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Friday, February 15, 2008

Serbia's Fatal Mistake

"When Saddam Hussein forcibly annexed Iraq's "19th province" in 1990 - part of the former Ottoman province of Basra that had evolved under British guidance into the state of Kuwait - the world cried foul. Western countries noisily insisted that the sovereign integrity of the emirate's territory and borders was guaranteed by the UN charter.
Egged on by Margaret Thatcher, the then US president, George Bush Snr, drew his famous "line in the sand", setting in train the first Gulf war. The consequences are still being played out in Iraq today.
Less than 18 years later, these same self-appointed guardians of the international order are on the brink of turning their own argument on its head - by underwriting Kosovo's forcible secession from Serbia."

writes Simon Tisdall in The Guardian. Tisdall is right: the US and EU’s contempt for international law regarding Kosovo is shameful. But Sunday’s declaration of independence by Kosovo could have been avoided had Serbia done the one thing that the US and EU feared: made it quite clear that if the province was illegally taken from them, they would use force to reclaim it.

Instead, the Serbs have allowed themselves to be bullied into renouncing the threat of using force by countries that are only too quick to threaten force themselves, in pursuit of THEIR interests.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying that I favour a war in the Balkans over Kosovo- far from it.

But in life, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you can negotiate. And you need to negotiate from a position of strength and not weakness. Had Serbia made it quite clear that it would use force to defend its national sovereignty (as every country is entitled to do under international law)- and that the action would be backed by Russia, then the US and EU would not have risked the prospect of a major war in the Balkans. The threat of force would have been enough and Kosovo would have stayed part of Serbia. But in renouncing it, as Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic (above) feels obliged to do every time he talks about Kosovo, The Serbs, in the words of the late Aneurin Bevan, have gone naked to the negotiating table.


Anonymous said...

Spot on.

Anonymous said...

Leaving aside the improbablity of anyone believing that Serbia would use force (necessary for your bargaining chip to have value), my problem with your argument is that it leaves the majority population of Kossovo denied what they clearly want; namely, independence. I agree it would be better that this was secured by common consent between the constituent peoples rather than imposed by external fiat. However, I cannot help feeling that if Yugoslavia had followed the logic of majority populations (on its founding) in the case of Kossovo rather than accommodating Serbian nationalism/history, Kossovo would have been a republic of the federation not an autonomous region; and, thus, now be independent (as say its neighbour Macedonia is).

Unknown said...

Absolutely, Neil, absolutely true.

Sadly, we have traitors at the helm of the state who are taking their orders from Washington and Brussels, instead of acting in the best interest of the state they are sworn to serve (all except Premier Kostunica and his ministers, but their "coalition partners" made sure their hands are tied, so Kostunica can do very little, if anything).

This is the new colonization, and the way it is done is to first take all the media over, under the excuse of "privatization" and through the invisible, away-from-the-eyes-of-the-public deals, establish dozens of foreign-funded NGOs in their midst, making sure they grind the people into submission and instill self-hate as the only 'progressive' thought worthy of striving for, and make sure the most self-loathing or the most shameless, spineless and greediest representative of the nation keeps winning the elections... all combined with rapid impoverishment and loss of basic means for the greatest majority to sustain itself.

Two decades of such intense therapy will do wonders, as is obvious in the case of Serbia.

In the end, even if you have remained semi-sane and haven't lost all your capacity for critical thinking - if you still want to fight for what's true and what's right - you are nowhere near the power centers from which you might actually do what needs to be done.

In Serbia, at this point, only a military coup or an all-out revolution would help get Tadic-Jeremic-Sutanovac-Ponos and similar leeches off the nation's back.

P.S. jc, Kosovo province legally and historically belongs to Serbia and if you want to play the majority card, then it's the majority of Serbia that should have a say, not a majority of this or that part of Serbia.

Serbia is a multi-ethnic state and there are all sorts of parts that have non-Serbian majorities - according to your (poor) logic, that would mean that, if each of those ethnic minorities decides they also want their own state on Serbian soil, Serbia shouldn't exist, along with every other country in the world that have ethnic minorities who prefer to have their own states walled-off from the rest of the country. Otherwise, you might end up having a majority of your village declaring it a New Turkey or Second Pakistan, if that is what a "majority" of each village in England or USA may want today, or tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Been there, done that. Tried the (brute) force approach in 1999, we all know how that worked out.

