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Archive for the ‘kosovo’ Category

Mark Ames has a balanced account of the various issues and sources of conflict in Georgia and South Ossetia.  He notes that the Western Media have largely ignored the Ossetians, their beefs with the Georgians, their treatment in Georgia’s initial campaign of bombardment, and their mutually exclusive appeals to justice that are in direct conflict with those of the Georgians.  The following passage is particularly insightful:

At the root of this conflict is a clash of two twentieth-century guiding principles in international relations. Georgia, backed by the West, is claiming its right as a sovereign nation to control the territory within its borders, a guiding principle since World War II. The Ossetians are claiming their right to self-determination, a guiding principle since World War I.

These two guiding concepts for international relations–national sovereignty and the right to self-determination–are locked in a zero-sum battle in Georgia. Sometimes, the West takes the side of national sovereignty, as it is in the current war; other times, it sides with self-determination and redrawing of national borders, such as with Kosovo.

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One mark of ideological thinking is a strong strain of rigid consistency. All the facts must fit. The past must be re-written to reflect today’s goals. If the Catholic Church committed some evils in the priest scandal, it was evil back to the time of Christ. If the Iraq War is wrong, so was WWII, WWI, the Vietnam War, and even the War of 1812. Bad means in the pursuit of a noble goal, well-meaning mistakes, incompetence rather than malevolence,  and all forms of moral complexity and human error are consigned to either the realm of the elect and the damned.

A nasty strain of this has emerged among the anti-war right. The left, of course, has long had a large body of supporters whose criticisms of the western world and the United States are intemperate, because the philosophy is rooted in an anti-western fetishization of the Other.  But now the anti-war right, frustrated perhaps by the support received by Bush among a fairly large constituency, has undertaken to extremes of rhetoric, culminating in 9/11 conspiracy theories.

Lawrence Auster exposed this nonsensense quite trenchantly in a piece he wrote some time ago in Front Page Magazine where he wrote, inter alia, about the strange turn of Antiwar.com to anti-Americanism after its initial, powerful condemnation of the Kosovo campaign:

But then something very strange happened with Szamuely, and with Antiwar.com itself. Not content with merely opposing the U.S.-led war on Serbia, he began retrospectively attacking America’s entire effort in the Cold War against the former Soviet Union. He did this by denying that Communism had ever represented a threat that needed to be stopped. It was as though, once he had switched into an oppositional mode against what he saw as the unjustified use of American power in the case of Serbia, he was compelled by some mysterious dynamic to see any use of American power abroad as wrong or imperialistic, even when that power had been used for such a righteous and necessary cause as resisting the spread of Communism, and even though he himself had previously been an anti-Communist and a supporter of the Cold War.

This came as a shock to me. And the shock didn’t end there. I soon noticed a similar adversarial stance among other antiwar rightists, a wild denunciatory quality that did not confine itself to particular wrongs committed by the United States, but eagerly embraced any assertion against America, no matter how ridiculous.

I strongly recommend the article.  Auster correctly notes that significant numbers of the paleoconservative right, resentful perhaps over their lack of influence and professional success, have turned into nihilist haters of all things American.  It’s ridiculous, of course, and far out of kilter with what should be conservative instincts, particularly when natural patriotism and unease with the paranoia of the fringe left is why so many normal people remain encamped on the right side of the spectrum.

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Four years ago I wrote about the largest anti-Serb mass violence in Kosovo since the 1999 war. Today, an independent Kosovo stands as a testament to the rewards of violence–this reward is particularly galling as it occurred under an umbrella of western protection that was supposed to prevent the Albanians from abusing their newfound power as the majority. Indeed, the Albanians have been rewarded well; neither treaties nor concerns for the West’s reputation as an honest broker have done anything to slow them down.

Kosovo will prove to be a stillborn state, dependent on western protection, perpetually poor, crime-ridden, and a subordinate arm of Albania proper. Our unlawful recognition of Kosovo has created unnecessary friction with Russia and China and, like all our efforts to appease the Islamic world, has resulted in little or none of the promised good will. After all, 9/11 happened after US intervention on behalf of Muslims in Bosnia and in Kosovo. But we keep on trying! To admit a major civilizational difference and the utter irreconcilability of our interests and values would mean the unraveling of liberalism itself, which depends upon a cult of the Sacred Other.

