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June 30, 2004
Kosovo, The True Quagmire

While the Left continues to carp about the supposed "quagmire" of Iraq, where the US toppled a dictator and then set up the framework for an independent and representative government in less than 15 months, Alissa Rubin writes in today's Los Angeles Times that Kosovo continues to exist in limbo after five years of UN administration:

Svinjare was one of 30 towns and villages in Kosovo swept by violence March 17 and 18. Mobs, some armed with heavy weapons, damaged 730 houses in Kosovo the vast majority owned by Serbs and 35 religious sites, mostly Serbian Orthodox churches.

It was the worst violence since 1999, when hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians were displaced by Serbian security forces. Kosovo has been under United Nations control since North Atlantic Treaty Organization airstrikes drove out the Serbian forces. But the province remains part of Serbia and Montenegro, the successor state to Yugoslavia. ...

The incidents have precipitated a review by the United Nations of its policies in the province, which have done little so far to create either jobs or an effective police force despite millions of dollars spent. The March violence showed that neither the local police nor the international police, brought by the U.N. from member countries, were able to maintain control. In most cases, authorities helped Serbs evacuate their homes but then stood by while ethnic Albanian mobs set the houses ablaze.

Five years after international armed intervention and UN administration, Kosovo doesn't even have an effective police force, and no one wants to speculate on its "final status". This past March, as ethnic violence flared up again and Albanians attacked Serb homes, businesses and churches (a reversal of 1999's violence), UN 'peacekeeping' forces essentially stood by and allowed mobs to continue their destruction. Even though Serbia-Montenegro has sovereignty over Kosovo, for now, the UN will not allow them to exercise any political authority, but the UN provides little of its own. It's a landscape of (mostly) quiet anarchy.

When people demand UN command over places like Iraq, Kosovo provides the ready-made rebuttal. The UN continues to display its arrogant incompetence while Kosovars of all ethnicities pay the price for its aimlessness and lack of urgency. The US should demand an end to the Kosovo occupation and a final determination of its status, or pull out of the Balkans altogether and put the entire mess back into the hands of the EU. Since France wants to let the Afghans hang fire rather than send security forces to support their attempt at democracy, they should have plenty of assets to use in resolving this centuries-old civil war on Europe's back porch.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 30, 2004 12:17 PM

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Tracked on June 30, 2004 9:27 PM

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