Unknown said...

the "brute force" is the only thing left to Serbs now to reclaim the land that is theirs by God's and men's laws, since talking and "democratizing" according to the State Department/Brussels/IMF/Soros' prescription proved far worse for Serbs then shedding blood.

Serbs may not initiate that just war today, maybe not even in a year or two, but one thing is for sure: when they do and, trust me, they will, there will be a hell to pay. And for more than just Kosovo province occupation and theft.

Anonymous said...

So what is preventing Kostunica from forming a new coalition with the Radical Party?
As for this coup d’├ętat you're dreaming about - what would this supposed military government be able to do to change things?

IMHO the use of force was deliberately left out as an option by Serbia, because that going with that option would be playing right into the hands of the west.
I hope both you and Neil realize that we would stand no chance should we choose to make this a military confrontation - resurgent Russia or not, there is still no counterbalance to NATO/US when it comes to military supremacy in these parts of the world.

Anonymous said...

I too cannot help feeling that if Yugoslavia had followed the logic of majority populations (on its founding) in the case of Croatia/ Bosnia, rather than accommodating Nazi’s/ History, Republika Srpska would have been a republic of the federation, and thus now be independent (as say its regional neighbour Macedonia is).

That brut force approach, perpetrated by NATO and the KLA (with the helping hand of al Qaeda), 'work out' with the occupation of Serbia. Since 1999, Kosovo has been consistently ethnically cleansing all non-Albanian minorities.

Unknown said...

what I'm dreaming about is not something you can know, unless and until I tell you. And I choose not to tell you, so it would be nice if you'd try to refrain from assuming to know what you can't know.

secondly, just because you think it may lend some credence to your stand if you pretend to be Serbian, like I am, doesn't mean what you're saying makes much sense - especially when you prefer to remain anonymous. I'm quite sure, in fact, that you are not Serbian, and I despise liars.

as to why's and who's and so on - do your own research (if you were Serbian, you would know).

Anonymous said...

Ah, so we agree on something - that accepting Serbian offers regarding wide autonomy would have been better for Albanians in the long run... And yes, this situation does lead to an almost inevitable armed conflict in the future.
What we need to realize is that 1) we can't possibly win one now and 2) sulking in the corner won't do us any good.
Remember how Serbia managed to overturn couple of declarations in the Council of Europe, submitted by the pro-independence camp? Guess what would have happened, if we were not in the CoE at the time.
Do you really believe that the EU would behave the way it does now, if Serbia were a full-fledged member?
We need to work on getting into every important organization where decisions are made, and on preventing Kosovo in doing the same. If necessary, I'd rather we swallow some pride and make verbal adjustments to appease the western public - if that will get us into the EU and possibly even NATO.
Please note that veto in Security Council a failed country does not make - take Taiwan (ROC) for example. We can't allow ourselves to depend solely on the Russian (and possibly Chinese) veto. Also note that I don't believe that once we're in the EU milk & honey will flow like rivers and everything will be just fine. There is a lot of work to be done if we're to get our country on its feet.
It's just that taking a swing at the hulk NATO is right now, for the sake of seeing its lip cut , will not make up for the consequences of doing so. Pride, spite and "inat" itself will not save us. Cold head and persistence in pursuing our goals will.

Neil Clark said...

anonymous writes: "If necessary, I'd rather we swallow some pride and make verbal adjustments to appease the western public - if that will get us into the EU and possibly even NATO."

Well, I'm not a Serb, but if I were, I would NEVER support my country joining a military alliance which illegally bombed it less then ten years ago. It's a matter of principle.

Anonymous said...

@2nd (or 1st?) anonymous
Organization of former YU left a lot to be desired from our standpoint. But we can't really do anything about it now, except be pissed off. Serbian communists did accept principles laid in this document and have been the loyal subjects of the regime for decades. If they felt the organization of the country was bad, or that borders of individual republics were poorly drawn, they didn't show it when it could have made a difference.
We can help RS now by enhancing every form of cooperation with it. Rich entity is a strong entity. I personally don't mind paying for education of students from RS in our universities, and I'm sure vast majority of people in Serbia agrees. Purchase of their incumbent telecom operator is another good example. They had a really really tough time, even more so than Serbia itself, so we should provide what help we can.

Anonymous said...

