Monday, March 17, 2008

Kosovo and Serbia

The UN has been run out of Northern Kosovo by the 'Serbian insurgency'. Reuters reports that NATO troops now hold a strip of north "after Serb riots" unceremoniously evicted UN personnel from it "in the most serious challenge to the state since it split from Serbia last month."

The U.N. mission that has run Kosovo since the 1998-99 war said the withdrawal of its police and civilian staff from the Serb stronghold of north Mitrovica was only temporary, but could not say when they would return. ...

"We will maintain our intention to deploy the mission throughout the territory of Kosovo," the EU's new Kosovo envoy, Pieter Feith, told a news conference. The violence, sparked by a U.N. police operation to retake a U.N. court seized three days earlier by protesting Serbs, was the worst since Kosovo's 90-percent Albanian majority declared independence from Serbia on Feb 17.

Feith's intentions are empty because the UN doesn't have the capability to deploy in the face of Serbian opposition. It must rely on NATO security to do that. What the UN's capability is has already been demonstrated.

The violence, sparked by a U.N. police operation to retake a U.N. court seized three days earlier by protesting Serbs, was the worst since Kosovo's 90-percent Albanian majority declared independence from Serbia on Feb 17.

NATO said its troops came under automatic gunfire as Serbs converged on the court following the dawn raid. Serb media reports said about 70 civilians were wounded, along with dozens of U.N. police and soldiers of the 16,000-strong NATO-led peacekeeping force.

The UN attempted a "show of force" and a "look who's boss" operation at the courthouse. Just who showed the force and who proved the boss was amply demonstrated in one phrase. The UN withdrew. UN farces quit in the face of "grenade and gun attacks", described by the Times Online in a paragraph evocative of how much moral authority the World Body has on the ground.

Diplomats told The Times that a confrontation had been brewing in Mitrovica for days and was expected after Friday, when Serbs seized the courthouse from where the UN has overseen local justice since Serbian forces were ejected from Kosovo by Nato in 1999. About 300 Serbs demanding the establishment of their own court refused to leave the building after negotiations with UN officials failed at the weekend.

The confrontation began at dawn on the fourth anniversary of attacks on ethnic Albanians by Serbs, which triggered the final, fruitless round of international talks on Kosovo's status. It also coincided with a visit by the Serbian Minister for Kosovo to the region. Several hundred UN special police backed by Nato peacekeepers stormed the building, arresting 53 occupiers.

As word of the raid spread, the UN vehicles were attacked with stones, grenades and firecrackers. Several were set alight and at least ten of those arrested released by the mob. Nato troops were left to try to restore order. “We used automatic weapons to respond but fired only warning shots,” Etienne du Fayet de la Tour, a French Nato spokesman, said. “We shot in the air, not into the crowd. Eight French soldiers are injured with grenades, stones and Molotov cocktails.”

What happens next is that the UN plans to express its unqualified outrage, absolute indignation and an categorical protest from behind the protection of NATO and wait for the military alliance to pacify the Serbs, so that they can invent further employment for themselves investigating that operation at one of their humanitarian tribunals.

But in reality there is no long term way the UN can keep the rump of Serbian territory in Kosovo short of an indefinite occupation by NATO troops. The Serbians don't like the UN plan; and probably they don't like the UN either. Should NATO "end the war?" and "bring home the troops?" (Where's Will.I.Am when you need him?) Unfortunately there is one further wrinkle. What if the Serbs attempt to take back parts of Kosovo under the argument that Kosovo's indepdendence is illegal under international law? Kosovo can hardly defend itself. How far will NATO go to preserve the independence of Kosovo? If NATO doesn't protect Kosovo from the Serbs the Global Jihad will flood into Kosovo to assume the role of their protector. And if NATO abandons the field it will have defeated by a Russian backed proxy within Europe, which it cannot allow. So it may have to back the UN against its own best interests. What a mess.

Let's refer the problem to the UN. Oh, wait ...





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21 Comments:

Blogger Cake said...

Bullsnacks of the highest order.

Every two-bit thug on the planet knows full well the U.N. will never actually enforce their own mandates, why would veteran Serbian soldiers think any differently?

