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View Diary: St. Vitus Day: a brief history of Kosovo (30 comments)

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    Serbian sources say 10,000-40,000 killed (and I recall seeing claims of 100,000, a certainly inflated number.)

    Without corroboration from an unbiased source, it's safe to assume that the figures 10,000 to 40,000 are also inflated.

    it would be strange if all the incidents reported in the Serbian press pre-Milosevic were fiction.

    We're both conjecturing, but I don't think so, because sources not from the region document a consistent pattern of distortion of facts by the Serb press.

    Regarding the "no one should dare to beat you" riot:

    No, the police were predominantly Albanian

    Just checked. You're right.

    I don't know if the crowd was bused in, but if so it would have been the work of the local nationalist leader who organized the ambush (I forget his name).

    According to Noel Malcolm's book, the man to whom you're referring was Miroslav Solevic, who was local in the sense that he lived in Kosovo at the time but had moved there from Nis in Serbia. According to Tim Judah's book on Kosovo, Milosevic had gone there four days earlier to plan the riot, which explains the fact that his pronoucements were caught on camera.

    Not exactly, but one can't reflexively assume the opposite of whatever they say.

    One can safely assume that they are not telling the truth. A fantastic example of this was the testimony of Andras Riedlmayer at the Hague. He is a librarian from Harvard who travelled to Kosovo on three occasions to document the state of historic sites, including those claimed by the Serb media to have been destroyed. He documents one lie by Milosevic after another. For example, Milosevic claims that church XYZ was bombed by NATO. Riedlmayer testifies, we went to that church after the war; it was intact and you can see a photograph of it on the CD-ROM I brought. Milosevic doesn't flinch and moves on to the next one, only to be contradicted yet again by evidence. He proclaimed that he was a peacemaker who was misunderstood and unfairly portrayed, he claimed not to have aided the Bosnian Serbs, etc.. Testimony by others to his innocence is simply suspect.

    The popular appeal of the KLA was in response to Serb apartheid and brutality and unrelated to the irredentist vision that inspired the cadres, some of whom were ideologically gung-ho former exiles. Also, the West of course was fiercely opposed to it. These are the reasons why there was little open talk of this from the KLA.

    That's exactly the point. The guys who joined the fighting weren't fighting on behalf a Greater Albania.

    While I'd agree that US intelligence reports as cited by the Washington Times are not necessarily the world's most incontrovertible evidence, calling it Serb propaganda is a bit harsh. Also, if you read the whole paragraph, you will find that I am pretty dismissive about the claims about significant KLA-jihadi linkage.

    Here's a consistent problem with your diary, as someone else agrees (see replies to my first post). This is what you posted:

    There have also been reports of ties with jihadi groups. Most likely, both accusations contain elements of truth -- the former perhaps more than the latter -- but have been exaggerated in pro-Serb propaganda. The KLA was not the armed wing of Albanian organized crime, nor did its agenda and leadership have much to do with political Islam.

    "Not much" means "some", not "zero". You claim to be dismissive but had in fact suggested that there was some merit to claims of ties between the KLA and militant jihadists, which is a serious statement. Do you have any credible sources for this statement? As far as I know, it's Serbian propaganda: a falsehood aimed at shaping political opinions. "SOME ties between the KLA and jihadists" in the minds of people who read your post translates to "ties between the KLA and jihadists" in those so inclined to believe it. See how that works?

    This reminds me of Condoleeza Rice's claim that there was a debate as to the purpose of those aluminum tubes, or the nice trick by the press to have a "debate" between a lying Republican and a Democrat telling the truth, only to summarize by suggesting that the truth must be somewhere in between.

    If you believe the KLA attacked military targets only, please take it up with the International Crimininal Tribune for the Former Yugoslavia, which in that case has wrongly indicted several KLA leaders, including a former PM of Kosovo.

    Fine. Let's see the evidence against them. I'll bet you that the Serbian forensic reports will not be corroborated. That's the only evidence I see mentioned in the indictment.

    I'd advise against a rosy-eyed view of the KLA.