Personal and national pride can go a long way. Missiles go longer.
Something we (should have) learned from you guys.

Anonymous said...

This'll be like the Sudetenland...

Except it'll take a few years... the US as an Empire first has to crash which is coming soon to an Economy near you. If you've been watching the Dollar plummet like a stone hurled from a cliff.

Then the EU gets to deal with the Violent Separatists in their Midst, here's hoping its good and bloody.

Bosnia Destabilizes, Macedonia Destabilizes, Greece Destabilizes, Cyprus Destabilizes then perhaps in the Chaos the Serbs can roll in and do onto Kosovo (and likely at this point Presevo as well) what Czechoslovakia did onto the Sudetenland. If they are smart they'll push a good Distance into Albania's border and shove it where the sun don't shine.

In the meantime, lets relax everybody we can't do much on these internet venues but vent, lord knows I have.


Unknown said...

quite right, Neil! and begging in front of the doors of the other institution (European Utopia), which is hell-bent on dismembering Serbia and accepting - in few decades, perhaps - Belgrade alone as "Serbia" is almost as bad.

Appeasement has brought Serbs nothing but truckloads of humiliation and grievous losses no state worthy of its name would ever accept, let alone consider itself 'wise' for being a laughing stock of the world.

But worse than any loss of lives and territories, in my view, is the loss of self-respect and spine on behalf of Serbia's Soros-club: all these years they kept dragging Serbs by the nose, telling them they'll be accepted back into the human race once the self-loathing process is brought to an end and Serbian culture, tradition, Church and history are erased, and when they start happily doing everything Western power centers tell them to.

It is tragic to see that it actually worked. Still, the good news is that it only worked with psychologically malleable, morally weak, greedy and corrupt. The heart of the Serbian nation is, thankfully, still pure and still in the right place.

Anonymous said...

That link was too long, here's the short version:

Weakening of the western economy would help us, although we are not so isolated as to not feel the consequences ourselves - BELEX was/is mostly in the red. Some say it's cause of the Kosovo issue, but then, the surrounding countries have seen similar trends lately.
The question here is (somewhat off-topic), what will the consequences be? As in, what will the hungry giant packing a big gun do? Recessions have been known to cause world wars, none of which have missed us, yet.
If it eases the pressure on us, good. I just don't want to see the whole world go up in flames.
And yeah, venting is good.

Roland Hulme said...

I don't get your arguement. Saddam's mistake was announcing that Kuwait (a sovreign country) was just a 'province' of Iraq just like Serbia claims that Kosovo is just a 'province' of Serbia -whereas it's a defacto independent country.

Sounds like the Serbs and Saddam made exactly the same response and will be treated by the UN in exactly the same way (so in twenty years, can we expect an entirely illogical American invasion of Serbia?)

Serbia does not have any moral authority to Kosovo. The people of Kosovo don't want to be part of Serbia. About the only nation supporting the Serbian claim on that terroritory (Russia) is doing so to cynically defend their own imperialistic agenda. Why can't the Serbians stop flogging the dead horse and let Kosovo be independent!

Nick said...

Wars and threats of war don't seem to have done Serbia much good in the recent past (or even 600 or so years ago, come to that) so what makes you think it would be different this time? I'm afraid you're fantasising again, Neil.

Anonymous said...

The so-called "people of Kosovo" are ethnic Albanians who achieved majority in the last 100 years through a mixture of demographic expansion, ethnic cleansing and genocide against Serbs and others.

Never in history did a state called Kosovo exist. It was either a part of a Serbian state or an imperialist power that conquered Serbia.

As for the use of force, it may not be opportune now but in several years when Serbia gets enough weapons and NATO power wanes...I advise everyone to look at this photo.

Anonymous said...

If Serbia had sustained Kosovo's autonomy rather than revoke it after the collapse of Yugoslavia, it might have retained a moral right to the inclusion of Kosovo within its boundaries - and made that an effective reality with the consent of the Albanian majority population but it manifestly did not. It helped (only in part, but a major part) to sow the seeds of the current impasse. This was a minority within Serbia that enjoyed in the FR Yugoslavia significant autonomy (and a concurrent sense of national identity). The analogy would more closely be with, say, Wales in the UK (after devolution) rather than a Pakistani minority in Bradford. If the Welsh wanted independence, I would wish them well.

