visit in March to Pristina, the capital
of Kosovo, I attended a university
English class, held in a storefront
because the university buildings have
been closed to the Albanians for eight
years. The students expressed the desire
to solve their conflict with the Serbian
regime peacefully, but one of them said,
"If Serbian policemen come into my house
and hurt my father or my mother, I will
have to fight."
My guess is
that if that young man is not fighting
in the woods now, he will be soon.
governments bear responsibility for the
increasing suffering of Kosovar
Albanians. When Western nations treat
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic as
a statesman instead of the principal
instigator of chaos and genocide in the
former Yugoslavia that he is it only
encourages him to wreak destruction in
Serbia's southern province.
three years after the massacres at
Srebrenica, mass graves are appearing in
the west of Kosovo. With the Albanian
refugee count fast approaching 100,000,
European diplomats' solemn assertions
that "we will not allow a repeat of
Bosnia" are sounding increasingly
international community seems more
concerned with regional stability in the
former Yugoslavia than with alleviating
the Kosovar Albanians' misery. They
don't want a new influx of refugees to
add to the half a million Albanians
already living in western Europe. And
NATO's nightmare scenario involves the
development of a regional war with two
of its members, Greece and Turkey,
participating on opposite sides.
international community's answer to
Serbian military offensives against
Kosovo has been a
Denounce Serbia, threaten military
action, but do nothing to antagonize
Russia, Serbia's ally.
expressions of "grave concern" and
on-again, off-again sanctions have done
nothing to deter the slaughter.
Albanian Telegraphic Agency reports that
the Serbians have caused more than $500
million worth of damage in Kosovo this
year. They have burned thousands of
houses, making tens of thousands of
people homeless. A food blockade on the
province has left shelves bare in city
stores, and large quantities of aid
destined for relief organizations have
been confiscated. Medical and
human-rights workers, as well as
journalists, are prevented from reaching
the hardest-hit locations.
Milosevic's scorched-earth tactics are
helping to turn the Kosovo Liberation
Army's disorganized guerrilla bands into
a serious fighting force. The KLA will
not accept Western formulas of
compromise with Milosevic, and it will
foreign service official recently
advocated making Milosevic grant full
autonomy to Kosovo. At this point, the
autonomy proposal is a fantasy.
studying plans to respond to the Kosovo
conflict. Among those options are
various forms of containment and limited
intervention. Containment, involving the
stationing of troops in Albania and
Macedonia, would be NATO's preferred
option. But it would most likely serve
to further Milosevic's goal of isolating
the KLA without diminishing the violence
done to the Kosovar Albanians.
effective action will be taken only, as
in Bosnia, when the destruction has
become so vast that domestic opinion
Clinton states, "I am determined to do
all that I can to stop a repeat of the
human carnage in Bosnia." And British
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook announces
that "this is Milosevic's last warning."
But Milosevic knows that it is the last
warning until the next warning.
Milosevic's regime is the continuing
source of instability and violence in
the former Yugoslavia. Cook himself
acknowledged this when he said that
there can be no solution in Kosovo
without democracy in Serbia.
time for the international community to
focus on supporting democratic elements
in Serbian society and hastening
Milosevic's departure from the scene.
Lippman is a carpenter and human
rights activist from Seattle. He has
been working as a translator and
refugee-relief worker in Bosnia since
the fall of 1997.