This November, American voters will be faced with
a choice and what a choice it is! Will they go with the Republican incumbent, whose
administration manufactured lies
and wild exaggerations to start an illegal
war in Iraq, building a huge
national debt in the process, or should they go with a Democratic challenger who has vowed to
stay the course in Iraq while
maintaining big government and increasing troop
numbers, a challenger whose old-guard
allies also used cunning
and deceit to start an illegal
war in Kosovo?
All This Could Be Yours Someday!
No matter who wins November's U.S. presidential
election, the Iraq disaster is first
on the menu. According to Democratic contender John Kerry, the conflict should
be internationalized therefore violating Colin
Powell's 'Pottery Barn' rule ("you break it, you own it"). Further, Kerry's
plan to ramp up troop totals might also require a draft. Such a policy could
result in a "Hundred Year Quagmire," warned David Vest last
Besides Iraq, Kerry would be inheriting the ongoing
mess in Afghanistan, festering sores in East
and West Africa, Southeast
Asia and the
Balkans, a worsened Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, in addition to the perpetual "big" issues such as relations with
the EU, Russia and China. And rather than the budget surplus and relative
peacefulness which Clinton passed on to the incoming President Bush, the
latter's parting gift for Kerry would include huge budget deficits, an unwieldy
war on terror, and the need to maintain a whole new network
of far-flung military bases.
The General Danger
Kerry's foreign policy is being molded by political
veterans whose zeal for interventions has been abundantly proven. True, they
won't be from Bush's neocon camp, but the effect will be the same: more interfering
abroad, more war. The only difference is in terms of style. Figuratively speaking,
whereas the current Republican rabble has shown its tendency to keep storming
the gates of Troy, as it were, the Democrats would usually prefer to build a
horse. With their deceptive soft-hearted public image they are, to analogize
further, the proverbial wolves in sheep's clothing.
Indeed, Tufts University political scientist Jeffrey Berry
specifically mentions Kerry's record on supporting interventions as a
strength: "He's always been seen in [Massachusetts] as a leader on issues of war
and peace, of the need to build an international community." And the Scotsman
recently added that a Kerry regime "might share the Bush administration's
aims but not its methods, preferring to speak softly while reserving the right
to brandish a big stick when needed."
This has incalculably dangerous ramifications in that Kerry's interventionist
policies might receive a more favorable welcome than Bush's, if the Guardian is
right that European and other leaders would indeed be so grateful to deal
with anyone besides Dubya. In this sense, John Kerry would seek to claim the
moral high ground that Bush enjoyed immediately after 9/11 but then proceeded to
squander with his warmongering the only difference being that what passes for
the "moral high ground" is depressingly low these days.
And, after three years of war, what can the Republicans say to oppose any
future Democratic interventions? The Bush administration has violated, perhaps
beyond salvation, its party's only prior safeguard against
interventionism: a mistrust of state spending and overextension of forces. This
argument was cited frequently by the Republicans in opposing Clinton's Balkan
adventures during the 1990's. Yet now, after Afghanistan, Iraq and a mistreated and misled
soldiery, the GOP can hardly claim to be the party of limited spending and
respect for the troops. In 2004, George W. Bush's campaign promise of a "more humble foreign
policy" seems more distant than ever.
Reviving Frankenstein in the Balkans
Where oh where, then, could an incoming Kerry
regime look for a quick foreign policy victory, if Iraq and everything else
has gone to hell? Welcome back to the Balkans where the "victory" envisioned
will prove a disastrous one, dangerous not only for the region but for the long-term
interests of both Europe and America.
All but neglected under the Bush administration, the Balkans is no longer
even a region for the (Clintonite) Democrats. It's gone far beyond mere
physicality, now representing a humanitarian ideal, a great social experiment, a
wonderful example of success for which they unsurprisingly thank only
themselves. For them, Balkan interventionism has long represented an opportunity
to enter the history books, simply by destroying them: to impose, through all
their sagacity and zeal, a Final Solution to centuries of ethnic discord and
border disputes, a solution that would supposedly break the cycle of human
events and cement the idea of American democracy as the end of
The Balkans is the region of greatest experience for today's Democrats and,
thanks to them, some of it remains a mess even today. And so the famous
"something must be done!" interventionist rallying cry still has some life in it
there. According to the same Scotsman
article of 23 May, Kerry may well choose Balkan interventionist Richard
Holbrooke as Secretary of State, in addition to other "veterans of the Clinton
administration who have ingested the lessons of Bosnia and Kosovo." Such
a scenario is highly likely and will not come out about by accident.
Considering both these circumstances and the total lemon Kerry will inherit in
Iraq, it seems likely that his future regime will look to the Balkans first and
foremost for an easy foreign policy success. However, success simply cannot be
plucked from the ashes of catastrophe which is pretty much what the Clinton
administration left behind in the Balkans.
