A Serbian blog on the Struggle for Kosovo and its impact on US foreign policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Sat Jul 7 14:45:08 UTC 2007

The struggle for Kosovo between Christian Serbs and Muslim Albanians
dates back to 1389, when the Serbs were defeated by, and their lands
annexed to, the Ottoman Empire. Muslim rule lasted over four centuries
and resulted in several waves of forced migrations of Serbs from
Kosovo. The current Albanian majority there was achieved more
recently—the result of the policies of the Axis occupation (1941-45),
which included the killing of an estimated 10,000 Serbs, the expulsion
of another 100,000, and the introduction of Albanian settlers. The
de-Serbianization of Kosovo continued under Tito's rule (1945-80),
during which the country acquired many attributes of a separate
Albanian state—borders, a flag, a capital, a supreme court, an
education system that promoted the Albanian language, a university
with teachers and textbooks from Albania, as well as cultural and
sporting exchanges with Albania. In 1981, after Tito's death,
Albanians in Kosovo demanded that the province be elevated to a
republic with the right of secession. This provoked a Serbian reaction
that facilitated the rise of Slobodan Milosevic, which, in turn, was
cited by Albanians as a justification for the activities of the
Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). A downward spiral of ethnic
suspicion and strife ensued, culminating in the Yugoslav wars.

>>From 1996 to 1999, the war in Kosovo was an internal conflict between
the secessionist KLA—which, at one time, was designated a terrorist
organization by the U.S. State Department—and the armed forces of the
rump Yugoslavia of Serbia and Montenegro.

Citing an alleged massacre of Albanian civilians by Serbian forces in
the village of Racak in January 1999, the U.S. government and NATO
allies officially intervened. Meeting in Rambouillet, France, that
February and March, they drafted a "peace accord," which offered the
KLA de facto independence for Kosovo immediately, and de jure
independence in three years. During that interval, Kosovo would be
administered as a NATO protectorate. The U.S. government introduced a
military annex to the accord under which NATO personnel would be
immune from all legal actions—civil, criminal, or administrative—and
NATO forces would have unfettered access to any and all parts of
Yugoslavia. And all the costs would be borne by Belgrade. Yugoslavia
would have been a virtual colony of NATO.

When Belgrade refused to sign the accord, NATO attacked. The war
lasted from March 24 to June 10, 1999. Kosovo became a U.N.
protectorate (UNMIK), whose final status—some form of independence
from Serbia—would be determined in the future. That future is now, and
it is posing political and strategic problems for the Bush

U.S. foreign policy toward Kosovo, which culminated in military
intervention in 1999, was a continuation of the policy Washington had
pursued in Bosnia and Croatia in 1995. Each of the three wars
contributed to a profound transformation in U.S. foreign policy. In
Washington's eyes, the end of the Cold War meant a transition from a
bipolar world, which functioned within a set of political, military,
and legal restraints, to a unipolar one. The U.S. government was now
the world's hyperpower, without rival or limitation. For Washington,
the Yugoslav wars provided an opportunity to demonstrate this to the
rest of the world, thereby accomplishing several key objectives.

First, Washington set out to demonize the Serbs in order to discredit
and suppress not just Serbian ethnicity but any manifestation of
ethnic nationalism, since such nationalism undermines the legitimacy
of the dominant ideology of the virtues of multiethnic states and
transnational corporations.

Second, U.S. policymakers sought to dismember an inconvenient state—in
this case, one supported by Russia, thereby establishing a precedent.
Later, that precedent would be applied to the union of Serbia and
Montenegro, then Serbia, and, perhaps, even to Iran. In so doing,
Washington hoped to weaken and isolate Russia, both internationally
and in Europe.

