Postwar musings on Kosovo

June 25, 1999

Here are excerpts of reactions offered in the wake of peace returning to Kosovo by newspaper editorial pages here and abroad:

Los Angeles Times -- NATO couldn't muster the political will to commit ground forces to the war over Kosovo and now it's having trouble deploying the soldiers who are needed there to keep the peace. As of Wednesday, fewer than half of the 50,000 Western troops assigned to KFOR -- Kosovo Force, the peacekeeping operation -- had arrived there. With all Serbian military and police forces now gone, a power vacuum exists that the guerrilla Kosovo Liberation Army has moved quickly to fill.

The presence throughout the province of armed KLA troops, some of whom are eager to take revenge against Serbs, is inevitably coercive. The countries that are contributing to KFOR, including the United States, should heed Gen. Wesley K. Clark's urgent call and speed up the pace of their troop movements into Kosovo.

Chicago Tribune -- It would be a bitter irony if NATO, having won the war against Yugoslavia to preserve Kosovo's multiethnic society, lost the peace to the kind of violent ethnic hatred NATO sought to squelch in the first place.

Already, ugly incidents have blemished the victory as ethnic Albanians beat Orthodox priests and vandalized ancient monasteries such as the one in Vucitern.

No one can fault ethnic Albanians for wanting payback after the atrocities and barbarism they endured. But NATO has to fill the vacuum of lawlessness that developed in some places after the Serb withdrawal.

Daily Telegraph, London -- The government has been eager to take credit for NATO successes in the Balkans, but seeks to evade responsibility for errors made along the way.

In a stunningly caddish remark in Beijing this week, Stephen Byers, the trade and industry secretary, asserted: "American bombs which hit the Chinese embassy have nothing to do with Britain."

It is unlikely that Mr. Byers' effort to ingratiate himself with China's hard-headed leaders will win many fresh orders for British industry, but such comments from a Cabinet minister certainly give umbrage to the leaders of our closest ally across the Atlantic.

New York Times -- With Serbian troops gone from Kosovo, the most important challenge to peace in the province comes from the ethnic Albanian guerrillas, the Kosovo Liberation Army. On Monday, NATO and the KLA agreed that the group would demilitarize more quickly than previously planned -- but in exchange, NATO would give "due consideration" to making the KLA an army in the style of a National Guard. The agreement, while imperfect, will contribute to the safety of Kosovo's Serbian citizens and NATO peacekeepers by disarming the KLA. In the long run, it may increase chances that Kosovo will enjoy moderate, civilian leadership.

La Stampa, Turin, Italy -- Today the Balkan policy of the United States is directed toward independence: already fully implemented in Slovenia and Croatia, it should, according to Washington, be restructured and supported in Bosnia, reinforced in Macedonia, and at last extended to Kosovo and Montenegro. Serbia, guilty of 10 years of decay and massacres, losing its Kosovar appendix and Montenegrin satellite, should abandon the myth of its regional power.

Pub Date: 6/25/99

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