Sunday, July 27, 2008

Our Misguided Policy in the Balkans

Below is a guest-article by Dr. Richard Jansen of Colorado State University. It is a condensed account of the immense and tragic policy failure that comprises United States policy towards the Balkans. A fuller version is available at Dr. Jansen’s website.

Our Misguided Policy in the Balkans
by Richard Jansen

July 26, 2008

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia on February 17 this year with the backing of the United States.

Kosovo’s new Constitution took effect on June16, nine years almost to the day that the Kosovo war ended with UN resolution 1244. President Bush will welcome President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci of the Republic of Kosovo to the White House on July 21, 2008. According to an announcement from the White House: “The President looks forward to meeting with President Sejdiu and Prime Minister Thaci during their first visit to the United States as leaders of an independent Kosovo. The visit will provide an opportunity for the President to discuss with President Sejdiu and Prime Minister Thaci his strong support for the efforts of the Kosovo Government to build a democratic, prosperous, multiethnic state with institutions that serve all of Kosovo’s citizens”

As reported by Yahoo News on July 17 His Grace ARTEMIJE, Bishop of Ras and Prizren, and pastor of Orthodox Christians in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija issued the following statement: “On July 21, President George W. Bush is scheduled to meet with Hashim Thaci, styled by some ‘Prime Minister’ of the separatist Albanian Muslim administration in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija. As pastor of the Orthodox Christian people of Kosovo, I protest to the fullest possible degree the fact that President Bush would bring dishonor on his office and sully the good name of the American nation by receiving such an infamous terrorist, war criminal, and organized crime chieftain.” This is not good news. The Serbian Parliament is set to reject Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence and Russia has signaled that it will support Belgrade on this issue.

Yugoslavia — put together after the carnage of WWI — started to break up in 1990 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Slovenia left Yugoslavia easily but for Croatia and Bosnia it was a different story.

Croatia had been a Fascist state allied to Germany during World War II. Many Serbs had been killed by Croatians at that time and these matters had by no means been forgotten. Franjo Tudjman had become President on a tide of Croatian nationalism and Milosevic had been elected on a tide of Serbian nationalism. The two dictators wanted, respectively, a greater Croatia or a greater Serbia. Milosevic and Tudjman met in March 1991 and Tudjman proposed a division of Bosnia between them to avoid conflict. This and other negotiations failed and Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia as it was currently constituted. A brutal war resulted with much killing and burning of houses on both sides with ethnic cleansing part of the war from the beginning. A UN brokered cease-fire occurred on January 2, 1992 with United States recognition coming in April of that year.

The independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina was recognized by the European community on April 6, 1992, in spite of the fact that the referendum in Bosnia on independence had been opposed and boycotted by the Bosnian Serbs who comprised one-third of the population. In addition, the arbitration commission authorized by the European Community had recommended against independence since its requirement that all ethnic groups support independence had not been met. The Bosnian government, led by Alije Izetbegovića, was essentially Muslim in nature. For the next three years it fought wars with both Croatia and Serbia. A variety of peace plans were developed, the most prominent of which was the Vance-Owen proposal. This plan essentially provided for a three-way division of Bosnia that reflected the warring ethnic groups: Croatian, Serbian and Muslim. The plan was not acceptable to the warring sides and was rejected.

Hostilities ended between Croatia and the Bosnian government in March 1994 with the establishment of a loose Bosnian-Croatian Federation, which has not yet to this day coalesced into a workable Federation.
- - - - - - - - -
One outcome of the peace agreement was the influx of arms into Bosnia though Croatia for the use of the Bosnian government in fighting the Serbs. This was done with the tacit approval of the United States. The war with Serbia continued until United States intervention using air power brought Milosevic, Tudjman and Izetbegovića to the negotiating table in Dayton Ohio.

Here, under prodding from the United States the Dayton Peace Accord was signed which divided Bosnia in two halves, not completely severed, but not a unified government with real authority either. The two halves are the Bosnian-Croatian Federation with 51% of the territory and Republika Srpska with 49%. Since that time little if any progress has been made to unify Bosnia under one government and it is generally believed that if the UN peacekeepers were to leave war would break out again.

