Kosovo

Well, I think I am in decent shape as far as time-sensitive work goes now, and I don’t want to make this really, really long, but all the recent talk about Kosovo calls me to say a few words.  As I have mentioned in the past, the bombing of Kosovo was a crucial moment in bringing me around fully to a non-interventionist foreign policy view and in crystallising my understanding of why our solidarity with Christian peoples in Europe was important to the security of Europe, so I take the matter pretty seriously.  I have not written much about Kosovo lately because I haven’t had much to add, and I find the entire scene to be fairly depressing.  As I remember Dr. Fleming once saying, Kosovo was Waco writ large.  As surely as the latter awoke me to the terrible potential of the central government, the bombing of Kosovo made me see our foreign policy’s corruption by poisonous ideology and corrupting lust for domination.  What they did to the Serbs they could and very well might do to Americans some day.  It would not be for the first time. 

Let’s start with part of Rod’s quote from a “prominent journalist” written in response to Spengler’s Asia Times article on Kosovo:

The salient point is that from a CULTURAL point of view, either prospectively or retrospectively, the significance of this 10% is nil. So I genuinely don’t see why you view this as a make or break issue in terms of Western will versus what you persist (baselessly in my view) to call ‘dhimmitude.’

The “prominent journalist” is right that partition of Kosovo will not solve the problem, but simply postpone its resolution to some future date.  The places and sites sacred to Serbian Orthodox Christians will not cease to be sacred to them simply because they have been pillaged and ravaged.  (Incidentally, the April issue of Chronicles, whose cover is covered with images of icons defaced by the KLA and other Albanian vandals, is a great one and concerns itself with the more general problem of Christophobia.)  Kosovoan independence will ensure that whenever conflict does resume, as it almost certainly will, it will be an international war that has the potential to become a much larger conflict.  With that in mind, partition will only be a stopgap measure and one that does not avoid the fundamental problem, which is that NATO has empowered Islamic terrorists in the middle of the Balkans.   

Whether or not the territory of Kosovo and Metohija is divided politically, this fundamental Serbian and more generally Orthodox attachment to Kosovo will remain undiminished.  It is like the attitude of a Frenchman towards Lorraine after 1871, only many times more intense.  It is probably more like the feeling of Armenians about the Van and Sivas regions.  The desirability of partition is that it will at the very least prevent the renewal of conflict in the immediate future, but as I have noted it will not eliminate the causes for future conflict.  From the Serbian perspective, partition of Kosovo is less than optimal for the very reasons that the “prominent journalist” said, which means that any settlement will not be a stable or lasting one.  Partition is acceptable only inasmuch as it protects the current Serbian population of Kosovo, which is certainly desirable in itself, but it remains only the second-best solution to reincorporating Kosovo into Serbia.  However, there is also a far more fundamental question of preserving Serbian sovereignty.  Given that it is possible to avoid both independence and partition, partition also seems undesirable.  James Jatras writes on partition this week:

Under such circumstances, it is unfortunate that suggestions are heard from various quarters that the best outcome for Serbia would be a partition of Kosovo. Indeed, as claimed by James Lyon in the Sorors-financed Belgrade media conglomerate B92, partition is the secret goal of Serbia’s leadership, which—according to Lyon—is rubbing its hands in anticipation of the majority of Serbs’ eradication from Kosovo, so as to have a pretext to keep the area north of the Ibar. All Belgrade’s brave defense of principle, suggests Lyon, is just maneuvering toward that end.

For whatever it is worth, I do not for a minute believe any such nonsense, which smells of a deliberate effort to sow discord and confusion. To start with, even if any such pro-partition intention existed with anyone in the Serbian government, it is hard to credit the secret collusion necessary to achieve such an outcome amid the obvious political rivalries. Thankfully, the current political dynamic is such that each party vying for power must tout its principled stand on Kosovo while ready to pounce on any opponents foolish enough to weaken their commitment to Serbia’s constitutional and territorial integrity. Oddly enough, the current disunity has redounded to Serbia’s advantage. Even those who might wish to sell out have no chance to do so. 

Still, the question of partition now has been raised. I can confirm that there are some in the United States who are not at all hostile to Serbia and have suggested to me that maybe it’s “better to keep something than lose all.” And even some Serbs, perhaps conditioned by years of mind-numbing propaganda that “Kosovo already is lost,” may be tempted to think the same way. So, as we face the last gasp of the West’s failing policy, the disastrous consequences for Serbia of even considering the possibility of partition must be addressed. Both partition and, should it ever be toyed with, a policy of secretly aiming at partition fail as a matter of practicality, of principle, and of political advantage.

As a practical matter, Serbia’s aiming for partition just as the Ahtisaari plan stands on the brink of collapse would be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. If those “friendly” western governments that wish to detach all of Kosovo from Serbia could do so, they would. If they cannot—and it is increasingly clear they cannot—why should Serbia compliment their failure by conceding the majority of what they have failed to seize?

