Thursday, March 03, 2005

Troubled in Kosovo

Chris Deliso's post called my attention to the International Herald Tribune editorial from yesterday, titled "Waiting on Kosovo." It showed up in the New York Times today as well, under the title "Still Troubled After All These Years."

"Troubled" is the right word, and how! At first I expected more pro-Albanian, pro-independence talk. After all, this is the paper that published an op-ed by ICG chairman Gareth Evans on January 25, calling for immediate independence for Albanian Kosovo. The NY Times, ran an op-ed by Carlyle Group's Frank Carlucci a month later, repeating the ICG line. And though the editorial did surprise, in this particular respect it did not really disappoint.

Here is the crux of it:
"Setting a detailed timetable to independence, with a promise that Kosovo will neither be partitioned nor fall back under Belgrade, simply rewards bad faith... [The Contact Group] "should clearly and forcefully set out what Kosovo needs to accomplish and work should begin immediately on a settlement, at least temporarily including provisions for a semi-autonomous zone for the Serbs. That would choke off the Serb minority’s hopes of seizing control again. The Albanians should need no further incentive to behave properly."

Three times in the article (and above is just one of them) the editors speak with a tone of disgust and disdain of the prospect of Kosovo returning to Serbian control, never quite explaining why this would be wrong. If Serbia has "forfeited sovereignty" over Kosovo by the supposed "abuses" of Albanians - a favorite argument of ICG's, by the way - then why haven't Albanians forfeited their claim just as much, by terrorizing Serbs and others? The editors do say that "Kosovo Albanians have trampled the rights of the Serb minority in a fashion not easily distinguishable from the treatment they justly complained about at the hands of the Serbs."

Actually, that might be the problem. The Serb "treatment" the Albanians "justly" complained about is shrouded in the fog of misinformation, fabrication and outright lies. Albanians allege systematic discrimination, from mass firings and school poisoning to ethnic cleansing and even genocide. But at the first serious sign of questioning, their stories explode like soap bubbles. That is not to say that some state abuse didn't happen, but let's face it, state abuse is a fact of life in post-Communist Eastern Europe. Serbs complained of state abuse by Milosevic, even though he was never as tyrannical as DOS in the aftermath of the Djindjic Assassination.

Which leads me to the final point, one that reveals the IHT's point of departure: "Slobodan Milosevic no longer wields tyrannic [sic] power and a bloodlust for cleansing every ethnic minority," they write.

A bloodlust for cleansing every ethnic minority - are these people from the Moons of Jupiter? Do they not know that Serbia is the most multi-ethnic of all the Successor States? Yet they published Nicholas Wood's piece just the other day, on how Muslim Serbians are now studying "Bosnian" - a language invented just a few years ago, and one they never spoke - and thinking of themselves as "Bosniaks." Belgrade is not only not "repressing" them, the whole endeavor is being sponsored by the Department of Education! There are large numbers of Croats, Albanians, Ruthenians, Hungarians, Wallach, Roma and many, many others in Serbia. Granted, not all of them felt entirely welcome during the wars (and Muslims in the United States do nowadays, right?), but there they are still. Where are the Serbs of Knin, Drvar, or Zenica? Or Pec, Pristina, and Podujevo? Moreover, where are the Roma, Turks, Gorani, Ashkalli, and others who used to live in Kosovo? Gone! The "bloodlust for cleansing every ethnic minority" wasn't Milosevic's, but Albanian.

What's worse, the vast majority of Albanian abuses took place with NATO troops (some 65,000 at the outset) and the UN mission in attendance. Unlike the "crimes" of Milosevic and the Serbs - which despite the resources of the "international community" and the Hague Inquisition remain mostly speculation (and that's a generous euphemism for "vicious lies") - Albanian persecution of Serbs is a well-documented fact.

The NYT/IHT editors expect Albanians to "behave properly" if the Contact Group promises them Kosovo would never return to Serbia. What they don't understand is that Albanians are behaving properly - for a value system in which brute force is the judge of righteousness, and whatever succeeds is deemed virtuous. It's a value system the Empire seems to share, for all its hypocritical harping otherwise.

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