Following Dayton a strong Albanian Muslim insurgency developed in Kosovo seeking independence from Serbia and resulting in a civil war. Because of Serbian atrocities and for humanitarian reasons, the United States again intervened on behalf of the Muslim insurgency, and after 73 days of bombing the infrastructure of Serbia was seriously damaged. The war ended with an agreement between NATO and Yugoslavia on June 10, 1999, formalized by UN resolution 1244.

It is unfortunate that the situation in the Balkans has apparently not been considered by the Bush Administration to be part of the war on terror, i.e. the global Islamic jihad. Rather it is held apart as a separate diplomatic issue to be resolved by diplomacy.

Historically, the Balkans has always been understood to be a “tinder box” of religious and political tensions since at least the 1878 Congress of Berlin. The Balkans is an area of southeastern Europe where Islam had made its greatest advances against Christendom and where both Catholic and Orthodox Christianity came in direct contact and conflict with Islam. It is where Christian boys were taken away from their parents and made into the Janissaries, i.e. Islamic warriors for the Ottoman Empire.

The late Alije Izetbegovića, the President of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992, called for independence for Bosnia-Herzegovina leading to the Bosnia war. In 1970 in his Islamic Declaration he had written this: “The exhaustive definition of the Islamic Order is: the unity of religion and law, education and force, ideals and interests, spiritual society and State. The Muslim does not exist at all as an independent individual… There can be no peace or coexistence between Islamic faith and non-Islamic faith and institutions. The Islamic movement must and can take power as soon as it is morally and numerically strong enough not only to destroy the non-Islamic power but to build up the Islamic one.”

It is clear that Europe and the United States blithely ignored clear evidence of what was likely to happen in Bosnia. In his recent book entitled Islamic Terror and the Balkans, the historian Shaul Shay provides some much needed attention to the Balkans as a conduit for the spread of the Islamic jihad into Europe. After the collapse of Yugoslavia, Izetbegovića visited Tehran to expand and solidify relationships with Iran and to pursue his goal of an Islamic Bosnia. In response Iran promised a large amount of economic aid and military aid as well.

The Clinton administration approved the shipment of arms from Iran into Bosnia. Bin Laden and Zawahiri and their organizations in 1992 started to build an infrastructure to penetrate the Balkans and to establish jihadist training camps there. Shortly after, Bin Laden personally visited Bosnia and Albania to examine these terror networks. The Dayton Accords of December, 1995 stipulated that the Islamic Mujahadin must leave Bosnia but this did not happen.

In 1995 twenty-five radical Islamic organizations met to plan expanded jihadist activities in the Balkans. Also on the agenda was planning enhanced ways to penetrate Europe and turn Europe the dar al harb, i.e. the world of war, into Europe the dar al Islam or the world of Islam. Two of the 9/11 hijackers had links to Al Qaeda in the Balkans. After 9/11 there resulted an escalation of Islamic attacks against Serbs in Kosovo, southern Serbia and Macedonia, increased activity of the Albanian National Army (ANA) in Kosovo and Macedonia, and an escalation of violence in Bosnia-Herzegovina., As reported by Shay, Islamic charities in the Balkans, from Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Arab states, have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars as well as military equipment and supplies to jihadist organizations in the Balkans.

We are starting to pay the price for the military interventions of NATO in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990’s. UN resolution 1244 passed by the Security Council June 10, 1999 called for “substantial autonomy and meaningful self administration” for Kosovo, not independence. No one believes that Kosovo can survive as a separate country. Resolution 1244 also guaranteed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia including Kosovo. It also called for the return of all refugees to Kosovo. This has not happened and indeed more than half if not two thirds of the Christian Serbs living in Kosovo prior to 1999 have been ethnically purged.

Shaul Shay, referenced above, has this to say about Kosovo’s independence: “In the eyes of the radical Islamic circles, the establishment of an independent Islamic territory including Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania along the Adriatic Coast, is one of the most prominent achievements of Islam since the siege of Vienna in 1683. Islamic penetration into Europe through the Balkans is one of the main achievements of Islam in the twentieth century.”