Zlatan Vrabac said...

@Roland Hulme

Albanians don’t have any moral authority to Kosovo either. Not with the ethnic cleansing that has been committed since 1998 til today. And the people of Kosovo don’t care about independence. The last referendum had less then a quarter of the population vote for independence. They care about having enough to eat. I doubt the criminals that run Kosovo now, both the U.C.K.ers and the E.U.ropeans, will provide the people of Kosovo with what they had in the 90s; peace, security and enough bread.

CubuCoko said...

Bollocks. Albanians have been trying to separate that territory and annex it to Albania since 1912, no matter whose government they were on. The 1989 constitutional amendments had to be passed due to the systematic abuses of non-Albanians by the provincial leadership. I'm all for consent of the governed, but how did they ever become such an overwhelming majority in the province, if they've been "repressed" all these decades? Nonsense.

As for the Serbs, maybe they will learn a lesson: speak softly, sure, but don't forget the goddamn stick.

Anonymous said...

Wars didn't help America , Israel and Britain either and they were clear cut aggreessors and everything from now on is going backwards for them. As for Serbia and Iraq I might say, it's imperialistic hubris, serbian people will survive and win over this evil as well .

This move headed by a criminal imperialistc regime in Washington and its allies and servants is nothing but a desperation move which shows with their complete lack of even a pretense of legality and reason.

Having said that, this reveals all of their cards in the open and sets them up on defense for the first time which they will need eventually.

I wouldn't put any thought into statements by politicians especially translated into western media which is notorious for making stuff up.

Anonymous said...

@ gray falcon
Yes, they have been trying to carve out a separate state for like a century now.
Yes, they have grown in numbers over that period.
Yes, it's unfair.
But what would you have us do? Not in some fantasy world, mind you, but here and now.
As for the stick, for the tenth time, *we do not have large enough stick to ward off the US/NATO military*.
If you think it's doable, I'm sure some volunteer corps can be arranged for you to join and Show Us How It's Done (tm).

Roland Hulme said...

I suggest you check the Serbian library for historical demographics of the Kosovo region. Serbs themselves confirm that the Albanian and Muslim population was in a majority from as far back as the 19th century - long before Serbia tried to 'reclaim' their territory.

Despite Serbia trying to ethnically cleanse the area in between World War I and World War II - and again during Milosevic's regime - the Albanians have always been the majority.

The 'albanians have only been the majority for the last hundred years' argument is based on a lie and propogated in the interests of strengthening the Serbian argument for imperialism. That doesn't make it true.

CubuCoko said...

@ Anonymous: You're stuck in 1999. Neither the U.S. nor NATO are what they used to be. Even in 1999, they planned to take out Serbia in 3 days; it took them 78 to get a negotiated deal instead. You don't want to fight for your country? Fine. Don't stop those who would, or you're the same kind of scum as Jeremic.

@ roland hulme: "The Albanians have ALWAYS been a majority"? What values of "always" are we talking here? Shall I pull out an Ottoman census from the 15th century showing them in single-digits? Or the record of the Great Exodus of the late 1600s, when Kosovo Serbs fled Ottoman terror into Austria, and were settled along the Military Frontier (from which their descendants were ethnically cleansed in 1995)? Or the volumes of reports by Western envoys reporting on terror and atrocities against Christians in Kosovo in the late 19th century, following the formation of the League of Prizren? Or the Albanian terror during the 1915-18 occupation, the 1941-45 "Greater Albania" or during the Communist "autonomy," when an illegal Albanian immigrant actually headed the province? Or, hell, the 8 years of KLA rule and their utter devotion to human rights and tolerance? Surely none of those had anything to do with your definition of "always"?
How is it "Serbian imperialism" to defend their country, and not "Albanian imperialism" to try and take other people's?

Anonymous said...

There are number of points that we ought to keep in mind.

1. Kosovo has never been a separate legal entity.
2. Albanians have a state, right next door.
3. Kosovo and Methoja has been part of Serbia at least since 1912.
4. Attack on Serbia in 1999 was an act of naked agression
5. Recognition of Kosovo, without consent of Serbia, is illegal.
6. What we have here is historical revisionism.
7. Serbia must not recognise Kosovo
8. If Russians are to be believed, Kosovo will not be able to join UN.
9. EU got done by US.
10. Things change.

Kosovo-is-SERBIA said...

