Yugoslav state, hauled Milosevic to a kangaroo court at the Hague (where after enhancing his reputation among Serbs by a spirited defense, he died of a heart attack), and planted NATO in what had once been proudly nonaligned European territory. But in the closing days of NATO’s war on Yugoslavia in June 1999 Russia dispatched troops based in Bosnia to Kosovo’s capital of Pristina, where they took control of the airport. It was a clear statement that Russia would not concede total control of the former Yugoslavia to NATO. It shocked Madeleine Albright, and disturbed Gen. Wesley Clark enough to order an airborne assault on the Russians. But the British general heading the NATO force at the time, Michael Jackson, told Clark: “Sir, I’m not starting World War Three for you.”

Thus the Russians were included in the post-bombing “peace-keeping” mission in Kosovo and have since been regarded as the protectors of the remaining Serbs in the Serbian province. Their opposition to Kosovo’s independence might be perceived as a slight irritation in Washington among those eager to establish a new client state and drag it into NATO. But this move comes on the heels of U.S. meddling in Georgia, Belarus, and the Ukraine, the relentless eastward expansion of NATO, and moves to locate missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. The Russian government is in effect saying: “Look, you intervene at will in Latin America, forming and toppling governments as you will, arguing it’s necessary for your ‘national security.’ We who have been invaded many times from the west have legitimate reasons to support our friends in the Balkans, including the Serbs whom you’ve maligned and mistreated disgracefully. Do you really think you can just wrench away a province from a Slavic country friendly to us, through brutal military force, and expect us to take it lying down?”

I have the feeling that Washington blew it here — and that there will be some blowback. It is all very nice for a people comprising 90% of the inhabitants of a land to form their own state after decades of aspiration and (under Milosevic) undeniable national oppression. But look at this video on Youtube. Watch the young Albanian try to rip down the cross from a burning Serbian church in March 2004. Look at this one of the gutted interior of the Manastir Devic monastery, built up in 1434 and torched in March 2004. Or this, showing an ancient Serbian cemetery desecrated in April 2005. One can find equally ugly images of Serbian actions no doubt, and both Kosovar-Albanian nationalism and Serbian nationalism retain the potential for further destruction. But the leadership in Pristina hoisted into power by U.S. action looks especially unsavory and apt to produce disaster.

The leadership of the newly declared nation of Kosovo is rooted in the KLA; Hashim Thaçi, the new Prime Minister, was a member of its inner circle. The Government of Serbia alleges that he met with Osama bin Laden in Tirana in 1995. He has been accused of connections with the Albanian, Czech and Macedonian mafia, and of membership in the Drenica Group, controlling 10-15% per cent of criminal activities in Kosovo including arms smuggling, car theft, prostitution and illegal trafficking in oil and cigarettes.

Yugoslav courts in 1997 and 1998 found him guilty of terrorism charges, including attacks on Serbian policemen, but he was a Kosovar Albanian representative at the Rambouillet talks. With the disbanding of the KLA in 1999 he became head of largest party in Kosovo, the Democratic Party. Meanwhile former KLA members have become involved in ethnic Albanian insurgencies elsewhere in the Presevo Valley in Serbia and in Macedonia. (The Albanian population in Macedonia is now about 25% of the total.) An “Albanian National Liberation Army of Macedonia” waged war on Macedonian security forces until the Ohrid Agreement was signed in August 2001, meeting some of its demands. Another armed group headed by Avdil Jakupi (“Commander Cakalla”) was formed in 2003, while another, led by Agim Krasniqi, held a village outside Skopje for six months in 2004.

Those dreaming of a “Greater Albania” (optimally to include Albania, Kosovo and other parts of Serbia, and parts of Macedonia, Montenegro and Greece), taking heart at Kosovar independence, may redouble their efforts throughout the region. There are potential religious dimensions to Albanian nationalism; while the Albanians (like Bosnians) are overwhelmingly secular Muslims, the product of generations of atheistic education in Albania and Yugoslavia, they are indeed Muslims. So there are now, aside from Turkey, two Muslim European countries: Albania and Kosovo. (Bosnia-Hezegovina’s Muslim population is under 50%). The Saudis, Kuwaitis and others have been pouring money into mosque construction in Albania and Kosovo, encouraging fundamentalist forms of Islam. The Saudi Joint Committee for the Relief of Kosovo has repaired 190 damaged mosques in Kosovo and the Saudis have built mosques there. (One, for a time, was actually named the Bin Laden Mosque.)

Whether intended to do so or not, these efforts to spread Salafi-style Islam dovetail with al-Qaeda’s efforts to exploit instability in the Balkans. The organization was active in Bosnia during the war in the early ’90s, and surely endorses the idea of “Greater Albania” and a jihad to realize it. What better vehicle for the propagation of its ideology than an ethnic-based web of insurgencies coordinated from Kosovo?

That’s one blowback possibility traceable to NATO’s 1999 war and events in Kosovo in its aftermath. Another is the emboldening of the Albanian regime in Tirana. Serbia has indicated that it will now beef up security in the Serb-majority areas of what it continues to consider its province. Some might see this as an effort to divide Kosovo. Albanian Foreign Minister Besnik Mustafaj declared in March 2006, “If Kosovo is divided, we can no longer guarantee its borders with Albania, or the border of the Albanian part of Macedonia.” In other words, Albania might take military action to do some regional re-dividing itself, backed up, perhaps, by Turkey.
Meanwhile Vladimir Putin, shrewd and careful, considers how to use this blow to pan-Slavic pride to revive Russian influence in the Balkans. His Foreign Ministry declares that Kosovo’s claim to independence threatens “the foundations of a world order that has developed over decades.” That is true of course. Even before Bush and his neocons came to power Washington was playing with those foundations, gleefully undermining them, flushed with post-Cold War triumphantalism. Time and again there has been blowback.

NATO, as military historian Andrew J. Bacevich has recently written, is in its twilight. Secretary of Defense Gates complains about European lack of zeal in pursuing the enemy in Afghanistan. This of course reflects European public opinion that now sees Afghanistan as a fruitless counterinsurgency mission imposed on Europe by Washington on the heels of other questionable missions resulting from U.S. policy.