It also established another precedent, in promoting ethnic cleansing
by proxy. The Clinton administration covertly armed, trained,
supported, and advised the government of Croatia for the August 1995
military offensive known as Operation Storm. Though it was aimed at
the secessionist Republic of Serbian Krajina, it resulted in the
expulsion of an estimated 300,000 Serbs from Croatia. According to the
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), after ten years, the
Serbs still have not been permitted to return to Croatia. The
precedent was repeated in 1999 when the Red Cross reported that the
KLA had expelled between 200,000 and 250,000 Serbs from Kosovo. It was
repeated yet again in 2001 in Afghanistan, in the wake of the U.S.
invasion, when our "ally," the Northern Alliance, consisting mostly of
ethnic Tajiks, sought to expel a million ethnic Pash-tuns from
northern Afghanistan. According to the UNHCR, nearly 100,000 Pashtuns
fled, becoming refugees either elsewhere in Afghanistan or in
Pakistan. In Iraq, both Kurdish and Shiite militias, whose political
parties are members of the national government—another ally of the
Bush administration—currently engage in ethnic cleansing. In Kirkuk,
Kurds are reversing the process of "Arabization," while in Baghdad,
Shiites are cleansing Sunni neighborhoods.

By supporting Muslim demands for a united Bosnia and an independent
Kosovo, Washington hoped to persuade Muslims, especially in Egypt,
Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey—all key U.S. allies—that they are
wrong to regard U.S. foreign policy toward Palestinians, Kashmiris,
Moros, and Uighurs as evidence of any hostility toward Islam on our

Washington also sought to encourage Muslims in Albania, Bosnia, and
Kosovo to promote a secularized, individualistic Islam, in which
mosque and state are separate, which would undermine the appeal of
traditional Islam, especially in the West.

With the Cold War ended, Washington sought to justify NATO's continued
existence by waging war on Bosnia and Kosovo. These wars required a
radical redefinition of NATO's mission and area of responsibility.
These ad hoc military interventions became official policy after
September 11. NATO's 2002 Prague Summit Declaration stated,

We, the Heads of State and Government of the member countries of the
North Atlantic Alliance, met today to enlarge our Alliance and further
strengthen NATO to meet the grave new threats and profound security
challenges of the 21st century . . . so that NATO can better carry out
the full range of its missions and respond collectively to those
challenges, including the threat posed by terrorism and by the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of
delivery . . . NATO must be able to field forces that can move quickly
to wherever they are needed . . . to sustain operations over distance
and time . . . to achieve their objectives.

Thus, NATO is no longer a defensive alliance, and its sphere is no
longer restricted to Europe. This enables the U.S. government to
maintain, even increase, its Cold War level of influence in Europe and
provides Washington with a reservoir of bases and troops from NATO
countries to help implement its policy objectives as far away as
Afghanistan and Iraq.

In attacking Yugoslavia, Washington also sought to test the ability of
the U.S. government to impose political settlements that advance its
interests. The more contradictory and arbitrary those settlements
are—rejecting national self-determination in Bosnia but championing it
in Kosovo—the more our power is projected.

The final status of Kosovo is to be decided by the U.N. Security
Council. Its special envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, a former president of
Finland, is reportedly recommending independence in all but name. (See
www.unosek.org/unosek/index.html.) The Serbs have rejected this plan,
and, while Moscow has stated that it will veto this recommendation
unless both the Serbs and the Albanians agree to it, Washington favors
it. Such a plan, if implemented, would fail to bring peace or justice
to that region of the Balkans.

Any U.N. Security Council decision is expected to reflect "The Guiding
Principles for a Settlement of Kosovo's Status" set out in 2005 by the
United States, England, France, Germany, Italy, and
Russia—collectively known as the Contact Group. Principle Six declares
that "There will be no changes in the current territory of Kosovo,
i.e. no partition of Kosovo and no union of Kosovo with any country or
part of any country."

The current proposal for Kosovo independence violates international
law while claiming to uphold it; it institutionalizes ethnic and
religious discrimination and seeks to sanction both in law, denying
the Christian Serbs of Kosovo the legal right to national
self-determination, while granting and denying that right to the
Muslim Albanians of Kosovo.

If national self-determination under international law forbids the
partition of a territory, then U.N. member-states Bangladesh, Ireland,
Israel, Moldova, Pakistan, and all the successor states of the Soviet
Union and Yugoslavia are illegitimate. So, too, are the western
borders of U.N. member-states Lithuania, Poland, and Russia, which
were shaped by the post-World War II partition of Germany.

The plan both allows Albanians in Kosovo the right to secede from
Serbia and denies them the right to unite with Albania. If the U.N.
Security Council insists this restriction is in accordance with
international law on the right to national self-determination, then it
should also insist that the unifications of Germany, Vietnam, and
Yemen were illegal, and future unifications of Ireland or Korea would
have to be prohibited as well. Conversely, it would have to consider
the Republic of Somaliland, which seceded from Somalia, and the
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which seceded from Cyprus—states
the United Nations refuses to recognize—to be, in fact, legitimate.