They access the internet too and have seen the likes of Hamas striding past U.N. bases, armed to the teeth and grinning like monkeys at the feckless blue berets.

3/17/2008 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger LarryD said...

"... and have seen the likes of Hamas striding past U.N. bases, armed to the teeth and grinning like monkeys at the feckless blue berets."

Arguably the UN are accessories to Hamas, Hez. et al Someday someone like Isreal should declare that since the UN are acting as allies of their enemies, that the UN will be treated as enemies when the ballon goes up.

3/17/2008 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Wretchard NATO does not exist. All that there is the US, plus a few Brits and other odds and ends.

NATO has no more capacity to defeat or subdue the Serbs in Kosovo or anywhere else than a Democratic Governor of NY or NJ to remain faithful to his wife.

What we are really talking about is the US. Which very likely will PASS on any serious military action and let Europe look after itself. Which it will by being defeated. And surrendering. Already Tony Blair's aide is talking about how we should "negotiate" with AQ and achieve peace in our time.

You are quite right about AQ flooding in to Kosovo. Fun times for everyone. As John McClain said, "Welcome to the Party Pal."

3/17/2008 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat@hotmail.com said...

We are in several crises at once. Domestic political. A failure of international institutions. In the middle of a deflating financial bubbles of unknown magnitude. A crisis of civilization. The demographic collapse of Europe. The weakening of the state.

It's all coming thick and fast. Tibet, the Middle East. Europe. High Noon at Denver. Bear Stearns. Citibank. Iran -- anybody remember the Iranian nuclear weapon? Afghanistan. Pakistan.

Now maybe its just that people have more to read these days than Time and Newsweek. But it's also possible that, like an airplane, all of whose instruments are simultaneously blinking, that there's something deeply wrong with the system.

But one thing that strikes me is that despite all these almost unprecedented event people keep tugging at the same old levers. The Fed, the UN, the talk shows etc.

A lot of people think we're still back in the 1948. Talking about containment. Engagement. World Government. Esperanto. Responsible journalism. Network TV.

But there are days when I think we're at a discontinuity where the only thing one can do is see what happens.

3/17/2008 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Everywhere we look, Team Fascism is dismantling the structures--wearing us down, waiting us out, dreaming of the day we will break, and welcome with open arms its promise of vengeance and order.

3/17/2008 08:56:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Well, Wretchard, making Europe on it's own face Jihad both internally and externally and linked to it's own impotence (self-wrought) would be useful.

Let's say France, Denmark, Italy, and Poland all desire nuclear weapons to stave off terrorism and provide a credible threat in return. How long would it take them together to produce ICBMs capable of reaching all the Muslim lands including Pakistan and Iran, and wipe out pretty much everyone from the Maghreb to Khyber Pass?

I would say not long. And certainly Europe forced to take action would relieve the US to take such action as it saw fit elsewhere.

3/17/2008 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger viktor silo said...

Tibet. The Middle East. Europe. High Noon at Denver. Bear Stearns. Citibank. Iran. Engagement. World Government. Esperanto. Responsible journalism. Network TV. Improvise. Adapt. Darwin. "Shit happens." The I Ching...whatever.

Roll with it...

3/17/2008 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Avery Bullard said...

The confrontation began at dawn on the fourth anniversary of attacks on ethnic Albanians by Serbs

Say what!? It was the fourth anniversary of Albanian pogroms of Serbs. No wonder Serbs hate the international media!

But it is no surprise. With the British and American media it is like Groundhog Day every day. They are still claiming there was an attempted genocide in 1998-9 of Albanians despite all the evidence to the contrary being pointed out to them time and time again. The Serbs will claim it is a conspiracy but I think they (the media) are just too lacking in curiosity and lazy to be bothered changing their established storyline of Serbs always being the aggressors.

3/17/2008 10:33:00 PM  
Blogger Avery Bullard said...

And if NATO abandons the field it will have defeated by a Russian backed proxy within Europe, which it cannot allow.

Is proxy the right word here? It is not as if the Serbs are acting just to please Russia as Holbrooke has arrogantly claimed.

