Another Balkan Crisis : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Another Balkan Crisis THE WASHINGTON POST THE WASHINGTON POST Thursday, March 22, 2001

Once again a fragile nation in the Balkans is on the verge of plunging into wholesale ethnic warfare. Once again the United States is trying to avoid getting involved.

We have been here before. In 1991 the first Bush administration ducked out of the disintegrating situation in then Yugoslavia. In 1993 the Clinton administration deemed Bosnia a problem that could be handled by the Europeans. In 1998 the administration avoided reacting to the outbreak of the bloody Serbian campaign against Albanians in Kosovo.

In each case U.S. inaction helped fuel a war that eventually, after months or years of bloodshed, forced American intervention on a far greater scale than might have been necessary to halt the crisis at the beginning. Now the Bush administration appears at risk of making the same mistake once again, in Macedonia.

As administration officials point out, Macedonia is different from Serbia or Kosovo. It is ruled by a democratic government that has been a reliable Western ally, and the Albanian minority is represented in its Parliament. But the spark is the same: An armed group, this time made up of Albanians, has declared ethnic war against the majority, in this case Macedonian Slavs. The government is fighting back, at the risk of committing excesses that polarize the country and threaten a wider war.

The fighting could easily spread to neighboring Albanian-populated areas of Kosovo and Serbia, including the sector now patrolled by U.S. troops. The Macedonian government is pleading with the West for help. The Albanian militants, who tend to regard the United States as a patron, are also waiting for a reaction.

But beyond a few public statements and low-level diplomatic contacts, the Bush administration has done little other than try to ensure that U.S. soldiers are not drawn into the fighting.

As in past Balkan crises, the administration appears to hope that others, Europeans or even the Serbs, can handle the trouble. It has worked through NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has dispatched a veteran U.S. diplomat, Robert Frowick. U.S. officials say their goal is to bolster the Macedonian government so that it can deal with the insurgents.

But that strategy lacks the political force that can be brought to bear by the direct intervention of senior administration officials, such as Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Having led the fight to defend Albanians in Kosovo, America has unique and extraordinary leverage over both moderate and militant Albanian leaders in the region, leverage that neither the Macedonian nor European governments can muster. U.S. troops in Kosovo also are far better prepared to stop the insurgents than are the weak Macedonian police and army forces.

The administration of George W. Bush took office hoping to withdraw U.S. troops from Bosnia and Kosovo; Mr. Bush has often spoken of limiting U.S. engagement in such crises. Yet the lessons of the past decade are clear.

The stability of Southeastern Europe is an important interest of the United States, and in trying to achieve it there is no substitute for direct American involvement. Two previous U.S. administrations have learned those lessons the hard way. The Bush administration should not have to be the third. - THE WASHINGTON POST.

-- Martin Thompson (, March 23, 2001


In 1998 the administration avoided reacting
to the outbreak of the bloody Serbian campaign
against Albanians in Kosovo.

This bit of propaganda can easily be refuted
by anyone that does a little research and is
not hindered by nationalist jingoism.

There was never a Serbian campaign of terror.
Every claim, e.g., the Racak massacre and
Operation Horseshoe, was fabricated for ulterior
motives. It was always a case of ethnic-Albanian
terrorism not the other way around. It's great
when you control the media, you can turn reality
on its head and commit war crimes with impunity.

-- spider (, March 23, 2001.

Bingo, Spider! Couldn't agree more.

-- Swissrose (, March 24, 2001.

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