Keeping a Lid on History
For the Democrats to achieve their future goals,
the official line on the recent history of the Balkans must be preserved. While
countering all of the self-serving propaganda they have generated would require
a much larger study, one can get acquainted with the government's major frauds
by reading George Szamuely's excellent
recent excoriation of Western intervention in the region.
Through a combination of sly lobbying, state-spun propaganda and dumb
repetition in the media, the conventional wisdom took root firmly in the
collective Western psyche. According to the prevailing narrative, America's
interventions in the Balkans, from Bosnia to Kosovo and beyond, were and are
motivated by an altruistic concern for safeguarding human rights and opposing
genocide. These motives
loom large in all
of the Balkan
autobiographies to come from the Clintonites thus far, and will no doubt
also be rehashed by the
Commander-in-Chief himself in his upcoming tome.
More often than not no, actually in every case such "selfless"
interventions meant opposing the Serbs. Making an entire people and especially
one leader (Milosevic) into the epitome of evil has helped distract attention
from numerous indiscretions committed by the powers-that-be. The bias lives on
propaganda of Philip James, a "former senior Democratic Party strategist"
who states that while America's crimes at Abu Ghriab were very bad, they were
hardly Hitlerian perhaps more "sickeningly reminiscent of the darkest days of
Serbian supremacy in the Balkans."
And then there is the famous
Dick Morris, who goes one step further and equates the Milosevic government
with Saddam Hussein's, while bloviating that America's military is perfectly
suited for "crippling totalitarian and terror-sponsoring regimes like the Serbs
in Kosovo and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Only our firepower and technology can
bring these miscreants to heel."
That such things can be written in newspapers without the editors feeling the
need to ask for any substantiation at all shows just how deeply and
intractably the conventional wisdom has sunk into the public consciousness. When
asked to justify their claims, the Balkan humanitarian interventionists act as
if everything they say were self-evident. Proof is no longer needed. Yet just
try replacing "the Serbs" or "Saddam Hussein" in the above paragraph with
"America" and see what kind of reaction you get.
Growing Economic Attention
Broadly speaking, a Kerry regime might not seem
that bad in its policy toward the region as a whole. I speak here of
economic development policy, which in any case will be shaped by events that
have occurred since Clinton left office and will thus simply necessitate remaining
on auto pilot.
Since the end of Macedonia's truncated war of 2001, the region (or part of
it, at least) has been on the rebound economically. While the new wealth has yet
to "trickle down" to the people, it has resulted in increasingly high-profile
foreign investments across a range of sectors. These deals have sent the
message, finally, that it's safe for foreign investors to return to the Balkans.
Companies from all over the world have been investing, but especially from the
U.S. and Europe. Just a few examples of recent American investments include Philip Morris and U.S. Steel in Serbia,
and now Microsoft
in several Balkan states. The Albania-Macedonia-Bulgaria
oil pipeline looks finally about
to get underway, and who knows? maybe there is even a future for oil
Just to scratch the surface regarding foreign companies that have increased
their operations across the region since 2001, we have Russia's LUKoil, Heineken
and other big brewers, German
publishing conglomerate WAZ, Turkey's
Koc holding company in Macedonia, and more. Bulgaria is now reportedly the
attractive FDI destination in Europe, and along with Croatia emerging
favorite for retiring
British property buyers. Greece, a Balkan state in geographic terms alone,
huge and growing investment presence in all Balkan countries.
That said, a Kerry administration would obviously seek to use its influence
to maximize opportunities for American investors in any number of major
privatization and de-monopolization deals still to be concluded. The only
lingering question is whether all Balkan countries will be dealt with equally
and fairly, or whether as has long been the case political preferences will
shape the "free" market.
Indeed, for a Democratic administration, there
will be good and not so good Balkan states. Slovenia, with its high standard
of living and new EU membership, is not worth mentioning in this context; it
has left the Balkans behind definitively. Croatia, with its glittering Adriatic
coast, has been the second most successful, but was perhaps purposefully slowed
when it was lumped into a NATO-aspirant troika with backwards Macedonia and
Albania. Yet if all goes according to plan, these countries may well join the
alliance in 2006.
The two non-Yugoslav nations that recently joined NATO (Bulgaria and Romania)
enjoy a cozy relationship with Washington for their support of the Iraq
adventure and willingness to host U.S. military bases. They are also on their
way to the EU, safe from any conceivable future Balkan bloodletting, and thus
look likely to continue the happy affair with the Americans under Kerry though
their lack of violence might make them somewhat boring for career peacemakers
such as Holbrooke.