    I'm asking for a balanced history. I wrote that the KLA attached military and police targets and that the Serbs responded by disproportionately attacking civilians. You don't reply to the latter point whatsoever, then suggest that I wrote that the KLA attacked ONLY military and police targets, which I didn't. Let's put it this way: the KLA attacked predominantly police and military targets and the Serbs responded by predominantly attacking civilians. The same thing happened in Bosnia. See a pattern?

    I have not denied that they were slaughtered, and think they most likely were. The caveat 'allegedely' is a common way to withhold final judgment.

    "Allegedly" implies doubt about the matter, and it's unclear from your post that it's your doubt or why you would have any doubts. As far as I know, the slaughter of the Jashari family by Serb forces (police, apparently) is undisputed. Read page 140 of the paperback edition of Tim Judah's book.

    On a side note, your generalized talk about "the Serbs" and statement that "A nation that starts four wars in a decade doesn't have much credibility" indicates to my mind a partisan bias and animosity towards Serbs as such. Is such the case? If not, please bear in mind that there is propaganda on both sides of this fence.

    Actually, it is you who display a bias in favor of the Serbs, because the balance of propaganda as well as killings (largely of innocent civilians) is heavily tilted toward the Serbs. Read Cohen's book Serbia's Secret War. Read Noel Malcolm's book. Read Julie Mertus's book. Look at Tim Judah's book about the Serbs; it's subtitled "Hystory, Myth & the Destruction of Yugoslavia". As I wrote earlier, Malcolm simply points out that the Serbs have many more myths. Did you mention anything about the many Serbs who have pleaded guilty at the Hague? And why did they plead guilty?

    I despise oppression. I followed the Bosnian War closely, and it frightens and angers me that as a whole, Serbs dismiss what their compatriots have done. I read this in first-hand accounts of paramilitaries who had served in Bosnia and Kosovo, and who were haunted by their actions (PTSD, I presume) and could find noone who would believe them. Tito's granddaughter, Svetlana Broz, spoke in Boston several years ago and said that as a doctor, she has met many Serbian women who confided that their sons or husbands were traumatized and aloof. When she tried to explain to them why by showing them evidence (photographs, etc.), she invariably met a wall of denial. Natasha Kandic has said this repeatedly, and it was evident when the videotape from Srebrenica surfaced (one or two years ago; I can't remember). Sure enough, newspapers were quoting Serbs who claimed that there were atrocities on both sides. Same thing with the PBS Otpor documentary: not a trace of remorse for Serbia's actions but instead, only mentions of Serbia as a victim.

    I know someone who attended a commemoration of the massacre in Srebrenica. He saw Serbs lining the road giving the Serb victory salute and roasting pigs right by the roadside. I agree with you that war looms.

    Yes. And regardless of who has the "right" to what, if the EU and US go through with sanctioning Kosovo secession in defiance of Serbian wishes, I fear there is high risk of war in the future. Serbia is beaten at the moment, but that's what the Turks said too.

    1. Why do you not consider at all the Kosovar perspective on the prospect of independence? It's hard to see how they would be expected to return under Serb rule (and that includes autonomy) after Serbs raped and murdered tens of thousands and displaced about one million of them, at the end of a decade of apartheid which saw their autonomy stripped.
    1. There is a risk of war if Kosovo is not granted independence, probably higher than if it is.
    1. That is exactly the problem with the myth of victimhood and the denial of responsibility: it's nationalism waiting to be exploited to yet again go kill innocent civilians. Tim Judah's book ends with this quote by Aleksa Djilas: "Of course, I would not support such a thing, but the Serbs are not exactly a 'forgive and forget' nation. If they have remembered the 1389 defeat for 610 years, why not this one?"

    Note that Djilas's claim that he wouldn't support such a thing is hollow: according to Noel Malcolm (preface of the paperback edition of his book, as I recall), he's the author of an opinion in a Serbian newspaper entitled something like, "Whatever the Israelis do the the Palestinians we can do to the Albanians."

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