The plan advocates multiethnic statehood while dismembering a
multiethnic state. The push for Kosovo independence is predicated upon
it being a multiethnic state. As part of Serbia, however, it is
already in one. By championing the concept of multiethnicity, the
proposal undermines not only its own justification for Kosovo's
independence but the legitimacy of all the successor states to the
former Yugoslavia: Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and
Slovenia—none of which are as multiethnic or as multireligious as was
the former Yugoslavia.

Both Bosnia and Serbia constitute federal republics. Bosnia consists
of two entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the
Republika Srpska. Serbia has two autonomous provinces: Kosovo-Metohija
and Vojvodina. Both Bosnia and Kosovo are U.N. protectorates. Yet,
Muslim Kosovo is to gain independence, while Christian Republika
Srpska faces abolition and consolidation in a unitary Bosnian state.
Such a policy is nothing short of institutionalized ethnic and
religious discrimination.

The Security Council claims that Kosovo is an exception in
international law. The legal principles announced for it are deemed to
have no applicability to other disputes. This maneuver is an attempt
to deny the protection of international law to parties in three
specific conflicts—Transnistria in Moldova, and Abkhazia and South
Ossetia in Georgia. Such an arbitrary claim of exceptionality
undermines the moral authority of international law, making it nothing
more than a law of the jungle defined and enforced for the benefit of
the more powerful states.

A just and enduring political settlement for Kosovo requires that
Bosnia be treated in an identical manner. If Kosovo has the right to
secede from Serbia, then the Republika Srpska must have the right to
secede from Bosnia.

An independent Kosovo must have the right to unite with Albania.
Similarly, an independent Republika Srpska must have the right to
unite with Serbia.

To resolve the Serbian refugee crisis, there should be a population
exchange between Serbia and Montenegro, on the one hand, and Kosovo
and Albania, on the other. Serbian refugees would agree not to return
to Kosovo, while the Serbs still there would agree to relocate to
Serbia. In exchange, Albanians in Serbia and Montenegro would relocate
to Kosovo and Albania. There is a legal precedent for this in the
"Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations"
(1923). With the approval of the international community, it
successfully transferred over a million Greeks from Turkey to Greece
and 400,000 Turks from Greece to Turkey. Other examples of successful
population transfers include those between Bulgaria and Turkey in 1913
and 1950-89; Bulgaria and Greece in 1919; Poland and the Soviet Union
in 1945; and Czechoslovakia and Hungary in 1946.

The Bush administration favors the current proposal for Kosovo's
independence without appreciating the problems, political and
strategic, it presents to U.S. foreign policy. Indeed, the White House
is behaving as if the United States, as the world's hyperpower, can
overcome any problems that may arise—a notion that Afghanistan and
Iraq should have dispelled.

The immediate problem is that Kosovo, perhaps more than Bosnia, has
become a haven for Islamic militants and for organized crime. Both
pose direct threats to Europe, and independence will only make it
worse—for Europe and for the "War on Terror."

If the Security Council proposal is implemented, the secessionist
regimes of Transnistria in Moldova, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia in
Georgia, will demand international recognition of their independence.
Such official recognition would likely begin with Russia and then
snowball. Since the Bush administration opposed independence for these
regions, this would be viewed by many, including many Americans, as a
political victory for Moscow and a political defeat for Washington.

Next would be Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenians there will also insist
on international recognition of their independence from
Azerbaijan—something that both Turkey and Azerbaijan oppose.
Armenian-Americans, however, support it, and they constitute an
influential ethnic lobbying group. The Bush administration would be
caught in the middle, and any decision would displease an important

The strategic prize, however, is the Crimea, which has been part of
Russia since 1783. With the Bolshevik Revolution, it became an
autonomous republic, then an oblast of the Russian SFSR. In 1954,
jurisdiction was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR as a symbolic
gesture honoring the historic unity of the two Slavic peoples. When
the Soviet Union fell, the Crimea reluctantly agreed to remain part of
the Ukraine, but as an autonomous republic. Ethnically,
linguistically, and culturally, the Crimea is Russian. It is home to
the Russian Black Sea Fleet. If the U.N. Security Council votes on
independence for Kosovo, the government of the Crimea would likely
call for a vote on Crimean independence, which would easily pass, then
demand international recognition. This would be followed by a vote on
union with Russia. And Moscow would certainly accept the return of the
Crimea to Russia.