Another eager supporter of the Iraq war (Albania) is the farthest behind
economically but will swiftly emerge as a key player for the Kerry regime, as
the latter will need its input regarding the "Albanian Question" in Kosovo and
elsewhere. In this regard, Macedonia (blessed with its own restive Albanian
minority) will be equally important. The beleaguered little state is not high on
the list of Democrat favorites, but remains somewhat above Serbia, which because
of administration members' personal antagonism and political goals will continue
to be perceived as the worst of all Balkan nations.
The greatest danger of a Kerry administration is that some deluded hotheads
such as Holbrooke and (perhaps from the sidelines) Albright and Clark will
become infected with the neocon passion for pronouncing Final Solutions to
intractable historical problems. Judging by all of their stated rhetoric, this
would involve dismembering Serbia by making Kosovo independent, and perhaps
Montenegro too. Yet considering that both provinces of Serbia are too small and
impoverished to survive on their own, such a decision could have disastrous
results. As it is already, Albanians in Montenegro are clamoring for ethnic
federalization; should either it or Kosovo become independent, these cries will
only get louder. (And, by the way, if Montenegro goes, whither
Sandzak?) As for Macedonia, its epitaph was written in 2001, when the Ohrid
Agreement set in motion a future course that can also only end in ethnic
federalization. It's hard to imagine that the Democrats, in light of their history and their
Albanian-American funders, will put up much of a resistance to these
A Change of Tactics
And so we arrive at the current state of play
in Kosovo, where just a couple of days ago another
Serbian teenager was shot dead by Albanians eager to provoke a reaction
useful for justifying total war. It will be into this cesspool of hate that
the Kerry administration, if elected, will look for its first foreign policy
Following the March
pogroms (which also began with a
drive-by shooting of a Serbian teen) the Albanian movement was instructed by
its sympathizers to tone down the nationalist rhetoric, lest
anyone get the wrong impression that an ethnically pure
Greater Albania encompassing large
pieces of neighboring states has been the real goal all
along. Tellingly, the virulently nationalist Albanian-American Civic League recently changed
its website logo, which for years
had displayed a map of the "Greater Albania."
Signs of such a concerted PR campaign abound. The initial
reaction to the pogroms was to use the spectacular violence not
as something to be ashamed of, but as proof of the pressing
need to make
Kosovo independent immediately not surprising, considering
that neither the Albanians nor their interventionist enablers want to take
any responsibility for their actions.
The Future Administration's Plans
Indeed, on the very eve of the riots in Kosovo,
local lord Hashim Thaci spoke
at the U.S. Institute for Peace about the pressing need for independence. In
a report of March 25, the Serbian publication
Blic also claimed that Thaci had at that time attended a Washington
dinner with Democratic lobbyists, who reportedly gave him the green light to
up the ante in the independence drive. This report, which cannot be confirmed
for sure, alleged that the get-together was held by the noted Albanian lobbyist
and Serbophobe David
Philips of the Council for International Relations, and also attended by
Richard Holbrooke and top Kerry advisor Rand Beers.
Whether or not this meeting actually occurred, there is no reason to doubt
that an independent Kosovo is a priority for the Democrats. While the Kerry
campaign recently told one Macedonian-American businessman that no promises have
been made regarding a potential "votes for donations" agreement with the
Albanian lobby, there is simply no plausible alternative. The Albanians have
already raised huge sums for the campaign, while allegedly hobnobbing with
Wesley Clark, Richard Holbrooke, Madeleine Albright, et al on May 24 in New
York. This is merely a continuation of a
long, long history of funding powerful Democrats (as
well as some
Republicans). Senator Joseph
Biden, for example, is firmly in the Albanian camp,
and congressmen such as Tom Lantos,
Eliot Engel and Joseph
Lieberman have also supported
intervention on their behalf and been rewarded
handsomely for doing so.
By contrast, the political impact of the Macedonian
lobbies is minimal. And though they could hypothetically buy some influence with
the Democrats by kicking down for the campaign, it is highly unlikely that they
could match the scale of Albanian donations. And regardless of the issue of
money, they certainly cannot match the latter's strong individual relationships
with the politicians, strengthened over years and years of collaboration.
At the May fundraiser, according to Belgrade's
Vecernje Novosti, Kerry's people promised the Albanian lobbyists
independence for Kosovo and discussed the idea of holding a Pan-Albanian
conference this summer in Macedonia, to hit upon a definitive "Balkan strategy."
For his part, Wesley Clark "reportedly admonished the Kosovo Albanians for the
March events, telling them to 'influence their local commanders so as to improve
relations with KFOR.'" In other words, keep quiet, play along, and soon it will
all be yours.
Why Kosovo Can't Become Independent
Kosovo has never existed as an independent country.
