By M. Bozinovich
It is said that General Patton told his demoralized troops in WWII that to be an American it means to be a winner.
"America loves winners," Patton was attributed in saying to his troops who took his words to their patriotic hearts and won the war.
Like liberty, being a winner is the quintessential American spirit, dear and beloved, and being in company of winners, those that aspire to be victorious and free, is the predisposition of the American spirit.
In the Balkans, however, American allies are not winners but economically weak Islamic statelets, dependent on Western financial subsidies, predisposed to harboring Islamic terror and uninterested in economic growth. Their policies in the region are viewed with suspicion by their neighbors, their populace is embracing Islamic radicalism while more then half of their economy is based on criminal and otherwise questionable activity.
Bosnia and Albania, American allies in the Balkans, are all stagnant economies with an Islamic populace increasingly receptive of radical Islam.
With State Department's recent endorsement of Kosovo's independence, another future Islamic state in Europe that will depend on Western financial subsidies, America has clearly signaled to the region that progress of democracy and economic growth, particularly that of Serbia, is irrelevant and that Washington stands ready to break up democracies and demoralize the spirit of those seeking rule of law in order to pander to the Middle Eastern Islamic dictatorships who want to see another Muslim state in Europe.
In spite of Washington's tendency to acquire wrong allies in the Balkans, it is not too late for America to change its course there and to turn the possibility of a complete squander into a permanent gain. Now, as we are entering the last leg in the Kosovo status negotiations, the decisive time for America has come when it can permanently change course in the Balkans and stand behind those states in the region that have already endorsed American values and will, in the long run, promote the American spirit of liberty and rule of law.
By preventing an independent Kosovo, America can once and for all put an end to the long and bloody cycle of negative policy reinforcement in the region, gain an ally in Serbia that is an economically growing Western-style democracy, and signal the region that America stands behind those who work to expand liberty, law and capitalism.
Who America's allies are in the Balkans?
In his recent op-ed piece for the Financial Times, Senator Joseph Biden argues that America should support independence for Kosovo because that will strengthen America's friendship with the Muslim world that is dominated by dictators and tyrants.
"The people of Kosovo – already the most pro-American in the Islamic world – will provide a much-needed example of a successful US-Muslim partnership," wrote Senator Joseph Biden in the Financial Times.
Biden's advice is the continuation of Clinton administration policies that gained for America bunch of weak Islamic statelets in the Balkans all predisposed to harboring Islamic terror, uninterested in economic growth and the only reason they stay supportive of America is because they stand to gain, financially or territorially, from that support.
Once these Muslim entities in the Balkans acquire their desired territories with the American help, or American money dries up, they are likely to turn their back on America as their Muslim population increasingly becomes receptive of radical Islam.
Take Albania, for example.
Before it was an American ally in war on terror, Albania was a strong base for Islamic terrorists that took part in Jihad along with the Kosovo Albanians.
"Islamic terrorist organizations managed to set up Albania's first cell of the Islamic Jihad, which was headed by Aiman Al-Zavahiri," writes a Tirana-based terror expert, Petrit Gugu whose analysis was published by the Albanian newspaper Gazeta Shqiptare. Al-Zawahiri is second in command of Al-Qaeda's world wide network.
"This cell was involved in providing forged documents for its members... recruiting new members" and Gugu writes that "facts of this kind go to prove that the activity of terrorist jihad organizations is present and well-organized in Albania, in complete harmony with its structures within the country."
However, once Washington offered financial help, Albania flip-flopped and became a "staunch" anti-terror ally of America. As a result of its token contribution of few soldiers to the Coalition of the Willing in Iraq, Albania, on an occasion, gets few million dollars pay-off from Washington
Albania's long-term contribution potential to American friendship also is dim.
Sustained by drug cartels, the Albanian economy has attracted about $200 million in legitimate foreign investment and the only foreign investors who actively seek to "invest" in Albania come from the Islamic world from folks like al-Qadi, who was Osama bin Laden's financial point man for building a terrorist infrastructure in Albania, Kosovo and the region.
In its World Factbook, CIA says that half of Albania's GDP of $20.21 billion comes from a "large gray economy that may be as large as 50% of official GDP."
"Cannabis plants lay stacked up like Christmas trees," Scotsman describes Albania's drug farms. "Albanian hashish was prized by drugs users and sometimes even exchanged for heroin," explains Scotsman.
Albania is also the final destination for the Islamic terrorists that manage to slip through the Guantanamo detention. In the ultimate twist of irony, two terrorists, graduates of Gitmo, are camping in Albania, and have initiated, from there, a lawsuit against the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Another American ally in the Balkans, Bosnia, is a mirror image of Albania. Bosnia's GDP, again according to the CIA Factbook, is $24.8 billion and CIA makes a note that, as in Albania, "Bosnia has a large informal sector that could also be as much as 50% of official GDP." Meanwhile, Bosnia is the breeding ground for Islamic fundamentalism that seeks destruction of America.