The U.S., deeply bogged down in Southwest Asia, has left the Europeans holding the ball in Bosnia; Germany contributes 800 of the 3000 European Union Force (EUFOR) peacekeeping troops. The 16,000-strong KFOR in Kosovo includes 2,567 Italians, 2,374 Germans and 2,269 French troops (but only 1,456 U.S.) Having invaded Iraq, the U.S. urged NATO countries to send troops, and Britain continues to oblige with some 4,500. Others with sizeable commitments (such as Spain, with 1,300; the Netherlands, with 1345; and Italy, with 3,300), have all withdrawn from Iraq.

In Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) consists of 28,600 troops trying to stabilize a country the size of Texas with a population of 30 million. The U.S. supplies 15,000 troops; the UK, 7,800; Germany, 3,210; Italy, 2,880; Canada, 2,500; the Netherlands, 1,650; France, 1,515; Poland, 1,100. ISAF military fatalities have increased every year since 2003 (57) to 2007 (232) as the Taliban has revived.

Public opinion in Canada and Germany has turned decisively against the Afghan deployments. Last year a poll conducted by the German magazine Focus found that 63% of Germans believe the current deployment in northern Afghanistan does not serve German interests and 84 percent of Germans oppose sending combat troops to the south as requested by the U.S. In a Canadian poll last May, 55% of respondents favored a pullout from Afghanistan, while 67% agreed that the presence of Canadian troops there makes Canada more vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

U.S. allies weary of efforts to drag them into U.S. wars. U.S. imperialism confronts something of a crisis as its partners rethink where their real interests lie. The GDP of the EU now exceeds the U.S. figure. The euro is much stronger than the dollar. People everywhere hate the U.S. government, which they associate with war-promoting lies and general savagery. Bush is out of political capital, domestically and internationally, as Kosovo announces its independence, made possible by U.S. lies and bloody intervention, “threatening,” as the Russians put it, “the foundations of a world order.”

Everything dies eventually. Hitler’s “New Order in Europe,” Japan’s “New Order in East Asia,” George H. W. Bush’s “New World Order” proclaimed as he launched the first Gulf War in 1990. The present world order is profoundly unfair and deserves to be threatened, by the right people, with a better alternative. But the assault on Yugoslavia in 1999 brought nothing positive; rather, more intolerance and suffering, more ethnic cleansing. A new regime emerges, applauded by its American sponsors and most of the EU (but rejected by Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Bulgaria). It is wrapped in smoke, in a legacy of smoldering churches. Smells like the cremation of a world order.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu. Read other articles by Gary.

23 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Adnan said on February 19th, 2008 at 12:02pm #

    Prof. Leupp,

    It was Slovenia, then Croatia, then Bosnia, then Macedonia, then Montenegro, then Kosovo, then it will be Vojvodina. Have you ever asked yourself why all those people wanted to run away from Serbia?
    This is just one example how nice those Serbs were to my city Sarajevo, which they keept under siege for 3 and half years 1992-1995:
    11,000 citizens killed
    1,601 kids killed
    50,000 citizens wounded
    329 shells lobbed daily (average)

    Adnan

    P.S. You might be better off to stick with Japanes history!

  2. Gary Leupp said on February 19th, 2008 at 12:59pm #

    Thanks for your suggestion that I “stick with Japanes [sic] history,” Adnan. But I think in these troubled times people paying attention need to comment on things outside their own field of expertise.

    You are from Sarajevo, and present yourself as such as someone who can validly vilify “those Serbs” who caused “Croatia, then Bosnia, then Macedonia, then Montenegro, then Kosovo,” and (you predict) Vojvodina to “run away from Serbia.”

    Well Adnan, I have a good friend as it happens who was among the defenders of Sarajevo (a guerrilla commander) when it fell under Serbian attack. And I have Bosnian friends in my community who get along well with expatriate Croats and Serbs, all looking back at the history of Yugoslavia with a kind of nostalgia.

    The issue here is not some unique Serbian evil, but the systematic dismemberment of what was once a secular, peaceful, multinational state orchestrated by outside forces, producing much suffering. I suggest in my column that the unilateral, US-brokered declaration of independence by Kosovo will produce more suffering. Can you find no better argument in opposition to that (and in favor of the generalized vilification of Serbs) than your list of statistics?

  3. Adnan said on February 19th, 2008 at 2:17pm #

    No, you are wrong, issue here is Serbian evil! Those who can kill, rape, expel, rob their best friends and neighbors are evil.

    Of course, history does not lack similar evil doers, but in a case of Yugoslavia Milosevic and Serbs like him dismembered it.

  4. Gary Leupp said on February 19th, 2008 at 2:29pm #

    Serbians are evil, you say. All of them?

    Is this, in your view, genetic? And how would you like to resolve the issue, Adnan?

  5. maryb said on February 19th, 2008 at 3:10pm #

    Mr Leupp Congratulations on this. I have been reading various articles that all seem to agree that the US was behind the EU push for Kosovo’s ‘independence’, the theme being the presence of Camp Bondsteel (shades of Bond 007 here?) and their need to secure oil and gas pipelines. New gasfields are being discovered in adjacent Albania and there will be rich pickings. I see on Uruknet today that Stephan Lendman concurs and lists other reasons for the strategic importance to the US of creating this puppet state , in which field they have long global experience.
    http://uruknet.info/?p=m41297&s1=h1

    PS I expect you have viewed Camp B0ndsteel on Google maps. Some of the site is obscured for whatever reason. Perhaps there is something they don’t want us to see. It is absolutely massive .

  6. D.R. Munro said on February 19th, 2008 at 4:08pm #

    Adnan, you are soundingly increasingly ignorant. Generalizations start wars. Generalizations start genocides. Generalizations like the one you just made.

    There are bad Serbs. There are bad Albanians. There are bad people everywhere, but to call an entire group of people “bad” is laughable and a perfect example of why things never change.

