More News from Kosovo
The New York Times - February 28 - March 5, 2000
(with a few expanding comments)
by Gilles d'Aymery

March 5, 2000 - Note from the Editor: A new reader writes: "Am I glad to have found Swans. Reading the endless chorus of platitudes in the 'mainstream press' I was beginning to think I was the only person on earth who saw that something does not make sense. A breath of fresh air!" Well, besides being grateful to this reader for the kind words, I don't know about the quality of the air. Only you, the readers, can decide for yourselves. And, yes, "something" does not make sense. I've spent the entire week, along with the little pay-the-bills work, reading and communicating with correspondents in Canada, France, Serbia, and the United States of America. All of us are struggling to break the official line and to reach a wider audience. And I am struggling to bring a coherent analysis of what's obvious to my mind and yet so difficult to put in written words. Time communicating and reading took time off writing for Swans. What was to be a supporting article has become this week's publication.

There is a window of opportunity to topple President Milosevic, grab the Trepca mining complex, bring Serbia into the fold of the Western Powers' free-markets, and move on to the gung-ho future of our ideological miracle, all the way to Moscow's outer-limits. Kosovo is a part of the larger picture where, elsewhere, NATO's North Atlantic Council, met in Kiev, Ukraine, on March 1-2, 2000. The New York Times is a diligent actor in the game though it does not even report the meeting in Kiev… We are witnessing the most ambitious and dangerous expansion of Western ideological mantra in 200 years and nobody seems to notice. Fascinating! (and, again, I'm sorry for not being able to bring the full picture. It's not that easy to put it all together…)

Anyway, here is the latest in Officialdom's "news."

February 28 - The Times reprints a passage that had been omitted, due to "a computer malfunction" in some copies (not mine!), in Steven Erlanger's article of the day before (Feb 27), Torn Mitrovica Reflects West's Trials in Kosovo. Actually, it was the telling passage about the respective recriminations among the allies that I summed up thus: "In a meandering 2,000-word article the poor Erlanger is left to repeat the thickness and deepness of the Balkan mud that tends to fly all around among the allies and the participants on the ground." While Erlanger dissected the differences of opinion among the Allies, the absence of funds for the lofty goals of a multi-ethnic society (a society that has by all accounts become an Albano-Albanian uni-ethnic society!), I failed to report a significant part of that article. "The central issue now…is the rights and safety of the remaining Serbs and Gypsies in Kosovo, most of whom already live in protected enclaves or ghettolike areas surrounded by troops and wire," writes Erlanger -- a fact "readily conceded" by officials. Of course, The Times is not in the habit of naming those officials who speak in the background like an anonymous Deep Throat. But those officials do acknowledge that "It is hard enough keeping Albanian firebrands and shadowy, organized armed Albanian groups - some of them connected to the officially disbanded KLA... - from succeeding in their efforts to drive the rest of the Serbs and Gypsies out of Kosovo altogether." This is a significant piece of reporting on the part of The Times for it leaves the distinct impression that the situation is no more viewed in black and white as the Times has reported it for over a year.

Erlanger, a prolific writer, comes back today with another 2,000-and-some-word article, NATO General Hopes G.I.'s Will Return to Kosovo Town. He keeps revealing the difficulties that KFOR confronts on a daily basis and the confidence of its commander, General Klaus Reinhardt, that it could handle the tense situation but that the NATO governments were not supportive enough of the United Nations' civilian administration. The usual pas-de-deux between NATO and the UN… Nothing new here. Erlanger also reports that the Albanian armed groups operating in Serbia are "offshoots of the supposedly dismantled KLA." Somehow, one wishes to be told once and for all whether the KLA has or has not disbanded. But that would be too much to ask, wouldn't it? The only hard news of the article is, ironically, that someone had stolen Gen. Reinhardt's personal revolver "while Albanians were cheering him last Monday, as he sought to defuse a large Albanian demonstration." No doubt, the act of a Milosevic agent disguised as an Albanian!

