Day of Infamy

Serbia did not have to wait long to be “rewarded” for the narrow re-election of Europhile president Boris Tadic; precisely two weeks after the runoff vote, the EU and the Empire made their move. On Sunday, February 17, the Albanian provisional government of the occupied province of Kosovo declared independence, and requested international recognition. By Wednesday, it had come from Washington, London, Paris, Rome, Berlin and several other countries. Fittingly, the very first government that recognized the “Republic of Kosova” was the puppet regime of Afghanistan.

The Serbian legislature immediately passed an act annulling the Albanians’ declaration, while the separatist leaders were indicted for rebellion. Russia and China refused to recognize the renegade regime, as did Spain, Romania, Cyprus, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia, among others. Many countries are sitting on the fence still, unwilling to anger the Empire but unsure how supporting a forcible partition of Serbia would serve their interests.

Jubilant Albanians partied the entire day Sunday. In Serbia, however, angry demonstrators stoned the embassies of the U.S. and current EU chair, Slovenia (also the first republic to secede from Yugoslavia, in 1991). Dozens were reported injured in clashes with the police, as the Serbian government appealed for calm.

Both the government and the opposition in Serbia have explicitly ruled out military action to defend Kosovo, intending to prove the merits of their case by a show of responsible restraint. They are dancing a fine line between the anger of their people and the perception in the West that the restraint is, in fact, impotence. Guided by this misperception, U.S. and EU diplomats sent cheery messages of “friendship” to Belgrade, even as Serbia began recalling ambassadors from Western capitals.

Everything You Know Is Wrong

There are so many misconceptions about what took place on Sunday, as well as Kosovo in general, it’s hard to address them all, much less at once. That may be the point, actually, as the average news reader is far more inclined to accept the official story (which is utterly absurd) than to question everything therein, including “and” and “the.”

To start with, there is no legal basis for the Albanian separatists’ action. None whatsoever. Serbia’s territorial integrity is guaranteed by scores of international treaties, the Helsinki Final Act, and even the UN Resolution 1244, which was conceived as a fig leaf for the invading NATO forces in 1999. The UN has confirmed that 1244 is still in force, which means the regime in Pristina is now in breach of it, as are any countries that recognize the “independent” Kosovo.

The secession is being justified by the alleged repression ethnic Albanians were subjected to at the hands of Slobodan Milosevic and the Serbian and Yugoslav governments in the 1990s. Oddly enough, this was not invoked as an argument for secession in 1999; then it was all about the UN and NATO “rebuilding a multiethnic Kosovo.” That went real well, by the way.

Even today, agency reports continue to mention the number of “10,000 Albanian civilians” supposedly killed in the 1998-99 conflict between the terrorist KLA and Serbian authorities. That argumentum ad atrocitatem has been repeatedly debunked; once actual casualty figures are added up, one is struck by the disproportionately high number of Serb victims, as well as Albanians killed by the KLA.

Albanians claim that they suffered discrimination and abuse under Serbian rule (and not just under Milosevic, but ever since 1912, when Kosovo was liberated from the Ottoman Empire); yet people like Mehdi Hyseni, a vocal champion of Kosovo as part of a greater Albanian state, had an Albanian-language university in Pristina, where they could study from Albanian textbooks and get PhD’s, then get government jobs in Belgrade and keep them until 1999. Strange, to say the least.

Declaration of Dependence

Even with the atrocity and oppression arguments failing, the Albanians pull out a trump card: self-determination. They are 90% of the population in Kosovo, and it’s their democratic right, they say – and the West echoes; or is it the other way around?

Except it is not self-determination at work here, but the “right” of conquest. It is specious to invoke the majority argument without noting how that majority came about. Nor is the secession of Kosovo about property rights; the UN and the provisional government have simply seized Serbian private and government property wherever they could, over the past eight years.

For all that the White House and the Western press wax poetic about “freedom” and “liberation,” what is happening in Kosovo is nothing of the sort. Throughout their history, Albanians living in the region have sided with the strongest imperial power in order to achieve control of Kosovo. First it was the Ottoman Empire, then Austria-Hungary, then Mussolini’s Italy and the Third Reich; they even found accommodation with the Communists that ruled Yugoslavia, who used them to keep the unruly Serbs down.

