by Justin Raimondo
In Leeds, England, what was supposed to be a "friendly' game of football between Albanian refugees and the habitués of a local pub had to be called off after the Kosovars set off what a dispatch from Agence France-Presse characterized as "a mass brawl." The incident was sparked when someone on the Kosovar team ran up to one of the Brits and punched him in the face. The Brit responded in kind, others from both teams joined in, and soon the match -- which had been arranged to promote "friendship" between locals and the refugees, who are being housed at a local hostel -- descended into a free-for-all. It has been only a few weeks since the mass exodus of Kosovars, and already there are rising complaints in France, Italy, and now England of crime and violence that seem to follow in the wake of their Albanian guests.
IT'S AN ALBANIAN THING, YOU WOULDN'T UNDERSTAND
While the people of Leeds may be a bit dumbfounded by the football match incident, this was truly a case of culture-clash. Here the Anglo-Saxon ideal of "good sportsmanship" ran up against the ancient Albanian "Code of Lek" which formalizes the long-standing Albanian tradition of violence, vengeance killings, and feuds unending. The Code, in classic Albanian fashion, prescribes in minute detail the hundreds of circumstances when it is not only permissible but absolutely mandatory to slaughter the perpetrators of crimes -- including each and every one of their relatives. Most of these "crimes" are not crimes against property but insults to the pride and manliness of clan leaders and the honor and prestige of their extended families. Intertwined with the twin themes of vengeance and victimization, bloodthirstiness is the leitmotif of Albanian culture and history.
VENGEANCE IS MINE
As the Greek Cypriot Prime Minister traveled to Belgrade to secure the release of the three captured Americans, there was a slight pause in the Allied bombing campaign to let his plane through -- and then a renewed bombardment of calculated ferocity. Calculated, that is, to enrage the Yugos, scuttle any hopes of freeing the prisoners, exact vengeance on Milosevich, and, most importantly, to make an example of the Serbs for resisting NATO's diktat For more information, see the Code of Lek.
SOCIALISM ON ONE MOUNTAIN-TOP
Renown for its extreme xenophobia, as well as its nearly impassable mountain ranges, Albania has always been split into warring clans: the Ghegs and the Tosks, dominating the north and the south respectively, who are themselves split into sub-clans, and sub-sub-clans, who are also in constant conflict. The resulting turmoil continued up to the end of World War II, when Enver Hoxha's Albanian Party of Labor seized power. Merging the traditional Albanian xenophobia with ultra-left revolutionary phrasemongering, Hoxha was a dictator of uncommon brutality, and the regime he set up was rivaled in its Stalinesque totalism only by that of North Korea's Communist potentate, Kim il Sung. According to Hoxha, Albania was the one and only "bastion of socialist revolution," all the rest of the Communist bloc (including China) having taken the "capitalist road." Albania was, indeed, the last Commie domino to fall in Europe; Hoxha had literally walled-off the country from the rest of the world, and the Albanians were the last to know about the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In the revolution that swept Albania's Communists out of power Hoxha's 20-volume Collected Works was tossed into the dustbin of history, and the ancient Code of Lek reasserted itself: the old chaos was unleashed and Albania soon fell back into anarchy. But Hoxha-ism did not die with the expulsion of the Reds from Tirana: elsewhere in the most poverty-stricken and backward region of Europe, Hoxha-ism lived on, and took root in Kosovo. Combining the Marxist-Leninist ideology of Hoxha with pan-Albanian nationalism, the Kosovo Liberation Army is engaged in a "people's war" against Hoxha's old enemies, the Yugoslavs, whose relatively relaxed and multiethnic variety of socialism the old Stalinist dictator abhorred and continually denounced. Among the many epithets hurled against Slobodan Milosevich in the ongoing demonization campaign is that he is "the last Stalinist dictator in Europe," but this dubious honor does not belong to him; as the heirs of Hoxha, the KLA, our noble allies, are the last Stalinists in Europe of any consequence.
