The Final Assault

When in May 2005 the Bush apparatchiks officially adopted the Clinton policy towards the Balkans (until then, they merely allowed it to continue out of inertia), predictions were rife that independence for the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo would be just around the corner. After two and a half years of diplomatic, propaganda and political onslaught from Washington, London, Brussels and New York, it remains a pipe dream.

The original plan was to have Martti Ahtisaari – former president of Finland, board member of the ICG, and a water-carrier for NATO during its illegal war on Serbia – establish de facto independence as a "special envoy" of the UN. However, his plan for this "final solution" failed miserably when presented to the UN Security Council. New talks were hastily organized, with an artificial deadline of December 10, but with full knowledge that the Albanians would not budge from their demands, having been promised full U.S. and EU support. And so it happened – the "Contact Group troika" accomplished nothing, because no matter how many solutions Belgrade would propose, the Albanians responded with "independence." With the talks failing, the diplomatic battle over Kosovo is now entering a new, perhaps final, phase.

Fever Pitch

As talks drew to a close with the predictable outcome, propaganda in the Imperial media rose to a feverish pitch. Wire services, newspapers, television and internet outlets unleashed a barrage of propaganda previously seen only during the 1999 bombing and occupation.

First came fact-challenged pleas from Westerners who just happened to be advisors to the Kosovo Albanian provisional government; from Anna DiLellio (board member of NAAC) in the Guardian on November 24, to Marshall Harris in the Baltimore Sun on December 9.

The New York Times had another iditorial, short on facts and logic, but long on wishful thinking.

BBC trotted out Alan Little, author of a key Serbophobic propaganda pamphlet, to jeer at Serbs and claim – with the aid of a conveniently anonymous "diplomat" – that Serbs have lost the moral right to Kosovo. The Times gave space to Anthony Loyd, one of the most outspoken partisans of anti-Serb intervention in the 1990s.

UPI turned to an "expert" from the first Bush administration to lecture the Serbs and Russians on how "countries that allow separation are better off than those that do not" and how opponents of Kosovo’s secession should "study the positive legacy that letting go has generated."

Why, the U.S. even erected an idolatrous monument to Father Abraham for promoting just such a legacy… er, not.

Hidden Truths

In addition to editorial propaganda, dozens of reports coming from the occupied province recycled old lies; one particular example is the IHT’s Dan Bilefsky, whose description of the conflict’s background transcribes Albanian separatists’ talking points. On the other hand, Bilefsky – perhaps unintentionally – debunks the "Kosovar" myth. There is no such thing as "Kosovar," he is told by the Albanians. Their identity is Albanian, pure and simple. Yet for years, the mainstream press has promoted the term, intended to imply that Kosovo had a separate identity from Serbia while hiding Albanian nationalism.

Then again, only a few stories dared recycle the fabrication of "10,000" dead Albanians from the 1999 conflict, and all mentioned that it was actually a Serb crackdown on Albanian separatists (the KLA was recognized as a terrorist organization, but its leader is now about to become "Prime Minister" of Kosovo; go figure).

Peter Popham of the Independent borrowed a meme from Albanian lobbyist Anna DiLellio (see above) and wrote about the "birth of a nation"; read, however, the incongruous explanation the Albanian village leader Osman Cokli gives him about why Serbs are leaving:

"The only Serbian who left was a lady with mental problems," he insists. "And she was 92 when they came for her. The community’s gone from 25 families to eight? Rajko must have got that wrong. If they’ve gone away to Serbia, I’m sure it’s just temporarily, for a holiday."

Presumably it’s this kind of friendship, tolerance and coexistence that has Albanians carrying banners proclaiming "Serbia Burn In Hell Forever," or scrawling "Death to Serbs!" on charred ruins of Serbian churches.

Bluster and Defiance

There has been much speculation, both in the West and in Serbia, that the Albanians would declare independence almost immediately. That has not come to pass. As Kosovo separatist leaders have said repeatedly and publicly, they will not move without a green light from Washington and Brussels. Indeed, on December 9 Albanian politicians appealed for "immediate support" from the West for their "Euro-Atlantic future."

Washington’s position is already known. Less so that of Brussels; for even while EUSSR officials publicly declare that consensus has been achieved and that the 27-member union is "near-unanimous" on the issue of recognizing Kosovo, there is ample indication to the contrary.

For example, while AP and Reuters claim only Cyprus is opposed, the Slovakian government is also against recognition, and a major Danish party in the ruling coalition came out against it as well. Romania, Greece and Spain are also cited as being "reluctant."

Still, it would be imprudent to think – as some in Serbia are inclined – that the EU will not eventually "fall into line" and support the Imperial program. Odds are that advocates of independence will steamroll over domestic opposition much as they anticipated overcoming Serbian objections.

Warning Voices

It is worth mentioning some voices of dissent amidst the propaganda deluge. Without exception, they are in the UK – which has a media far less inclined towards self-censorship than the U.S. Empire. The conservative Telegraph urged partition as a "compromise" solution to the conflict; it also published an opinion piece by General Sir Michael Jackson, first commander of KFOR, who warned on December 9 of a "minefield ahead," and also floated partition as a possible solution.

Antiwar MP George Galloway warned against "another Balkan bloodbath" And three weeks ago, Simon Jenkins wrote in the Guardian that "it’s hard to imagine a worse outcome for the Balkans."

Dangerous Delusions

Even so, it appears that policymakers in the West have come to believe in their own propaganda. Ever since the push to separate Kosovo started in 2005, reporters, unnamed diplomats, "experts" and pundits have declared repeatedly that Serbia was just bluffing, and that after the protestations necessary to quell popular backlash, its "democratic reformers" would comply with Imperial demands. Contrary to their expectations, this has not happened. If anything, Serbian position on Kosovo has considerably hardened since mid-2006.

Yet even now the delusion persists. According to the Daily Telegraph, it is "most likely" that the Albanians will wait until Tadic is re-elected in the spring, and then declare independence; as the U.S. and EU recognize Kosovo, Serbia would face a fait accompli and eventually submit, in exchange for promises of "sweetened" EU accession. Says the Telegraph, "most Serbs and Kosovo Albanians wish to put the issue behind them."

They could not be more wrong.

Belgrade remains adamant in rejecting this land grab. Even though the Europhiles in charge have ruled out any military means of regaining the occupied province, and are currently appealing to the World Court, there are no indications they are willing to give up Kosovo. The government has even funded an ad campaign, with billboards springing up all over Serbia, featuring notable Western leaders and invoking their famous quotes in support of the Serbian position.

Force vs. Law

And so, once more, this corner of Serbia becomes a battlefield of great powers. On one side the weakening U.S. Empire, eager to cover up its long defeat with a victory over the designated whipping boy; its European allies and vassals trudge alongside, some willingly and others less so. On the other, the resurgent Russia, which in beleaguered Serbia sees an image of itself, as seen by the West.

As preparations for a mass exodus of the remaining Serbs continue, the war of words over Kosovo shows no signs of ending, and may yet erupt into an actual shooting war of unpredictable extent.

There is no rational basis for endorsing the separation of Kosovo; arguments for it range from fallacies, through fiction, to outright lies. However unacceptable it may seem in the West that Serbia might actually be right, the law is clearly on its side. It’s a clear case of force vs. law, with the law set up to lose.

If that happens, Kosovo will be the last of world’s problems.

Read more by Nebojsa Malic

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for Antiwar.com debuted in November 2000.