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October 27, 2005
Gray Lady Likes A Quagmire When The UN Is In Charge

In a strange editorial this morning, the same New York Times editorial board that has consistently demanded a withdrawal of America from a supposed quagmire in Iraq apparently wants to continue one in Kosovo. The Times decries the idea of settling the open question of the province's final status before the Kosovars demonstrate their ability for self-government -- and want to continue the same kind of Western occupation that it supposedly finds so objectionable in Iraq:

We have argued that Kosovo is neither prepared for nor deserving of independence. Its Albanian majority has shown no tolerance toward the Serbian minority and little capacity for self-government. Kosovo has no army, only a fledgling police force and powerful mafias. ...

The Security Council would be foolish to use the Ahtisaari mission to extract itself from a bad situation as soon as possible. Even with the best of intentions, an independent Kosovo will require international forces and strong oversight for a long time. In the Balkans, the default mode is violence.

The entire problem with the Balkans has been the shoot first, ask questions later policy that the Times wants to continue, even after almost seven years of stagnation. In contrast, Iraq has moved from a terrorist-supporting genocidal dictatorship to a constitutional democracy, with a budding security force that will one day become strong enough to allow its civilian government to control its own territory and defend itself -- and it has taken one-third of the time of the Kosovo occupation. The difference? The Coalition had a long-range plan for the liberation of Iraq, and that planning came from nations committed to democracy. The UN, unfortunately, had no strategy for Kosovo and no such commitment. Neither, apparently, does the New York Times.

Kosovo should embarrass everyone who participated in its separation from Serbia. No doubt that the Milosevic reign of terror caused great hardship for the Kosovars, but its severance from Serbia created an expectation of independence from the start. The UN and NATO should have realized that before they interceded in what had been a civil war along ethnic and religious lines, and prepared a long-term strategy rather than a repeat of the Korean War.

Now the Times wants this quagmire to continue without any resolution until the Kosovars prove themselves worthy of liberation and freedom. Not only is that a recipe for perpetual occupation, it might be one of the most elitist sentiments ever issued by a supposed voice for liberal thought. Human beings qualify for liberty and freedom on the basis of their humanity, not their politics, at least until they can individually show that they cannot handle it. Condemning the entire region to essentially martial law on the basis of their ethnicity betrays the same kind of arrogance that led to Kosovo's mindless occupation in the first place.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 27, 2005 5:57 AM

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