What is interesting about this mess is that the Serbs were desperate to join "the West" as in becoming a member of the EU and possibly NATO, and sending to troops to Afghanistan only a few years after the US-led NATO killed thousands of their citizens. The U.S. through it's breathtaking arrogance - eg. saying it would give the Albanians (Kosovars!) everything they wanted before the negotiations - has forced Serbia in to Russia's corner. Given the events of the last few weeks I can't see how the Serbs could possibly choose the pro-Western party in the upcoming election after the way they've been treated by the Americans and the main EU states.

3/17/2008 10:52:00 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

In the plainest terms possible the creation out of thin air of Kosovo independence was a stupid, bonehead move with entirely predictable consequences.

How does the US/West benefit by the extension of Muslim territory in Europe at the expense of our ideological, historical allies? I can't think of a single reason. Milosovic was an old school bad guy that probably deserved a push back but he is long dead. The Serbs are not our enemy and it grieves me that the US/EU bureaucrats are doing everything possible to make them so.

You can't talk about the Balkans without dredging up history, and I don't mean the 1900s. From the 600s on the Eastern Roman Empire fought the Muslim hordes on the every front with little or no help from the West. For their reward they got Baldwin and the Fourth Crusade, which had little to do with Muslims and everything to do with stripping Constantinople of its wealth and making Baldwin the emperor of the Byzantines.

The case can be made that Western Civ is, or should be, the universal civilization of all mankind, but let us not forget that it was won on the backs of our Eastern brethren who have always manned the frontiers.

3/18/2008 02:48:00 AM  
Blogger El Baboso said...

As always, Wretchard, it will be a close run thing. We in the West have really done an amazing job of convincing ourselves that war is bad and maybe we shouldn't fight kill off whole cohorts of our young manhood every thirty years or so. The problem is that we never really convinced the rest of the world. So you have Sunnis trying to create a caliphate, Shias trying to create their own state, and Chavez trying to create some sort of "Bolivarian" superstate. At some point they have to resort to violence to gain their ends.

Of course they all hate the good ol' USA, because we are the only ones who can stop them. It is interesting to note that all three groups that I mentioned above are holocaust deniers. The holocaust is central to the Western anti-war meme. War leads to genocide. Modern industrialized war/nuclear war is genocide with tens or hundreds of millions dead in a few minutes. Even the spiritually dead Soviets couldn't bring themselves to fight that sort of war. By rejecting the reality of the holocaust, the Salafis, Khomeinists, and maybe even the Chavistas are saying that they can and will fight genocidal war.

Demographically and economically they probably have twenty years to make their moves before their youth bulges age and the industrialized world is forced out of shear necessity to move beyond carbon-based fuels.

3/18/2008 03:16:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Hobbes is a really good starting point in understanding the futility of the UN. In Hobbes’ world nations are created by the will of man to escape the state of nature. They choose a sovereign and thus move into a civil society—everyone that is except the sovereign, who remains in a state of nature. Naturally all the other sovereigns of all the other nations also remain in a state of nature and so international relations becomes an arena for power politics; the collection of civil societies deal with each other as men did when in the state of nature. As long as war is uncommon and controlled this is not a problem but when the level of fighting between nations reaches a certain threshold what really happens is that it plunges all the citizens of the involved states back into something approaching a state of nature.

This was the case during WW2 and the obvious answer was to make a civil society among Nations, better known as the UN. The problem was that there was no sovereign at the international level to impose order on the competing nations. Good behaviour by nations was voluntary or perhaps the result of some peer pressure. The powerful nations had no interest in creating a just international order by submitting to an international sovereign; why should they? They were happy to publicly play pretend civil society when in reality the international state of nature was as violent as ever.

So short of an international sovereign, the UN will always be a joke. Now nations could all decide to submit voluntarily, but given the well established thread of history, this seems more than foolish. As Plato said; a perfectly just man in a perfectly unjust world will quickly be killed by unjust men. This holds equally true for nations. Until there is a mechanism to enforce international justice, that is, until the individual sovereigns of each nation fear punishment from above, they will not stop robbing their neighbours. In the international state of nature, the choice between doing what is right for the society of nations and doing what is in your own self interest is pretty obvious.

That said, the solution to the Kosovo “crisis” is so clear that I have no idea why anyone is bothering to worry about it.. Just give the Serbs their portion of Kosovo; the Albanians aren’t going to whine too much. But why this wasn’t set out as the initial deal can only be put down to negotiating tactics.

