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Jewish World Review May 26, 1999 /11 Sivan 5759

Don Feder

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Do we really want peace in Yugoslavia?

(JWR) ---- (
BEFORE WE BOMB another Belgrade hospital or refugee convoy, perhaps we should start thinking seriously about peace -- not a diktat, but a just settlement.

The presidents of Russia and Finland are trying to broker an end to the war. Italy and Greece seem interested in compromise.

But egged on by socialist hun Tony Blair, Clinton just thrusts out his heroic chin and declares the aggression will continue until the Serbs meet all of our demands -- full withdrawal of their troops from Kosovo and the return of every last Albanian, led by a NATO occupation force whose composition we will determine -- or their nation is buried in rubble.

It was our Rambouillet ultimatum (take it or duck) that got the world into this mess. For Yugoslavia, it amounted to acquiescence to the dismemberment of their nation.

As Srdja Trifkovic, a Serbian academic living in America, puts it, Rambouillet "would have given the Kosovo Liberation Army control of the province immediately and the deed to the real estate after three years."

Albanians would have had all the trappings of statehood immediately. Then, after three years, "an international meeting will be convened to determine a mechanism for a final settlement for Kosovo on the basis of the will of the people" -- the will of the Kosovars, that is, not the Serbs, who were to be despoiled.

Under Appendix B, paragraph 8, the envisioned NATO army of occupation was to have unimpeded access to all parts of Yugoslavia as well as the use of roads, airports, rivers and port facilities anywhere in the country, and the right to make such changes in the nation's infrastructure as suited it.

Western troops would have full immunity from legal process "whether civil, administrative or criminal" for any acts, presumably including murder and rape, committed in the course of the occupation.

Were the Serbs expected to accede to this? Or was Rambouillet, like the Austrian ultimatum to Belgrade in 1914, merely a pretext for war? There are three questions to be resolved in reaching a settlement -- refugees, the peacekeeping force and sovereignty.

NATO demands the repatriation of Albanians. William Dorich, author of four books on the Balkans, wonders "if this will include the 400,000 who entered Yugoslavia illegally in the last 5 or 6 years."

Like the Mexican invasion of Southern California, prior to the Serb campaign against the KLA, Albanians escaping the economic chaos of their homeland streamed into Kosovo. Is the right to return to include those who originally entered the province illegally?

It goes without saying that only Albanians are to have this option, certainly not the estimated 1.2 million Serbs who were driven from Croatia and Bosnia between 1991 and 1995.

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is willing to accept a lightly armed international force composed of Russia, NATO and other European powers, excluding only Britain and the United States, which are currently raining death on his countrymen.

Will NATO insist on humiliating Yugoslavia with an army of occupation including the mad bombers? Will it refuse to budge on Appendix B, paragraph 8? Is it worth a continuation of the carnage so Clinton can gloat over a prostrate nation?

Kosovo's future is the principal sticking point. Alex Dragnich, a retired professor of comparative politics who served in the U.S. embassy in Belgrade, observes, "Yugoslavia has indicated that it will negotiate anything but secession."

Besides being the cradle of Serbian nationhood and the center of its Orthodox faith, Kosovo's coal mines represent 34 percent of Yugoslavia's energy reserves. Dorich says that by insisting on the Rambouillet plan, "You're robbing the Serbs of their Church, robbing them of their heritage and robbing them of their mineral wealth."

David Binder worked for The New York Times from 1961 to 1996, including five years as Belgrade bureau chief. I asked him what a fair deal would look like.

Binder: "Kosovo remains part of Yugoslavia, period, with a large degree of autonomy for all the peoples of Kosovo. There should be an arrangement for the return of refugees who are legal residents, and the presence of an international body to ensure that neither returning Albanians nor Serbs who remained are mistreated. Yugoslavia would patrol Kosovo's borders, and the international force would disarm the KLA."

If the West wants an end to this bloody conflict, here is a sensible solution. Or is our real goal the annihilation of a people the bombers have adjudged a menace to peace?


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11/23/98: The ACLU wants your kids to get a love life
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5/11/98: To honor her would not be honorable
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2/18/98: How many times must we say "no" to gay rights?
2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
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2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
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1/27/98: State of the president: hollow rhetoric
1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
1/22/98: At Yale, bet on yarmulke over gown
1/19/98: Commission tackles America's fastest-growing addiction, gambling
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1/12/98: Partial-birth abortion and the GOP's future: the "big tent" meets truth in advertising
1/8/98: IOLTA: the Left's latest scam to crawl into our pockets
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12/18/97: Bosnia, Haiti, and how not to conduct a foreign policy

©1999, Creators Syndicate