March 1 - You remember that the American troops that had been sent to Mitrovica had been pelted with stones and snow balls by the Serbs and had hastily retreated (Feb. 21). Well, the Pentagon was not particularly pleased by the bad publicity. Jane Perlez reports that [the] Joint Chiefs Chairman Protests Troops' Mission to Kosovo Town. The chairman, Gen. Henry H. Shelton, wrote a letter to NATO's supreme commander, Gen. Wesley K. Clark, "telling him not to use American troops outside their designated sector." "Gen. Shelton's letter", adds Ms Perlez, "and a mood of discontent about the Kosovo peacekeeping operation in the Senate Armed Services Committee, reflected anger at European allies for not contributing as many troops as requested or expected in Kosovo." Here is a triangle. At the top stands the proud leader (USA), at the bottom is the supporting cast, NATO-KFOR, and the U.N. Add another leg like the KLA, for instance. The triangle takes the shape of a square. Bring in a few other actors (Serbs, Gypsies, etc). Think of the Russians in the background... Rapidly, you've got a circle, definitely not squared, and a far cry from the triangle pointing its American arrow toward the sky! Gen. Shelton is entitled to his letter.

March 2 - Here is, perhaps, the closest The New York Times has ever come to acknowledging the mess the Western Powers are facing. Steve Erlanger writes from the Serbian town of Dobrosin, across the boundary line from Kosovo, Kosovo Rebels Regrouping Nearby in Serbia. "Armed Albanians wearing uniforms of a new branch of the KLA are training for a battle the West does not want them to have," writes Erlanger. He openly reports that by ambushing Serbian police and intimidating [a.k.a. killing] Serbian farmers the leaders of this "new army" "are hoping that the Serbs will retaliate with excessive force against civilian populations and create a wave of outrage and pressure KFOR to respond." Erlanger describes pointedly what lucid observers have known all along; that is, the tactic the KLA has used for years to allow the Western Powers to bring Serbia to its knees in Kosovo. What's so interesting is that The New York Times acknowledges it. Now, again, do not infer from my writing that The Times has gone soft on the Serbs. To accompany the article, the editors chose a picture of a young Albanian woman staring over the graves of her father and uncle that were allegedly killed by the Serbian police last January. So, at first sight, as my friend Frédéric Delorca, the Webmaster of the French section of dissidence.org suggested in a recent e-mail: When you say Serb, people see "massacres, militia, paramilitary, ethnic cleansing, concentration camp, Milosevic, Nazism…" When you say Kosovar (Albanian), they see "refugee, poor, persecuted, resistant, democrat..." And the last paragraph of the article reinforces Delorca's suggestion: "Mr. Zajidi [an Albanian] said: 'We have a kind of protection from the Americans. If they were not on the hill, no one would be left in this village at all.'" Indeed, the article starts with the good US soldiers guarding the border line and ends with the same reference to those good soldiers. Nevertheless, Erlanger says it all as it is, the editors notwithstanding. This is a "first." (The full aricle can be read on antiwar.com.)

March 3 - To be certain that the readers know that The Times has not changed its editorial line, a relatively short article from Agence France-Presse reads, Serbs Stone Albanians in Divided Kosovo City. "Dozens of Serbian Women, some in their 60's, lobbed rocks at two Albanians..." 60-year old Serb women attacking Albanians with a vengeance... Even women, women in their 60's, when Serb, are subhuman… Look at the headline: Serbs stone Albanians. You'd think lots of Albanians got stoned, don't you? .... In Divided Kosovo City: Divided because of whom? Serbs of course, no? Kosovo City: Have you noticed that all the headlines regarding Mitrovica speak about a city. No Name. Why? Because the reader, scanning the headlines, knows little about Mitrovica but the word Kosovo raises images propagated by the television media in favor of NATO's war last year. Serbs... Stones... Albanians... Kosovo. I mean, one cannot but admire the talent of the Editors.

Then, to make absolutely sure that the editors drive their point across, The Times publishes a short news item from the Associated Press with the headline: U.S. Issues 'Wanted' Poster for Milosevic. Following an age-old trait of American culture where informers are financially rewarded, the State Department is issuing a "wanted" poster. "Europe, especially Serbia, will be saturated with copies of the poster, in the hope that publicizing the prospect of up to $5 million in reward money will result in the men's apprehension." (Rodovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic are also targeted). Who wants to be a millionaire?

