“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Is Kosovo a Preview for the Future of Iraq?

Radio Netherlands explores the future of Kosovo. Kosovo is where Nato decided Albanian Islamic ethnic cleansing against Christian Serbs was preferable to Christian Serbian ethnic cleansing against Muslim Albanians. No one will be able to cleanse the hypocrisy of the venture, but is there a lesson to be learned for Iraq? Does ethnic cleansing explain what is happening in Iraq today? Is the same thing happening with Sunni and Shiite?

Kosovo: too heavy a burden for the EU?
by Vanessa Mock

The European Union will face one its biggest challenges when it has to supervise the democratic process in a newly-independent Kosovo. The United Nations special envoy Martti Ahtisaari will present his vision on the fate of Serbia's breakaway province on Friday. Although he is likely to avoid using the term 'independence' for fear of upsetting the Serb government in Belgrade, his proposal will effectively amount to some form of self-rule for ethnic Albanians. Self-rule but with strings attached: the government Kosovo in Pristina will be closely monitored by the EU in its efforts to kick-start the devastated economy, purge the country of crime and, most importantly, heal the deep ethnic divide.

The EU mission to Kosovo will consist of 2,000 officials at most - but it will be loaded with responsibility. It's not just the future of Kosovo that is at stake: the reputation of the EU itself is also on the line, says Lucia Montanaro-Jankovski, a Balkans expert at the Brussels-based European Policy Centre:
"I think it's the most daunting responsibility that the EU has ever taken on. It's a huge challenge.The European Union was considered to be very weak in the 1990s when they didn't manage to prevent certain conflicts in the Balkans on their doorsteps. And now there is a consensus among EU member states to take on this responsibility however daunting it is. They are the ideal interlocutors. But it will clearly be very difficult and they will have to be there in the long-haul."

Serb minority

For Joost Lagendijk, the rapporteur on Kosovo at the European Parliament, the biggest worry is the fate of the 100,000-strong Serb minority. Serbs are currently mostly confined to their own ethnic enclaves, separate from the rest of the ethnic Albanian population. Although the UN envoy will push for them getting a certain degree of autonomy from the Kosovar government, ultimately it will be the EU's job to make sure they are not persecuted.
"The EU will have to see to it that Serbs living in Kosovo will have all the rights that Kosovars have - the right to move, to travel - the same rights that the Albanians have. It is questionable whether Kosovars are ready to fully govern the country in a democratic, open and transparent way. So I think there will be a continuing role because the EU is already doing that to support the government."


A major fear is that there will be a repeat of the violent rioting that erupted back in 2004, when ethnic Albanians leashed out at Serbs and other minorities. Nineteen people were killed, thousands were displaced during two days of violence. NATO already has a massive 16,000 troops on the ground, which it says will stay put for the foreseeable future and which are already bracing for trouble. But for NATO to keep the peace, it has to work with the EU. NATO's Secretary-General, Jaap de Hoop-Scheffer, has complained in recent weeks that that isn't happening:
"What I repeat is that it is important that after a status settlement, everybody knows exactly what they are going to do. The EU will play a very important role and NATO K-For will play a very important role. So we do need the contacts NATO and European Union at the staff level, at the technical level but also at the political level."


Building up a state infrastructure is just one of the challenges facing the EU. It will also have to kick-start the economy, currently one of negative growth. That will mean a complete crackdown on corruption and crime, as Lucia Montanaro-Jankovski, explains:
"This will be a crucial issue for EU. Kosovo is considered to be the heart of criminal activity in the Balkans, where there is huge amounts of drug trafficking - particularly heroine, huge amounts of human trafficking, and therefore of women for prostitution and trafficking of arms. It's a huge threat to internal security. And it is crucial that the EU dare to be much more courageous and robust in its fight against organised crime."
The EU still has a long way to go before it will be ready to move in to help set up a more independent Kosovo. Luckily, it has time on its side. It's likely to take months of hard political wrangling before the status of the province is finally decided by the United Nations Security Council. But even after that milestone, there will be plenty more challenges in store for Kosovo.


  1. NATO already has a massive 16,000 troops on the ground
    Not enough. We had 20,000 plus change in 2004, lost many cultural sites and a couple of villages anyway, and still had to bring in reserves from outside theatre. Fuck.

  2. Do the math, 20,000 is not enough to protect the 100,000 Serbs left in Kosovo, with a population of about 2 million.

    There are 4 million Sunnis, 4 million Kurds and 12 million Shiites. How can anyone be seriously thinking of spreading the chaos by bringing Iran into the mix?

