Blowback & Body Bags
Making Sense of "Balkan Policy" under George W. Bush
by Raymond K. Kent
August 31, 2001

"Blowback" is the CIA-coined term for an unpleasant reality. Foreign mercenaries, trained to fight our wars so as to minimize or eliminate American casualties, have a tendency to turn against us as political situations change. While Afghanistan is often cited as the classic example of this reality, it lies in the past. Yet, this experience has started to dominate the thinking about the Albanian "Bastard Army" created by the CIA and the Pentagon for the ground invasion of Serbia under Milosevic. This invasion did not materialize. The Serb Third Army and police left Kosovo to NATO troops and a United Nations Administration without any real ground combat. One of the basic provisions built into the Serb pullout was the total and effective disarmament of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). It was not implemented.

The KLA "reprisals" against Serb civilians in Kosovo were even defined as "justifiable retribution" by the top UN Officer, Bernard Kouchner. Through our diplomatic intervention at Rambouillet and an air war against the Serbs, Kosovo’s moderate Albanians were completely marginalized in favor of the KLA. This has made any future cohabitation impossible and the KLA proved it via the ethnic cleansing of all non-Albanians from Kosovo, some 300,000 all told, right under the "watchful eye" of the 40,000 NATO troops suffering from self-induced myopia. Over 1,000 Serbs were abducted in a relatively short time and never found (but for one large mass grave). Kosovo became a paradise for white slavers, drug dealers and all sorts of illegal activities. The UN response was to draft the KLA fighters into its Constabulary and they promptly used it for more of the same. It also became clear that the more egregious charges against the Serbs in Kosovo could not be substantiated. The Clinton Administration Officials and some very vocal pro-Albanian Solons swept the Kosovo realities under the rug. This seemed sufficient to avoid any serious questioning of inept and capricious diplomacy at Rambouillet and the very need for an air war against Milosevic (i.e. the Serbs). But the Bastard Army was still around, and very much in-charge of Kosovo, which had been served to it on a silver plate.

Because the American people are overwhelmingly against our entry into foreign shooting conflicts, nothing frightens the occupants of the White House more than the sudden arrival home of body bags containing our GIs. The Albanian "nationalists" are keenly aware of this major US fear. The CIA in Kosovo and the commanders at Camp Bondsteel readily perceive this awareness. After making more than just perfunctory noises in the Presidential race about disengagement from Kosovo, President Bush has made a volte face. His foreign policy advisers have opted to disregard the failures and pitfalls of the Clintonian legacy regarding Kosovo. More than that, they have decided to shore them up instead. Bondsteel has a new lease of 99 years. It is now the real command post for the Kosovo and Macedonian Liberation Armies. It has dawned on Bondsteel ‘s pacesetters that Albanian traditional culture is intertwined with an acephalous society dominated by the Clans and their Caids. The only "promising" way to avoid body bags for our dead GIs, in the not too distant future, is to help create a Greater Albania without seeming to be doing so.

Enters again the Orwellian language. In Macedonia, there is a weapons "harvest," with the local Liberation Army commander transformed into a statesman, ready for a Parliament seat. In fact, weapons can be easily resupplied and "Albanian rebels" continue to terrorize in myriad ways Macedonia’s Slavic villagers, so that a form of indirect, less-than-armed violence prone ethnic cleansing is taking hold. The main Orwellian slogan is "struggle for Human Rights." Macedonia did not have a Milosevic. It did not even attempt to expel its Albanian minority, whose basic human rights suffered no generalized violations, although it is true that this minority (about a third of Macedonia’s population) was not proportionally represented in the governing of Macedonia. The same Orwellian slogan of Human Rights (for Albanians who are denying them to all others in Kosovo) has predominated recently at two secret meetings at Prizren and Piskopelica. This is where American KFOR specialists laid out plans for all Albanian "liberation" armies to start terrorist activities inside Serbia (and not only in southern Serbia, which has an ethnic Albanian minority), to follow this up in Montenegro in September and somewhat later in Greece as well. These meetings were uncovered by a reporter from the Serb paper Svedok ("Witness") who apparently had direct Albanian contacts. It is most unlikely that these meetings were simply invented by Svedok's reporter. By obvious inference, it would be extremely unlikely that the Albanian Liberation Armies would kill American soldiers at Kosovo under such a scenario, even in the longer run.

To avoid the body bags, locally destabilizing and shortsighted CIA-Pentagon field-operations are already on the way. For Serbia, under some DOS leaders that are totally subservient to the US desiderata, there is a new Orwellian "Partnership for Peace." Under its cover, demands have been made to cashier the top Serb Third Army generals familiar with Albanian tactics from Kosovo. It also hides the formula that the "Serbs must remain calm" in their response to Albanian terrorism and incursions. Then, Serb restraint will be praised. In simpler terms, one way or another, Albanians will have their Greater Albania. Peacefully where possible, violently where necessary but a combination of the two. NATO will piously mediate. It is headed by a new Statesman in uniform, General Ralston.

In order to impose its will and punish defiant disobedience, the Clinton Administration weakened a legitimate state fighting an internal threat in favor of unsavory clan elements transformed into "fighters for freedom and human rights." This is a most undeserved depiction given their methods and the aftermath they have created in Kosovo. No sane person could argue that it was necessary to destroy Serbia’s infrastructure, poison its soil, water and air, kill some 3,000 Serb civilians and maim three times that number in order to turn Kosovo over to to the KLA. The net result is that our current leaders are afraid of Albanians and are prepared to compound the Clintonite lunacy. The lesser evil would be to have the fortitude to take all of our troops out of Kosovo, close Bondsteel down and save billions of dollars despite the European complaints about the unilateral exit. Our involvement in the Balkans has already exposed the US as an imperial state. It could turn out in the long run that another empire, the US global one, will find its graveyard in the Balkans if interventionist hawks prevail. Trading support of a pivotal people in the Balkans (the Serbs), who were seeking to suppress an externally-induced guerrilla war, for crime-prone Albanian "liberation armies" was at best a stupid and venal foreign policy "achievement." It cannot be washed away by either Orwellian language or psy-op manipulations of the American people.

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