WHILE most were asleep, we've walked to the brink of yet another war in the Balkans.
Kosovo is a part of Serbia. That's a legal and political fact.
It wants to break away and appears to have secured British and American agreement, but not, alas, the agreement of either Serbia, whose land it is, or Russia, which will veto any breakaway in the UN.
The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) rules the roost and has said it will make a unilateral declaration of independence soon. The Serbs cannot allow Kosovo, sacred to their orthodox Christian heritage for 1000 years, to go without a fight.
Serbia, with Russian help, outguns the KLA, who can only fight with outside help. That's where we come in.
In the Nineties, we provided the air force for the breakaway KLA, branded as late as 2000 by the US as a "terrorist organisation". But this time we would have to be their infantry as well.
Fancy another war, anyone?
And Serbia is not the only place where there is a substantial Albanian minority.
One quarter of the former Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia is Albanian. They want independence too.
And 50 per cent of Bosnia-Herzegovina is Serb. If Kosovo declares independence, so might the Bosnian-Serbs. Then we will be back in the bloody Balkan wars.
Moreover, the principle that astate can be dismembered against its will is pregnant with problems all over the world.
The Kurdish people are 20 million strong in Turkey and would like to break away. Would we fight for them? Of course not.
Which goes to show the hypocrisy which has accompanied the break-up of Yugoslavia all along.
Lord George "Bomber" Robertson was one of the chief propagandists for the last Kosovo war. You will remember his sonorous claim that the Serbs had murdered 100,000 Albanians and we must act.
In fact, 3000 people died, less than the death toll in Northern Ireland, and picture if you will the outrage in Britain if the US Air Force had started bombing us over that. No one knows how many of the 3000 were Albanians or Serbs, or who killed them and how.
Kosovo is a garrison for foreign soldiers, and at the same time Europe's major hub for gun-running, drugsmuggling, people-trafficking and prostitution.
If it becomes independent onthe point of our bayonets, don't say you weren't warned.
'In the Nineties, we provided the air force for the KLA. This time we would have to be their infantry as well'