by Martin Sieff
It is hardly a conservative policy to support the establishment of an Islamist state on the European continent, turn a blind eye to the well-documented persecution of an ancient Christian community, engage in a Woodrow Wilson-style passion for nation building and follow in the footsteps of Bill Clinton. Yet that is what the United States has done by recognizing the independence of Kosovo.
Kosovo is the ancient heartland of the Serbian people going back to the dawn of their history. It certainly had a Muslim ethnic Albanian majority before Clinton and his Secretary of State Madeline Albright bombed Belgrade back in 1999 in order to force the Serbs to cede its autonomy. Since then the Albanian Muslim majority has become overwhelming and had has run rampant over the ancient Christian Serb community.
Clinton and Albright’s policy had other far-reaching consequences. They established a very novel and dangerous principle whereby long-established borders could be redrawn and long-established nations dismembered with U.S. support on the principle that a disaffected national minority in a single province refused to accept the overall rule of the state. These were the same Clinton policymakers -- as I document in my new book “:The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East” -- who could not pay any attention to the rise of al-Qaeda as a serious threat to American national security and lives around the world because they were obsessed with peacemaking between the Israelis and the applied to areas of southern California or Arizona swamped by illegal immigrants from Mexico.
Conservatives should have no trouble swallowing the gnat of Sen. John McCain as the Republican presidential candidate if they can gulp down this camel. For the U.S. policy of recognizing the existence of Kosovo as a sovereign state is so reckless, wrong-headed and plain dangerous to American interests and national security that it is difficult to know where to begin.
There was certainly a case to be made for preventing the Yugoslav civil war from even starting after the collapse of communism, And an equally good case for trying to bring it to a quick halt once it had. But our European allies could not bestir themselves to raise even a few thousand peacekeepers to prevent hundreds of thousands of innocent people being slaughtered in the horrors of ethnic cleansing. The United States finally did intervene three and half years later to impose a solution, of sorts, that involved the continuing commitment of U.S. military power to maintain it.
Getting bogged down in the Balkans over Bosnia was bad enough. But getting embroiled with Serbia now is far, far worse. Kosovo is ancient Serb land, the site of the tragic battle of Kosovo in 1389 when the conquering Ottoman Turks wiped out Serbian independence for half a millennium and imposed their long night of enslavement and religious persecution over the entire Balkans peninsula. As William S. Lind has warned, Serbs already regard the cutting off of Kosovo from their nation the way the French regarded losing Alsace and Lorraine to newly victorious Imperial Second Reich 1871. The French never rested until they could fight a war of revenge to retake those two provinces: that war was World War I. And it started in the Balkans when a disaffected, crazed young Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip murdered the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie while they were on a visit to the capital of Bosnia: which was Sarajevo. What goes around comes around over and over again in the Balkans.
The Bush administration‘s current policy of recognizing Kosovo certainly cannot be justified on the grounds that it will give the United States credibility in the Middle East. It certainly will not impress al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas or the leaders of Iran‘s Revolutionary Guard to fall into the arms of American diplomats weeping tears of joy -- except perhaps, for realizing what useful idiots their American adversaries have become. Bombing Belgrade to drive the Serbs out of Kosovo in 1999 certainly did nothing to make Osama bin Laden reconsider his plans to try and kill scores of thousands of Americans on 9/11.
Worst of all, the Kosovo recognition policy has engaged Russia when it is already riding high thanks to soaring $90 a barrel to $100 a barrel global oil prices and modernizing its armed forces including its strategic missile forces as fast as it can. Look for a wave of crime and not-so-random terrorism against American interests to be unleashed throughout Central Europe from Estonia to Macedonia and Bosnia -- all with plausible deniability for the real culprits. The Russians also know that security in Central Europe is largely a hollow shell because the European Union and its major governments are too stingy and scared of recognizing unpopular truths to take any action to make their own borders secure against terrorism, illegal immigration or very organized crime. That leaves plenty of room for Russian organized crime interacting with the Kremlin‘s security services to stir up as much trouble as they can, especially where they can find Russian or Russian-leaning ethnic minorities who don’t want the new orders being imposed from Washington and Brussels.
Nearly 30 years the great German Chancellor Prince Otto von Bismarck famously declared that the entire Balkans peninsula was not worth the life of a single Pomeranian grenadier. And as a Prussian junker aristocrat, Bismarck of course had no time for any Pomeranian.
Bismarck was a lifelong conservative who regarded Britain‘s liberal, do-gooding prime minister and appeaser of Irish terrorists, William Ewart Gladstone, as the most dangerous man alive. The great, tolerant, conservative Christian and genuinely democratic civilization of 19th century Central Europe was destroyed because Kaiser Wilhelm II and his policymakers did not heed Bismarck’s warning and indulged in their own fantasies of projecting power and bringing enlightenment to the Balkans. What was true then is true now.
Martin Sieff is defense industry editor for United Press International. He has been nominated three times for the Pultizer Prize for international reporting. His latest book, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East,” was published in January by Regnery.