    Stop hating. Start forgiving. If you, the people, allow this to turn into a centuries long struggle of invisible borders – then it will.

    There is no denying the fact that some people were screwed over by NATO, the EU, and the US – and still are everyday – but you cannot beat the United States, the EU, and NATO in a combined force. Won’t happen, might as well preserve your own life.

  7. maryb said on February 20th, 2008 at 4:56am #

    I had been reading about the reasons behind the EU/NATO US led push for Kosovo’s independence and find them neatly listed in Stephen Lendman’s article on Global Research
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8129)

    He concurs with some of the connections and observations you have made Professor Leupp.

  8. maryb said on February 20th, 2008 at 4:59am #

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8129)

    Stephen Lendman concurs with some of the connections and observations you have made Professor Leupp.

  9. Adnan said on February 20th, 2008 at 9:48am #

    Gary and D.R.,

    Please read my response before you answer, I said:

    “Of course, history does not lack similar evil doers, but in a case of Yugoslavia Milosevic and Serbs like him dismembered it.”

    I never said that there are no good Serbs, like nobody can say thet there were no good Germans, or that there are no good Israelis, or that there are no good Americans… But facts prove that percentage of good people in all these cases is very, very, very small.

    Almost 50% of those nice Serbs voted for fascist candidate in presidental elections few weeks ago, and you can see in these photos how polite and civilesed they are:
    http://www.dnevniavaz.ba/multimedija/foto-galerije/beograd-u-haosu

    Or you might want to read articles by Petar LUKOVIĆ, serbian journalist from Belgrade.

    Adnan

  10. hp said on February 20th, 2008 at 10:58am #

    Gary, don’t you mean Kosova?

  11. John Wilkinson said on February 20th, 2008 at 11:40am #

    It’s true, the reader above never said all Serbs were evil, read what was said. Just like the article, jumping to conclusions based on hypotheses and what you want to believe to fit your neat theories of the world. And, as a part-Serb myself, I can say that if the reader has been through shelling and hells of war, lost their friends/relatives, etc., that person is entitled to say whatever he/she thinks, your trying to get them to be “rational” about it all and see the light (your light) comes off as a little callous.

    Yes, it’s true, in my opinion, based on what I’ve seen firsthand, etc., we Serbs did commit a vast majority of heinous war crimes in the 90s; it’s immoral to say otherwise. And throughout history, there were different perpetrators and victims in the Balkans; the cycle of violence never stops. What many Serbs fail to see — still, is that they were screwed over and victimized not by the Americans, not by the Europeans, not by their neighbors who were actually the victims, but by their own corrupt, greedy elite, who became fabulously rich as a result of these wars.

    And yes, it’s true, in election after election in Serbia, the party that advocates violence against others and extreme nationalism (the war-enriched elite from the above), gets a large fraction of the vote.

    And yes, it’s true, that all these different nations — the Slovenes, the Croats, the Bosnians, etc., rejected the Serbian hegemony one by one, yet the Serbs maintain that, all these different peoples who have nothing in common with each other, somehow share some common flaw of somehow irrationally hating the Serbs. Not that they have a common grievance about how the country was run (Yugoslavia) — putting to lie your assertion that somehow the Serbs’ concerns were minimized (they — we (I am one of “them” and I lived in Serbia at the time) had THREE votes in the parliament, everybody else had ONE vote). I have traveled in all those countries, and can say that, while there are exceptions, nothing can be further from the truth (the irrational hate of the Serbs) — even now.

    This is just a sampling of my comments — there are many things in that article which raise my eyebrows, I don’t know if I have the time to write about them all.

    So, discounting all those dead — whole families slaughtered, and I am talking hundreds of thousands of people (yes, some Serbs among them, no question about that), that’s OK, that’s moral, just so you can make some (very shaky) point about your (my — since I live in the US now) own govt. (And yes, there are many REAL points you could make about the US govt., based on REAL, as opposed to imaginary and half-baked, FACTS). But I can’t make a point about my govt (ie., the elite) — over there?

  12. brian said on February 20th, 2008 at 2:23pm #

    Why Canada should not recognize Kosovo

    by James Bissett

    Global Research, February 19, 2008

    Email this article to a friend
    Print this article

    Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence should not be recognized by Canada. It has not been authorized by the United Nations and is therefore in violation of international law, the United Nations Charter and the Helsinki Final Accords. In addition, UN resolution 1244, which ended the bombing of Serbia, reaffirms Serbia’s sovereignty over Kosovo.

    The basic principles of territorial integrity and state sovereignty have governed the relations between states since the treaty of Westphalia in 1648. While they have been violated many times in the intervening years, usually by acts of aggression by dictators, they remain the essential components of international law.

    After the cataclysmic events of two world wars and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki the framers of the United Nations incorporated the principles of territorial integrity and state sovereignty into the United Nations Charter. The Charter was seen as the primary safeguard of peace and security in a nuclear age. The Helsinki Final Act of 1975 reinforced these principles by adding to them the principle of the inviolability of borders.

    These are fundamental principles and they have universal application. They cannot be set aside because of special cases or because they present an obstacle to the policy objectives of a powerful nation. Their message is simple and clear –borders cannot be changed without the consent of the state involved.

    etc
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8126

    Ironically, this independence is being pushed by the US for personal reasons, while the same US is pushing to end canadian and mexican independence!

  13. Gary Leupp said on February 20th, 2008 at 2:37pm #

    I think some commentators here are missing the point.

    Let us concede that the Milocevic regime bears responsibility for vicious actions against Kosovar Albanians, although I do not think they constitute genocide (and indeed that accusation dilutes a charge as it is appropriately applied to Nazi mass-murder). That was not the subject of my column.

    The U.S. government, responsible for millions of deaths in imperialist wars from the “Philippines Insurrection” of 1899-1902 (in which one-tenth of the Filipino people were killed to suppress their movement for independence) to the Korean and Vietnam Wars, deliberately sowed alarmist disinformation to justify its 1999 war against Yugoslavia, place Kosovo under NATO tutelage, establish the massive Camp Bondsteel military base, and now engineer the severance of an integral part of Serbia in apparent violation of the UN charter and international law. The fact that Serbs attacked Kosovar Albanians—unjustifiably, brutally, wrongly— does not change any of this.

