Fallout over Kosovo Independence

Chalk this one up to United Nations incompetence.

For more than 9 years, the UN had the status of Kosovo on its plate. It dillied. It dallied. It stalled. Until finally, the Kosovoans believed that the UN would never resolve their situation satisfactorily and give them broad automony while allowing them to remain federated with Serbia.

It wasn't until 2007 - 8 years after hostilities ended and the UN took over - that a draft proposal was issued by the UN on the status of Kosovo. The fact that it was unacceptable isn't the point. One wonders why they couldn't have issued the draft years earlier.

The draft called for "supervised independence" of Kosovo - something the Clinton Administration had envisioned all along.

Now it is true that Serbia didn't help matters any by resisting some UN efforts to resolve the problem. But at bottom, what the entire dreary episode in international diplomacy showed is that the United Nations is incapable of dealing with controversial issues.

And now we have a mess. Serbia's nominally pro-western government has been cut off at the knees by the independence announcement while the Serbian people are absolutely livid with the EU and US for causing the loss of what most Serbs see as the cultural heart of their country:

 
From setting fire to the U.S. Embassy in the Serbian capital of Belgrade to stone-throwing at NATO troops along the new unsteady border between Serbia and Kosovo, the anger of Serbs over the loss of a region they consider their cultural heartland is intense and dangerous.

And the United States, which backed Kosovo's separation from Serbia and was among the first countries to recognize it as a new nation, will receive the brunt of Serbian fury.

Far from stabilizing the region, as the Bush administration had forecast, the move by Kosovo has launched a period of volatile uncertainty. Riots in Belgrade on Thursday night, which left one person dead, 150 injured and more than 200 arrested, were the largest outburst of anti-Western rage there since before the fall of dictator Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000.

Ljiljana Smajlovic, editor of Serbia's influential Politika daily newspaper, said the unrest represents a "tectonic shift" in Serbian public opinion, one that will carry far-reaching and unpredictable consequences.
The likely consequences are losing the Serbs to Moscow's orbit permanently while ushering in an era where Serbian governments would oppose most NATO-US moves in the region:
"This is a total disaster for people who are pro-Western and pro-European," said editor Smajlovic. "This helps radicals who say it was never about democracy and right or wrong, but all along about taking away from Serbia, about humiliating the Serbs."

Many of the fiercest demonstrators torching buildings Thursday night and shouting, "Stop U.S. terror!" were young protesters who may have little memory of Milosevic but who came of age as NATO was bombing Belgrade in 1999 to force Serbia to end attacks in Kosovo.
Kosovo may deserve independence. But the Serbs see our actions in recognizing it a doublecross after we virtually guaranteed that Kosovo should remain part of Serbia in 1999. 

A lesson learned would be not to hand these issues to the UN. There is not the will to bring the issues to a resolution. And for that reason, we are suffering the consequences today.
 
Chalk this one up to United Nations incompetence.

For more than 9 years, the UN had the status of Kosovo on its plate. It dillied. It dallied. It stalled. Until finally, the Kosovoans believed that the UN would never resolve their situation satisfactorily and give them broad automony while allowing them to remain federated with Serbia.

It wasn't until 2007 - 8 years after hostilities ended and the UN took over - that a draft proposal was issued by the UN on the status of Kosovo. The fact that it was unacceptable isn't the point. One wonders why they couldn't have issued the draft years earlier.

The draft called for "supervised independence" of Kosovo - something the Clinton Administration had envisioned all along.

Now it is true that Serbia didn't help matters any by resisting some UN efforts to resolve the problem. But at bottom, what the entire dreary episode in international diplomacy showed is that the United Nations is incapable of dealing with controversial issues.

And now we have a mess. Serbia's nominally pro-western government has been cut off at the knees by the independence announcement while the Serbian people are absolutely livid with the EU and US for causing the loss of what most Serbs see as the cultural heart of their country:

 
From setting fire to the U.S. Embassy in the Serbian capital of Belgrade to stone-throwing at NATO troops along the new unsteady border between Serbia and Kosovo, the anger of Serbs over the loss of a region they consider their cultural heartland is intense and dangerous.

And the United States, which backed Kosovo's separation from Serbia and was among the first countries to recognize it as a new nation, will receive the brunt of Serbian fury.

Far from stabilizing the region, as the Bush administration had forecast, the move by Kosovo has launched a period of volatile uncertainty. Riots in Belgrade on Thursday night, which left one person dead, 150 injured and more than 200 arrested, were the largest outburst of anti-Western rage there since before the fall of dictator Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000.

Ljiljana Smajlovic, editor of Serbia's influential Politika daily newspaper, said the unrest represents a "tectonic shift" in Serbian public opinion, one that will carry far-reaching and unpredictable consequences.
The likely consequences are losing the Serbs to Moscow's orbit permanently while ushering in an era where Serbian governments would oppose most NATO-US moves in the region:
"This is a total disaster for people who are pro-Western and pro-European," said editor Smajlovic. "This helps radicals who say it was never about democracy and right or wrong, but all along about taking away from Serbia, about humiliating the Serbs."

Many of the fiercest demonstrators torching buildings Thursday night and shouting, "Stop U.S. terror!" were young protesters who may have little memory of Milosevic but who came of age as NATO was bombing Belgrade in 1999 to force Serbia to end attacks in Kosovo.
Kosovo may deserve independence. But the Serbs see our actions in recognizing it a doublecross after we virtually guaranteed that Kosovo should remain part of Serbia in 1999. 

A lesson learned would be not to hand these issues to the UN. There is not the will to bring the issues to a resolution. And for that reason, we are suffering the consequences today.