American policy on Kosovo continues collision course with reality.
Editorial Comment from the American Council for Kosovo Nothing better illustrates the extent to which U.S. policy regarding the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija is damaging the American national interest than the guilty plea this week of Kosovo Albanian Agron Abdullahu in connection with the jihad terror plot against Ft. Dix, New Jersey. Abdullahu, who was admitted to the U.S. as a refugee under the Clinton Administration, can be considered an exemplar of supposedly pro-American Albanian Muslims grateful for U.S. sponsorship of their quest for an independent state carved out of Serbia. (Three of Abdullahus co-defendants in the plot to massacre American service personnel at Ft. Dix also were Albanian Muslims from just south of Kosovo, along with a Jordanian and Turk.) It should be noted that the U.S. Department of Justice successfully opposed Abdullahus motion for pretrial release, based in part on a depiction he scratched in his cell of a machine gun shooting at the FBI and graffiti glorifying the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a terrorist organization. The fact that Abdullahu and his comrades were even in a position to plot the attack is due to the fact that the U.S. government notably the Department of State (which does not share the common sense of the Justice Department and the FBI) supports the KLA and its cause. We have now reached the point that our skewed policy in Kosovo trumps even the priority of homeland defense.
Meanwhile, on the international front, American policy toward Kosovo continues on its collision course with reality. Flouting every concept of legality and morality, official Washington (both the Bush Administration and leading Democrats in Congress) remains dedicated to the proposition that the KLA criminals and jihad terrorists who dominate Kosovos Albanian Muslim community should unilaterally declare the provinces independence from Serbia, to be recognized by the United States without any pretense of authority from the UN Security Council. (It should be noted that nothing in the UN Charter gives the Security Council authority to break off part of a states sovereign territory without its assent. How much less, then, does any country or group of countries have that right acting even without Security Council action, as the U.S. seeks to do to Serbia.)
But the fact is, Washingtons threats are meaningless, and neither the Albanians declaration nor U.S. recognition is inevitable. Given the Bush Administrations understandable preoccupation with Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention Iran, it is hoped a final solution for Kosovo can be imposed with a minimum of fuss. If it appears that will not be the case if the EU does not salute and fall into place (Cyprus, an EU member, has been increasingly vocal that it not only will never recognize Kosovo but even is prepared to veto any such action by Brussels), if important non-EU friends like Canada, India, and, especially, Israel balk a sustained effort to bully and bribe our way to a new coalition of the willing would hardly get Kosovo off Washingtons plate. (And this is not even noting the fundamental fact that Serbia never will sign on the dotted line. As noted by James Bissett, Canadas former Ambassador to Yugoslavia: In this regard it is interesting to note that in 1938, at the time of Munich, president Edvard Bene of Czechoslovakia, bullied by the British and French, signed the agreement to hand over the Sudetenland region to Germany, thus giving his consent to the transaction. It would seem that even Hitler insisted on at least the appearance of following the rules of international conduct.)
Even if the trigger is pulled on the unilateral scenario after the scheduled December 10 conclusion of the current talks between Belgrade and the Albanians, of course Serbia and Russia will not accept it. Neither would China, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria, and numerous other counties in Africa, whose own fragile borders reflect not demography but colonial boundaries. Likewise problematic for Washington would be Latin America, where, despite these countries historic relationship with the U.S. or maybe in some cases because of it there is a high degree of anti-yanqui popular sentiment in the region, as well as a very fastidious view about defending their sovereignty, especially vis--vis el coloso del norte, and preserving their protection under the UN Charter.
In short, even supposing Washington were to unleash the illegal and ill-advised course it now threatens, it will solve nothing relating to Kosovos status. Instead it would present the region, all of Europe, and the international community with a new and divisive predicament, in which the United States may find itself isolated -- not to mention setting off a new destabilization of the western Balkans, collapsing Serbias relationship with the U.S. (and possibly with the EU), and destroying any notion of international legality and territorial integrity of states under the UN Charter, as separatist movements around the world are encouraged to seek independence though violent and intolerant means.
The real question, then, is how much damage the architects of U.S. foreign policy are willing to inflict on American interests in pushing a policy condemned to failure, which even if successful would be harmful to all concerned. The fact that the responsible actors refuse to reassess their course in part reflects the desperation of a lame duck Administration to score a win somewhere, anywhere in this case, following a flawed policy inherited from its predecessor and kept on life support by State Department bureaucrats and the opposition party. Some win.
Thankfully, voices of reason increasingly are speaking out. One of the foremost is former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, author of a the soon-to-be released book Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad, which focuses on the State Departments dysfunctional role in formulating U.S. policy, and not only on Kosovo. Speaking to the Voice of Americas Serbian Service in a recent interview, Ambassador Bolton noted: I quote, for example, a statement of one senior State Department official who told me once that if they knew how we formulate our foreign policy, Americans would be very dissatisfied. That should be the epitaph on the gravestone of Washingtons doomed Kosovo policy.
James George Jatras
Director, American Council for Kosovo