    The fact that someone (of any ethnic background) is disgusted by the actions of some Serbs, or even concludes that the Serbs are in general are possessed of some evil ideology, does not change any of this.

    The point is that Washington, having once promised to disband NATO as the Soviets disbanded the Warsaw Pact, has instead persistently sought to expand its sphere of influence, rewriting the rules as it goes along, pushing its sometimes hesitant allies while provoking and startling the world with its arrogance and audacity. Now it has said to a gangster regime in Pristina, “We agree, you’re in charge”—knowing that Belgrade has to say in reply, “No, WE remain the legitimate government,” that some sort of partition and further conflict are highly likely, and that Russia will have to side with the Serbs. That’s the issue I explored in my piece, of limited scope (avoiding such issues as the precedent this sets in relation to Abkhazia or South Ossetia).

    There is the conflict between (some) Serbs and (some) Albanian Kosovars. It became intense under Milosevic. (I think the Tito regime earlier sought to ameliorate it—that is, it is recent, not an enduring legacy of the past.) There is the far larger ongoing conflict between U.S. imperialism and the people of the world in general. If you merge (appropriate) indignation against national oppression of Kosovars with support of Washington’s global regime-changing agenda, you don’t strike a blow for freedom. You do the precise opposite. You make a Faustian bargain. Let’s watch the results.

  14. Mike McNiven said on February 21st, 2008 at 2:54am #

    Let’s expand and deepen the discussion:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/whitbeck02202008.html

  15. hp said on February 21st, 2008 at 11:18am #

    Kosovo, the only place in this world, in this modern age, where all the Jews were run out without every news organization in the world screaming bloody murder. How can this be? One nazi symbol gets painted on a door in upper Timbuktu and it’s worldwide news. Compare this to the burning and destruction of hundreds of churches and monesteries of Kosovo. Here’s why.
    They were all too busy screaming bloody murder where there was none. A minor civil war at the worst.
    Like the fake Racak massacre, the fake acid mines, the fake rape camps, the fake “hundreds of thousands murdered,” the fake everything for this NATO rebirth as a strong arm of the money folks. I mean, c’mon, the Albanians who most people had never even heard of, have as their economic base, gun running, drug trafficking and white slavery. Oh, lets not forget about the Trepca mines..
    Not a word about Krajina. Still looking for the 7,000 or more massacred boys of Srebrenica? (The number gets larger with each telling). Some of them are living in LA today and no doubt voting.
    Wake up people. this precursor to Iraq was a huge success. Still is.

  16. Rodrigo said on February 21st, 2008 at 5:31pm #

    I agree with AP. All this fictitious independence has only one merti: divide and conquer. There is oil in Albania and the US is only trying to preserve its interests by pushing Russia (read Serbia) away. All those news we read and all images we saw about the violence in the Bankans were a Hollywoodian production to cause impact in the West and stimulate fragmentation. Youguslavian people wanted to stay togheter, living in peace and harmony, but imperialists arrived with a plan to divide them for the sake of oil. Kosovo is the last chapter of this narrative. We can see in the TV images they are desperate to remain annexed to Serbia, but USA, EU forced them out Serbia. I just read in a post that the US government paid US 25,00 to each Kosovar to go to the streets with American flags for pro-West propaganda…Mondo Cane.

  17. Shabnam said on February 21st, 2008 at 7:52pm #

    Thank you Professor Leupp. It is a good article as usual. No country
    should support Kosovo independence, to add another terrorist, such as
    Hashim Tachi, into the Imperialist and Zionist collection of servants against the rest of the world to help the war criminals to divide countries bigger than Israel into pieces so they never can break their chains and remain slaves for life such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Dubai, Georgia and so on and so forth. They should return the stolen land Of Palestinian back to its owner first and then talk about
    “independence” of Kosovo. This is the Zionist plan which has become empire’s “road map” to further attack and division of other countries in Central Asia, Middle East and Africa (ex. Sudan). People of the world are fed up with violence and robbing of other nations by those criminals who are sitting in Washington, Tel aviv, London, France and their puppets Saudi Arabia where I am sure will support empire’s plan to stay in power.
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8055

  18. John Wilkinson said on February 22nd, 2008 at 2:25pm #

    “Recall how Bill Clinton’s big war was “Operation Allied Force,” conducted by a somewhat reluctant NATO at U.S. insistence in 1999…”

    Not quite. I was here, in the US, at the time, very carefully watching the evolving mayhem in the Balkans, because I had personal ties. I was very interested in everything related to it and my memory is quite different from what you present here. It wasn’t the US dragging a reluctant Europe into this, it was the other way around. I saw the chaos, the killing over there and how things were spiraling out of control (first with Bosnia/Croatia), the unending massacres, refugees, destruction and how Europe was impotent to do anything to stop this bloodshed and instability in its own midst; but, how, on the other hand, critical it was that the cycle of violence be stopped somehow. How these wars, and especially when it also started in Kosovo, threatened to cause upheaval and export instabilities into other European countries. For example, Greece, a NATO ally, would have been threatened by a large scale exodus of Albanian refugees. (And, at one point, Milosevic uprooted and exiled over one MILLION Kosovo Albanians, simply rousting them from their homes and putting them on trains to surrounding countries – that is all a historic record). You also forget the wanton destruction and burning of property by the security forces, and yes, the killings in Kosovo, as in the previous conflicts.

    I saw how Europeans – who didn’t know what to do, who had no power to do anything, were imploring the US to do something. And I could see the agonizing decision making. There were no good alternatives. It looked the only way to do this was to get involved in a protracted, bloody, ground war with Serbia, which would have resulted in widespread destruction and casualties. This is how Iraq had been dealt with, when it invaded Kuwait – but it wouldn’t have been so easy with the Serbs because of the terrain, etc. And I could see that Clinton didn’t want to do anything. For the longest time he kept procrastinating, and I for one did not want to be in his shoes, because any choice would be awful, including not taking any action. Nobody at the time anticipated that this could be done through an air war – and even that was messy, to say the least. And even while the air war was ongoing, it seemed pretty sure that a ground engagement would be necessary.

