Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Unfinished Business for Blair

In Tribune, London, 8 December 2006

Kosovo Independence - There's No Alternative

It is sad to see the ruined fragments of the former Yugoslavia. You can travel from the Arctic Circle to the Moroccan border with Spain without showing a passport. But to travel from Skopje to Pristina, which was once as trouble-free as going from Manchester to Leeds, is a time-consuming bureaucratic business. The only hope for the sundered Balkans is for the separate states to start cooperating and eventually to join the European Union.

For that to happen, the last piece of the Balkan jigsaw has to have clear and guaranteed shape-and that is an independent Kosovo. Recognition must precede cooperation and reintegration.

Occasionally overlooked in the wake of the Iraqi debacle is the fact that Tony Blair's foreign policy was not always bad. Without the Prime Minister's strength over Kosovo, Slobodan Milosevic would probably have escaped with the ethnic cleansing– and remained in power. Certainly, Clinton ungoaded by Blair would not have supported action-and, since it was on behalf of Muslims and there was no oil involved, not even a belligerent Bush would have been that fired up about a genuine humanitarian issue in an oil-free niche of the Balkans.

But now as Blair approaches the end of his premiership, Kosovo is still unfinished business. Europe and the UN are hedging about independence, almost eight years after Milosevic's killers beat an ignominious retreat. Accepting that he certainly is not going to see a happy ending in Iraq, the Prime Minister Blair's last mission, should he choose to accept it, should surely be to ensure recognition of Kosovo's independence.

In a recent interview, Kofi Annan told me that the UN was treading water on the issue so as not to give Serb nationalists leverage in the forthcoming elections. This is the wrong approach. You do not cure nationalist illusions by pandering to them. Belgrade's claims to Kosovo were always about as well founded as London's to Calais, which may have been written on Mary Tudor's heart but has long been erased from any serious map of Britain.

The founders of the regime in Washington that Mr. Blair admires so much declared that governments derive their "just Powers from the Consent of the Governed...whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government."

In the modern democratic world, there is no way that the international community can force Kosovo back under Serbian rule against the wishes of some ninety per cent of its population. Over twenty years ago Milosevic ago instituted a form of Apartheid against the majority of its population, and followed it up with a bout of ethnic cleansing and mass murders, whose victims are still being exhumed from mass graves in Serbia.

The only right the Serbs had to Kosovo was that of conquest, in the early twentieth century. And the problem with the right of conquest is that he who conquers last has the last laugh. Milosevic lost. More pertinently, the Kosovars will not, and nor should they, be forced back into the state that deprived them of all their rights, including the right to life.

If there had been an effective reformist government in Belgrade, it would have spent the years since the overthrow of Milosevic apologizing to the Kosovars and trying to kiss and make up. But instead of trying to win hearts and minds they have directed a haze of irredentist claims against Kosovo and its government, the latest of which involves railroading through a reaffirmation of Serb sovereignty over the province in a Floridian-style vote on a new constitution.

It is true that the Kosovars have not exactly made a stellar success of self-government hitherto. However, almost every such objection, no matter how accurate, could equally be levelled against Serbia, whose government had in addition waged recent aggressive and genocidal war against its neighbours. By the same logic, having proven unfit for self-rule, perhaps Serbia should return to Ottoman suzerainty?

Some so-called socialists now claim to be deeply concerned about the problem with minorities in Kosovo. It would, one cannot help thinking, have helped their case if they had shown similar concern when Milosevic's regime was ethnically cleansing minorities, Albanians, Bosniak Muslims and Croats, but even so, there is indeed a serious problem with how Kosovars treat the minorities they see as accomplices of Belgrade.

The occasional obsession with it by those who see the likes of Saddam and Slobodan as socialist saints and martyrs is on a par with concentrating on how the Czechs (genuinely) mistreated the Sudeten Germans while forgetting what Nazi Germany had done before. The one does not excuse the other–but it puts it into perspective. There is certainly room for a continuing international presence and protection for the minorities, Serb, Roma or whatever, with a strong message to Kosovo that there would be financial and political consequences for a failure to ensure their safety.

But we return to the same point. There are no conceivable circumstances short of extermination or expulsion of the Kosovars that would bring about a restoration of Belgrade's power in the province. Tony Blair should make himself useful in his exit, and effect the independence wanted by an overwhelming majority of Kosovo's inhabitants.


Anonymous said...