RAMBOUILLET: THE REAL STORY
The NATO website (nato.int) contains a very interesting exchange between a reporter from Luxembourg and NATO spokesman Jamie Shea:
Question: "Yesterday in Luxembourg we have heard a surprisingly new version of the Rambouillet agreement given by Minister Dini, the Italian Minster for Foreign Affairs. He said that the responsibility for the failure in Rambouillet was of both the Serbs and the Kosovars that didn't accept the disarmament of the KLA and we heard that [there] were some clauses of the agreement that were not in the text that foresee a referendum for the independence of Kosovo and that's why the Kosovars signed it and that is why, he said, finally the Serbs couldn't possibly accept the last version of the agreement. . . . What is your comment?"
Shea's rambling answer carefully avoids the question of a secret side-agreement between the U.S., the Allies, and the Kosovars on the question of independence: "Italy is rock-solid behind the Alliance in every way"; and Milosevic's counterproposals "completely eviscerated the Rambouillet agreement, and "finally, when the Kosovar Albanian side accepted the peace agreement, they accepted Chapter 7 of that agreement which provides for the disarmament and force-limitation issues including strict limitation on disarmament on the KLA." None of this had anything to do with the question of a secret unwritten clause, however, and Shea did not address the question except to say, in passing, that "I am not aware of any opt-out clauses" given to the Kosovars "at the time." This, of course, leaves open the possibility that a side agreement was reached after Rambouillet. In spite of this formal quasi-denial, the United States and NATO are the de facto KLA airforce; their actions can only lead to the achievement of the KLA's goal of independence for Kosovo and merger with Tirana in a Greater Albania -- a bigger version of the poorest, most backward and certainly the most lawless nation in Europe.
The arrogance and cruelty of the NATO assault was vividly dramatized in the bombing of the Zastava factory, where the workers had set up a 24-hour watch, hoping that their physical presence in and around the premises would exempt it from destruction. They were wrong. Today NATO warplanes attacked the factory, injuring 124 workers, 24 of them seriously, who were caught in collapsing buildings that caught fire. A NATO spokesman said he had no knowledge of the plant occupation and he denied that this was a factor in the decision to bomb: "It's not a particularly safe thing to do to be sitting on bridges or occupying factories, especially if they have military capacity," he sniffed. But the Zastava factory was of minimal military value: The only weapon made at the huge network of industrial plants is handguns: most of the facility is dedicated to manufacturing cars, mostly Yugos, the cheapest car on the American market. What that nameless official really meant to say was that it is not a particularly safe thing to defy the edicts of NATO overlords, and that such foolhardy souls are likely to be reduced to "collateral damage."
While NATO spokesmen were emphatically denying that their bombers had wreaked destruction on residential areas of Pristina, the capital city of the Serbian province they are trying to "liberate," Western newsmen were filming the devastation, and beaming the embarrassing pictures around the world. They then backtracked, and admitted that, as Air Commodore David Wilby, the alliance military spokesman, put it, "One bomb appeared to be seduced off the target at the final stages. Close inspection of imagery indicates that it landed . . . in what seems to be a small residential area." It is much smaller now, in population as well as standing structures: 10 people were killed in the bombing, but this is a minor detail in Wilby's estimation: "I can absolutely assure you," he intoned sanctimoniously, "that while NATO has attacked military targets around Pristina . . . NATO has certainly not caused the reported widespread and random damage which we believe has been orchestrated by Serbian forces." We are asked to believe that the Serbs "randomly" destroyed their own province and reduced it to rubble: and not only that, but that the intense bombardment of Pristina and environs by NATO airstrikes had no substantial effect. What is fascinating, however, is this errant bomb that was somehow "seduced" away from its intended target. Let us hope that not too many of these bombs, unlike the man who unleashed them, are so easily seduced.
Justin Raimondo's Wartime Diary will not appear tomorrow (Sunday). It will return on Monday.
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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).