    And particularly laughable is your assertion that Clinton was afraid of … the Germans!!!!! They might have done something rash, like rushed their (nonexistent) troops into the area? What exactly were the Germans going to do? And even if they did, how was that going to affect America, other than taking some weight off its shoulders?

    NATO reluctance was only so far that they wanted America to do all the dirty work, and take all the casualties and the blame.

    In your eagerness to stick it to Clinton and to the American imperialism — and to have a neat article exposing your neat OPINIONS and THEORIES, you bulldoze your way straight through any inconvenient facts. This is not to say that there aren’t many FACT-based approaches to do that (challenge the empire — as if that’s what you truly, deep down, wanted), so why are you destroying your credibility – because the uneducated, fact-challenged Americans won’t know the difference?

    “… it resulted in the aerial bombing of a European capital (Belgrade) for the first time since 1945.”

    I guess Sarajevo is not a European capital – it was mercilessly bombed for 3 long years by us Serbs, using heavy artillery, several years prior to this. Oh, I see, it is the “aerial” bombardment that counts (though artillery fire is also technically “aerial”). Notice the little play of words, so, you are technically correct, only a capital counts (not those many smaller European cities which also suffered endless bombardments by the Serbs, including “aerial”, in some of which I had relatives) and only if the bombs were released from an aircraft.

    Zagreb, another European capital, had been hit by unguided missiles – but again, this does not fit the “aerial” part. It’s not that the thing explodes, killing and destroying everything, sowing terror, it’s that it has to be delivered by a certain neat method — preferably the one used by the Americans and not by the others.

    And, speaking of barbaric destruction of unique, precious, historical artifacts and monuments, this also does not include the off-shore bombardment of Dubrovnik (not a capital, you see), conducted by the Serb-commanded Yugoslav Navy when Croatia first seceded. Dubrovnik is a well-preserved ancient city – it still has the city walls, the old harbor, the old buildings, the art, etc., all dating from roughly the same historical period as those churches you mentioned. The Navy wasn’t aiming for some military objects – there were none, but its goal was wanton destruction of this historical treasure (and they also targeted the New Dubrovnik, where the civilians live), as payback for Croatians wanting to run their own affairs. This all happened way before Kosovo.

    I do not approve of anybody being bombed, and I also don’t approve when people are massacred the old-fashioned way – by other people. Or when ANY historic monuments are damaged.

    “…which forced Belgrade to obey Washington and withdraw its troops from the heart of the Serbian homeland. That heart, of course, is Kosovo. ”

    Again using word-play, you create the impression that Kosovo is in the middle of Serbia. Kosovo is, and has been for a long time, a faraway province at the tip of Serbia. And Serbs, by and large, didn’t even want to live there.

    “But Serbian identity was shaped by the Battle of Kosovo Polje (The Field of Blackbirds) against the Ottoman Turks in 1389, in which both Serbian King Lazar and the Ottoman sultan Murad were killed. Modern historians differ about whether this was a draw or heroic defeat of the Serbs; nationalist mythology depicts it as the latter.”

    How is that a draw, when immediately after, the whole country of Serbia was occupied by the Turks, and this occupation lasted for over 400 years? I would call that a horrible defeat. Because the Turkish sultan Murat (not Murad) was killed, maybe, but that’s a specious argument. Maybe to historians in armchairs it was a draw, for all practical purposes it was a defeat. I am not going to go into details how, in this instance, the Serbian elite took their internecine bickering and rivalry to be more important than devising a common strategy against the Turks. And, meeting the experienced, motivated, tactically-savvy and large Turkish army at a venue that favored the Turks – an open field, and not having a united strategy and tactics worked out for such an encounter was a recipe for disaster that could surely have been foreseen. But they didn’t want to be bothered with common interest, only with privileges accrued to them in peacetime. (Yes, I am sure there were exceptions, but exceptions were not enough). By the way, most people killed at Kosovo were the commoners, not the gallant knights on horseback. The next 400+ years were hell for the common folk, but not so bad for the elite (they were tasked in administering the territories for the Turks); that’s why it took over 400 years to mount a serious rebellion.

    Fast forward to WW2 – the Serbian king and the rest of them split when the Germans attack; again the elite leaving the people in the lurch to face a brutal war (including a concurrent civil war) which would claim 15% of the population. The communists then organize all the peoples of Yugoslavia in effective resistance. Fast forward to the 90s – after the fall of communism, the elites whip up nationalist frenzy in order to foment war, in order to rob the fabulous riches from the victims, etc. (oh, yes, in the meantime they claim that THEY were the ones who liberated the country in WW2). Fast forward to btw. the 90s and now: the elites have: their yachts in Cyprus (since many of them are war criminals and wanted on international warrants, that’s where they prefer to hang out); the most magnificent mansions one can imagine all over the place (built by blood and bones of the war victims); the Swiss bank accounts; private planes; all the industries in their pocket. The Serbian people have: average salary of 100-200 euros per month (if they have a job, and if the elites deign to pay them their salary); escalating prices; occasional sanctions; being painted with the broad brush for what others have done in their name (as devised by the elites); if they want to travel (if they can afford it), having to wait outside in the rain, bitter cold, hellish heat, all day long, and longer, in front of various consulates, with hundreds and thousands of other people, to get a visa.

    “During over four centuries of Muslim Turkish rule the Serbs preserved their Orthodox religious identity, maintaining the Gracanica Monastery and at least half a dozen other religious centers which have survived from the fourteenth century to the present day — threatened though they have been in recent years by desecration, vandalization and destruction… ”

    I do not believe there were nearly that many churches damaged as you depict. (And conveniently, you don’t mention what preceded the rioting in March of 2004 — ethnic killings by some Serbs). Doesn’t matter – even one is too many, not because it’s a church (as opposed to someone’s home), but because it’s a historical monument. But you fail to mention how the Serb forces had previously willfully destroyed or tried to destroy others’ cultural heirlooms. Dubrovnik was mentioned above, but there were many others. For example there were many, many mosques – in Bosnia and in Kosovo. Even you allude to this in your article (but only allude and later, much later – another word play) when you said that the Saudis have helped in repairing 190 (one hundred and ninety – much greater than the number of churches) “damaged” mosques in Kosovo. (Another word play – the mosques are only “damaged”, but the churches are “destroyed”, “gutted” and “desecrated”; and yes, “smoldering”). And many of these mosques are historical treasures, too.

