Editorial comment from the American Council for Kosovo:
During his recent visit to Albania, President Bush publicly placed the credibility of U.S. foreign policy on the line to achieve a goal few Americans have heard of and with which many, on being told the facts, strongly disagree: forcibly and illegally detaching from Serbia the province of Kosovo and Metohija. Such a commitment throws into even more stark relief the fact that U.S. policy on Kosovo is ill-advised and contrary to U.S. national interests and European and global stability.
In his comments in the Albanian capital of Tirana, Mr. Bush seemed to suggest that if passage of the one-sided and discredited Ahtisaari plan is blocked by Russia in the UN Security Council -- which now seems virtually certain -- the U.S. might be willing to trigger a so-called Plan B: a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo's thuggish leadership and their recognition by Washington as an independent state. It would then be seen whether other countries would follow the U.S. lead, perhaps starting with those in the Islamic world, whose good will some in Washington now openly seek to attract by carving out a Muslim country in the heart of Europe from the territory of majority-Christian Serbia. Particularly crucial would be European reaction, especially in light of the EU's clearly stated insistence that any final determination of Kosovo's status would require a new Security Council resolution to replace the current UNSC Resolution 1244, which clearly defines Kosovo as part of Serbia. Brussels, and each EU member country, would be faced with the prospect that a consensus policy line crafted with great difficulty in light of the EU member states' disagreements would be ripped up because Washington had decided differently. It would also mean that the EU, which expects to take over the UN's current (and completely botched) supervisory role in Kosovo, would have to undertake the biggest and most hazardous mission in its history under a cloud of illegality. Finally, it would mean that the EU -- which recently restarted accession talks with Belgrade -- would begin the process of welcoming in its new fellow European citizens with the hostile and unlawful act of shearing off 15 percent of the territory of a sovereign and democratic European state.
The risks for Washington are hardly less dramatic. First, if the EU stands by its word (a possibility which many in Washington lightly and derisively dismiss), it is America that could find itself isolated. Given other global priorities, starting with Iraq, on the American policy plate, such a possibility hardly is attractive. Second, it would mean that the U.S. -- long regarded as one of the vocal defenders of international legality -- would take the lead in shredding the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act in order to circumvent the perfectly legal right of a Permanent Member of the Security Council (in this case Russia) to exercise its veto, a unilateral right on which the U.S. repeatedly has relied so many times in the past.
In a bizarre twist an idea now is being bandied about of a "compromise" under which there would be new negotiations between Serbs and Albanians (as Serbia and Russia want) for a specified period of time (four or six months), and then, if no agreement had been reached, the Ahtisaari plan -- and Kosovo independence -- would automatically go into effect. This heads-I-win, tails-you-lose proposition means, first of all, that the Albanians would have to make no moves toward any compromise, since at the end of the specified time they would be guaranteed their desired outcome. Second, there can be no "new" negotiations, since there have yet to be any genuine negotiations directly between Serbs and Albanians, just Mr. Ahtisaari's charade with a predetermined outcome. The very fact that such an absurd suggestion is put forth at all is evidence of the dead end into which western policy has been led by pro-Kosovo independence assumptions.
In early July Presidents Bush and Putin will meet in Kennepunkport. It is expected that Mr. Bush will push his Russian interlocutor hard to accept the demand of Kosovo independence. No one expects Mr. Putin to give ground on a matter on which Russia's credibilty as a Permanent Member of the UNSC and as a regional power now is even more on the line than the United States'.
It then will fall to President Bush to decide. Will he move forward with an initiative that (1) would force an American confrontation with Russia, whose cooperation the U.S. needs on top-tier issues like North Korea, Iran, nonproliferation, global terrorism, and others; and (2) would throw our closest allies in Europe into an impossible dilemma in which they can only lose?
And most of all, why would the U.S. commit itself to such a roll of the dice when "winning" would mean producing the following outcome --
-- Creation of a failed, economically non-viable Muslim Albanian state controlled by organized crime (drugs, slaves, weapons) and jihad terror elements (such as the four Albanians from the region of Kosovo implicated in the planned attack on Ft. Dix, New Jersey);
-- A massive human rights and religious freedom catastrophe with the eradication of the remaining one-third of the Christian Serbian population, destruction of their churches and monasteries, and long-term alienation of Serbia, the essential linchpin of stability in the western Balkans; and
-- A fatal blow to any semblance of legality and stability in the international system with the precedent that a national or religious minority in a country can detach a part of its territory provided it is violent and intolerant enough and attracts powerful outside sponsors. Indeed, any claim that Kosovo independence would set no precedent would lose any minimal credibility it might have had if such an outcome is the product of a free-for-all pattern of recognition outside the UNSC. Separatist movements around the world are watching with close interest.
At this critical juncture, It must be emphasized that the disastrous possibilties described above, which also are examined in the items below, have not yet occurred -- and with any kind of reasonable reconsideration, will not occur. The likelihood of a UNSC Resolution to detach Kosovo from Serbia remains remote, due to the prospect of Moscow's veto. The EU appears to be standing by its position that nothing can be done without a new resolution. Washington still has not committed itself irrevocably to a course that can end only in disaster for all concerned.
But U.S., European, and global policy have been brought to this brink only because so few people -- and especially so few Americans -- have paid any attention to Kosovo. That's why now, more than ever, the American Council for Kosovo asks you to go to www.savekosovo.org, click on the black box "Say NO to Kosovo independence," and write polite but firm emails to President Bush, Vice President Cheney, your two Senators, and your Congressman, asking for their opposition to Kosovo's forceful and illegal detachment from Serbia.