Back to Kosovo

Bush to Finish Clinton Intervention

During last year’s electoral campaign, John Kerry’s camp turned to Bill Clinton’s policymakers to offer a "new" strategy of aggression in the Balkans as a way of discounting the botched Babylon operation. Kerry lost, and for a moment it seemed that the Balkans intervention lobby went down with him. Sadly, it was not to be. By January this year, the regrouped Balkans imperialists went on the offensive in the media, in the corridors of power, and on the ground, promoting a policy of an independent Kosovo, a centralized Bosnia, and a crippled Serbia. This week, that policy was officially adopted by Emperor Bush II.

A "New" Policy

On Tuesday, an anonymous official – i.e., an administration-approved leaker – told the Washington Post that Washington was "signaling that it is now committed to resolving the outstanding issues in Bosnia and Kosovo":

"The plan, which Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns will announce in congressional testimony tomorrow and a speech Thursday, has been carefully worked out in intensive discussions with UN and European officials. The United Nations will shortly appoint Kai Eide, the Norwegian ambassador to NATO, to assess whether Kosovo is ready for final-status talks. Once that certification is made, probably by mid-autumn, then the United Nations will sponsor international negotiations on whether Kosovo should remain part of Serbia, become independent or achieve a hybrid status." (Emphasis added)

Note that Eide’s certification of standards is assumed to be a done deal, probably based on his whitewash of the March 2004 pogrom.

Said to be part of Condoleezza Rice’s "effort to clean up the diplomatic underbrush" that had gathered in the Balkans during the first Bush II term, the plan is praised by Clinton’s main Balkans enforcer, Richard Holbrooke. Apparently, much of it is the work of Nicholas Burns, State Department spokesman under Clinton and a Balkans interventionist.

Neolibs Strike Back

Think of it as the big comeback of "neoliberals," the Clinton-era interventionists who wrapped their warmongering in the cloak of "human rights," and have bemoaned the current "neoconservative" regime for discrediting nation-building imperialism through raw belligerence.

Now it is none other than neocon Condi Rice who is co-opting a neolib platform straight out of John Kerry’s campaign. No doubt the Bush II cabinet thinks that solving the "Serbian Question" would deflect criticism from Iraq, and maybe even generate some good PR in the Muslim world.

All the pieces of Washington’s Balkans design are starting to fall into place now, as the neocons and neolibs come together in perfect Imperial harmony.

Return of the Bombers

According to The Scotsman, former UK defense secretary George Robertson (now Lord Robertson of Port Ellen) is to become "chief negotiator between Belgrade and Pristina over the future of Kosovo" (May 17). Robertson, who in 1999 coordinated the NATO attack on Serbia, later became NATO’s secretary-general.

The incongruity of an aggressor returning to the scene of his crime as a purported peacemaker should be overwhelming. But it is not unheard of. It took only two years for Javier Solana, NATO’s secretary-general in 1999, to visit Belgrade as a diplomatic envoy, and two more for Belgrade leaders to do his bidding as Solana restructured Yugoslavia. If people refuse to defend their own dignity, why should the Empire bother believing they have any?

The Scotsman article "helpfully" informs us that Robertson would have to deal with the "dispute" over some 200,000 Serbs, which "Serbia says fled Kosovo during the conflict, and are now too frightened to return to the country. Kosovo Albanian officials put the figure at 70,000" (emphasis added).

Serbia says they fled? We all know "Serbia" lies. So no such thing happened, verstehen? They are "too frightened" to return? Must be because they are all hardened war criminals, murderers of Albanian babies and rapists of innocent Albanian women; let them suffer! Besides, Albanians claim the number is only 70,000. Of course they would. This is the kind of "reporting" that has characterized Imperial involvement in Kosovo from the very beginning. Kosovo’s occupation was based on lies, sustained by lies, and justified by lies.

But that is not all. The Scotsman also claims that "There has been other documented evidence of ethnic Albanian militias preparing for a new uprising if they fail to secure independence." Weren’t these "militias" (i.e., the KLA) supposed to have disarmed in 1999? Stipulating that the Scotsman’s claim is true, why should the Albanian threat of uprising be an argument for independence? Lord knows, the Empire is so scared of Iraqi insurgents it is preparing to leave that country tomorrow.

The Phantom Heritage

When the Taliban regime of Afghanistan destroyed the Bamiyan Buddha statues in early 2001, the act was met with outrage in the West. But the commensurate destruction of over a hundred Serbian churches, monasteries, abbeys, chapels, and monuments throughout the Albanian-occupied Kosovo has been given nearly zero play by the mainstream Western media and is therefore virtually unknown.