    “Some Albanians claim that they were the original inhabitants of Kosovo, a land four-fifths the size of Connecticut. They claim descent from the ancient Illyrians who inhabited the area from about the fourteenth century BCE. It appears as likely they migrated from what is now Albania during the Ottoman period, coming to outnumber the Serbs.”

    They “claim” the Illyrians’ lineage? I was taught that as a historical fact when I attended school in Serbia (not Albania — Serbia). The Illyrians were the original inhabitants of these areas (where the Southern Slavs, among them Serbs, moved into in the VI century), along with other tribes. Gee, what happened to them? Were they subjugated? Were they pushed away? “They came from Albania”, you claim. But where do the Albanians come from? Did they materialize out of thin air and just plopped there on the Balkan peninsula? So, who took whose territory in the end? And the Serbs left Kosovo en masse late in the 17th century, but as a result of that migration, Vojvodina, a much bigger, more fertile, etc. place became part of Serbia (at that time it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire).

    “Thereafter the greater Albanian birthrate reduced the Serb population to a mere 10% of the total. Following the ethnic cleansing of the last decade, the figure’s down to maybe 4%.”

    Please, we Serbs were the ones who invented and practiced the art of ethnic cleansing much more than anyone else, and that’s true of Kosovo as well. And sometimes the ethnic cleansing wasn’t really that, but happened when people voluntarily left to escape revenge of the opposing forces after war crimes were committed by them or in their name. And no, I don’t approve of any innocent person or family, whatever nationality, losing their home and their property.

    “Kosovo was the poorest region in Tito’s Yugoslavia, but it enjoyed the status of an autonomous province and was treated as a de facto republic in accordance with Tito’s philosophy that “Weak Serbia equals strong Yugoslavia.”

    Where does this come from, some Hollywood flick? The reality on “weak Serbia” was exactly the opposite. All the government functions – all the federal functions (including the plush jobs) were concentrated in Belgrade and only in Belgrade. 90% of the officer corps in the JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army) was Serb (as evidenced by what the JNA did to the people who dared secede and how various tragedies and massacres were enabled). Tito’s right hand man, the chief of the police, Alexander Rankovic, was a Serb. (And yes, Kosovo was the poorest region, and it stayed dirt poor and backward for 50 years, while Serbia collected vast amounts of money from other republics for its “development”).

    I already mentioned that Serbia had 3 votes in the Parliament and the Presidency, while everyone else had one. The three votes were one for Serbia, and one each for the “autonomous” provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina. But those provinces were not truly autonomous, because they always voted with Serbia (the right people were put in high places there). This was especially evident after Tito’s death, and toward the breakup of Yugoslavia, when the other republics tried to effect some changes for more equitable sharing of power and revenue, but Serbia stalled them at every turn because it effectively had 4 (FOUR) votes – the 3 for Serbia and the 1 for Montenegro which was in Serbia’s pocket and always voted with Serbia. So, no changes could be implemented, because the 4 votes for Serbia equaled the 4 votes of the other republics (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia), even if the other 4 could get together on a certain issue.

    Since I come from a mixed marriage, I know that the Croats were chaffing under the unequal arrangement in the old Yugoslavia. There was even a time when Croatian leaders tried to get a more equitable arrangement through the Yugoslav Communist Party, in Tito’s time, but they were rebuffed, and they were quietly shuffled out of their leadership positions. Furthermore, after Tito (who was a Croat), there was a rotating presidency, whereby each nation had its representative be the titular president of the country for a year and the head of the common Presidential council. Towards the end of Yugoslavia, when it was a Croatian’s turn, the Serbs blocked him from taking power.

    Just before breakup, the other republics tried to negotiate with the Serbian government – tried to avoid an outright secession by having some type of confederacy – a group of relatively independent states under one formal country. But the Serbian leaders didn’t want to negotiate because they had the Army in their hands, and the others were told what would happen if they tried anything.

    This — your claim, is part of the Serb victim mythology that played a big part in the massacres because it was played over and over to the susceptible people who didn’t know better. There are other myths, just as untrue, which I won’t go into (such as that the Croats who committed the horrendous atrocities against the Serbs in WW2 weren’t punished). And yes, there was also true suffering and victimizing in the past – in WW2 the Serbs suffered greatly — another fact against Tito ever wanting a “weak Serbia” (along with their military savvy).

    So, please, quit fantasizing.

    “As president of Serbia, he (foolishly) withdrew Kosovo’s autonomy in 1989, provoking Albanian protests and the formation of the KLA in 1995. ”

    Even after that, Serbia CONTINUED to have its 3 votes in the Parliament and the governing council until the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991.

    “Accusing Serbian forces of atrocities, NATO bombed Bosnia in August and September 1995…”

    In other words, the Serbian forces didn’t commit atrocities, they were just (unfairly) accused of such. I guess, there was no evidence of that, right? Another word play whereby what you say is factually correct, but the intent is to imply something which is factually wrong.

    “The “Rambouillet Accords” were signed by all parties — except for Yugoslavia and Russia. The agreement specified that Kosovo would obtain autonomy but remain part of Serbia. That was the one concession to Belgrade, and an initial cause for the KLA representatives to balk. But the separatists were won over, no doubt realizing that they would gain independence in time. (They just declared that, with Washington’s approval, February 17.)”

    You know what was going on in their heads at the time? They were all separatists? They were faced with certain destruction by the security forces, how do you know what they were thinking?

