by Justin Raimondo
Is it really over? Not by a long shot. As much as I would like to believe it, one look at the text of the "peace" agreement is enough for anyone to see that this is a recipe for disaster. In the name of peace, the U.S. and NATO are virtually guaranteeing continued war somewhere down the line, starting with point 2, "verifiable withdrawal from Kosovo of all military, police and paramilitary forces according to a rapid timetable." To be replaced by whom, or by what? The answer: the KLA. The ethnic cleansing of Kosovo is about to be reversed: the Albanians will return, the remaining Serbs will be forced to flee, and in the interim between the departure of the Serbs and the arrival of the NATO occupiers, vengeance will reign in Kosovo and the streets will run red with Serb blood.
Point 3, the "deployment under UN auspices of effective international civil and security presences" is perhaps the biggest stumbling block, for it raises the question of who will make up this international force and who will command it. This is by no means specified in the text of the agreement. To begin with, there is some question at this point of just what is in the agreement. Although the text has been published, there are two versions: the text voted on by the Serbian parliament and the text released by the European Union. The latter contains a footnote that discusses but does not settle this question. In very canny language, almost Clintonian in its word-parsing ambiguity, the footnote refers to a "unified NATO chain of command," but also specifies a role for non-NATO nations, including Russia. We are told that "NATO units will be under NATO command," but what about non-NATO (i.e. Russian) units? The language gets very vague at this point: "It is understood that Russia's position is that the Russian contingent will not be under NATO command and its relationship to the international presence will be governed by relevant additional agreements." In other words, we'll deal with that later. Here is another tripwire, and it won't be long before it is set off.
JUDGE AND JURY
Point 4 calls for "the safe return to their homes of all displaced persons and refuges." But how do we know who is a refugee since the Kosovars as we have been endlessly reminded were deprived of their identity papers by the Serbs? How will NATO determine who belongs where, and whose property needs to be restored to whom? Those who opposed a ground war for fear of a quagmire may find that 'peace' has brought the same result.
A HYBRID CREATURE
Point 5 proposes to establish "an interim administration for Kosovo, as part of the international civil presence, under which the people of Kosovo can enjoy a substantial autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to be decided by the Security Council of the United Nations." What is this hybrid creature, this "interim administration," a NATO protectorate, a UN trust territory, or part of Yugoslavia? And what is so "interim" about this administration: what will come after it reintegration with the Yugoslav federation, or independence? This whole section of the "peace" document is pure obfuscation.
The withdrawal of Serb troops is to be complete, but the agreement provides for their return in unspecified numbers after an unspecified period of time. But what if the Serbs decide it is time to reassert their sovereignty and NATO says not yet? The potential for conflict in these provisions is almost enough to sink the whole accord, but it doesn't end there: the agreement also provides for the re-entry of Serbs into Kosovo to maintain "a presence at Serb patrimonial sites" and "at key border crossings." What, exactly, is a "Serb patrimonial site"? How many such "patrimonial" sites are claimed by both Serbs and Kosovars? Who will decide, and on what basis? I guess this is where the "interim administration" comes in, but then the second part of that question remains. If Bosnia is any example and this is the "model" the NATO-crats are touting then the result is going to be an ethnically pure Albanian Islamic statelet, nominally a province of Yugoslavia but actually a NATO protectorate. Whatever Serb monasteries escape the ethnic cleansing will have to be guarded day and night by NATO troops, and will almost certainly become flashpoints of some future conflict.
BORDERING ON MADNESS
Disguised as a concession to Milosevic, the provision allowing a FRY presence "at key border crossings" is a setup if ever I saw one. Having been driven from Kosovo by force of arms, the Serbs will now be brought back to establish a military presence on the border with northern Albania the stronghold of the KLA. This is the foreign policy equivalent of arson, not an accidental conflagration but a planned provocation that sparks another war. This "peace" has another war built right into it.
NO COMPLIMENTS TO THE CHEF
Point 8 is a kind of rhetorical goulash, with a little bit of everything thrown into the pot in the hope that every taste will be satisfied. But this brew is bound to leave a bitter taste in everyone's mouth. The KLA will find this dish unpalatable. This section imagines "a political process towards the establishment of an interim political framework" got it? "providing for a substantial self-government for Kosovo" pause for breath "taking full account of the Rambouillet accords and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."
THE ART OF NONCONTRADICTORY CONTRADICTION
Stop right there. The Rambouillet "accords," never signed by Serbia, are completely incompatible with "the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the FRY." What kind of a "political process" can be founded on such a contradiction?
KLA TO NATO: "DEMILITARIZE" THIS!
The endless sentence continues: ". . . and the other countries of the region, and the demilitarization of the KLA." As to this last: easier said than done. The great irony of this war, or at least one that stands out among a multitude, is that the real ground war may have to be fought against those we went in there to "save": the Kosovars. Embittered by the "betrayal," the neo-Marxist guerrillas of the KLA are unlikely to meekly submit to "demilitarization." The Brady bill wouldn't stand a chance in northern Albania and environs, and it is only a matter of time before the armed conflict breaks out again: this time pitting NATO against some faction of the KLA. This is truly the meaning of a Pyhhric victory, that is, a victory that comes at such a high cost that it may as well have been a defeat. With KLA bullets whizzing past their ears, perhaps American soldiers will develop some sympathy for their Serbian "enemies."
AND THE WINNER IS . . .
While the lapdogs of the British press are hailing Tony Blair's great "triumph," and the War Party in this country is claiming a great "victory," even a cursory look at the facts exposes this "spin" as utter nonsense. One has only to compare the Rambouillet "accords" with the current peace agreement to see that old Slobo fought NATO to a standstill. Rambouillet would have given NATO troops the complete run of Yugoslavia, not just Pristina but Belgrade. No government could agree to that and avoid the fate of Vichy France and Vidkund Quisling, and Milosevic fought and won on this crucial point. He preserved the national sovereignty and dignity of his nation, and, against the armed might of 19 nations, he stood alone. By any standard of rational calculation, Serbia is the victor in this war. Will the Clinton administration try to "spin" this as a great victory for WJC, or will they somehow succeed in derailing the peace before morning? The Chinese have a saying, a polite way of saying go to hell, "May you live in interesting times." I am sure this is precisely what they have in mind.
NEW WEEKEND SCHEDULE
You would think that the sudden outbreak of peace would mean that I could take a break: not so. In fact, quite the opposite: in order to keep our readers informed (and entertained) throughout the whole suspenseful peace process, this column will be going all weekend, until an accord is actually signed by both parties and the bombing halts. See you tomorrow, and Sunday too.
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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 US Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and 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).