During the 2004 attacks, National Review reported the following (quoted in my blog entry linked above):

A pogrom started in Europe this week, with one U.N. official being quoted as saying, “Kristallnacht is under way in Kosovo.” Serbs are being murdered and their 800-year-old churches are aflame. Much of the Christian heritage in Kosovo and Metohija is on fire and could be lost forever. By these deeds too many of Kosovo’s Albanians have shown that their rhetoric about “democracy” and “multiethnicity” is false, and demonstrates also that the international community’s acceptance of them has been naive.

How did this week’s events begin? Just as in the 1930s, a rumor became a fact and prearranged plans were put into action. Members of the victimized community (in this case, Serbian children) were accused of chasing four Albanian children into a river and causing the death of three of them. Hours later, the U.N. Mission–which is what passes for authority in Kosovo–issued a statement that the accusation against the Serbs was false, adding that the surviving Albanian child had told the U.N. that no Serbs had been involved in the drownings. Nevertheless, anti-Serb violence did not abate. And today Kosovo burns still.

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Below is a link to my Kosovo Op-Ed in the Orlando Sentinel.  The comments on the on-line version are surprisingly pro-Serb.  I guess people everywhere are fed up with wars being waged over half-baked abstractions like Democracy and Self-Determination. 

Here’s an excerpt:

No one believes that the Kosovar Albanians will act as tolerant stewards of a multicultural society. Since 1999, Kosovar extremists have destroyed Christian churches and monasteries and expelled thousands of Serbs in a campaign that one NATO commander described as “ethnic cleansing.”

History has not been kind to the Serbs. After World War II, the communist regime murdered Serbians en masse who fought against the Nazi invaders. In the 1990s, though all sides committed atrocities in the Balkans, Americans and Europeans singled out the Bosnian Serbs for condemnation. The hypocrisy reached its peak in 1995 when the West remained silent as well-armed Croatian forces expelled 200,000 Serbs from Bosnia’s Krajina region. Today in Kosovo, the holy land of the Serbs, the West has explicitly approved the nationalist aims of the Albanians by recognizing an independent Kosovo.

This is a bigger issue than Serbia. Once again, the United States has needlessly provoked Russia. In recent years, we’ve meddled in its Ukrainian neighbor’s elections and pushed NATO’S boundaries farther eastward. In 1999, a weak Russia could do little to support its Serbian ally. But today Vladimir Putin’s Russia is strong, and its patience with the West has worn thin.

We may soon find that we have insulted Russia one time too many.

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This video is one of many: Albanian “moderate” Muslims destroying a Serbian church in Kosovo. How much more of a crime against humanity is it for a Church, where the Sacred Body of Christ resides, to be destroyed compared to a secular state’s embassy? I support neither act of lawlessness, of course, but the West’s silence about the abuse of our Christian brothers in Serbia is a daily declaration that our government feels nothing for our fellow Christians and that we are willing to throw the Serbs to the wolves in order to appease unappeasable Muslims nipping at Europe’s frontiers. Where are the Evangelicals who plead the case of Israel so eloquently? Where are all the advocates of a “real war” against Islamic terrorism?

One thing apparent in the Metropolitan of Montenegro’s stirring sermon on Kosovo is something that Catholics and other Western Christians have forgotten: we do not believe in an ethereal, abstract Christianity that is sealed off from worldly concerns. God is “immanent” in the world and not just in the mental lives of human beings. Places, things, objects, bodies, and other parts of the world are God’s creation, serve a purpose, and are worthy of respect. Any of these things can become holy and a worthy objection of veneration. In other words, the spiritual and the physical are not seperated.   This is apparent most dramatically in the person of Jesus Christ, the Incarnation. But it also inheres in our respect for churches, our respect for the Blessed Sacrament, our use of sacramentals and bread and wine in our worship, and in our concept of relics and Christian Burial.  Because the created world and human institutions exist to serve divine purposes, our political and moral life must be informed by our Christian religious beliefs.