Hopefully the United States will soon start to realize that the Islamic jihad in the Balkans in general and in Kosovo in particular is very much an integral part of the worldwide Islamic movement.

More information may be found here.


Avery Bullard said...

Back in the early days of the Bosnian war the Americans prevented an agreement by promising to give the Muslims more thus making it worth their while to keep on fighting. They also made sure Kosovo Albanians got everything they wanted. U.S. policy in the former Yugoslavia was about ensuring American leadership in Europe then extending U.S. influence in the region. The American Empire certainly achieved its objectives.

What has been most annoying this past week is the insistence of the Western media of continuing to tell the same lies about the Serbs as if they never bothered to follow up on their own initial reports from the Bosnian and Kosovan conflicts. The BBC and CNN reports this week sounded as if they'd been written by Richard Holbrooke or the State Department.

In Eastern Europe people knew they were being lied to by their media so they learned how to decipher what they were reading and hearing. Western Europeans and Americans are yet to develop that skill as they still believe most of what the MSM feds them.

Anonymous said...

"This plan essentially provided for a three-way division of Bosnia that reflected the warring ethnic groups: Croatian, Serbian and Muslim."

Why do I just find that division so problematic? You see it everywhere: Croatian, Serbian and ......Muslims! Danes, Swedes and ......Muslims! Americans, Mexicans ........and Muslims. It is almost as absurd as dividing fruits into Appels, Pears .....and Muslims!

It is like we have already, without even seeing it, recognized, as a fact, that there exist some kind of meta-state, The Khalifa. A state populated only by Muslims. No borders, no national identity, no distinct language or culture. Only Islam and its peaceful and morally superior followers.
Muslims against everything else: Bananas, Toyota, Carrots, Horses, The Atlantic Ocean, Darwin, Marshmallows, Danish cartoonists etc etc etc etc etc etc...feel free to fill in.

Besides that: A very good and informative article.

And; some people look at the Spanish Civil war from 1936 to 1939 as prelude to WW2. Guess the Balkan war is the prelude to WW3.

Henrik R Clausen said...

I'm glad this material is coming out. Our mistakes in the Balkans have been so extensive that revealing them is more embarrasing than most politicians can bear.

Having read several books on the Balkans, it's been a bit like coming from an alien planet trying to explain that we've been dead wrong for almost two decades. It's about time we fix this.

My next book on the Balkans will be Media Cleansing by Peter Brock. It explains the role media played in demonizing the Serbs.

I still wonder "Why the Serbs?" Haven't found a good answer to that one yet.

Anonymous said...

Far from "keeping peace in Europe" as EUphiles claim, the EU caused a civil war on its doorstep by unilaterally recognising Slovenia's, and then Croatia's independence.
Hans Dietricht Genscher was the architect, if I'm not mistaken, and Britain signed up to the deal in return for its meaningless Maastricht opt-outs.
A EU-phemism for peace if ever there was one.

Henrik R Clausen said...

While I won't discount the EU component, I think we should include Helmut Kohl, who fresh from the German reunion thought anything he did was right and proper.

Genscher might have drafted the recognitions (Bosnia, too), but Kohl threw his authority behind them. The fact that Germany, as in WWII, supported the Croatian Ustasha-regime, was an insult hard to bear for the Serbs, who could see clearly that they had to deal with matters themselves.

Milosovic, however, made the fatal mistake of working for salvaging Yugoslavia, when establishing a proper Serbian nation-state would have been much easier and more effective, and could have been accomplished in 1992 by military power, ending the civil war before it had even started.

This mistake and Western interference led evens down a different path.

Hesperado said...

How did Richard Jansen manage to become a professor at Colorado State University!?

One possible answer is gleaned from his personal website. There, we learn that he is a professor in the "Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition."

With Prof. Jansen's knowledge of the menace of Islam and jihad and his exceedingly politically INcorrect stance on the Balkan situation, there is little likelihood that he could possibly be a professor in Poli Sci or Middle Eastern Studies in any American (let alone Western) university. And it is thus a shame that he has to spend so much time outside of his academic field to educate the public. (Similarly for the medical doctor Andrew Bostom, though Bostom as I understand it is retired.)

