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KFOR: Repeating history


  by Nikolaos A. Stavrou

  The Washington Times
  Wednesday, August 11, 1999,
  Final Edition, PART A; COMMENTARY;
  Page A15


For fair use only
Published under the provision of
U.S. Code, Title 17, section 107.

 

Operation Allied Force has been a resounding success for Kosovar diplomacy and sets the stage for a prolonged American quagmire at a place were guerrilla warfare and anarchy were invented. With the apparent toleration of KFOR a "state within a state" is fast becoming a reality in Kosovo, while porous borders with Albania assure an uninterrupted flow of weapons. Secure under the NATO umbrella, some enterprising KLA elements have reverted to lucrative smuggling activities, while others are busy setting up parallel administration in Western Macedonia - a prelude to a liberation movement there.

Leaving little to chance, KLA's Washington supporters hold fast to the victim image to assure "understanding" of its murderous activities. When it comes to blond Balkan Muslims, Western journalists have shown a great deal of understanding. Rapes of Serbian nuns are reported as "assaults," and daily murders, abductions and disappearances are packaged as "understandable" acts of revenge.

Decades of sound investments in the American political process paid off for KLA. A careful examination of FEC list shows a steady flow of Albanian PAC and personal contributions to prominent political figures of both parties. Now, as the Sarajevo gathering affirmed, it is the turn of the American taxpayer to foot the bill for NATO's "humanitarian intervention" in defense of separatism.

Kosovar diplomacy had history as its guide; its American counterpart had TV images. The KLA meticulously followed a policy first tested in the Balkan wars (1912-13) and refined in two world wars. Albanian elites would instinctively claim victimhood in their pursuit of powerful patrons to settle scores with their neighbors. The United States follows in the footsteps of a long list of Balkanizers who made military power available to the perennial Balkan underdog. The Ottoman Empire, Benito Mussolini's Italy, Nazi Germany, Josef Stalin's Soviet Union, and Mao Tse-tung's China all paid their dues to the project of "Greater Albania." An Albanian proverb aptly defines the Kosovar views on power: "The big, the powerful and the strong are servants of the smart, the short and the weak." Yet, their choice of allies did not always serve them well. Faithful service to the Sultan cost them Kosovo in 1912. In fact, it was an Albanian general, Essat bey Toptani, who surrendered the province to the Serbs. A Harvard-educated bishop and politician, Fan S. Noli, misread the importance of V.I. Lenin's Russia when he invited Comintern agents to help him replicate the Bolshevik Revolution in Albania. Two decades later, Albanians of all ideological persuasions joined Mussolini and Adolf Hitler in their Balkan adventures. For a short four years, matters looked promising and Albanian enthusiasm for fascism was unabashed. Hitler's U-Boats and Mussolini's air force were routinely referred to by Albanian leaders as "our forces," and banner headlines in the press heralded their victories. For example, Tomori in April 1942 joyfully announced "our navy destroyed an American armada in the Atlantic"; Bashkimi i Kombit headlined the "Successes of our air force in Malta and the Corinth Canal" with the subheading "Greece cut in two." Sixty-two thousand Albanians eagerly marched into Greece with Mussolini's blue shirts. In their enthusiasm, the commanders of the Albanian brigades, Drini and Dajti, requested the "honor" of crossing the Greek borders first. Many prominent communists, among them Ramiz Alia, (secretary general of the Communist Party) started their careers as fascists. Omer Nishani, first president of communist Albania, had fashioned himself as the theoretician of fascism. But when his fascist past surfaced at the Paris Peace Conference, even V.M. Molotov blushed.

Albanian elites and tribal leaders saw the same opportunities in fascism and Nazism that their descendants now see in NATO. "If we organize and discipline ourselves according to the dogma of Albanian fascism," wrote Nishani, "we will achieve our hearts' desire of expanding Albania to its ethnic borders."

Under the fascist-Nazi umbrella, the Albanians gained control of Kosovo, efficiently cleansed it of 300,000 Serbs and kept the Yugoslav resistance busy, thus relieving Nazi troops for duty in Normandy. History repeats itself. Under a different patron, the Kosovars are now cleansing the territory of non-Albanians. Why not? NATO gave the Yugoslav army only days to get out of Kosovo, but it is "negotiating" with the KLA about what weapons to surrender and when. In the meantime, ancient Orthodox Churches are destroyed and innocent farmers massacred by NATO's local allies. Madeleine Albright and Tony Blair may still harbor illusions about a multi-ethnic Kosovo, but that is not what Albanians have in mind. Their goal is "an ethically pure Albanian Kosovo," and they are pretty close to achieving it.

Since KFOR's arrival, the Serb and Gypsy populations have been reduced by 75 percent and 90 percent respectively. The irony is that the Serbs who are now being expelled are those who thought they had no reason to leave their ancestral homes. They had nothing to fear, they thought, because they had committed no crimes against their Albanian neighbors. Above all they opted to trust NATO, only to be brushed off with the excuse, "We cannot be everywhere, all the time."


Nikolaos A. Stavrou is professor of international affairs at Howard University.

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