I was in kosovo in 2000 with the 101st airborne. It sucked!

Anonymous said...

May God help us all from such overt malice towards truth and the pursuit of it. When will the attempts to inculcate the simple masses with their set of "truths" on the Yugoslav wars end? Surely, the distinguished author can present data to support his and the prevalent Western world's sacrosanct claims listed in the above “well researched” condemnation of the Serbian beasts. Please allow me to address some of the more salient allegations

--"...Milosevic's killers (in Kosovo)..." in such a recent war as in Kosovo, forensic evidence should be very attainable. Wasn't the lie that "compelled humanitarian intervention" one of 500,000 Albanians slaughtered? Hell, why not say 5 million? No one would have bothered to verify it. 500,000 amounted to half of the estimated Kosovo population. Isn't it a fact that far less than 10,000 bodies total have been unearthed in Kosovo between Serbs and Albanians alike? How credulous are we? See Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions.

--"Belgrade's claims to Kosovo were always about as well founded as London's to Calais”. Is this a sick joke? Calais??? How about when the Muslim's move to raise a crescent-mooned flag over Londonistan parliament? Would this be taken as a well-founded claim to be assented by the English? This is the appropriate analogy, dear Mr. Author.

--"...Milosevic ago instituted a form of Apartheid against the majority of its population, and followed it up with a bout of ethnic cleansing and mass murders, whose victims are still being exhumed from mass graves in Serbia." Taking back direct authority by Belgrade for Serbian land, Kosovo, is Apartheid? Do you understand the definition? Do Mexican's in the US living in densely populated Mexican areas not have the right to send elected officials to the US House of Representatives? Mass murders have never been proven nor will they ever be as they simply never did occur to the chagrin of NATO & UN. Ethnic cleansing was best facilitated by NATO war planes and their sterling record for collateral damage.

--"Apartheid (perhaps if he repeats the word enough we’ll stop questioning its veracity) against the majority of its population, and followed it up with a bout of ethnic cleansing and mass murders (keeps repeating it, but where’s the forensic evidence?), whose victims are still being exhumed from mass graves in Serbia (are they Serbs killed by the KLA)...Kosovars will not be forced [...] back into the state that deprived them of all their rights, including the right to life." This is beyond hyperbole; this is an unsubstantiated distortion of reality or even the loss of touch with it.

--"...having proven unfit for self-rule, perhaps Serbia should return to Ottoman suzerainty?" Ok, that is enough you vulgar jackal. This is the most insulting and racist comment that I've ever been subjected to. Perhaps Niggers are better off in bondage? Only a delusional, racist, supremacist fascist could utter such a callous and thoughtless remark learned likely from "White Man's Burden" or Mein Kampf.

I believe that the leitmotif to the author’s diatribe at this point is obvious and it would serve no purpose to continue addressing each unsubstantiated claim, bold faced distortion of reality and outright lie. To gain a better understanding of the “innocent” Kosovo Albanians who have been under assault by Great Britain's ally of two world wars, Serbia, read from the following link: http://www.serbianna.com/columns/jatras/005.shtml. Please do not acquiesce to this man’s mind control. Dig deeper than CNN, BBC and Reuters.

--V. Rnjak (USA)

Deadline Pundit said...

Well this is typical of why Serb nationalists have made it impossible for Kosovo to stay under Belgrade.
No one, ever, claimed 500,000 Albanians dead.
The 10,000 dead, overwhelming Albanian, and as the Serbian courts are now proving, killed by death squads and militias from Serbia, mentioned so dismissively by the writer, are the equivalent per capita, of three million killed in the USA. How unreasonable of these Albanians (who are, by the way, Catholic as well as Muslim) to harbor grudges.

In Kosovo, Albanians under Milosevic were dismissed from all their jobs, denied schooling and any representation. Apartheid is the technical term.

Calais was under London's rule for almost half a millennium until falling to the French in the sixteenth century. But the Brits have forgiven and forgotten, not least since the people of Calais show no enthusiasm for rejoining their British motherland.

And as for the indignation about Ottoman suzereinty, this is what is known as irony.... which in Serb nationalist circles they obviously think is a by-product of steel production

Deadline Pundit said...

"It sucked"

I can imagine. When I was there, the US troops were confined to the base, and even those, like the Brits who went out on patrol in Pristina, were isolated from the citizenry.

But I quite enjoyed myself when I have been there. Had some nice sessions with both Serbs and Albanians over the local raki.