  3. About Kosovo as a model for Iraq :
    it is not a good parallel, since Kosovo has a clear Albanian majority against a Serb minority, but only as long we are keeping Serbia proper out of the picture.

    Iraq is much more like Bosnia was.

    Like Bosnia there are three major factions (Serb/Croat/Bosniac and Sunni/Shiite/Kurd). They are living in mostly homogenous contiguous areas, except for the capital (Sarajevo and Baghdad). Two have major foreign backers with access across borders (Serbia/Croatia and Iran/Saudi+Jordan). Each side has more than enough weapons to fight (AKs, RPGs, mortars, IEDs), but none has a decisive advantageous regular army that could dominate (competent staffs, armored formations, serious air). Militias will fight viciously to protect home and family, but are not motivated or equipped to conduct offensives.

    The side that has the upper hand is liable to slowly progress, and ethnically cleanse as they go.

    Attacking and occupying large areas with heavy majority populaion of the other factions in unlikely. It is costly in blood and PR. However small enclaves are liable to be overrun (and Srebrenica style massacres possible). Such pockets tend to form naturally as fighting fronts move around unevenly.

    Like Sarajevo before it, Baghdad will be liable to turn into a horrid mess as neither side there is likely to have an advantage decisive enough to prevail in street fighting.

    Any major cities on the inter ethnic boundaries with mixed populations are also tinder boxes. Mosul springs to mind.

    Other key terrain will also draw fighting, again Mosul springs to mind because of the oilfields.

    The Shia have the numbers, its then really a question of how far the backers would be willing to weigh in.

    A quite similar parallel could be drawn to Lebanon during the civil war. Bloody, nasty, indecisive.

  4. Great post fellow, thanks for your insight.

  5. Speaking of math in Kosovo : 20,000 could have been enough if

    1. Some contingents didn't have braindead ROE restrictions, and

    2.The headquarters at brigade and KFOR hadn't been asleep at the switch.

    Remember that Kosovo is extra messy because of many small enclaves and relgious sites scattered around.

  6. By considering the chaos to be a positive step forward from the status que. That is how.

    If sectarian and ethnic violence were to rack Iran, much like it does today in Iraq, there could be less likelyhood of foreign adventures on the Iranians part.

    Did you see the crowds in streets of Lebanon?
    If there was an overt war against terror, they'd have been targeted, but they were not, so there is not.

    Hezzbollah being on the US's list of Terror Groups, openly named by Mr Bush as an Enemy of the US.
    Guess he forgot. To provocative to target the massed enemy.
    No matter whether they are on the streets of Beirut or at funerals in the cemetaries of Afghanistan.

    To culturally insensitive, for US to kill the Enemy in a cemetary.

  7. Hmmm

    Occupying the whole ME properly :
    Syria : 150 000
    Iraq : 300 000
    Iran : 700 000
    Pakistan : 1 200 000
    Afghanistan : 150 000
    Lebanon : 100 000
    Egypt : 700 000

    Thats 3 300 000.

    Considering that we're getting by on 1/4 strength in the 'Stan and 1/2 strength in Iraq by coopting various local troops. Figure we only need 1 500 000 troops total.

    You know, that can be done if the will is there.

    Theres that word again, "will". Nah, we're doomed.

  8. Mr Bush, while in NYC, stopped by the WSJ and had a little talk. Very interesting, his remarks about securing the frontier

    "... WSJ: How concerned are you about the issue of immigration dividing the Republican Party?

    GWB: Getting hammered is what happens when you take tough, principled positions. I don't want our party to be viewed as anti-anybody. If you get labeled as anti-people, you can't win elections. I believe the philosophy of our party is the most hopeful philosophy. It says to any person from any country: 'You have a chance to succeed.' It relies upon individuals. It empowers individuals to be able to realize their potential, as opposed to saying the government is going to do it for you. I know that sounds trite, but that's how I view the difference of philosophy. ..."

    Mr Bush's Policy is to offer the people of the World It says to any person from any country: 'You have a chance to succeed.'

    Now that is compassion, but not the Law of the Land, which Mr Bush continues to ignore.
    He worries about being labeled "anti people" and then acts in direct ways that are anti US Citizen. Interesting.

    Forget about defending the US
    We are the World.

  9. Man, the lyrics of that dopey pop sing along looks frighteningly like current policy, doesn't it?

    Can they really be that dumb?

    Surely its a guise of stupidity to hide a cunning marxist/zionist (delete as appropriate) plot? Maybe devastatingly evil but at least deliberate, and not blithering incompetence, right?