This would be a major defeat for U.S. foreign policy. Since the
Yugoslav wars of the 90's, Washington has assumed that Russia, because
of her size, natural resources, and nuclear weapons, has the potential
to reemerge as a rival. To prevent this, the U.S. government has
pursued a policy of containment. It supported the expansion of NATO
eastward to include former Soviet republics, in violation of promises
made to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. The anticipated impact of
NATO enlargement, however, was trumped by Russia's emergence as a
principal supplier of oil and natural gas to Europe. Washington used
the war in Afghanistan to displace Russia from the former Soviet
Central Asian republics. After its initial success, which culminated
in Kyrgyzstan's "Tulip Revolution," the U.S. government has seen its
influence decline, while Russia's has grown. In the Ukraine's "Orange
Revolution," Washington supported the overthrow of a pro-Russian
government and its replacement with a pro-American one. The new
government soon announced its intention to join NATO and to expel
Russia's Black Sea Fleet from the Crimea—to humiliate Moscow and
disrupt its naval operations. Then, a general election replaced that
government with another pro-Russian one. If independence for Kosovo
results in the return of the Crimea to Russia, U.S. foreign policy
will have come full circle since the Yugoslav wars. The world would no
longer be unipolar, and the U.S. government would no longer be the
world's hyperpower.

Joseph E. Fallon writes from Rye, New York.

This article first appeared in the July 2007 issue of Chronicles: A
Magazine of American Culture.

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Joseph E. Fallon :: Jul.05.2007 :: Chronicles (Magazine), 2007, July
2007 :: 26 Comments »

26 Responses to "Kosovo and Its Impact on U.S. Foreign Policy"
on 02 Jul 2007 at 9:54 am1ChroniclesMagazine.org » THE AMERICAN WAY OF
DEATH: July 2007
[…] FOREIGN POLICY: Kosovo and Its Impact on U.S. Foreign Policy by
Joseph E. Fallon […]

on 05 Jul 2007 at 3:18 pm2Johan Dieckmann
"Kosovo and Its Impact on U.S. Foreign Policy" by Joseph E. Fallon

This is indeed one of the best concise analyses of the ramifications
of the current adventure in the Balkans and the related hare-brained
attempts at "Drang nach Osten" for the U.S. foreign policy.

on 05 Jul 2007 at 5:15 pm3Michael Kenny
I have always thought that ex-Yugoslavia was the rock on which
"Superpower USA" perished, particularly in regard to Europe. Seeing
the on-going and unending fiasco there made Europe distrustful of US
military adventures. Europe was thus reluctant over Afghanistan,
unwilling over Iraq and Iran was the bridge too far. Moreover, the
"European street", so to speak, was way ahead of its leaders, many of
whom were still locked in a cold war-era knee-jerk support for the US.
Having dared to stand up to the "beast" without any dire consequences
and with much popularity at home, European leaders are slowly
acquiring a sense of their own power, although for the moment, they
still pinch themselves every five minutes just to make sure they are
not dreaming! That change is no doubt irreversible, as is the decline
of the US, and the world will be a profoundly different place as a

on 05 Jul 2007 at 5:17 pm4Ivan Bricel
I will forward this excellent article to 2 senators and one
representative. I bet they are complete tabula rasa in this matter.

Thanks and keep writing.

on 05 Jul 2007 at 5:53 pm5web designer
Why in kosovo they hate that much Albanians, i new few people, very
good people. Good article

on 05 Jul 2007 at 10:43 pm6robert m. peters
I have yet to encounter a better article on this issue. Thank you.

on 05 Jul 2007 at 11:16 pm7svetlana
This article is full of inconsistencies
I would like to ask the author to give us the source (links please nor
generalizations) of his numbers mentioned in his articles
To me somehow the article seems confusing like for example

To resolve the Serbian refugee crisis, there should be a population
exchange between Serbia and Montenegro, on the one hand, and Kosovo
and Albania, on the other. Serbian refugees would agree not to return
to Kosovo, while the Serbs still there would agree to relocate to
Serbia. In exchange, Albanians in Serbia and Montenegro would relocate
to Kosovo and Albania
As you describe here in this scenario you are favoring Montenegro not Serbia

on 06 Jul 2007 at 3:25 am8Johan Dieckmann
Upon a more careful reading, I do agree with Svetlana (comment #6).

