The Long Shadow of Kosovo
Province Holds Promise, Danger
week, news from the Balkans has focused on the arrival of
Bosnia's new viceroy and the Serbian parliamentary purges.
The fact that "Paddy" Ashdown, an accomplished belligerent
statist, was to become Bosnia's new overlord was already mentioned here. And
while purges in Serbia might sound like exciting reading,
they are but empty political posturing about issues that were
decided a long time ago.
of the Quislings
what if Vojislav Kostunica's Democrats lost
half their seats to Zoran Djindjic's Democrats? They never
had any power to begin with, and wasted
every single opportunity to seize it over the past 18
months with empty
proclamations and contrite statements of submission. That
has left Serbia at the mercy of Djindjic, who dutifully does
the bidding of his sinister masters even as he aims to dominate
Serbia himself. Given that the "context" here is merely who
gets to serve the Empire, one can be forgiven for not giving
a damn and wishing a plague on both their houses.
in Serbia are likely to remember the upcoming anniversary
of the Kumanovo agreement, which
surrendered Kosovo to UN/NATO occupation three years ago next
the torrent of press coverage over the past three years, dedicated
to "humanitarian disaster," NATO's "cause of justice" and
"Serb war crimes" that failed to materialize (but that was
hardly mentioned, of course), the upcoming anniversary is
shrouded in deafening silence. Yet just this past weekend,
the puppet government of this UN-ruled territory had to be
by the Imperial viceroy for claiming the territory of a neighboring country.
Macedonians, whose land was in question, were incensed. Serbs
who take part in the puppet parliament walked out in disgust.
Kosovo's viceroy justified the veto by claiming the resolution
was "bad for Kosovo's reputation," though it pales in comparison
with other trademarks of occupied Kosovo, such as murder,
pillaging, ethnic cleansing, drug- and gun-running, sex slavery
and terrorism. But no one seems to care.
to the Suspended Castle
fundamentals have changed since June 1999. There are far less
Serbs and other non-Albanians in the province, true, and the
occupying authorities are still trying to
shut down even the few remaining pockets of resistance.
There are many more Western corporations, mostly banks, telecom
industry concerns and mining interests. And the viceroy is
now a German, after a Frenchman and a Dane had their turn.
But the fundamental status of Kosovo remains as vague now as it was then.
Kosovo is still a part of Serbia, but only in the vaguest,
most theoretical sense. In practice, it is both independent
(i.e. separate from Serbia) and not (i.e. occupied by NATO/UN).
This is a cause of perpetual frustration. If NATO was willing
to violate all laws and international norms of behavior in
order to "save" the Albanians and help the KLA fight for independence,
logic would indicate that such independence would have NATO
support. Yet even as Albanians get more and more from the
occupation each day, full independence is always just out
of their reach.
occupation has made independence possible, but it is also
the only thing holding it back. Albanians are now wondering
what they need to do to make "Republic of Kosova" reality,
while the Serbs and others in Kosovo fervently hope NATO sticks
around to protect them (forgetting that NATO was responsible
for their suffering to begin with). Belgrade authorities see
NATO as the only way to regain control of the occupied province.
truth points to itself, really.
parties have an incentive to "cooperate with" (serve) NATO,
in hope that things will eventually turn their way. Which
is why the Empire just loves the status quo, no matter
what its paladins say.
in the Madness?
desire to be served could help explain the Empire's approach to Bosnia,
Croatia, Macedonia, and Montenegro as well. Only in Croatia
was the imposed solution anywhere near clear-cut, and even
that left the specter of Croats' mass expulsion of Serbs hanging
over Zagreb's head like a dark cloud. Bosnia is held together
by force and trickery, Macedonia is eaten alive by the Albanian
question, and the aspirations of Imperial quislings in Montenegro
have been just put
on ice for three years.
pattern emerges. Lies, fear and brute force first create a
dependency, which then secures obedience.
way to cut the way out of this deliberate tangle is to start
defining issues clearly. But definitions have a way of choosing
the direction the discussion is taking, and many of those
directions could be uncomfortable for Washington.
example, if Kosovo was merely an instance of gross human rights
violations by an unpopular regime, now that the regime is
gone there is little reason to keep it separate from Serbia.
As Albanians find this unacceptable, the "human rights" angle
is obviously inadequate to explain what happened.
it were a genocide perpetrated by the Serbian state, with
full support of the Serbian people (as the "joint criminal
of the Hague Inquisition clearly implies, even as it carefully
avoids to include Kosovo), then an independent Albanian Kosovo
should spring up tomorrow. Clearly, the Albanians would love
nothing more, but there is a glitch. There is no evidence
whatsoever that genocide happened.
it boils down to a question of property. Considering that
NATO's possession of territory is illegal, taking the occupation
into account would clearly prejudice the solution in Serb
favor. Putting that aside, then, does Serbia have the right
to Kosovo if so many Albanians live there?
that's tricky. What is "there"? If "majority" of an ethnic
group is considered only within internal administrative subdivisions,
that would be a clarion call to all provincial governments
in the world, triggering mass secession and unprecedented
warfare. The numbers game would also encourage "demographic
conquest," warfare through a population explosion that cannot
be countered by means of conventional war or politics, but
only ethnic cleansing and genocide – both universally condemned,
though practiced whenever they can be implemented successfully.
does a state lay claim to a territory, though, if resident
population (however it came into being) has no bearing on
the territory's ownership? Again, difficult questions abound,
and there are few good precedents to look to for guidance.
Empire's book, that hardly matters. Precedents and laws are
only as good as they can be used, as excuses or pretexts for
the next conquest. This utilitarian approach may backfire
eventually, once someone else uses conflicting principles
enshrined in the enacted precedents. If Albanians in Kosovo
can demand independence, why can't "Aztlan"? Or Kurdistan? Or…
that is another reason why Kosovo is kept in limbo. Its overlords
might simply not know what to do next. But they were certainly
much more decisive when it came to bombing things to bits.
things depend on how the issue of Kosovo is resolved. Losing
it – and their medieval kingdom – to the Turks in the 14th
century was a defining moment
in Serb history, one that has shaped the Serb national
identity ever since. Losing or regaining it in the 21st
century might be equally pivotal.
Albanian national program hinges upon acquiring Kosovo. It
is the fulcrum of the desired
all-Albanian state, without which further claims to territory
in Macedonia, inner Serbia, northwestern Greece and even Montenegro
would be rendered meaningless.
the United States, Kosovo represents a milestone on the road
from Republic to Empire that could well be a point of no return.
If it indeed serves as a precedent for separatists and ethnic
militants inside America itself, the fate of Kosovo might
even determine the future of the US as a surviving political
but not least, all over the world nations with internal administrative
divisions, and restive minorities within them, are eagerly
awaiting the resolution of Kosovo.
of the World
did not have to be this way. Local disputes like this are
common, and though often bloody can be resolved between the
contesting parties if there is sufficient political will.
But the 1999 intervention and the subsequent occupation made
Kosovo an Imperial issue, which if solved in a wrong way could
have lasting and disastrous global consequences. And that
is something we would all have to live with.