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Jack Kelly: The chaos in Kosovo

How many victories such as this can Americans stand?

Sunday, February 06, 2000

In a Christmas letter to family and friends, a senior executive of the police academy the United States is running for the United Nations in Kosovo said:

 
  Jack Kelly is national affairs writer for the Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio. His e-mail address is jkelly@post-gazette.com. 
 

"This place is one big lawless s-hole. The Mafia is taking over and the police are losing control of the population to the TMK/UCK. The U.N. police are about as effective as a fire in hell. . . . The Americans want to do something but are always rejected because some tree hugging bleeding heart thinks we're too oppressive in our law enforcement tactics. We want to do a good job, but politics and other things won't let this happen. This place will turn out like Haiti and Bosnia."

This executive, who will not be named here in order to protect him from the wrath of the Clinton administration, described in his letter the criminal activities of the TMK/UCK, the Albanian guerrillas on whose behalf we intervened in Kosovo.

He went on to say: "Sometimes I think we backed the wrong side. We should have just let Slobo take these idiots out . . . We now help the Albanian Kosovars with their ethnic cleansing of the Serbs. Sometimes I wonder what the hell we are doing."

The police executive is not alone.

"We came here thinking we would help the Albanians, but it's been more of defending the Serbs," Col. Stephen Hicks of the 82nd Airborne told a Washington Post reporter.

Serbs in Kosovo need more help than they've been getting, according to a 300-page report on human rights abuses in Kosovo since NATO troops entered the province. The report, issued in December, was prepared by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

"Human rights violations . . . include executions, abductions, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary arrests and attempts to restrict freedom of expression," the OSCE report said. "House burnings, blockades restricting freedom of movement, discriminatory treatment in schools, hospitals, humanitarian aid distribution and other public services based on ethnic background, and forced evictions from housing recall some of the worst practices of Kosovo's recent past."

A reporter for the Chicago Tribune watched a Serb woman, with tears streaming down her face, complain to a patrol of 1st Infantry Division soldiers that Albanians had driven her from her home.

"I didn't do anything to hurt them," she said. Her family was leaving Kosovo, she said, because "no one wants to die." Nearly a quarter of a million Serbs have left Kosovo since we came to make peace.

James Bissett, who was Canada's ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1990 to 1992, thinks the Kosovo war was a tragic blunder.

"The bombing . . . can be seen as an unmitigated failure with far-reaching implications for world peace," Bissett wrote in the Toronto Globe & Mail.

"All the evidence shows that there were approximately 2,000 casualties in Kosovo up to the time of the NATO bombing," Bissett said. "By contrast, the number of Yugoslavian civilians killed by the NATO bombing is reckoned to be well above 2,000."

OSCE observers "have publicly stated that in the weeks leading up to the bombing they witnessed no murders, no deportations and nothing that could be described as systematic persecution," Bissett said.

One of the observers, a former Czech foreign minister, testified that NATO was fully aware bombing would force the Serbs to expel Kosovar Albanians as a military tactic, Bissett said.

"Yet our political leaders continue to tell us the bombing was designed to prevent - not cause - ethnic cleansing," he said.

No sovereign state could accept the conditions of the infamous Rambouillet Accords, Bissett said. Serb refusal to sign the document was the pretext for NATO bombing.

"NATO's illegal action has fractured the framework of world security that has existed since the end of the Second World War," Bissett said. "It has destabilized the Balkans and alienated the other great nuclear powers. . . . By forsaking diplomacy and resorting to force, NATO has reduced the democratic countries of the West to the level of the dictatorships it was created to oppose."

President Clinton continues to describe Kosovo as a "great victory." How many more such "victories" can this nation afford?



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