Senad Pecanin, a journalist from Bosnia and a Muslim by birth, recently told the Muslim audience in Doha, Quatar, that Islamist fundamentalism is emerging as a new force in Bosnia with extremist Wahhabism spreading like wildfire. Pecanin also told the audience that the Bosnian embassy in Vienna, Austria, was selling passports to Al Qaeda members while Bosnian Muslims are increasingly involved in al-Qaeda attacks across the globe. In 2002, a Bosnian Muslim Amir Omerovic sent letters to Governor John G. Rowland that were laced with Anthrax with a message that "Americans will die. Death to America and Israel."
At least 2 of the 19 hijackers that struck on 9/11 are veterans of the Bosnian Jihad.
Then there is Kosovo, a territory on the southern flank of Serbia, dominated by Muslims that seek independence. Europol, the law enforcement arm of the EU, says that Kosovo is the epicenter of the new emerging Kosovo Albanian drug mafia that supplies 60% of heroin to EU, runs prostitution rackets all over EU and also controls the government that has incited pogroms against Kosovo Serbs in 2004. Over 70% of Kosovo is unemployed yet a real estate boom is underway in that province fueled by the influx of crime money.
Prospects for a self-sustaining economy in an independent Kosovo are nil. The UN mission that runs Kosovo published a study last year that warned of an economic collapse once UN pulls out of the province following its independence. Massive foreign subsidies primarily from EU and an influx of Islamic "investment" could sustain an independent Muslim Kosovo for a long time but such a mix is tantamount to Westerners subsidizing terror against itself.
Current provisional Kosovo Albanian leadership, like Albania itself and Islamic leadership in Bosnia, are described by policy makers such as Biden as staunch allies of America in the Balkans.
American interests in the Balkans
Ironically, the state that has been victimized the most by Clinton's Islamic allies in the Balkans, Serbia, is enjoying the most robust economic growth in the region, a buoyant stock market and a resurgence of democratic spirit. In the last two elections, pro-democracy reformist parties have convincingly won the majority of Serbian voters.
Serbian economic growth for 2006 was upwards of 6% as the once rampaging inflation has been blunted. Spurred by growth policies of the reformist government, stable money and a European perspective, Serbia's Stock Exchange has scored an impressive 51% growth in 2006 placing its return in the top 10 of the world's best and outstripping markets like Singapore and India, economies that carry lot of positive economic buzz. Likewise, the Serbian Republic in Bosnia, also bombed by Clinton, is expanding its economy, privatizing its business and its nascent stock market, like Serbia's is exploding.
Spurred by pro-investment, reformist policies that emphasize the rule of law, both of these once bombed countries, are nurturing a new class of entrepreneurs, day traders and professional money managers.
Yet all of this may soon go to waste and the American interests in the region may be squandered because of State Department's endorsement of Kosovo's independence.
"The time has come for the independent state of Kosovo," a Kosovo Albanian newspaper Koha Ditore quoted US Under-Secretary of State Nicholas Burns in the aftermath of Washington's endorsement of Ahtisaari's independence plan for the province.
"If we remove the diplomatic euphemisms from Mr. Ahtisaari’s report," writes Anthony D'Amato of Northwestern University School of Law "we find that he is essentially arguing that UNMIK has conquered Kosovo!
Territory-grabbing by conquest has been illegal since the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, yet somehow the United Nations has done it, according to Mr. Ahtisaari."
"Acquisition of territory by conquest is simply illegal, whether a state does it or an international organization does it," concludes D'Amato.
In addition to the (il)legal issues of the proposed plan, Washington's endorsement of Ahtisaari's Kosovo independence will be a severe blow to the human rights of remaining Kosovo Serbs. Over two thirds of Kosovo Serbs have already been forced out of the province by Muslim Albanians and the property of the expelled Serbs has been confiscated.
Serb-owned commercial properties in Kosovo have already been confiscated and Kosovo Albanian law is forcing the owners to prove that they have ownership in property that has been confiscated. In the most recent case of property confiscation laws in Kosovo, a Croatian oil company, INA, might have to buy up its own property in Kosovo, including 29 gas stations and a warehouse.
An independent Muslim Kosovo will assuredly continue these absurd property confiscations that violate the core of the Western spirit of the laws.
Exploiting State Department's squanders, Russia is striking profitable deals with countries that find Washington's double standards in the Balkans a threat to their democracies.
Serbia, for example, has the only and a unique free trade deal with Russia where a Serbia-based business automatically gets to do deals with Moscow free of tariffs.
Moreover, Bulgaria and Greece have just signed a $1.2 billion pipeline deal with Russia that will pump 700,000 barrels of oil per day. Austrian banks are flocking to do business with Serbia. Greece has pumped over $2 billion investment in Serbia and the recently signed CEFTA free trade agreement with Balkans states will likely spur growth in the region even more.
Washington now stands at the precipice where it could squander its regional leverage and get locked in with allies whom it has to financially pay-off in order to have them on its side.
The time for the American change in the Balkan policy is now and it begins by integrating Kosovo back into a sovereign, democratic and capitalist Serbia.. and Washington should play an active role in determining the scale and the scope of this integration.