It is simply not economically self-sustainable.
Besides, it is full (or was, until recently) of monuments attesting to 700 years
of Serbian history. Even if the powers-that-be choose to override that pesky
second fact, they will not solve the former problem. The only major riches (mineral
deposits) are located mostly in Serb-inhabited areas in the north. Unless the
Albanians succeed in expelling these people too (highly unlikely), they will
not be able to get their hands on this source of wealth, thus making an already
unpromising economic situation even worse. And as for the knuckleheads who destroyed
dozens of medieval Serbian churches in March (as well as the hundred or so before
that), well, they have only themselves to blame for incinerating Kosovo's
only potential tourist attractions.
In short, Kosovo is a zero-sum situation, a stalemate
with no viable solution. Maintaining any relationship whatsoever with Serbia
is unacceptable to the Albanian majority. Yet so long as there are any Serbs at
all living in Kosovo, Belgrade will continue to have some stake in the
province's future. The only way to eliminate Serbia's leverage, therefore, is to
purge all Serbs from Kosovo (something that has
been going on for
decades, by the way). Yet no matter what actually happens, the possibility
of a "multi-ethnic"
Kosovo long the deluded
dream of the internationals is nil.
Thus the eagerness of interventionists such as Richard Holbrooke, who seek to
impose by themselves the "final status" not only in Kosovo, but also in nearby
places such as
Montenegro itself firmly in the sights of the Albanian irredentist
movement. Like bookies, good politicians always know how to bet on the winner.
Clinton was no fool when he decided to take up the cause of a rapidly-emerging
people with historical grievances, a high birth rate, and no regional
And What That Portends
If, after all these years of patiently waiting
under a foreign colonial administration, the Albanians of Kosovo are not rewarded
with independence, there will be hell to pay. Anyone who stands in their path
Serb or international peacekeeper
or whoever else will be obliged to move, one way or the other.
So, despite the paradox of non-viability as a state, Kosovo will become
independent. It's just a matter of whether this will be done the easy way or the
hard way. However, even if the Democrats do manage to get an independent Kosovo
established the easy (i.e., nonviolent) way, the local euphoria will be
ephemeral. Then the realization that the province cannot survive on its own will
begin to sink in. Bereft of international investment and lamenting the departure
of thousands of affluent peacekeepers, Kosovo will see its sluggish economy
sputter out altogether, thus strengthening the long-established rule of local
In the end, if Kosovo is forced to join the still poorer Albania, it will
come as a curse, not as a blessing. It is remarkable that those pushing for the
Greater Albanian monstrosity fail to see this. When external scapegoats be
they Serbs or Western peacekeepers no longer remain, the Kosovars will turn on
themselves violently. Regardless of what some readers may think, the present
author feels no special joy in predicting this. Independence for Kosovo is a bad
idea not only for Kosovo's neighbors, but also for its own people. They
have been manipulated all along by their own cynical political leaders, who
dangle the idea of glorious (yet unattainable) nationhood "like candy in front
of a child," as one disenchanted UN peacekeeper put it merely to cover up
their own incompetence and avarice.
Is This in Anyone's Interest?
Independence would also mean withdrawing UN peacekeepers
from Kosovo. While alleviating yet another taxpayer burden, such an action would
only make a murkily-understood situation downright opaque. Even though they
are inept and frequently bolstered by rotated-in recruits having neither knowledge
nor experience of the region, the UN contingents cannot be replaced by local
enforcers without serious repercussions for Europe and America. With no foreign
eyes and ears on the ground, pretty much anything can happen. The smugglers
and other criminals will rejoice in their newfound ease of operations. Borders
will liquefy and then evaporate altogether. Political assassinations, turf wars
and "street justice" in general will only increase in a "liberated" Kosovo.
Not to mention what might happen if the Kosovars ever got an air force.
Second, to dismiss the possibility of Kosovo being used an Islamic terrorist
base by citing the Albanians' relatively
secular ways is irrelevant: terrorists abroad look for safe havens in states
with little or no central control, not for the opportunity to make mass
conversions. Kosovo with its porous borders, fundamentalist minority, criminal
underbelly and proximity to the rest of Europe is a perfect hiding place. And
it won't really matter whether it is ever united formally with Albania or not.
In either case, there will be no border to speak of. In short, Europe will be
In the end, it seems that the only people who can possibly benefit from
Kosovo's independence are the local criminals (and their partners in the
Italian, Serbian and Russian mafias), as well as the deep-pocketed lobbyists and
self-serving politicians in faraway Washington, who bathe in the adoring glow of
anyone who seeks their favor. They certainly should give it a try; after all,
unlike Iraq, Kosovo was a successful
intervention. With successes like that, who needs failures?