  10. Yeah, I got the SFOR map up too. Some bastard stole my KFOR one.

  11. Why? The new blogger causes cancer?

    Transmits AIDS?

    Eats barbequed babies and invades Belgium?

  12. Rufus, I will not go to the new blogger until they throw us out.
    I learned a long time ago, if it works don't fix it. What do you know?

  13. When Hewitt posted the petition, I visited some of the blogging sites in my area who signed, just to see what the neighbors were up to. I read that a couple of the small sites were having real problems. At this stage we have a fairly large site with all the commenst and graphics. I heard some real horror stories, for sure.

  14. fellow, do you ever get to Stockholm?

  15. Two senior Iraqi generals are being questioned in connection with last week's attack in Karbala that left five U.S. soldiers dead, military officials told FOX News Thursday.

    Military officials also said the level of sophistication of the attack — where militants posed as U.S. soldiers to pass a number of security checkpoints — suggested possible Iranian involvement.

    The assault was carried out by nine to 12 militants wearing new U.S. military fatigues and traveling in black GMC Suburban vehicles — the type used by U.S. government convoys. U.S. officials said the imposters had American weapons and spoke English.

    The raid, as explained by Iraqi and American officials, began after nightfall at about 6 p.m. on Jan. 20, while American military officers were meeting with their Iraqi counterparts on the main floor of the Provisional Joint Coordination Center (PJCC) in Karbala.

    The Pentagon said the investigation into the attack is ongoing and several Iraqis have been detained for questioning.

    Because high-level generals were possibly involved, the Pentagon said, it raises questions about the loyalty and trustworthiness of Iraqi military officers at the highest levels.

  16. Trish made this call a few days ago:

    from the BBC.

    Growing controversy

    Meanwhile, the Iraqi government has denied using excessive force in a battle last weekend in which more than 260 people died near the Shia holy city of Najaf.

    A government spokesman said Iraqi and US forces fought members of a religious cult, calling themselves the Soldiers of Heaven, who had threatened to carry out acts of terrorism.

    The group had resisted repeated calls to surrender, and as for the level of force used, Ali Dabbagh said the government was entitled to protect Iraqi citizens.

    However, the official version of events has not gone unchallenged and controversy is growing.

    According to accounts on an Iraqi website and in the British media, the drama began with a clash between an Iraqi tribe on a pilgrimage to Najaf and an Iraqi army checkpoint.

    The fighting escalated, army commanders called for reinforcements and US aircraft launched an aerial bombardment - with significant loss of life.

    According to this account, the involvement of the Soldiers of Heaven appears to have been accidental.

  17. Bush administration officials say they have become increasingly concerned that Iran is acting as though it now has the upper hand in the region. That is a complete turnaround from several years ago, when Tehran feared a menacing Saddam Hussein on one border and a hostile Taliban on its Afghan side.

    After the Bush administration obligingly took down both those enemies, and then grew bogged down in Iraq, Iran grew cocky. It also allegedly increased its support to Shiite militias that continue to generate new cycles of sectarian violence in Iraq.

    People inside the administration “have been saying that Iran has overplayed its hand and that we need to make sure that we also have some significant things Iran wants,” an administration official told NEWSWEEK “And that means dramatically increasing the pressure on the Iranian regime.”

    Kissinger's Fingerprints

  18. In the guise of critic of modern “art”, graphic and atonal, Spengler launches an assault on the vacuous modernity so many find reprehensible. What Spengler says of “art” is also equally applicable to “modern” literature, religion, and politics. Moreover, Spengler’s good natured assault is humorously humiliating.

    “There are, of course, people who truly appreciate abstract art. You aren't one of them; you are a decent, sensible sort of person without a chip on your shoulder against the world.”

    “By inflicting sufficient ugliness upon us, the modern artists believe, they will wear down our capacity to see beauty. That, I think, is the point of putting dead animals into glass cases, or tanks of formaldehyde. But I am open-minded; there might be some value to this artistic technique after all. If Damien Hirst were to undertake a self-portrait in formaldehyde, I would be the first to subscribe to a commission.”

    Admit it - you really hate modern art

  19. Talking about hateful modernity, even two straight San Franciscans cannot have an illicit non-therapeutic affair. No hop and bop for them.

    “Ruby Rippey-Tourk, told him of the affair as part of a rehabilitation program she had been undergoing for substance abuse…”

    Aide Quits as Newscom’s Affair with His Wife Is Revealed

    Hmmm…Wonder if Ruby would be available to help me with a 12 step program?

