NATO's Fatal Delay in Kosova

Nexhmedin Spahiu*

-The Serbian offensive for the ethnic cleansing of Kosova started before the NATO attacks. The NATO attacks did not either instigate nor accelerate the Serbian genocide against the Albanians, but these attacks have not been serious enough to prevent it. Recognizing the independence of Kosova would make it easier to overcome the present crisis.

It seems incredible, but it is true that after five days of air attacks NATO has been unable to bring to heel Milosevic's Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, the Serbian forces have undertaken a broad offensive of ethnic cleansing against the Kosovars. If this situation continues for a few more days, Kosova will be left without Kosovars, and NATO's operations will lose all meaning.

Setting aside these grim predictions of a peace of the graveyard in Kosova, it must be admitted that even if Serbia is brought to its knees tomorrow, NATO's performance so far has put in doubt its ability to defend the universal moral values of our planet. We may conclude from this fact that either NATO is militarily or politically unable to crush a terrorist and genocidal regime like that of Milosevic, or that NATO does not want to bring Milosevic to his knees, but wants to allow him to carry out ethnic cleansing in Kosova, and its operations are a mere farce.

Whatever the truth is, it poses a serious danger to global peace and security. On our planet, we have at the moment 185 states and more than 800 ethnic groups. The Serbian example would encourage other totalitarian and non-totalitarian states to solve their interethnic problems according to the Serbian model. This would mean wiping from the face of the earth three-quarters if the total number of peoples in the world, and perhaps indeed the entire planet, because the states with the most ethnic problems, such as China, India, Pakistan, etc., also possess nuclear weapons.

The most recent Serbian offensive began a few days before the NATO air attacks. Indeed, were it not for NATO's attacks, the ethnic cleansing of Kosova would perhaps now be completed. What is at the moment restraining Milosevic's Serbs is not any moral scruple, but the resistance of the KLA and the repeated attacks of NATO aircraft. If we were to call the fact that NATO has still not brought Milosevic to his knees a failure, then the reasons for this failure are as follows:

First: NATO has not properly studied the psychological factor and the Serbian national ideology. The Serbs are the only nation in the former Yugoslavia that possesses a core in the regional sense. This core is Belgrade and its surroundings, where the modern Serbian state was born. Nations with a core and a periphery normally share out their resources in a way that gives the fruits to the core, and the myths to the periphery. In the Serbian case, there are myths about today's Macedonia, which the Serbs call "Old Serbia," and about Kosova as "the cradle of Serbianism," and so forth.

The military successes of the Serbs have come about because the Serbs of the core have always been ready to sacrifice the Serbs of the periphery. This was the case in the Balkan wars, in the two world wars, and most recently in the war with Croatia. Belgrade manipulated the Serbs of Croatia and, on the pretext that their rights were in danger, egged them on the commit rapes, arson, and massacres against the Croats at a time when the Croats were powerless. There was no lack of help from Belgrade for this purpose. When the Croats became strong and attacked the Serbs of Croatia, putting the latter in serious danger, Belgrade made no move to protect them, because it did not wish to risk anything in the face of a Croatia that was now militarily and politically powerful.

The NATO onslaught against Serbia has not crushed Serbia, at least in the least five days, because it is Serbia's periphery rather than its core that is under attack. NATO is striking at empty warehouses, which is of course a source of humor. The facilities that constitute the backbone of the Milosevic regime have still not been threatened. Belgrade Radio-Television, Milosevic's main weapon, has not been attacked, the weapons production factory at Kragujevac likewise, and the defense and interior ministries have still not been the targets of NATO bombs. In the first U.S. attack on Libya, the daughter of Libyan leader Muammar al-Ghaddafi was killed, but Slobodan Milosevic's daughter can appear at a rock concert in a Belgrade square with the slogan "NATO -- sorry we are singing."

In fact, Milosevic was emboldened following the first night of NATO air attacks, when he saw that the purpose of the attack was not to crush but to chastise him. He saw that there was time before the final reproach to continue the ethnic cleansing of Kosova. On the first night, he was indeed sufficiently taken aback and scared to let fall a statement on Radio Belgrade, "It is not only Kosovo that is in question, but Serbia too. Let us set aside Kosovo -- this is also an question of Serbia." In his initial confusion and fear, Milosevic forget that Kosova is the "cradle" of Serbia. But he remembered this on the following night, when he saw that the NATO attacks were not so serious.

If NATO is not to fail in its contest with Milosevic, the first thing it must do is to disable Belgrade Radio-Television, which is the lair of the leading criminals not only of the war in Kosova, but of the wars in Bosnia, Croatia, and Slovenia. This will oblige the Serbian public to follow foreign television channels, to which Milosevic would have limited access, and which would promote Serbian politicians that would offer decent alternatives to genocide and ethnic cleansing. The Serbs must learn how to protest against their compatriots who are killing women, children, and the elderly.

Second, Montenegro must be induced to declare independence, and its independence must be recognized immediately.

The third and most important element would be to recognize the independence of Kosova. If Kosova's independence were recognized, there would no longer be any point in the Serbs' campaign of ethnic cleansing. In the end, this is the only logical solution. How can the Kosovars now be told to live under Serbia, when the idea is engraved on the Serbs' minds that they were bombarded because of the Kosovars? This would no longer have any meaning. Such a step should be part of the punishment of Serbia for its act of genocide. In any event, it will be easier for the international community to defend the small Serbian minority in Kosova than to protect the large Albanian minority in Serbia.

Finally, any mention of the independence of Kosova is usually ruled out on the grounds of geopolitical security in the region. In fact, it is precisely the independence of Kosova that would secure regional geopolitical equilibrium.

All the ethnic groups in the eastern Balkans have two states: The Romanians have Romania and Moldova, the Greeks have Greece and Cyprus, the Turks have Turkey and Northern Cyprus; the Bulgars have Bulgaria and Macedonia, and the Serbs have Serbia and Montenegro. The Albanians are alone in having Albania, but not being allowed Kosova. Why not?

*The Author is a prominent Albanian political analyst

The article was forwarded by:
Daniele Conversi
Associate Professor
The Nationalism Program
Central European University,
Nador ut. 11
H-1051 Budapest, Hungary
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