Still a Lie

On February 17, 2008, the ethnic Albanian provisional government of the NATO-occupied province of Kosovo declared independence. Five years later, the “Republic of Kosovo” has been recognized by half the world’s governments and enjoys unqualified Imperial support. It is also a crime- and corruption-ridden hellhole, and a failure of Western nation-building project.

Not surprisingly, the cheerful congratulations from the White House and Foggy Bottom paint a rosy picture of progress, prosperity, peace, human rights, rule of law and multiethnic coexistence. “Kosovian” reality, as usual, is quite different.

Business As Usual

In November last year, as Albanians from Kosovo and Macedonia joined the celebrations of Albania’s independence centennial, the German weekly Der Spiegel published an insider testimonial about Kosovo:

“The so-called EULEX mission, with a staff of roughly 2,500, has cost more than €1 billion ($1.3 billion) since 2008. Nevertheless, a recent report by the European Court of Auditors finds that there have been hardly any successes.”

Similar sentiments can be found in a recent article in France’s daily Le Monde, which asked: “is the EU turning a blind eye to corruption and organized crime?”

Both the French and the German reporters are remarkably naive. The function of EULEX was never to alter the Albanian society, where “law and order” largely revolves around a medieval concept of vendetta. Rather, its purpose was to replace the status-neutral UN mission with a presence directly controlled by Brussels and Washington, openly supportive of “independence.” It has done precisely that. Hence the praise from Washington for “progress” in the very fields the Europeans shyly point out as failures.

And that’s without a single word mentioning the murderous bigotry against non-Albanians in the self-proclaimed state.

Evil and Monuments Thereto

Albanians claims of persecution and discrimination have first gained traction in the U.S. during the late 1980s, as grievance lobbies competed for policy attention in the chaos following the end of the Cold War. Yet it was only after the Dayton Accords ended the Bosnian War in 1995 that Washington began stoking the fires of violence in southern Serbia. In 1998, the Empire officially embraced the “Kosovo Liberation Army”, which it previously labeled “terrorist,” and threatened Belgrade with war unless it surrendered to rebel demands. In January 1999, following a staged “massacre,” NATO gave then-Yugoslavia an ultimatum: allow NATO occupation of Kosovo, or else. Belgrade said no.

An evil little war followed, wrong in both cause and conduct. Unable to hurt the Yugoslav Army, NATO began to terrorize civilians, until a face-saving compromise was proposed by Moscow. Not surprisingly, NATO shredded the deal before the ink was dry, and once in possession of the province turned it over to the KLA.

The result was a reign of terror: murder, rape, arson, demolition of churches, chapels and cemeteries – all directed not just against the Serbs, but also the Gorani, Romany and even Albanians who weren’t fully on board with KLA rule. NATO “peacekeepers” looked the other way, while the Western media – which had spun tall tales of “100,000 dead” and “rape camps” and “genocide” to help justify the war – shrugged the terror off as “revenge attacks.” In a particularly vile twist, Albanian repression was thus turned into “proof” that Albanians had been repressed.

The terror culminated in March 2004, with a pogrom one UN official compared to Kristallnacht, when 50,000 or so Albanians systematically torched Serb villages and tore down churches. In the aftermath, the propaganda machine went into overdrive, arguing that the pogrom ought to be rewarded with independence. And so it was.

In 2005, Bush II embraced the Balkans policy of his defeated challenger, and pledged support for the “Kosovian” cause. The UN whitewashed the pogrom and stopped insisting on “standards before status.” When opposition from Belgrade and Moscow stalled the independence creep, the Empire had the leadership in Belgrade replaced, and sidelined Moscow by having the Albanians declare independence unilaterally.

When Belgrade asked the International Court of Justice to opine on the legality of the declaration – which by all rights should have been nonexistent – the ICJ resorted to semantic contortions to make it legal.

Because of Reasons

There have been numerous explanations for Empire’s obsession with “Kosovo” over the years. One popular theory is that the province is rich in minerals and other natural resources, so the wars and the propaganda were all about greed. It is reinforced every so often with rumors of this or that former Imperial official seeking to invest in some major project – Madeleine Albright’s conglomerate in mobile telephony, or Wesley Clark in fracking for gas, for example.

In December 2012, the New York Times ran a story about Americans who “helped free Kosovo” (sic) returning to a heroes’ welcome as investors. While some of these people no doubt seek to cash in on their reputation, Albright’s telephone takeover is in limbo, while Clark’s oil and gas exploration has never been more than a pipe dream.

Vanity has certainly played a role in Imperial meddling. After declaring his support for the “Kosovian” cause, Bush II was given worshipful reception and a monument in Albania proper. His predecessor was honored with a golden statue and a street in the “Kosovian” capital. A shopping mall was named after his wife and later Secretary of State. It was Hillary Clinton who, visiting Pristina last October, declared her interest – and that of all Americans, even – to be “personal.”

One reason, however, rarely gets examined by the press: power. According to insider memoirs, the 1999 war wasn’t about the Albanians, or even so much about breaking the Serbs, as much as sticking it to the Russians. Yet it was the “Kosovian agenda,” starting with the 1999 attack on Serbia, that “lost” Russia to Washington, as the client Yeltsin regime was overthrown in a palace coup by Vladimir Putin.

Hegemon’s Gambit

Even so, there is still power to be gained from breaking Serbia. In the 1990s, the Empire’s propaganda apparatus manufactured an image of the Serbs as arch-villains, whose atrocities supposedly spurred the noble West into finding its moral compass and embarking on humanitarian crusades. This paved the way to a world without rules, governed by the strongest, who have the right to invade anyone, anywhere.

By making a public spectacle of Serbia’s humiliation, the Empire seeks to maintain hegemony as long as possible, sending a message to the rest of the world that resistance is futile. Judging by the Muslim world, however, the message didn’t take. That is particularly ironic, considering that the Balkans interventions were advertised as proof of Empire’s good intentions towards Islam.

Working As Intended

Five years ago, when the Albanians declared “Kosovo” independent, their only argument was conquest. Today they stand on the cusp of being officially recognized by Belgrade – a result of systematic betrayal first by the puppet regime of Boris Tadic, then by the replacement quislings installed last May.

After all that has happened, the Imperial government has the cheek to congratulate Serbia on its state holiday, praising “our many years as partners and friends” and wishing “all the people of Serbia… a peaceful and prosperous future.” If this is partnership and friendship, what does hostility look like?

The “Kosovian” black hole and the treason of Belgrade are not glitches in the system, but features. The system, as designed by the Empire, is working as intended. Yet Washington and Brussels are counting on the Serbs never figuring it out, and even if they do, being absolutely powerless to do anything about it.

Legend says this was precisely the attitude of Ottoman lords in February 1804, right before a major Serb uprising started the century-long struggle that eventually ended the Ottoman Empire. The holiday which prompted Foggy Bottom’s “congratulations” marks the day that rebellion began.

Ignorance, you see, cuts both ways.

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.