Dymphna said...


An F to you for your failure to argue the merits and an double plus ungood for your unnecessary ad hominem attack on a poster.

How about you stick to the arguments and save your vitriol for some place else?

The notion that one is not allowed to voice or write an opinion because they don't have the academic credentials to do so elimiinates 99% of the people here.

May we see your curriculum vitae, please, so that we can pass judgement on whether or not you are qualified to speak on anything?

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Dymphna, I think you may be misunderstanding... Erich wasn't saying that Jansen shouldn't be educating us on Islam and the like. He says it's quite a shame that Jansen can't teach such material in a university due to universities being controlled by the left. He wasn't saying that Jansen shouldn't be a professor either--he just seemed surprised that someone so not liberal was able to become a professor at such a liberal place. I'm quite confused by your comment...

Baron Bodissey said...

Natalie, Erich --

Yes, I think Natalie is right. Dymphna failed to understand the bitter irony in Erich's comment.

Irony sometimes fails to come through in the text medium -- it lacks the facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, etc., that would communicate the "I am being ironic" message.

But there's always the irony mark or irony point (؟) (French: point d’ironie; also called a snark or zing).

I'm trying to train myself to use it when I write ironically. It's like using an emoticon to make sure people know you're just kidding.    :)

no2liberals said...

Okay, once again, the more I read about the Balkans, the more confused I get.
I've been following Michael J. Totten's travels through the Balkans, and his most tense moments were in Serbia. But after reading this piece from Dr. Jansen, I checked MT's latest piece from his time in Kosovo, and I'm hearing different versions of the type of country Kosovo is, or wishes to be.
The Bin Ladens of the Balkans, Part I.
"The KLA may have refused entry into Kosovo to radical groups from the Middle East during the war, but that hasn’t stopped dubious characters from the Gulf states from showing up in Kosovo anyway since the war ended. Saudi-funded NGOs volunteered to help rebuild mosques destroyed by the Yugoslav Army and Serbian nationalist paramilitary forces, which is fine and good as far as it goes, but there’s a catch. The same individuals hope to transform Kosovo’s liberal Balkan Islam into the much sterner Wahhabi variety practiced in the harsh deserts of Saudi Arabia.

“We don't call them Wahhabis here,” a prominent Albanian woman told me. “We call them Binladensa, the people of Bin Laden.” Believe me, in Kosovo that isn’t a compliment."

I'll keep reading and learning, but at this point, without going there myself, I'm not prepared to accept any one person's perception as the correct one.

Anonymous said...


All right... I figured it was just a misunderstanding. The unfortunate thing about the Internet is that it is often a tad difficult to pick up on irony, sarcasm, and all that.

I just finished reading the essay--I read the entire thing over at Jansen's website. Since Karadzic's arrest, I've been reading up on the Balkans and I've learned quite a bit. At first I was quite confused, but I think I may be beginning to understand. Boy, how wrong the US was in the 1990s--I personally think we supported the wrong people and that disappoints me greatly.

Hesperado said...

Yes indeed, Baron and Natalie. My post was self-evidently on Richard Jansen's side. It's rather disconcerting that an official rep of Gates of Vienna could make such an elementary mistake of reading comprehension and then precipitously vilify me on the basis of that mistake.

Joanne said...

When everything is said and done, Muslims are still going to hate America.

Avery Bullard said...

I've been following Michael J. Totten's travels through the Balkans

I've been reading Totten's half-witted articles on the Balkans and they remind me of my ignorant self in the 1988-91 period of the Serbian awakening before I made a serious effort to understand the region. Michael Totten makes up his mind on a subject then attains knowledge. It is supposed to be the other way round.

Then again, for a neocon like Totten all that matters is: who is on neocon America's side? After the Serbs (understandably) set fire to the U.S. embassy Totten at Pajamas Media came off like a shrill schoolgirl crying about anti-Americanism without it ever entering his thick skull that people there may be anti-American for a reason!