3/18/2008 05:16:00 AM  
Blogger PapaBear said...

You do not have a military force, unless you have men who are willing to stand their ground and shoot back when the bullets fly, who are commanded by leaders willing to accept the consequences of taking and inflicting casualties

In the absence of both above qualities, you just have some scarecrows in uniform

I think Clinton put us in on the wrong side

3/18/2008 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Avery Bullard said...

That said, the solution to the Kosovo “crisis” is so clear that I have no idea why anyone is bothering to worry about it.. Just give the Serbs their portion of Kosovo; the Albanians aren’t going to whine too much. But why this wasn’t set out as the initial deal can only be put down to negotiating tactics.


It was brought up about two weeks ago by Serbs in northern Kosovo but the U.S. immediately issued a statement saying partition of Kosovo was "unacceptable". (I guess some borders are inviolable to the Americans!)

The problem for Serbia in asking for partition is that it would essentially be voluntarily giving up its territory. At no future opportune time could it act to reassert its sovereignty in the rest of Kosovo without clashing with the already anti-Serbian forces in the international community - the Americans, Turks, and Germans in particular - whilst losing the support of more sympathetic states.

Since only a couple of dozen states have recognised "Kosova", including most of those in Europe that are relatively homogeneous, the Serbs may be hoping that they win the argument in the long term. A lot of countries see this the Kosovo Precedent as a threat and would prefer to not recognise the province's independence. It'll be interesting to see if the U.S. can bully some of these - e.g. Canada, and poor countries needing U.S. aid - into approving of Serbian partition.

3/18/2008 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

"In the international state of nature, the choice between doing what is right for the society of nations and doing what is in your own self interest is pretty obvious"

Kevin, sentences such as that are precisely insane.

Here's some more unintentional satire almost as gallows-hilarious as your Swiftian proposal above. See if you can, before throwing up and/or collapsing in mirth, get to the part where Sudan ("Sudanjaweed") assumes the chair of the UN Human Rights Commission.

3/18/2008 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger MaYHeM said...

They are still claiming there was an attempted genocide in 1998-9 of Albanians despite all the evidence to the contrary being pointed out to them time and time again.

What the hell are you talking about?
Mass civilian graves aren't evidence enough?

3/18/2008 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

buddy,

I thought it was obvious that I meant each nation, if left to their own devices, would choose self-interest over doing what was right for the larger group. Just as without a police force one neighbour would steal from another if he thought he could get away with it.

3/18/2008 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Rich Rostrom said...

The failure of the "peacekeepers" in this case confirms Kevin's diagnosis. "Peacekeeping" cannot work against determined peacebreakers unless the peacekeepers are given effective sovereign power - which the nation-states will not allow.

The de facto partition of Kosovo seems inevitable. As for Kosovar sovereignty, its benefit is that it puts a final stop to Serbian ethnofascist attacks, which are what created such support as there is for the KLA and jihadism.

This was a deliberate policy of Milosevic and his ilk: send hooligans to Kosovo to "keep order", and when their abuses provoked Kosovar violence, wave the the bloody shirt and shout "Moslem terrorists!"

3/18/2008 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Kevin, how would we change a bad world-government? It would need a monopoly on violence or as you imply, it would be meaningless.

Would we elect a new world-president every four years? What if those dang Chinese were to bloc-vote?

Anyhoo, the so-called (and much-reviled) 'neocons' are bitterly accused of wanting just that, a benign Pax of some sort, and since it would have to be someone who could and would keep the globe open and free, the west, or USA in particular, would have to be those neighborhood police.

For this notion the neocons have been, ahh, somewhat roughly treated by your side of the aisle. So I wanted to kid you a little.

3/18/2008 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Serbs are stupid bullies.

Kosovo Muslims are stupid bullies.

If they want to kill each other, and are equally well armed, then who are we (or the UN) to interfere?

Let them have at it and joyously murderize each other. It's the purest Darwinian solution to the problem.

3/18/2008 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger William Tyroler said...

UN farces quit in the face of "grenade and gun attacks"

The typo says it all.

3/18/2008 08:00:00 PM  

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