No matter what the little stable boys say... Kosovo is a Serbian word and will ALWAYS be!! WOW!Another college shooting in the USA this week. Remember Columbine High School shootings in 1999??Wonder how the hurricane/tornado season will be in the USA this year?? Will more storm victims get grief from a mismanaged US government relief agency? Will they get the same type of trailers which give off poisonous vapors, just like the ones the Katrina hurricane victims recieved??Wonder if the millions of Americans losing their homes to fore-closure this week are happy tonight?? The USA cannot or WILL NOT ever take care of its own folks 'cause it is so busy butting-in all over the rest of the world. Over half of all Americans do NOT have health insurance or access to any health care at all!!Just maybe the American people will tire of their own needs being neglected by their so-called elected leaders. Billions spent on others and pennies, begrudingly spent on Americans. Power to the people?? HA!

Anonymous said...

@gray falcon
"You don't want to fight for your country? Fine. Don't stop those who would, or you're the same kind of scum as Jeremic."
Let me reiterate: If *you* would like to fight, I'm sure some volunteer corps can be arranged *for you to join* and Show Us How It's Done (tm).
You could sack McDonald's in Terazije Square as a form of training.

"Even in 1999, they planned to take out Serbia in 3 days; it took them 78 to get a negotiated deal instead."
Would it be a success in your eyes if we manage to last, say, 120 days this time around - before they reduce us to rubble?
Or would you be disappointed cause we failed to provide you with long-term entertainment and cheering opportunity?
Either way, I doubt you'd be here to pick up the pieces.

Paraphrasing Milja Vujanovic Regulus from the 90's: "Wo-hoo! Two black people have just robbed a supermarket! It's begun! It's begun! What will you do *now* America?"

Anonymous said...

If the Serbs don't want to defend their own "Jerusalem" then what does it matter? In 1995 they couldn't be bothered defending the Serbs of Krajina from being ethnically cleansed now they, apparently, can't be bothered fighting for the land that they've claimed is the cradle of their civilization. For years Serbs have been telling me and anyone who'd listen to their rants that Kosovo is their Jerusalem and they will defend it to the death. So much for that talk. Can you imagine the Israelis giving up Jerusalem without a fight? Me neither.

I think an "independent" ethnically cleansed Kosovo is an injustice. It is also a violation of international law (does that still exist?). But ultimately (as Neil suggests) states have to be willing to resort to force. With Russia on side and the US pre-occupied with a war against Muslims everywhere but Europe, and international law clearly on Serbia's side there is every possibility that they could successfully defeat the new KLA (whatever they are calling themselves these days). But the Serbs don't seem to care so why should the rest of us?


Anonymous said...

Several points:

1) Israelis will fight to defend Jerusalem because the balance of power is overwhelmingly in Israel's favour thanks to American politicians.

2) The best solution for Serbs would have been to partition Kosovo but West would have none of it because they knew that would lead to secession of Republika Srbska from the failed state of Bosnia. Still, no one has the right to take Kosovo away from Serbs if Serbs say no.

3) I agree with Grey Falcon that Serbs should never have foresworn the use of force. You must always keep the enemy guessing and yes that's right - "Europe" and the States are the enemy.

4) That being said, now is the time to show some real defiance. The next move should be to spit in NATO/EU's face and break off diplomatic relations with every state that recognises independent Kosovo but I doubt the Great Pro-Western Reform-Oriented Democrats in Belgrade have the stomach for it. How can you continue maintain any sort of diplomatic dialogue with nations that conspire to rip the heart out of your country? Create a crisis for the EU and NATO dammit!! What have the Serbs got to lose? The prospect of become 2nd class citizens in their own country? Leaders missing photo-ops at EU summits? The approval of a gang of professional anti-Serbs like Marko Attila Hoare and Oliver Kamm?

Anonymous said...

Roland: 'Serbia does not have any moral authority to Kosovo. The people of Kosovo don't want to be part of Serbia. '

Kosovo is a part of serbia...and the people,in it are/were a mix of ethnic groups: so what people of Kosovo are u referring to? The albanians in it have tried to drive out all but the albanians..that is they have been doing what NATO/US accused the serbs: ethnic cleansing.
You can lear more about this here:
Article by Edward Herman:

The Dismantling of Yugoslavia: A Study in Inhumanitarian Intervention