All of this is why intervening on behalf of irredentists and terrorists (or intervening in any war that is not your fight) is generally a bad idea and should be avoided.  To make amends, our government ought not to continue rewarding irredentists and terrorists for their crimes and should also oppose Kosovoan independence. 

Note that I do not use the Albanian propaganda word Kosovar (taken from the Albanian name of the place, Kosova) when describing any of this.  The extent to which ‘Kosovar’ has entered into the standard lexicon of many people concerned this question reveals the pervasive anti-Serbian bias in media coverage of anything related to Kosovo; it is so widespread that people pick it up without realising its origin or its significance.  Kosovar might be a term that could be applied to the Albanian population, since it is an Albanian word, but obviously it makes no sense to refer to “Kosovar Serbs,” unless one wants to privilege Albanian claims to the place.

In one sense, the independence of Kosovo is not the “make or break issue” that presages either the future collapse or the revival and survival of Europe.  The make-or-break moment arguably already occurred when most Europeans and Americans sided with the Bosnian Muslims, the mujahideen imported from Iran and elsewhere and the KLA against the Serbs.  When the might of the West was used to compel Serbs to cede part of their own country to terrorists and Albanian irredentists, the spirit of capitulation and collaboration had already prevailed in many parts of Europe.  There is another sense, however, in which defeating Kosovo independence or at least ensuring partition will be a strong signal that the West has stopped trying to curry favour with Muslims by selling out their civilisational brethren.  Of course, that is probably too much to hope for at this point.  There is yet another way to view the fate of Kosovo as a symbolic turning point related to Europe as a whole: Kosovo’s fate is a warning to the apostles of assimilationism and mass immigration that immigration can be a prelude to full political takeover, and this final takeover often will be achieved through violence if necessary.

The “journalist” continues also said:

As far as Russia goes, incidentally, don’t exaggerate the importance of Kosovo to them (even to the
Patriarchate). That’s what was said during the Kosovo War itself, about Milosevic’s ouster, etc.. These days, if anything, Kosovo is even less significant in terms of Russian policy goals, though you may well be right that they will end up blocking the current independence deal in the UN Security Council. But the idea that in doing so it will be a case of a latter-day Horatius at the bridge seems to me far-fetched.
 

Statements like this puzzle me.  Whether or not the Russian government officials believe in their heart of hearts that they must stand by the Serbs and deeply treasure the “spirit of Kosovo” (I will guess this is probably not true), this is irrelevant because it is entirely consistent with Russian interests concerning their own territorial integrity vis-a-vis Chechnya and other potential breakaway states to oppose the separation of Kosovo from Serbia.  Whether or not Orthodox and Slavic solidarity enter into it, and we cannot entirely discount these things insofar as they may matter to some of the Russian public for symbolic reasons, Realpolitik dictates that the Russians resist the independence of Kosovo.  Washington and Brussels have given Moscow no reason to trust them or to support their meddling in the Balkans then or now, and whether or not this meddling is ultimately aimed at Russia (Spengler says no, I say don’t be so sure) the Russians think that it is, which is the only thing that matters for determining how they will view this matter.  If the Russians received certain guarantees that no one would attempt to detach Chechnya from Russia through similar efforts at the U.N., they might be willing to take a softer line, but to take those guarantees seriously they would have to believe that the West was acting in good faith…which the move to put ballistic missile defense in central Europe makes entirely impossible. 

The “journalist” then concludes:

Incidentally, it is a mark of just how wrong people like Neuhaus, Steyn, and, it seems, yourself are in your ‘Eurabia’ thesis that you’re surprised by the Le Pen story. The truth is that there is so much assimilation (though to say this is not to
underestimate the degree of exclusion and alienation) of Maghrebi immigrants to France that a certain number feel comfortable with Le Pen.

This is absurd.  I’m sure the Muslims quoted in the article citing the 8% of Muslims who will support Le Pen next Sunday are confident that they are assimilated French citizens.  Maybe some of them are.  Perhaps the assimilated Muslims are the only ones backing Le Pen–even so, you almost have to feel sorry for the man quoted in the article saying that Muslim professionals will be able to get proper jobs in a Le Pen regime because Le Pen looks out for French citizens!  It’s difficult to say for sure, but what seems obvious about the Le Pen-Muslim story is that Le Pen has effectively thrown in the demographic and cultural towel and decided to start making a deal with the people he assumes will only become more and more powerful and numerous in the future.  It is smart on his part from a narrow, cynical, political perspective, but it can only confirm the arguments of those warning about Eurabia that the people who might have been relied upon to resist Islamicisation more fiercely than others have given up and sought to make a better deal for themselves.  It may pay off in the short term.  In decades to come, it may be remembered as the moment when French will, strained and weakened by last year’s riots, gave out and paved the way for the gradual Kosovo-isation of southern (and central?) France.

For those interested in a compelling account of the problems with U.S. Balkan policy over the years and the deeper pathologies that drive globalist interventionism, here is an old but excellent piece by Dr. Trifkovic.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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