Washington resumes its destabilizing crusade, with Hillary Clinton picking up where her husband, and his successor, left off.
Last February Kosovo declared independence, with Washington’s support, the culmination of America’s war against Serbia a decade ago in a region of no strategic interest to America. The peace has proved to be much tougher than the war, however. The number of recognitions has stalled, despite U.S. pressure on friends and allies. Last October Serbia won a United Nations General Assembly vote to take its case to the World Court, which is now considering the issue. The conflict remains frozen, only with new flashpoints, most notably the status of the Serbian community in Kosovo’s north.
Even more embarrassing, Russia cynically used the Kosovo precedent to justify its war with Georgia in support of South Ossetia. Who was Washington to whine about the violation of Georgia’s territorial integrity?
Unfortunately, with Hillary Clinton at the State Department, little change is expected in U.S. attempts to micromanage Balkan affairs. Indeed, Secretary Clinton is set to meet with Kosovo’s “president” and “prime minister” on Thursday “in order to reassure them of the U.S. promise of friendship and support for Kosovo,” according to the State Department.
U.S. policy desperately needs a change.
After years of repressive local (Albanian) rule from Pristina succeeded by equally abusive national (Serbian) rule from Belgrade, a nasty guerrilla war broke out in Kosovo. Much blame fell on the Milosevic regime, but the Kosovo Liberation Army committed its own atrocities in return. U.S. diplomats even termed the KLA as “terrorist.”
The U.S. should have ignored the conflict, but President Bill Clinton saw the Balkans as an opportunity to turn U.S. foreign policy into a form of international social work, as Michael Mandelbaum of SAIS termed it. Once NATO drove Serbian security forces from Kosovo, the final disposition of the territory was obvious. Although UN Resolution 1244 assumed continued Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo, providing for “a political process designed to determine Kosovo’s future status,” the allies never intended serious negotiations. Rather, ethnic Albanians understood that independence would be the final result. Negotiations were simply for show to disguise Serbia’s expected surrender. Thus, the ethnic Albanians never considered settling for anything short of independence.
They did offer to respect the rights of ethnic Serbs — respect, however, not demonstrated when ethnic Albanians kicked out nearly a quarter of a million Serbs and other minorities, including Roma and Jews, after the war, and destroyed Serb homes, churches, and monasteries in another round of violence five years ago. Nevertheless, the ethnic Albanians expected to rule even in the northern areas heavily populated by Serbs.
The newly elected democratic government in Belgrade responded by offering a number of approaches with largely unrestricted autonomy. Nevertheless, the U.S. and leading European states declared Serbia to be the intransigent party, “obstructing” and “stonewalling” a settlement. In short, the “negotiations” were a sham designed to grant Kosovo independence.
Obviously, there was no perfect solution that would satisfy both sides. The Milosevic government had behaved brutally and the ethnic Albanians saw no reason to again recognize Belgrade’s sovereignty.
But minority Serbs had no more reason to believe Pristina’s promise of protection or the West’s promise to maintain outside oversight. After all, both spasms of ethnic Albanian violence occurred during the allied occupation. In mid-1999, even as tens of thousands of ethnic Serbs were fleeing Kosovo, Secretary Albright was telling the Council of Foreign Relations that the allied occupation force “takes seriously its mandate to protect Kosovars, including Serbs.” The territory seemed no closer to ethnic reconciliation in 2004, when thousands more ethnic Serbs were killed, injured, and displaced. Derek Chappell, spokesman for the UN military force, UNMIK, observed: “some in the Kosovo Albanian leadership believe that by cleansing all remaining Serbs from the area…and destroying Serbian cultural sites, they can present the international community with a fait accompli.”
Kosovo’s record is at best disappointing after years of supposed tutelage in democracy by the “international community.” The ethnic Albanian leadership has been implicated in the explosion of organized crime, including drug dealing, money laundering, and sex trafficking. Some have referred to Kosovo as the “black hole” of Europe.
At a 2006 congressional hearing, Charles English of the State Department stated: “Discrimination remains a serious problem. Access to public services is uneven. Incidents of harassment still occur. Freedom of movement is limited. And too many minorities still feel unsafe in Kosovo.” Similarly, Joseph Grieboski of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy argued that “the present record of rule of law, protection of the rights of religious and ethnic minorities, and the return/resettlement of internally displaced people by the Provisional Authority of Kosovo — all of which are indispensable for democratic governance — have been gravely unsatisfactory.”
In November 2007 the European Commission released a report that concluded “some progress was made in consolidating government,” but “working tools for an efficient government” still had “to be enhanced and fully applied.” Moreover, explained the commission, “Overall, little progress has been made in the promotion and enforcement of human rights. The administration is not able to ensure the full implementation of human rights standards.” Finally, the commission concluded, “Religious freedom is not fully respected.”
Kosovo hardly sounded ready for prime-time.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?