    “The Accords dictated that Belgrade accept a NATO force with liberty to act throughout the territory of Yugoslavia. ”

    No, it was with liberty to act in Kosovo, not throughout Yugoslavia. Not that that could be accepted by any state, either. These accords came when things got to a head and there were no good options left, so, yes, the “agreement” was flawed and impossible, but the reality was also flawed and impossible.

    “A top French official accused the U.S. of behaving like a hyper-puissance (“hyper-power”); NATO itself was divided and disturbed by U.S. demands. (The Spaniards, Italians and Greeks in particular were troubled about the NATO bombing of Belgrade.)”

    Really? Like I said before, the Europeans were asking (begging) the US to intervene, as something had to be done and they had no power. Of course, yes, they also wanted the US to do all the dirty work for them, suffer all the casualties and get all the blame. And in that, they succeeded. The US did supply 90% of the forces, and the US did get 100% of the blame afterwards (e.g., from the Serbian people). And who exactly was this “top French official”, was he in the government at the time? Yes, as in any large country, some individuals may have had misgivings (but did they have a better plan?). As for the Spanish, a Spaniard (Xavier Solana) was at the head of NATO when this all went down. The Italians provided the launching pads for the aircraft. The Greeks were the original reason for intervention, as explained above. I am sure all of them had misgivings, it was a bad situation with no good solutions.

    “Washington was calling for an organization founded to defend Western Europe from Soviet attack to intervene in a friendly, non-threatening country, to force it to accept further dismemberment. ”

    More fiction. Per NATO charter, all members must come to aid of the affected member. NATO was trying to prevent chaos from descending on one of its members (Greece and maybe Turkey also). “Force it to accept further dismemberment”. Yes, we should have forced all those other peoples to stay under the Serbian hegemony and unilateral decision making. And who was forced, when all the NATO countries recognized the new countries in record time, sometimes before the US did?

    “But had he done nothing, and the violence continued, he would have been criticized for failing to use American power (“to prevent genocide”) and left the door open for other interested parties (Germany) to take unilateral action.”

    Please tell us what unilateral German action was being contemplated or threatened, I need a laugh. Yes, Germany was and is an economic powerhouse, but how was that going to help? Everybody was out of options at that time.

    “There were horror stories about “ethnic cleansing,” and Yugoslav government forces’ attacks on innocent Kosovar Albanians.”

    All those burned houses (reported by many, including the European press), all those people on the trains being forced out of their country, that was all a mirage…..And how did the security forces know exactly which people were innocent and which weren’t?

    “But German reports told a different story. Four German court opinions from October 1998 to March 1999; two Foreign Office intelligence reports in January 1999; and one report from the Foreign Office to the Administrative Court in Mainz in March 1999 all challenged such accusations. According to the Opinion of the Upper Administrative Court at Munster (March 11, 1999), “Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo have neither been nor are now exposed to regional or countrywide group persecution in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.” ”

    Some courts are respected – when they give “right” opinions (and were there any other opinions from any other courts at the time?), while some other courts are reviled as “kangaroo courts” when they prosecute war crimes that the author knows didn’t happen. Maybe some legal definitions were not met, maybe the Germans didn’t want to be swamped by millions of asylum-seeking refugees, but are you doubting that genuine oppression was going on?

    “After the glorious victory of NATO over Yugoslavia, it was discovered that as few as 2,108 people were actually killed in the province during 1998-9 before the bombardment began. Quite likely more Serbs have been killed by Albanians than vice versa since 1998.”

    How do you know how many of which were killed? Obviously, you’re making an assumption here, but tell me, mathematically, how can random, sporadic violence lead to the same body count (or more) than an organized push by the security forces against the demonized “others”? I’ve seen much higher numbers than that, but let’s assume it was “only” 2,108 (such precise number), like you say. You say there were 2 million in Kosovo, so one in 1,000 was killed. That would be equivalent to 300,000 people killed in the US — a good size city wiped out, and we made such a fuss about “only” 3,000 on 9-11. And let’s say, that all of these were Serbs, so that would be a much higher proportion (a Chicago wiped out, proportionally). Shouldn’t something be done to end such an unsustainable situation? And what about the number killed AFTER the intervention started – you will blame that on NATO, right?

    “Washington got what it wanted, almost. It destroyed the Yugoslav state, hauled Milosevic to a kangaroo court at the Hague (where after enhancing his reputation among Serbs by a spirited defense, he died of a heart attack)”

    This sentence tells a lot about you and about some of the Serbs. The ordinary people get the “real”, draconian courts, here in the US and everywhere else. The white-collar criminals, including the war criminals, never get punished. Yes, it was a kangaroo court – for the victims. Oh, yes, the t’s were not always crossed and the i’s were not always dotted — the lawyer protests, just like in any court, especially if you’re an ordinary person. But ordinary people don’t get to present their case over several years (in the face of overwhelming evidence against them), don’t get their pick of expensive lawyers, don’t get to play in a country-club “prison” during the trial, and are not then sentenced to a few years in the same luxury “prison” – for murdering or being involved in murdering hundreds of thousands, for their own enrichment.

    And, where is the evidence that Washington planned to destroy the Yugoslav state — it was done and planned by Washington, not by the ones who did all the planning and destroying? And by the way – another part of the Serbian victim mythology busted, most of the prisoners in the Hague were NOT Serbs.

    “We who have been invaded many times from the west have legitimate reasons to support our friends in the Balkans, including the Serbs whom you’ve maligned and mistreated disgracefully. ”

    Friendship is such a fickle thing. Back during the cold war, the two were not such great friends.

    “Yugoslav courts in 1997 and 1998 found him guilty of terrorism charges, including attacks on Serbian policemen, but he was a Kosovar Albanian representative at the Rambouillet talks.”

    I trust they weren’t “kangaroo courts” (during Milosevic’s time, no less), since you’re an expert on such. And why was he let go if he was guilty of these charges?

    “So there are now, aside from Turkey, two Muslim European countries: Albania and Kosovo. (Bosnia-Hezegovina’s Muslim population is under 50%).”

