The outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Serbia, Michael Polt, has been a stereotypical Imperial envoy: ignorant, arrogant, abrasive, disdainful, boorish... He has even outdone his colleague, Germany's ambassador Andreas Zobel; for while Zobel has cleverly kept his trap shut after sticking both feet in it back in April, Polt has continued to use every public appearance to proclaim his government's support to the illegal separation of the occupied province of Kosovo.
It seems that the Serbian government has had quite enough of him, at long last. Prime Minister Kostunica's spokesman, Srdjan Djuric, has skewered Polt twice this week. The first comment came on Tuesday, after the Ambassador abused the event marking the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan to give yet another speech about the "need" for independent Kosovo.
The sneering Polt asked a rhetorical question during his tirade: "What if we were to tell you today that we were wrong and that Kosovo is yours, and that we are withdrawing our forces from Kosovo by Saturday. What then?"
Polt was obviously expecting the terrified Serbs to beg the Americans and other NATO troops to stay and continue their occupation, so even more Serbs could be ethnically cleansed, even more churches could be destroyed, and even more Albanians could illegally settle in the province. No such luck; instead, Djuric reacted by commending the ambassador on an "interesting new suggestion" that signaled American acceptance of Serbia's territorial integrity.
The departing ambassador walked into another blunder on Thursday, when he criticized Prime Minister Kostunica's remark that the U.S. and Serbia were locked in "a new battle for Kosovo." According to Polt, there is no battle; America is a friend of Serbia, and all the hostility is purely one-sided.
Djuric replied: "Friends don't seize one another's land... If this means the U.S. is abandoning its support for the independence of Kosovo... then we can talk about friendly relations between our countries. " He followed up by asking "whether [Mr. Polt's] country would consider Serbia a friend if Serbia were advocating the creation of a new state on American territory."
Of course, Polt was spewing nonsense on both occasions. Washington doesn't have friends - only servants and victims. And the U.S. can no sooner withdraw from Kosovo than it could from Iraq - even though in both cases withdrawal would be the right thing to do. But this is the first time someone in the Serbian government (even if only a spokesman) openly told the Americans that their departure, far from being lamented, would be a good riddance.