Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Long Shadow of Kosovo

I commented years ago, when Richard Holbrooke played his KLA card against Milosevic in Kosovo, that it looked like the losing move in the game of U.S. patronage of Europe. Strategically it was a horrendously dumb idea, morally, a cynical self-damnation. It was of course not the first time that the United States allied itself with some hugely dehumanized figure or regime. Stalin’s USSR or Pol Pot’s Kampuchea would be two elementary examples. But this was hugely different. There was very little known about Stalin’s repressions and atrocities before the Iron Curtain fell and likewise about Pol Pot’s killing fields before he was driven into the jungle. The regimes in both countries were entrenched without US help. The context of the Stalin’s alliance was a world war against Nazism and Japanese militarism. The support for Pol Pot was dictated by the logic of a global rivalry with Soviet communism. The Sino-Soviet split produced a strange bedfellow for the US.

In contrast, Clinton and Albright knew full well what sort of people they were making use of against Milosevic. KLA would have had no chance to turn itself into a popular nationalist movement , because political resistance already existed in Kosovo, one which was democratic and non-violent. No objective necessity, or palpable pressure, existed to force the U.S. to call on the likes of Hashim Thaci for help. The U.S. knew from day one, that it engaged a gang of criminal misfits and degenerates. Carla Del Ponte’s book, published after prime minister Thaci declared Kosovo independence, did not break any big news for people who followed the conflict. In 1998, the KLA were terrorists with links to Iran and bin Laden. The State Department knew that. Richard Holbrooke may deny he made a deal forgiving Karadzic the bombing of Sarajevo bread-lines, but he may not deny that KLA figured in Clinton Administration books as a terrorist organization when he started to talk to them.

The Kosovo adventure had predictable consequences for U.S. prestige in Europe and within NATO. The NATO-occupied province of Serbia soon became a by-word for lawlessness and corruption and soon the “liberation” model began spreading to southern Serbia and Macedonia. Before it was contained, most of continental Europe from Athens to Stockholm scorned the U.S. policy in the Balkans. The Italians were first to have had their doubts about the Kosovo project, being the natural transit point for Albanian drug trafficking (and prostitution rackets) that had just secured a better supply line. France also dissented early, and was never quite on side for the U.S. joyride of humiliating Russia in the Balkans. It was the French press which first cast heavy doubt on the authenticity of the “Racak massacre”. Schroeder’s support for intervention of Kosovo was a shock to his party and most of the German public opinion. The “humanitarian war” did not have many takers, and a wave of criticism hit the media after Luftwaffe bombed Belgrade, in a repeat of an unprovoked attack of 1941. By the time the bombs fell, most of Europe knew about the Rambouillet “annex” that Milosevic refused to sign, which gave NATO the right to occupy de facto any part of the Yugoslav rump. The secret part of the proposed text was put on the KLA Web site by mistake. A number of documents from German courts and Foreign Office Reports were collected and published on the Web by a lawyers organization. They showed duplicity in the claims of genocide against ethnic Albanians. . The war against Milosevic’ Serbia was waged under false pretenses.

The useless war for Kosovo would have cost the U.S. dearly no matter what followed. Europeans had wars waged on their soil in the 20th century and do not particularly care for the experience. In Europe you don’t cry “war”, for the same reason you don’t cry “wolf”. Even more so. But as it happened, barely a year after the Pristina noise finally died in the villages around Nis and Tetovo, the Americans were proposing another excellent war-game adventure in Iraq. Not being able to implicate Saddam in 9/11 - the idea of a Baathist and a Wahhabi plotting , being essentially an junior CIA analyst’s wishful thinking, the Gringos declared him in possession of WMDs. This would be a somewhat more realistic scenario because Saddam was gung-ho on acquiring them in the past. The problem was that Saddam, who had his reactor smashed by the IAF, who was unceremoniously run out of Kuwait, and who laboured for a decade under heavy economic sanctions did not look anything like his former self. It would have been no problem for the U.S. to clone him into a Moammar Gaddafi. The “old” Europe was very suspicious of US motives to remove Saddam and did not go along.

Sixth year into the adventure, the US and its Coalition of the Willing (East European Shitdisturbers) have not stabilized the place they took in three weeks. Iraq, essentially a structure created by British colonial expedients out of three culturally disparate regions would not have survived as a state, had it not been for a ruthless dictator. The U.S. did not think it wise in 2003 to rebuild Iraq’s statehood on the brilliant model of McArthur-occupied Japan. Instead it tinkered trying to find a “democratic” formula to neutralize the numerically dominant Shi’ites (who are hated by everyone else: the traditionalist (Saudi-allied) Sunnis, the western-leaning Sunnis, the Wahhabi-allied Sunnis, and the Kurds). The foolishness of this enterprise is still not apparent to Washington, which apparently believes that Iraq does not work politically because it is being undermined by the meddling of Iran. So, let’s - as Weird Al Yankowich would – “Bo-, bo-, bo-, bomb, bomb, Iran” (on the tune of Beach Boys’ Barbara Ann). Ahmadinejad is now the extended point of the Axis of Evil, the other member having suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and likely hence unable to continue to threaten the security of Lehman Brothers, etc. And this time, we know for sure that the Axis man enriches uranium.

I wonder if senators McCain and Obama have any inkling of the huge political losses the U.S. has suffered in Europe in the moral debacle that was and is Kosovo. It makes no sense to commit to Iraq without a political end-game. None exists today, and will not materialize unless the U.S. radically changes its foreign policy course and starts investing in the ideas of a “concert” that Metternich orchestrated for Europe between Napoleon and the Revolutions of 1848. To win the old Europe back should be the US foreign policy’s primary objective. The further and final integration of Russia into Europe and the world economy, is a big piece of that policy. The best and perhaps the only way how to pacify the Bear, is to let him on the honey. The Russians want peace and prosperity, first and foremost. Listen to Medvedev : get rid of the Sovietologists; get some Russologists !. This, the U.S. can do at no cost to anyone.

The alternative of course is to let the absolute power corrupt the US absolutely. To go into Iran, or doing it without the big players on side, is to continue on the path of the lone geopolitical suicide bomber. That much should be clear by now.

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