Perhaps the only thing more horrible than the destruction of the Serbian heritage in Kosovo has been the Imperial effort at its reconstruction. After March 2004, the UN mission in Kosovo and UNESCO took steps to repair at least some of the churches, though only the ones destroyed in the pogrom. The Albanian provisional government promised money (despite its widely touted poverty!), but tried to present the reconstruction as the rebuilding of "Kosovo heritage," not as restitution of damages to the Serbian Orthodox Church. Understandably, the SOC balked at the idea and was demonized in the media as a result.

Eventually, the Church signed a memorandum with UNMIK and the Albanians regarding the rebuilding of just some of the destroyed churches, and UNESCO got in the act with the first donors’ conference in its history. But UNMIK and UNESCO both held to the Albanian line about "Kosovo heritage."

The organization’s director-general, Koichiro Matsuura, penned an editorial for the Christian Science Monitor last week praising the NATO intervention that "put an end to the oppression" of Albanians and "freed" Kosovo from "a nightmare that had lasted more than a decade." In Matsuura’s universe of moral equivalency, the systematic devastation of Serbian Orthodox heritage in Kosovo never happened. Rather, "Kosovo heritage" was endangered by "feelings of revenge and hatred that set the different peoples of this region against each other."

The 40,000-strong NATO force has done next to nothing to prevent the destruction of Serbian shrines (or for that matter, the arson, murder, robbery, and expulsion of non-Albanians at the hands of the KLA). But the horrendous physical destruction that has taken place pales in comparison to the mental obliteration of the Serb presence in Kosovo that UNMIK and UNESCO are conducting now.

Attack of the Lobbyists

The Congressional hearing at which Undersecretary Burns revealed the "new" plan took place Wednesday, against a backdrop that left little doubt as to the Empire’s preference in the region. The published roster of panelists was heavy with Albanian lobbyists (Shirley Cloyes-DioGuardi of AACL, Harry Bajraktari of NAAC), Kosovo Albanian officials (two Catholic clergymen and a government minister), and partisans of Kosovo independence (USIP’s Daniel Serwer and a member of the Independent Commission for the Balkans). The only two Serbs on the panels were a veteran envoy of the Orthodox Church in Washington and an advisor to the pro-Imperial president Boris Tadic.

One of the Albanian Catholic clergymen listed was Lush Gjergji, a biographer of Mother Theresa and a major supporter of the independence cause. The other, Bishop Mark Sopi, is known for the outrageous claims by his chancellor (Shan Zefi) that Serbian Orthodox heritage in Kosovo is actually Albanian and Catholic. In fact, chancellor Zefi is accompanying the bishop, as both clergymen were just at an AACL fundraiser in New York presenting the Albanians as rescuers of Jews in WWII. The third Kosovo Albanian panelist, "Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning" in the "government of Kosovo" Ardian Gjini, was also at the AACL fundraiser, and is presumably testifying about the "rebuilding" of endangered Serbian heritage whose existence Zefi denies.

Revenge of the Empire

And so we come to this. The Empire has chosen its course in the Balkans, the only one that follows the inner logic of global hegemony. Its Middle Eastern conquistador project may be a disaster growing worse by the day, but the Empire cannot afford to show weakness. Its dominion over the world is based on a general perception of omnipotence. Fear of the Imperial military is supposed to keep the other nations in line. But when its unwilling subjects challenge that omnipotence and demonstrate a lack of fear, the façade crumbles to reveal the Empire’s ultimate powerlessness. It can kill people, but it cannot really force them to love their torturers, no matter how hard it tries.

Unfortunately, that does not stop it from trying. Everyone who has thrown their lot in with the Empire knows that the moment it stops being universally feared, it will become universally hated, and its downfall won’t be far behind. The response to the Iraq fiasco, therefore, is to threaten Iran, Syria, North Korea, Russia, Serbia… The Empire is now engaged in trying to outrun entropy. So successful is this effort that some people are beginning to wonder if the ultimate ruin it is guaranteed to bring might be part of a plan.

The dark forces that have schemed to take control of the American Republic since the 1850s (if not earlier) have come into their own in the 20th century, and they revealed themselves at the end of the Cold War. In the past 15 years, thanks in great part to the Balkans interventions, the last vestiges of the Republic were swept away, and it became an Empire governed by fear, anger, and hate. It isn’t the plot of a cult blockbuster; we’re living it.

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 debuted in November 2000.