Trying To Understand Kosovo

By Linda A. Prussen-Razzano

Featured Rightgrrl April 1999
March 25, 1999

The patch of planet Earth currently known as Kosovo has absorbed a significant amount of spilt blood. If historians are correct, warring groups have wrangled over this land since June of 1389. Are we to presume that today's missile attack will miraculously bring peace to a terrain intimately acquainted with hostility for almost 610 years?

Sorry, but I'm not that optimistic.

In 1389, Serbian Prince Lazar launched an unsuccessful campaign against the invading Ottoman Turks; both the Prince and Serbia fell to the stroke of Turkish swords. The Turks also conquered Kosovo, bringing these two neighboring lands under one rule. Over the course of time, large numbers of ethnic Serbs emigrated from the Kosovo region to Bosnia and other surrounding areas; Muslim Albanians, on the other hand, immigrated to Kosovo.

As late as 1911, Serbia and the Kosovo region were still controlled by the Turks; however, the League of Prizen, formed almost 35 year prior, helped solidify Albanian ethnocentricity. In 1912, the entire Balkan area mounted a successful campaign and eradicated Turkish rule.

Between 1912 and 1915, the Kosovo region changed hands several times. Each time, wholesale slaughter occurred on both sides.

At the start of World War II, Kosovar Albanians once again seized control. Those parts of Kosovo not controlled by Italy or ethnic Albanians were dominated by Hitler's soldiers; thousands of Kosovar Serbs were forced to flee their homes.

In 1945, Kosovar Albanians were given false assurances in exchange for their assistance against the Nazi regime. When the Third Reich fell, Kosovo also fell under the control of Communist Russia, as part of the former Yugoslavia, and the promises went unfulfilled. Subsequently, when Communist Russia began to deteriorate, so did the control over the Balkans.

Currently, Kosovar Albanians are attempting to declare their independence from Serbia. Serbia, in response, is attempting to keep the two areas solvent.

While I might recoil from the claims of horror and bloodshed, I find our involvement highly controversial.

Should we be alarmed by human rights violations? Yes, we should…but that did not prevent this Administration from ignoring the continual butchery in Rwanda, where Hutis killed an estimated 700,000 Tutsis. That did not prevent this Administration from offering China, a notorious human-rights violator, most favorite nation status. That does not force this Administration into the several other heated conflicts now taking place across the globe.

Do we need to contain the conflict? How ironic, that when this defense was used in Viet Nam, people rejected it. Suddenly it's palatable?

Do we have a pressing national interest? Yes, we always have a pressing national interest when our NATO allies are at risk. Since several share borders with the Balkans, we want to ensure their security. But I must ask, why, then, are we proceeding in manner that invites dangerous "saber rattling" from Russia? Why are we charging ahead with no clear plan for victory, no recognizable goal for security, and, once again, no exit strategy, period? Why did we launch this attack without proper recognition of need by the United Nations? And why, if this is such a just cause, must we vehemently defend our position now?

I'm still searching for answers, but I doubt I will like what I find.

Given my hesitation to blindly accept this President's "word" on the matter, who can fault the Serbs? They have just cause to question this White House, because the White House's strategy and message change daily. For example, on Saturday, February 20, 1999, Secretary of State Madeliene Albright announced that "the contact group has given [Serbian leaders] until 3 o'clock on Tuesday afternoon to finalize this settlement." On Sunday, February 21, 1999, during a press briefing, a reporter asked James Rubin, the Department of State Spokesperson, why the Kosovar Albanians "think there is a deadline" for reaching an agreement. One would presume the Serbs and Kosovar Albanians thought this because Ms. Albright specifically stated it; but no, Rubin insisted she only "expressed a sense of urgency to them."

Within 24 hours, Rubin completely contradicted Albright. If the White House can "change its message" that quickly, on something as simple as a deadline, why should any nation trust their promises of peaceful occupancy?

The harsh reality is we, as Americans, have more pressing issues of national interest to address. In the July 15, 1998 executive summary by the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, the Commission warned that our national defense must be "revised to reflect the reality of the environment in which there may be very little or no warning" of an eminent nuclear attack. The Cox Report, tentatively scheduled to be declassified on May 1, 1999, will show just how damaging the China Connection has been. With national security sources indicating to Newsweek that the Chinese spy penetration at the Los Alamos laboratory was "total," I would think we should be immediately mounting our resources at home, instead of expending them in fruitless, verspertine exercises abroad.

God Bless our fighting men and women! May all of our soldiers, stranded across the globe, come home soon!

This article copyright © 1999 by Linda A. Prussen-Razzano and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.