As Phil Cunliffe of Spiked observes, the Albanian regime in Kosovo has not so much declared independence, as it has “declared dependence” on the Brussels Leviathan. John Laughland concurs, seeing Kosovo as another EU protectorate in the mold of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Diana Johnstone calls it a “NATO colony.”

No Such Thing as ‘Kosovar’

To counter the obvious questions about a second Albanian state, both the separatists in Kosovo and their Imperial minders have taken to calling the inhabitants of the province “Kosovars” (or “Kosovans”). Yet the Albanians to whom the term is supposed to apply hardly ever use it themselves. They are proud of their Albanian identity, and have said so openly, to the bemusement of reporters. The term, however, sticks around in the West, like another fabrication of the 1990s, “Bosnian.”

Flags underscore the similarity between these two Empire-propped quasi-states. Part of the effort by the separatist government, led by Hashim Thaci – once head of the terrorist KLA, known as “Snake” – to present a multi-ethnic, tolerant and thoroughly sanitized face to the world is the new flag of Kosovo: a golden shape of the province on a blue field, crowned with six white stars. It resembles nothing so much as the flag of Bosnia-Herzegovina, created by a EU-appointed committee.

However, as Harry de Quetteville of the Telegraph notes, the West’s interpretation of nationhood is “fundamentally at odds” with that of the Albanians. London, Brussels and Washington define a nation by how people behave (“values”). “But in Kosovo, what counts is ‘identity’: who you are, what you speak and look like, how you worship.” And it takes more than a new flag to reconcile the two, if that’s even possible.

Selfishness and Principle

There is no better illustration of the world turned upside down than a Reuters report on the opposition to the new state. “The list of countries refusing to recognise (sic) Kosovo’s sovereignty reads like a global A-Z of separatist strife,” writes Jon Boyle. The insinuation here is that opposition to “Kosova” is driven by selfish, internal political considerations, while London, Paris, Berlin and Washington are acting on some sort of high principle (!).

In reality, self-interest is the driving force on both sides of the issue. The Empire does not support Albanian claims out of some principled attachment to freedom or self-determination; it seeks to establish legitimacy for its policy of unrestrained aggression, while nurturing a mistaken belief that the Islamic world would hate it less if it balanced the murder of Iraqis with the championing of Bosnian Muslims and Albanians. Kicking the Serbs – perceived as surrogate Russians, in addition to being the only nation in Eastern Europe that refuses to grovel – is just the icing on the cake.

The trouble with this approach is that it runs afoul of every aspect of international law, and the cumulative heritage of Western civilization that forms the foundation of world relations today. It is, admittedly, imperfect, but the alternative is a Hobbesian free-for-all – with nuclear weapons.

There is something else incongruous about this as well. All the previous challenges to the Westphalian order came from revisionist powers, countries unhappy with their lot in world affairs who sought to change it by force. Yet today, what one would expect to be such revisionist powers – Russia, China, India – are actually the staunchest defenders of international law, and the greatest offender is precisely the self-appointed guardian of the world, the American Empire.

Peril and Hope

To the Imperial officials supporting the “independence” of Kosovo, none of that matters. It is legal because they say it is legal; legitimate because their troops, bombs and willpower stand behind it. The ancients had a saying: whom gods would destroy, they first make mad. That madness had a name: hubris.

American, British, German and other diplomats may insist all they want that Kosovo is “unique” and its precedent does not apply to anyone else, anywhere. Separatists all over the world are watching intently to see if the Albanians succeed; if yes, then anyone anywhere may try – especially if they feel they have allies strong enough. With the Empire actually much less powerful than it tries to pretend, and the law now scrapped for the principle of “whatever you can get away with,” Balkanization beckons worldwide.

In Serbia itself, the attempt to sever Kosovo has caused a powerful backlash against Europhiles and American lackeys; for eight years the people were told that if they would just be patient, democratic and apologetic enough, they would be forgiven for the “crimes” of the “evil Milosevic” and embraced by the loving “international community.” Few can now reconcile the gaping difference between words and deeds of the West.

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.