March 4 - Steven Erlanger is back in Pristina and has had a couple of days to write another long article (about 2,000 words), describing the alarming fact that the NATO governments that waged the war in Kosovo are balking at the high price of peace. U.N.'s Kosovo Chief Warns That Mission is 'Barely Alive.' The entirety of the article is dedicated to the lack of funds needed for the proper functioning of UNMIK, the U.N. government in Kosovo that is headed by Bernard Kouchner, the French poster boy of our post Cold War humanitarian ideology. Hopefully by now, we all know about this line of reporting… We wanted so much to do good. We wanted so much a multi-ethnic community in Kosovo where everybody would live in peace and happiness ever after. But the money ain't coming. What a pity! The International Community is failing our good deeds. What a shame! This is a funny and phony line of reporting, as I shall demonstrate in the relatively short future. Money is pouring into the Balkans as we speak. It's pouring for major regional infrastructure engineering works. It's not pouring for feel-good policies. Put it another way, ask yourself, what's the return on investment of monies expanded on people in Kosovo, be they Albanians, or Serbs for that matter? Somewhere, somehow, we need to see results, in terms of contracts, and bankable ventures.

On the same page, The Times publishes another short item from the Associated Press: Troops Open Path for Kosovars to Return Home. We are determined to have a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo. Seriously! Because, the moment we abandon this goal, here goes Bosnia, the other model of multi-ethnicity dear to the hearts of the Western Powers. For this sake, we will define multi-ethnic Kosovo as a geographical place -- whether a province or a country remains to be defined -- where one and only one Serb will still be alive (I'm not kidding. Serbs are dead beats). But, although we are playing by ear, adjusting our position(s) according to the events on the ground, one fact is written in stone: We have dismantled Yugoslavia and we need to finish off Serbia. Then, full speed ahead to the Caspian Sea riches and to the outskirts of Moscow. The Eastward historical expansion… That's the real power game!

March 5 - Carlotta Gall is back! Albanian Village Flees After Serbs and Guerrillas Battle. Do you remember Delorca's suggestion that I related supra? Kosovar (Albanian) = "refugee, poor, persecuted, resistant, democrat..." Ms. Gall reports on the village of Dobrosin again. The same village from which Steven Erlanger reported on March 2. Erlanger did report that the Serbian police was last seen in the village in January, when a young Albanian woman, pictured in the article, looked over the grave of her dead father and uncle. Since then, according to Erlanger, the village was very much in the hands of the so-called off-shoot of the KLA. Not so, says Ms. Gall. According to her report's very first paragraph: "A fierce firefight broke out this morning between the Serbian police and Albanian guerrilla fighters in an Albanian village in southern Serbia, causing an exodus of villagers who fled by car in Kosovo." How does she know? She's reporting from another geographical location, Malishevo. Never mind. She continues: "Today, the village, Dobrosin, was empty of inhabitants, said its mayor, Rabit Saqipi, who had briefly returned there." So, Erlanger does report that the mayor has left the village and there are no Serbian police in sight. Gall says that the mayor went back briefly...and left again to tell his story. Serbian police were at it again. Question: How could the mayor return to the village when Serbian police were looming over to kill the Albanians that had already left the village? Question: How could the mayor go back to the village, witness the dreaded Serbian police at work and get out again, untouched, to tell his story? Question: What's the relationship between Mr. Saqipi, the mayor who has left, returned, and left again, and Havere Saqipi, the young Albanian woman, pictured in The Times' March 2 article, looking over the graves of her father and uncle, Isa and Shaip Sapiqi? Question: How can Ms. Gall report about the village of Dobrosin when standing in Malishevo?

Erlanger, Gall, good boy, bad girl? Please, call your nearest PR firm.

So, here goes another week. The reader is treated with cold and hot water. Erlanger is reporting about the conundrum. It's not black and white, you know. We want the best but the U.N. is not up to the task, you know. Americans are getting impatient. They want results. You know.

Gall reminds us that Serbs are evil. No conundrum here. We want Serbia. We need Serbia. We have to move on. We want the Trepca mines. We want the Caspian oil. We want the markets. We really do. This is business.

So, you really want to be a millionaire? Really, you do?


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Published March 5, 2000
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