Kosovo and Metohija are a land of martyrs. It is the place where the Serbs took a stand against the expanding Ottoman Empire in 1389.  As the Metropolitan says, “When we say this here, before the face of the living God and before the face of St Sava, our spiritual father, in whom our soul encountered and committed itself to the Lord God and God’s eternal justice, then that means that for us Kosovo and Metohija are not the geography of a territory, but the topography of our life, purpose and commitment.” To ask Serbians to give this up is to declare ourselves anti-Christians, who, like the Manichaeans of old, have no understanding that this world matters, and that the earth itself can be infused with memory and meaning (and grace too) through the blood of martyrs.

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Condoleezza Rice had the following soothing and diplomatic words for the people of Serbia:

We believe that the resolution of Kosovo’s status will really, finally, let the Balkans begin to put its terrible history behind it,” Rice said yesterday. “I mean, after all, we’re talking about something from 1389 — 1389! It’s time to move forward.”

The “statute of limitations” for half-educated moderns like Condy is always moving forward.  It’s 100 years.  Maybe 50.  Soon it will be 10 minutes.  We’re already being told to “get over” 9/11 by more consistent observers than Condy. 

Further, why should the Serbs forget that the Islamic Turks fought many battles to oppress them in 1389?  Why does this event deserve to be flushed down the memory hole, but not the birth of Jesus Christ more than 1,000 years before the battle?  

Should Jews forget the Holocaust?  Should Germans?  Should Turks continue to “forget” their genocide of the Armenians?  Yes, history should not simply be a fountain of grievances, but it cannot just be forgotten.  Without history, men have no identity, nor concern for the future. It is a good thing that the Serbs remember and honor their ancestors; it’s not just some obstacle for cosmopolitan technocrats like her to overcome. 

Condy is also misrepresenting the motives of the Serbs.  This is not just a nostalgia act.  The grievances of the Serbs are vital and ongoing.  It’s a brazen thing to say that it’s “time to move forward” as Albanians are burning Serbian churches and monasteries in Kosovo todayunder the supervision of NATO.  

Yes, 1389 is a long time ago.  But it matters because it demonstrates an ongoing pattern of Islamic violence, a pattern we see today in Osama bin Laden and the terrorist leader of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci. 

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I love this map.

 NWO Map

Events far away in Kosovo implicate a very practical question:  Do we want countries and their borders to be up for grabs every time one of their ethnic minority groups resorts to terrorism?  Or do we want, instead, to encourage all nations, even nations that are commited like most will be to remaining an “ethnic state” with a particular majority, to behave justly to all of their people, seeking negotiated solutions where possible?  I think these questions answer themselves.  And the answers matter not just to Europe but to America too, because we are facing the separatist “reconquista” ideology of Mexican radicals coming to the United States.  If Serbia must give up Kosovo, what will Americans say if someday New Mexico or Arizona seek to break off from the United States and become new Hispanic-majority nations aligned with Mexico?

Ethnic and religious minorities are always a bit nervous about their safety and understandably so.  Often the best solution if peace cannot otherwise be found is purposeful separation.  If the recent breakup of Yugoslavia proves anything, it should prove the dangers of multiculturalism and multinational states.  In any ideal world, Yugoslavia would have been dissolved through fair negotiations, population transfers, mutually agreeable drawing up of frontiers, and some form of compensation of displaced people. 

But even if one thought every stateless people–Tamils, Palestinians, Kurds–deserved a nation state, the justification for a new state in Kosovo is nonexistent.  Albania, the nation, is right next door and offers a suitable homeland to any Albanian that wanted to leave Yugoslavia. Because of these contradictions, the U.S. has resorted to saying that its recognition of Kosovo’s independence will not serve as a precedent because it is “unique.”  Unique indeed, because Bush and the Europeans do not want to admit that we have participated in an incredibly dangerous exception to established principles of international law. 

* I can’t say enough about the excellent coverage of the Kosovo Crisis over at Svetlana Novko’s Byzantine Sacred Art Blog, where I found the map above.  A Serbian living in Canada, Svetlana has excellent sources and coverage from Kosovo and the rest of Serbia. 

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