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The U.N.'s Kosovo Exit Strategy

There isn't one.

12:00 AM, Apr 4, 2007 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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United States ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton commented on BBC television over the weekend of March 24 that "Iraq is Arabic for Yugoslavia." While ambassador Bolton clearly referred to the possibility that Iraq could fragment into Shia, Kurdish, and Arab Sunni mini-states, a much more appropriate parallel could be drawn between the Iraqi Sunni Arabs and the Serbs. In both cases, international diplomacy has assumed the posture that the former tormentors of a vast majority must be coddled in the name of human rights. Further, the application of such a policy in Kosovo reproduces the same immoral option imposed on Bosnia-Herzegovina, and indicates the fate that would await the Iraqis if the United States were, as some demand, to hand over Iraq to U.N. control.

The jailed Albin Kurti and the Self-Determination Movement have serious problems with the Ahtisaari "project." According to the critics, the Ahtisaari proposals would block privatization, as well as the restoration of bank accounts belonging to Kosovar Albanians and pension funds due them, which were seized by the Milosevic regime. The Ahtisaari script states with false innocence that UNMIK "has not been able to develop a viable economy" in Kosovo, as if this were accidental or, worse, the fault of the Albanians. But the refusal of UNMIK to attend to economic needs was and remains a deliberate policy, not an item in passing. In the vision of Ahtisaari, the United Nations would continue to operate the political administration, foreign troops would still keep a shaky peace, and the health and education systems, which have suffered extreme neglect in the past eight years, would further disintegrate.

Put plainly, there is no U.N. exit strategy for Kosovo. While the tragedy of a divided Bosnia-Herzegovina appears hopeless, and many Americans are convinced by a hostile American media establishment that Iraq gets worse daily, Kosovo offers an opportunity to make nation-building work. By contrast, the Ahtisaari scheme means the division of Kosovo and new conflicts in the Balkans.

The United States should say no to "supervised independence" in Kosovo and, instead, should support the aspirations of the Albanian majority which believed that America stood for democracy, entrepreneurship, and accountability when bombs began falling on Belgrade in 1999.

Stephen Schwartz is a frequent contributor to The Weekly Standard.