Four years ago this week, Kosovo burned; tens of thousands of ethnic Albanians – armed, organized and determined – systematically went after the province’s Serbs. They burned churches and monasteries, destroyed entire villages, and drove over four thousand people out of their homes. NATO troops occupying the province cowered before the rampage, with a few honorable exceptions. Claiming their responsibility was to protect “people, not property,” they would evacuate the Serbs, and then watch their villages and churches burn. The pogrom lasted for four days; only when American troops were brought out to protect a Serb enclave did the Albanians stop.

Four years hence, none of the 30,000 Albanians involved in the pogrom has faced any sort of legal sanction. Quite the contrary, their three-day rampage across the province, compared to “Kristallnacht,” became a justification for giving Kosovo to the Albanians as an “independent” state: March 17, 2004 led directly to February 17, 2008.

The very same Western media that willingly cheered on the NATO invasion and occupation of the Serbian province in 1999, reported on the pogrom in a downright shameful manner. Organized attacks on Serb civilians became “clashes” and “violence”; many also accepted as fact the blood libel presented at the start of the pogrom, that Serbs had caused the drowning of Albanian children in the Ibar river. (It later emerged that the drowning story originated from a professional KLA propagandist, Halit Barani.) Testifying both to the awesome power of deceit and the almost limitless gullibility of the public, the media blitz that followed the pogrom completely shifted perspectives, proclaiming Albanians the victims – of Western neglect and frustration. Far from revealing the truth about Kosovo, the pogrom was used to edify the lie; efforts that culminated in the declaration of dependence last month can be traced directly to the policy offensive in the aftermath of March 2004.

The Anniversary Raid

Given all this, it is entirely possible that those who ordered the heavily armed UN police and KFOR troops to storm a courthouse in Kosovska Mitrovica, in the early hours of March 17 this week, did not know it was the anniversary of the 2004 pogrom. Had they known, they would not have been surprised at what happened next.

The courthouse in question was the site of a protest by Serb judges, forced out by the NATO/KLA occupation in 1999, who wanted their jobs and lives back. It was supported by the local community as another way of civil disobedience to the KLA regime and its NATO/UNMIK enablers. Yet to the occupiers of Kosovo, this was “occupation” and usurpation of UN authority – so they sent in the troops.

They were met by a hailstorm of rocks and Molotov cocktails by Serb protesters, who gathered to stop the raid. Clashes lasted for almost five hours, until the UN withdrew from the city, leaving it under de facto martial law. Belgrade daily Politika mentions 70 Serbs were injured, 15 of them seriously (one was comatose after being shot in the head). On the UN/KFOR side, there were 63 injured, 48 of which were police. Western reports confirmed Politika‘s numbers of UN casualties, but made no mention of Serbs whatsoever. Early on Wednesday, it was reported that one Ukrainian police officer had died from his injuries.

UNMIK’s spokesman claimed that the raid had “no alternative,” because there were “credible reports” another UN building was about to be “occupied.” If the objective of the raid was to demonstrate force and “liberate” the courthouse from Serbian judges, 1999-style, then it failed miserably; the UN is out of Mitrovica, and the seized judges have all been released.

Malice, not Error

On the surface, it sounds like something one would expect from the UN: an ill-timed and bungled police action that accomplished precisely the opposite of its goal, leaving death and injury in its wake. However, malice, rather than incompetence, seems to be a more likely explanation.

The province’s American deputy viceroy wasted no time in claiming some grand conspiracy from Belgrade was at work. Deputy head of UNMIK Larry Rossin told the press in Pristina that it was “clear” to him that the violence was “orchestrated.” Then he turned around and accused Belgrade of not controlling the Serbs in Kosovo. Serbia’s “interventions or lack of interventions with those who are causing these problems” was hindering UN operations, he said.

Behold, the pinnacle of nation building and social engineering: an American deputy viceroy who fails at elementary logic. But no matter – what’s important is that Serbs are to blame, no matter what they do (or do not). Thus has it been in Kosovo since 1998.

Any observer capable of reasoning would find it hard to believe that Belgrade is orchestrating anything; the government has just fallen, and there is much confusion and disagreement on whether to defend Kosovo at all, let alone how. Kosovo waters are so murky that speculation about a secret Serbian “partition plan” has been reported as fact.

It is interesting to note that KFOR commander Lt. Gen. Xavier de Marnhac claimed his troops used “appropriate force,” and threatened the Serbs with more of it. De Marnhac, by the way, is best known for stating back in November 2007 that, because the Albanians had so many more children than the Serbs, “there will be some kind of biological end to the problem” because “one of the population(s) will simply disappear.” (emphasis added)

One is tempted to ask whether De Marnhac and his superiors intend to hasten that “biological end.” Unable to conquer the Serbs, who continue to refuse the fabricated and imposed “reality” that Kosovo is now an Albanian state, the Empire is now attempting to cast them as “occupiers” and aggressors in their own country. It’s been done before, in Croatia and Bosnia, with horrific results.

Litmus Test

Meanwhile, Canada and Japan joined the still short list of countries that recognize the Kosovo abomination as an independent state. Canada’s foreign minister, Maxime Bernier, hastened to add this was not by any means a precedent for anything. It remains to be seen whether his fellow Quebecois agree. His Japanese counterpart Masahiko Komura expressed hope the recognition would stabilize the region and not hurt the “traditional friendship” of Japan and Serbia. Yet that is precisely what is not going to happen.

Canada’s Bernier also claimed that recognizing the Albanian quasi-state meant joining “the international community.” For years, the Empire in the Balkans used this vacuous expression to lend itself legitimacy; it wasn’t the UN, or NATO, or a group of countries acting arbitrarily and against all rules, but the “international community” that bombed, embargoed and held sham negotiations to impose ultimatums. Apparently, the willingness and ability to obey Washington’s every whim is the chief criterion to belonging to this “community,” which is in no way, shape or form “reality-based.”

Whether its architects planned this or not, Kosovo has become a litmus test for the world. By recognizing Kosovo, governments the world over can show whether they want to hitch their horse to the Empire’s wobbling cart. While the choice of Canada and Japan is regrettable, the Empire and its satellites are still a very small minority. Washington’s moment of triumph is shaping up to be anything but.

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.