more on Kosovo

J. Barkley Rosser, Jr. rosserjb at
Thu Apr 1 10:54:22 PST 1999

1) Anybody able to locate Metohija in "Kosovo and Metohija" yet?

2) The US politics of this are certainly scrambled. Gore is now stepping out as a hawkish front man to prove his macho leadership qualities, although still holding back from what would be a very unpopular major introduction of US troops. The Republicans are split with internationalist hawks like John McCain and Richard Lugar calling for the introduction of US troops while Pat Buchanan and Robert C. Smith (running for president, if you have never heard of him) oppose the intervention. Unfortunately these latter slugs are doing so for racist and isolationist reasons, as almost certainly were most of the 38 Republican senators who voted against intervention. I doubt any of those folks have voted for the US to pay the UN the money it owes.

George Melloan in the WSJ this morning criticized George W. Bush for being totally mealy-mouthed, "support the troops but do what's best for America." You're for this drivel, Doug? Of course Bush may luck out and be the beneficiary of the likely backlash. Mealy mouthed may be the passkey to the White House, as Bill Clinton has already shown.

I haven't heard anything out of Bill Bradley either. More mealy-mouthed baloney? Maybe we need the honorable Russell Feingold of Wisconsin to run for president, if Bill B. continues his silence. A Eugene McCarthy for the next election?

3) I think the discussion on these lists is getting a bit more careful about these matters. But I would urge all to avoid racist characterizations of either the main contending ethnic groups involved, the Kosovar Albanians or the Serbians. Both have had complicated and tragic histories, and with the UCK/KLA now being the "leaders" of the Kosovar Albanians, both are led by thuggish war criminals as near as I can tell.

4) I would also urge those who wish to support Milosevic out of some knee jerk reaction to "help him who is attacked by the US/NATO imperialism" not to glorifiy this jerk or his positions. I agree with Paul P. and Yoshie that the US and Germany were involved in encouraging the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia. But I would also contend that Milosevic's retraction of autonomy for Kosovo played a very significant role in pushing that dissolution to happen. Everybody definitely wanted out after he started playing his games and that was far more important than any sneaky aid given by the CIA or whomever (btw, the CIA apparently warned Clinton that his bombing would not stop the abuses and would probably accelerate Serbian assaults and "cleansing" against the Albanian Kosovars. I am reminded of CIA warning to LBJ on Vietnam here.) to separatists.

I agree with various folks that the Rambouillet Accords are now effectively irrelevant and off the table. But I disagree with Paul P. and Yoshie that it was ridiculous to think that Milosevic would accept them. It probably was but only because he would have lost political support, having whipped up Serbian grievances over ludicrous and ridiculous 600-year old defeats. But, if he had really wanted peace rather than a victory and ethnic cleansing, the Rambouillet Accords offered that. Paul P. and Yoshie have declared that no sovereign nation has accepted foreign troops on its soil, but this is patent nonsense. Lots have for the purposes of achieving a peace accord. One can say Milosevic needed to reject the accord, but one should not turn him into a hero for doing so.

At the same time, just as the CIA told Clinton (along with virtually all Balkans experts), US/NATO certainly should have understood the likely reaction of Milosevic to the bombing. Indeed, I think it is highly likely that he is pleased that the bombing has happened. It was part of his manipulative plan that has justified his suppression of internal dissent and his carrying out of his chauvinist plans in Kosovo and Metohija. Thus, as Doug H. has noted, Clinton and the bombers bear substantial responsibility for the horrors now unfolding, even if their intentions were good and honorable, rather than just grabbing for bases or mines or the Danube, none of which seem to cut the mustard as explanations as far as I can see.

5) Since Rebecca West's fascinating book has been mentioned, here is a quote that is reproduced in a book by Rosser and Rosser (1996, Chicago: Irwin, p. 331):

"So in the ... battle of Kosovo [Polje] the Serbs learned the meaning of defeat, not such defeat as forms a necessary proportion of all effort, for in that they had often been instructed during the course of their history, but of total defeat, annihilation of their corporate will and all their individual wills... The night fell for four centuries, limbo became Hell, and manifested the anarchy that is Hell's essential character." Rebecca West, _Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia_, 1941, p. 840. Barkley Rosser PS aside to Jim Devine, no major disagreements.

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list