NATO Occupation of Kosovo is Absolutely Immoral
By Todd Emoff

8/7/99

The implementation of NATO’s forced occupation of Kosovo is being done in a 100% immoral manner. The U.S. State Department has totally bungled this operation and needs to be held accountable for this sickening lack of follow through on their commitment to make Kosovo safe for all of its citizens of all ethnic backgrounds. First let me say that U.S./NATO forces should never have been used in the first place to expel the Yugoslav authorities from Kosovo. This was an illegal intervention into a sovereign nation that did not attack or threaten to attack any NATO country. The brutal methods U.S./NATO employed (intentional killing of Yugoslav civilians and destruction of civilian infrastructure) to achieve the removal of the Yugoslav authorities and security forces are to be decried and are tantamount to war crimes.

That said, when NATO compelled the removal of Yugoslav security forces it became the responsibility of NATO to provide for the security of the civilian population of Kosovo. As of June 12, 1999 when the occupation of Kosovo became reality, the mantle of protector of the people of Kosovo was placed on U.S./NATO. This duty has not been respected. As with so much else that the Clinton administration has done, the State Department under Madeliene Albright has talked big while doing little.

The massacre of 14 Serbian farmers on July 24 as they harvested wheat in the British occupation zone is only the most glaring manifestation of the failure/refusal of NATO to follow through on its commitment to provide security for the people of Kosovo. These farmers had asked for protection from the local British / NATO contingent repeatedly before they were killed. Protection was refused on the grounds that there were not enough troops. This answer is not acceptable. Why are there not enough troops? If NATO is going to occupy Kosovo it is incumbent on NATO to have the troops and police in place to provide security. NATO started insisting on the occupation starting in February at Rambouillet, so they had over 4 months to get the resources in place to ensure the safety of the people. They said it would take 50,000 troops to secure Kosovo, yet in early August only 35,000 are in place. The troops that are there are inadequate in number, and are not trained as policemen. They are war fighting troops, trained to kill masses of enemy soldiers and to destroy large quantities of enemy equipment. They are not competent to police a country of complex multiethnic background with a history of ethnic strife. Furthermore, the paramount mission of the occupation force is self-protection. This overriding directive is imposed by the politicians lest casualties amongst the occupation forces erode political support for the occupation. This requires soldiers to move only in large groups when they deploy. While it is certainly desirable to minimize casualties amongst the occupation forces, this greatly diminishes the effectiveness of the policing function. Trying to catch a group of 10 or 15 murderous terrorists is near impossible when you send a 200 man company or a 500 man battalion after them. Thus you increase civilian vulnerability and casualties by not taking a more effective stance.

What has been the result of U.S./NATO occupation policy? Bill Clinton stated at the July 30 summit in Sarajevo that "We have had enough of ethnic cleansing", intimating that U.S./NATO has put an end to the practice of creating ethnically pure countries by forcing people of one ethnic background out of a country in favor of another. Leaving aside the fact that Albania, Slovenia, and Croatia are quite ethnically pure countries while Yugoslavia is quite ethnically diverse, Clinton’s statement rings hollow. Notwithstanding Clinton’s statement, U.S./NATO forces are actually opening the way for the "ethnic cleansing" of Kosovo by the Albanians – specifically by the KLA. U.S./NATO has removed the Yugoslav security forces that kept the KLA in check. U.S./NATO has disarmed the Serbian and Roma(Gypsy) minority, but allowed the KLA to keep their weapons. The KLA is supposed to turn their weapons in by Sept. 30 but no one really thinks that is going to happen. Thousands of Serbs have been evicted from their homes, making refugees of men, women and children. Serb Orthodox churches have been burned or blown up. Ancient Orthodox monasteries have been desecrated or destroyed in an effort to eradicate the truth that Kosovo is the cradle of Serbian culture. Since U.S./NATO began official tabulation in mid-June it has counted 840 incidents of looting, 573 arson attacks, and 198 murders.

The actual figures are certainly far higher than the reported figures. "Arson, murder, abduction, rape, assaults—the whole gambit of what people can do to people is happening on a daily basis throughout the province of Kosovo" said Tony Williams, a Canadian police official in charge of assembling the international police force to patrol Kosovo. This force on paper is to number 3,000 but only numbers 150 today. Of the 250,000 Serbs who are native to Kosovo, less than 100,000 remain. Most have fled in terror as the KLA burns and loots across Kosovo. Roma communities are under similar pressure to give up their homeland. Ibrahim Rugova, pacifist head of the underground "Albanian provisional government of Kosovo" doesn’t seem to feel safe in the province. He has only spent one day in Kosovo since the bombing. KLA head Hasim Thaci has won the power struggle for now (with tacit NATO blessing). With Mr. Thaci’s demonstrated propensity to see his rivals for power end up dead it is no wonder Rugova is staying put in Italy. In short, U.S./NATO has made it safe for the KLA to operate in Kosovo and to conduct it’s organized campaign of "ethnic cleansing". This is the sort of activity that led to the revocation of Kosovo’s autonomy in 1989, but now de facto autonomy has been restored by NATO with predictable results. The exodus of the Serbs and Roma from Kosovo is the result of the U.S./NATO failure to keep order in the province. The aim of the KLA is an independent, monoethnic Kosovo--to "liberate" Kosovo from Yugoslavia (hence the name Kosovo Liberation Army). U.S./NATO is allowing this to happen. The killing, the raping, the burning, the intimidation, the "ethnic cleansing" are all happening in a territory under the direct control of NATO. It is a 100% immoral state of affairs for NATO to allow this. It is a 100% immoral state of affairs for the government of the United States of America to allow this. If we are going to occupy this territory we are morally and ethically bound to do what it takes to restore order to Kosovo. If that means NATO must commit 200,000 troops and/or police, so be it. We either do what it takes or we should turn security functions back over to Yugoslavia’s authority. There can be no halfway measures on this. Clinton, Albright, and the U.S. State Department are ultimately responsible for the safety and well being of the ethnic Serbs, Roma, Goran, Macedonians, and other ethnic minorities of Kosovo as long as it is occupied. They should and will be held accountable for what occurs there.

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