  20. Allen, you had to catch me when I was debating whether to finish this excellent chianti. Screw the spell-checking:

    There is modern art and there is bullshit and pretense, but the same is true of architecture, music literature and car designs. There is a great book by Robert Hughes, called "The Shock of the New". The BBC did a series on the book and it is a fine presentaion that describes the process of getting used to and understanding the avant guarde.

    The arts are dynamic. There is no point in someone writing Beethoven's Tenth Symphony.

    Music, architecture, poetry and art must push the envelope. Some is successful, most is not. Most people are intimidated by art and succomb to the opinions of the media and so-called experts. They have neither the training nor the experience to trust their instincts. The charlatans and the un-taleneted know how to trade on that fear.

    I hate it when someone asks me what I think of their art work. I am compelled to tell them. They may not like what they hear, but they will hear the truth and I am right.

    Beauty is not reserved for the composers of the classic arts. No honest artist tries to foist ugliness for the sake of ugliness. He may do it with reason to define a feeling or time.

    Show me what Spengler thinks is good art and I will tell you whether he is full of shit or not.

  21. Deuce,

    re: you had to catch me when I was debating whether to finish this excellent chianti

    What! What's to debate. Of course, you finish the chianti, excellent or otherwise. I think Rufus, would agree with me on this.

  22. As a sign of the war's toll, a Health Ministry official said 1,990 civilians had been killed in violence in January, a more than threefold increase from the 548 civilians the ministry reported killed in the same month last year. Casualty figures are controversial and widely disputed in Iraq, and counts kept by other groups, including the United Nations, have listed far higher numbers.

    The official, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to release the data, said 1,936 civilians also had been wounded, according to the figures, which were compiled from daily reports sent by morgues and hospitals nationwide.

    Figures provided by the Defense and Interior ministries also showed that 100 Iraqi security forces were killed in January, while 593 insurgents were killed and 1,926 detained.

    Iraqi Violence

    6 - 1. I'll take those odds. There you go, fellas. There's your proof. Cheer up! We're winning!

  23. This is an autopsy report begging scrutiny.
    “According to reports, another Iranian citizen committed suicide during the raid.
    PA security forces arrest 7 Iranians in Gaza Strip raid


  24. charlotte,

    re: How to fight an old war with constant principles and new tech and methods?


  25. We have made a lot of mistakes in Iraq. But when Arabs kill Arabs and Shiites kill Shiites and Sunnis kill all in a spasm of violence that is blind and furious and has roots in hatreds born long before America was even a republic, to place the blame on the one player, the one country, the one military that has done more than any other to try to separate the combatants and bring conciliation is simply perverse.

    It infantilizes Arabs. It demonizes Americans.

    It willfully overlooks the plainest of facts: Iraq is their country. We midwifed their freedom.

    Who's to Blame

  26. New McCain proposal is up at Hugh
    Cornyn is on board, so looks like the pubs will go with that.
    Too bad the so-called grown up administration didn't have the sort of accountablility called for in the measure as policy all along.

    Instead, it was kicking multiple cans down the road ad-infinitum, ignoring all the signposts called for here, in ADDITION to all the signs on the battlefield that change was called for long ago, from Fallujah I to Steven Vincent's murder, to Gates of Fire, Bush and Co. went blithley along as if all of that could be ignored.

    Scary thing in proposal is the specificity, like requiring Oil Money to be shared with the Sunnis:

    In the real World, one will have to ask, WHAT Sunnis?

    We shall see...

  27. Sam,
    Hewitt had a caller that said the invaluable function the war has served is to make plain the hatreds, divisions, and backwardsness in the region, which is true, only problem is some in charge in the Admin, and all the Dems except Liebermann mostly still don't know the difference between Sunni and Shia!

  28. Guantanamo guards on Thursday removed prison camp posters of a condemned Saddam Hussein and articles about his execution in Iraq - after a lawyer called the material threatening.

    New York defense attorney Joshua Dratel disclosed details about the poster, which was hanging in recreation yards around the prison camps, after a client conference with Australian captive David Hicks, 31.

    He described Guantanamo captives as "an already abused detainee population" and accused the U.S. military of trying "to intimidate and compel submission under a threat of death."

    Hussein Posters

  29. While the US publicly agonizes over Iran, another enemy just keeps doing what he does best.

    “Dozens of al-Qaeda suicide bombers from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Sudan are crossing into Iraq from Syria every month, a senior US official said on Tuesday.”
    Suicide bombers "entering Iraq from Syria"

    “But he emphasised that the Saudi government was doing its utmost to take on al-Qaeda.”


  30. Bobal,
    The question is:
    Could someone interested in a heterosexual affair really be capable of identifying with the problems and desires of his electorate?