    I should be worried about Muslims (secular ones, no less) in Europe. We should be scared of “the other”. And yes, throw in the al-Qaeda for good measure, to really scare the gullible Americans. Anything to have a neat article, supported by neat, powerful logic. I could care less that one superstition is losing ground to another. And the number of Muslims in Europe would stay the same, no matter how artificial borders are drawn. I am much more worried about the Christian Taliban, which is running – and ruining our lives, right here in the States.

    “Meanwhile Vladimir Putin, shrewd and careful, considers how to use this blow to pan-Slavic pride to revive Russian influence in the Balkans.”

    This was not a blow to pride of most Slavic countries. Name the Slavic countries (except Serbia, and, possibly Russia (though they are really playing this to their own ends)) which this was a blow to. Except, you’re right, in many Slavic countries – maybe all, racism reigns supreme – it is dangerous to be black or a gypsy Roma in any or maybe all the Slavic countries. (This is true, and I am a Slav myself). So, are you saying that protecting the other against the skinhead mentality is a “blow to pan-Slavic pride”?

    “The U.S., deeply bogged down in Southwest Asia, has left the Europeans holding the ball in Bosnia; Germany contributes 800 of the 3000 European Union Force (EUFOR) peacekeeping troops. The 16,000-strong KFOR in Kosovo includes 2,567 Italians, 2,374 Germans and 2,269 French troops (but only 1,456 U.S.)”

    Excuse me, why shouldn’t the Europeans be holding the ball in Europe? If it were otherwise, then you’d be bellyaching about the US imperialism.

    “A new regime emerges, applauded by its American sponsors and most of the EU (but rejected by Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Bulgaria). It is wrapped in smoke, in a legacy of smoldering churches. ”

    Why are only the churches smoldering in this picture? What happened to the smoldering mosques? And I don’t think the Americans or the EU either sponsored it, or particularly applaud it – it was one of bad choices in an impossible situation. (And, yes, it was a double-cross re resolution 1244). How do you think it would have played out if it stayed as part of Serbia – both for the Albanians and the Serbs? Played out for the next several centuries the same way it’s played out the last several centuries — drenched in blood (Over 100,000 Albanian civilians massacred after one of the Balkan wars, for example)? Would you want to put your family in such a place and be thought of as one of the oppressors, rather than as one of a minority, to be protected? Would the churches and monasteries (and mosques) be better off amid all the violence — or would they fare like other historic monuments in other settled countries (lots of Turkish, Austro-Hungarian, Roman monuments in Serbia (and other countries), for example, which are doing quite OK; Serbian monasteries in Greece which are doing OK)? And what would have happened when the population of Albanians in Kosovo (with their high birth rate) exceeded that of all Serbs in Serbia (with their negative birth rate)? Of course, for Serbian identity and culture, it should remain as part of Serbia, if the culture could be preserved that way. But for the people living there, I am not so sure. I myself do not know or claim that it would have been better or worse than the current “solution”, but I also don’t think there are any good solutions in this mess. However, I would have appreciated a fact-based expose — and the facts fall on both sides of this issue, rather than fitting facts to suit one’s agenda.

  19. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 23rd, 2008 at 7:45am #

    I’ll be back, John, and try to read your missive. But after scanning today’s article by Sara Flounders, I’m thinking Cheney’s thinking: “At least, WWI can’t happen twice.”

    Personally, I don’t recall it’s farcical repetition. And the “genius” behind the Chipmunk….is just a shitty, bushy tail.

  20. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 25th, 2008 at 8:00am #

    “So, please, quit fantasizing.”

    I’m down to here, John. And thank you very much for devoting your time and attention to providing readers with this personal-knowledge based information.

    You’ve got a bit of George Orwell in you, my friend.

  21. Gary Leupp said on February 25th, 2008 at 8:45am #

    John’s missive is indeed substantial, and I don’t have the time to respond to it line by line right now. Some of it I think is just wrong (“It wasn’t the US dragging a reluctant Europe into this, it was the other way around”); some of it distorts the content of my own column (“And particularly laughable is your assertion that Clinton was afraid of … the Germans!!!!!”) and some of it betrays a contempt for Marxist analysis (if not general anti-intellectualism) generally (“In your eagerness to stick it to Clinton and to the American imperialism — and to have a neat article exposing your neat OPINIONS and THEORIES, you bulldoze your way straight through any inconvenient facts…”)

    Nothing in John’s comments factually contradicts my piece.

    John asserts a kind of legitimacy as a person of Yugoslav birth, and of mixed ethnic heritage. I respect that. But just as I might disagree quite radically from the guy down my street about the nature of my local society and its history, I respectfully differ with John’s understanding of contemporary reality in Serbia. I have received quite a number of emails from Serbs or Serbian-Americans strongly supporting my piece, the gist of which contests the bullying U.S. imperialist presence in the Balkans (that John apparently eagerly supports). John to his credit acknowledges Serb atrocities against Kosovar Albanians (which I did not deny and indeed acknowledge). But he proceeds to endorse the violation of Yugoslav sovereignty by the biggest mass murderers in history as the appropriate solution to those atrocities (their extent highly exaggerated in the U.S. press as of 1999).

    What John contests is my basic assertion that it’s wrong, dangerous and provocative for the U.S. to embrace an independent Kosovo produced through US/NATO aggression. My response is that he’s supporting the wrong people.

  22. hp said on February 27th, 2008 at 9:52am #

    ‘Highly exaggerated’ is the understatement of the last century.
    Well, excluding anything German, of course..

  23. Professor Naorem Sanajaoba,Assam said on April 8th, 2008 at 8:31pm #

    USA SHOULD NOT CREATE A NATO STATE KOSOV-YET SERBIA ND KOSOVO CAN WORK OUT THE BEST POLITICAL STATUS OF KOSOVO, IF NECESSARY KOSOVAR SOVEREIGNTY[ USA SHOULD DECALRE PUERTO RICO INDEPENDENCE BEFORE IT CREATES KOSOVO TO CRACK UP THE LAST SLAVIC ENTITIES -RUSSIA TO SERBIA TO DUSTBIN. THE USA SHOULD FOLLOW RES 1244 OF THE UN SC.