by Eric Margolis
GENEVA -- Everyone involved in the strange Kosovo conflict is claiming
victory - except for its chief victims, the Albanians.
Serbia's ruler, Slobodan Milosevic, has saved his own skin, evaded
prosecution for war crimes, and managed, at least for now, to keep Kosovo,
which was 93% Albanian until this year's ethnic terror, under Serb
sovereignty. NATO's promises to the Kosovars of a future vote on
independence have been forgotten in the rush to end the war.
The muddled accord almost certainly assures continued violence in Kosovo
and a legion of future troubles for the Balkans. Many of the one million
Albanian refugees are afraid to return to Kosovo, whose borders will
remain under Serb military and police control, thus cementing Milosevic's
terrorism. Albanians know once NATO loses interest in Kosovo, the Serbs
will be back
Milosevic, who keeps power by creating trouble, will now turn his
perpetual- motion crisis machine on neighboring Montenegro, unstable
Macedonia, Bosnia, and Serbia's forgotten Muslim region of Sanjak. He
will emerge from the war a hero and inspiration to the growing force of
racism among Balkan Slavs and the Greeks.
The `peace' deal is being hailed as a triumph of sensible internationalism
by the curious, ad hoc alliance of groups that opposed the war: leftists,
right- wing isolationists, anti-Americans, and Muslim-haters. Far from a
triumph, it is a craven surrender to expediency by NATO's weak- willed
leaders. At the same time, the western democracies have not only invited
Russia and China to meddle in the Balkans, they are relying on them as
`partners in peace.'
Misery loves company; so do repressive regimes. It was no coincidence
semi-communist Russia, and fully communist China, sprang to the defense of
Serbia, Europe's last communist state. Nor that Moscow and Beijing
reacted furiously to NATO's half-hearted intervention in Kosovo to protect
human rights. Both are major violators of human rights and persecutors of
Five years ago, the 1.2 million Muslim Chechens rose up against 250 years
of savage Russian oppression. During World War II, 80% of Chechens were
massacred, starved, or deported en masse in railroad cars to concentration
camps by Stalin. To crush Chechen resistance, in 1994 Russian carpet
bombing and heavy artillery killed 50,000 to 100,000 Chechen civilians.
Torture and executions were widespread. Virtually all Chechen cities,
towns, and villages were leveled in a horrifying prelude to Kosovo.
Russian parliamentarians recently accused President Boris Yeltsin of major
war crimes in Chechnya. Yet this same leader, and the same army that
committed these atrocities, have been invited by NATO to join the Kosovo
peacekeeping force. The Russian contingent, which was said to eventually
number 10,000 troops, will be the second largest military force after the
British. Far from keeping peace, the Russians will promote the interests
of the outlaw Serb regime and, of course, Moscow's own centuries-old
strategic ambitions in the Balkans, as Russia's seizure of Pristina
airport showed this weekend.
China has been enlisted in the `peace process' because its support in the
UN Security Council is essential for diplomatic cover. The accidental
bombing of China's embassy in Belgrade presented Beijing with a golden
opportunity, which the Chinese immediately seized, to put America on the
psychological defensive. China's contrived rage over this trivial
incident helped distract attention from China's theft of US nuclear
secrets, and deflected world condemnation over the anniversary of the
Tienanmen massacre. Russia and China now hold veto power over the UN
operation in Kosovo.
More important, China is currently waging an intensifying campaign of
repression against the Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim people, the majority in
China's sensitive western province, Sinkiang - formerly Eastern Turkistan.
The Uighurs have rebelled against heavy-handed Chinese rule, and Bejing's
campaign to swamp the region with Han Chinese settlers, repeating the
process of Chinese ethnic inundation in Inner Mongolia and Tibet.
China recently executed a score of Uighurs, arrested hundreds of suspected
nationalists, and imposed martial law in many regions of Sinkiang. While
Chinese repression in Tibet has provoked worldwide protest, its equally
brutal policies in Sinkiang remain almost unknown. Not surprisingly, NATO
intervention to save the Kosovars from Serb ethnic terror set off alarm
bells in Beijing, which fears foreign action over its own violations of
human and national rights.
No wonder, then, that Russia and China, sought to be involved in Kosovo.
Under the guise of peacekeeping, Moscow and Beijing will try to ensure
Kosovo never gains independence from Serb rule, a precedent that would
embolden and encourage their own long-oppressed Muslim colonial subjects.
War and peace often make strange bedfellows. But NATO did not need to
invite such violators of rights to join its councils over Kosovo. NATO
troops massed on Serbia's borders before the bombing campaign would have
ended this war before it began, saving Serbia and Kosovo from devastation,
and the need to beg Russia and China for help. By failing to deploy
sufficient military force - and being seen as ready to use it - NATO has
created a quagmire it will long regret. Seeking the aid of big oppressors
to curb a small oppressor makes a mockery of NATO's humanitarian mission.
Russia, and to a lesser degree, China are the big winners of this botched
war, and at no cost to themselves. NATO and Serbia have achieved merely
Pyrrhic victories. They have made a desert, and call it peace. The Kosovar
Albanians have lost everything.
[Eric Margolis is a syndicated foreign affairs columnist and
broadcaster based in Toronto, Canada.]
[Eight years after the massacre of more than 7,000 Bosnians,--Marlise
Say Bosnian Massacre Was Deliberate," Guardian, October 12, 2003]
Jonathan Steele, "If Kosovo is
left in limbo, it will be a victory for Milosevic," New York Times, April 22,
Copyright © 1999 Eric Margolis - All Rights