E.g., I had missed the detail she quotes. While the exchanges of
populations that Mr. Fallon seems to suggest appear logical, the
central unavoidable fact is that Kosovo has been the very heart of
Serbia since High Middle Ages, the cradle of its rich culture that was
overrun by Albanian Muslim hordes quite recently, as Mr. Fallon
himself chronicles, which makes the specifics of his suggestion

on 06 Jul 2007 at 5:39 am9R. V. M.
Dear Mr. Fallon

thank you for the article, your analysis is very good, but I disagree
with outlined solutions, since they would, in my view, award those
groups who performed the most brutal crimes agains humanity and this
would be understood as a signal that brutal crime is benefitial to
those performing it.

What we need are strategies how to bring Serbs back to Kosovo and get
rid of illegal Albanians. App. 50% of Albanian population in Kosovo
are illegal immigrants from Albania who settled in 60es , 70 es and
later in Kosovo by illegally crossing the border and by violence
(tolerated by utterly anti-Serbian Yugoslav state). Those illegal
aliens should be returned to where they came from and not given any
sort of self-determination rights. Only after this, and after the
Serbian state is back to Kosovo, Serbs could and should go for a
historical agreement and compromise with Albanians in Kosovo.
Albanians in Presevo should also be checked: most of them very recent
settlers to this region too. Those who are not, could be resettled to
Kosovo, - on this basis Kosovo might get more autonomy rights within

I don´t see any logic in granting the same right to Kosovo and
Republika Srpska. Republika Srpska was always a Serbian land, Serbs
there are not illegal immigrants. They do not live on stolen property,
with blood on their hands, but on land they have always cultivated and
defended against the barbarian hords. Thus, yes, the Republika Srpska
must be granted the right to selfdetermination, without "if" and
"when" and without conditioning this by giving the same right to
mostly illegal alliens in Kosovo and Presevo.

Last but not least, 500.000 Serbs expelled from Croatia (300.000 from
Kraina and 200.000 from the cities in Croatia) should be granted the
right to execute a referendum and decide about the faith of Kraina and
Slavonia - the minimum that should be granted to Serbs in Croatia is
full cultural autonomy, Serbian police in Krajina and Slavonia and the
right to have special connections with other Serbian lands (Republka
Serbska and Serbia). Croatia was an "indipendant" state only during
the WWII and now, thus it cannot claim a state history. This gives all
the selfdetermination right to Serbs still living there or those who
were expelled from Croatia in 90es.

With two Serbian autonomous provinces Croatia would be much less
likely to cultivate Nazi ideology which is endemic there. This would
be very beneficial for stability of the whole region, for peace and
economic prosperity.

Montenegro should have a selfdetermination right (for the same reason
as above: they live on their own land and have a state history) -
Serbs in Serbia are, as far as I can judge, not against a separate
Montenegrin state, as long as it is provided that those in Montenegro
who consider themselves Serbs are not forced into becoming
"Montenegrins", forced to call their language "Montenegrin" and alike.

The above would be just, but I am aware that there is a reality that
is denying any right to Serbs, the reality of destroying Serbian state
and nation and satisfying chauvinistic appetites of Serbian neighbours
at the expence of Serbs. Having this reality in mind, Serbs might
accept the compromise that you suggest, but this should never be
called just, rather seen as an enormous sacrifice in spirit of Christ
by the Serbs for sake of freedom.

As a Serb I would be against this sacrifice, because I believe that it
would only grow the appetites of Serbian enemies, who are also the
enemies of the West at the end of the day.

Strong Serbia, on the other side, would be beneficial for the West.
Strong Serbia would be the best prevention measure against spread of
Muslim terrorism and it would be an economic engine of the whole
region (even now, under desperate conditions, with hardly any direct
investments, Serbia is having a very good economic growth).


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