His reports from the Balkans were very shallow. An apparently homeless Serb is impolite to him whilst he waits for his travelling partner to return from a bank and he makes a big deal over it. Albanians - oops, I'm sorry - "Kosovars" say all kinds of pro-American things to him and he laps it all up. There is no context to anything he writes. It is all a question of whether you are pro-American (ie. a NATO ass kisser) or "anti-American" (ie. a member of an ethnic group designated as enemies by the U.S. ruling class).

Dymphna said...


I apologize for not understanding that your comments about our poster were meant to be ironic.

Obviously, since I am irony-impaired, it would be most helpful if you could indicate at the end of the comment that your words were not meant to be taken at face value.

Many people make one of two designations to show their intentions. The first is "/sarc"; the second is "/irony". Both without the scare quotes, of course.

These endings allow the duller knives in the drawer -- i.e., moi -- to "get" the intended subtext buried in the superficial content of each sentence.

Letting the slower ones know this is a mercy to the stupid and it saves the sharper ones from having to scroll past these ineptitudes.

no2liberals said...

avery bullard,
Your opinion is observed, but not shared by me.

Hesperado said...

Thanks dymphna. It goes against my grain to have to qualify my irony with obvious road signs, so i hope you will remember me from now on as a solid anti-Islam guy. :)

. said...

I see that the Baron and GoV have entered alternate reality again regarding the former Yugoslavia.

Yes, the Clinton Administration and NATO botched Bosnia. How did they botch it? By not intervening promptly in 1993 after the Bush Administration (Bush I) was timorous in 1992. If we had intervened before the Serbian warlords committed their atrocities and radicalized the Bosnian Muslims, giving an opening to the Jihadists from elsewhere (who despite your scare stories remain remarkably impotent in Bosnia, Albania, and Kosovo) - the whole mess would have been solved long before 1995 and the Dayton accords.

By the way, still not a word on GoV about the capture of one of the real villains of the Bosnian nightmare, Radovan Karadzic. Are you all still in mourning over the capture of this "Jihad-fighter"? Or do you agree with 1389 and others that Srebrenicza was a hoax?

Henrik R Clausen said...

Srebrenica was not a hoax. But it wasn't genocide either, by any rational understanding of the word.

Using the term 'genocide' is a demonization of the Serbs, bundling them up with Nazis and Turks and trying to make them look like the most evil race on the planet.

Former Gordon, you may rant all you want about 'Alternate reality'. That doesn't, however, tell us anything about Yugoslavia or GoV, but merely that you've sucked up too much propaganda for you own good.

But you have a point. Understanding the details on the ground is seen as 'alternative', because the media machine has been so effective demonizing one group in the Balkans. And as usual, you need to do that towards people who don't deserve it.

Saying that Croats had an unhealthy fascist leaning was too obvious to cause furore, as was documenting the Islamist leanings of the Bosnian leader Izbechovic. But bundling up the Serbs as evil racist Nazi-style thugs was so crazy that no decent journalist would lie about it. Thus, it seemed believable.

Try checking out the 'Concentration Camp' scam. It's evil what journalists can do.

Anonymous said...

@ no2liberals:

I commend you for educating yourself about the Balkans, but I personally don't think Totten's writings are the best out there. I don't care for what he says. I'm with Avery Bullard on this one.

Reading what you wrote in response to him, I'm sure you'll disagree with me... but that's all right :)

Anonymous said...

Gordon, it's interesting you bring up Karadzic, or rather the lack of discussion present about him. I had been wondering myself why there was a lack of discussion here about him.

I definitely think we botched the Balkans in the 1990s because we intervened on the wrong side.

no2liberals said...

It's okay to disagree pleasantly.
I'm still open to information, and haven't dug my heels in on the Balkan's. I'm constantly amazed at how complex the actors are in that region. They have unsettled grudges as old as Methusala.
As for Totten, I have read him for years, and whether it was Lebanon, Iraq, or now, in the Balkans, I have always found his writings compelling.

Anonymous said...

no2liberals, did you mean to address your last comment to me instead of Dymphna?

no2liberals said...

Sorry Natalie, yes I was.
I guess these 105 degree summer days are cooking my brain.