Friday, December 09, 2005

Hey stupid

Begins the big comeback from my new acquaintance Stephen Schwartz, recently heard from waxing starry-eyed about prospects for an Albanian Kosovo. I had already planned to post his reply -- seems only fair, after all, to let him have his say -- when he kindly extended his permission.

So here it is, in its entirety, with breaks for comments:
Une flas shqip. Do you know that means? It means I speak Albanian.
Actually, no. Dare I ask? Have I just posted some flawlessly obscene idiomatic Albanian insult, or does it literally mean "I speak Albanian"? Being stupid, I've only studied French, Greek, Russian and Spanish, and though I'm not conversational in any of them -- not being a globetrotting journalist with many opportunities to polish my language skills -- I could figure out how to say, "I speak [language]," in all of them. I won't do it, though; it would be showing off.
I first went to the Albanian area of Yugoslavia in 1991. I worked in Kosovo in 1999-2000 and returned to the area in 2003 as well as this year.
My mistake. Being caught up in the dreary mundanities of Stateside life, I haven't read his entire opus.
You can't even read English. The guy who wants to publish the American founding fathers is an Albanian from Albania, not a Kosovar.
My error again. And actually, my impression of the Albanian Albanians is that they've been drug through the mill, first by Hoxha, and then, just as they were starting to get on their feet again, by a bunch of hucksters posing as capitalists, and yet there's remarkable harmony among the ethnic and religious groups there. Again, I'm not a globetrotting journalist who speaks Albanian, merely a stupid American who tries to sift the truth out of the news and who knows some people who have spent time there and loved the Albanian people. Is is safe to point out that these people were Orthodox Christians?
I have written on the Greater Albania issue since 1990. I have published more on Wahhabism in Kosovo and the Albanian lands than any other foreign writer.
See above about not catching the opus.
You should also go back and check out the fact that THE WEEKLY STANDARD supported the Kosovo intervention, regardless of your opinion of Clinton and Albright.
I'm aware that a lot of conservatives thought it was a pretty neat idea to "bomb Serbia into the Stone Age." I believe a lot of them were impatient with the bad behavior among the divorcing Yugoslavs, and the U.S. media, tired of trying to figure out who was right and what was really going on, finally just landed on a bad guy to villify (Let's see, Muslims are exotic; Catholics have the Vatican; that leaves the Serbs. OK, Serbs are wholly bad and the others are wholly innocent. See how easy that is? It totally works on TV.) Then with a good deal of selective reporting, some "revised" voice-over translation of Serbian "man in the street interviews," and some high-class public relations, it became easy to maintain a settled paradigm. But that excuse doesn't work for people who have been following the issue as globetrotting journalists since 1990.

Nevertheless, even from my sheltered stupidity, I remember when Richard Holbrooke stiff-armed the religious leaders of the former Yugoslavia -- Orthodox, Catholic and Muslim -- who had together authored a letter to all their people asking them to eschew violence. He visited Milosevic and the KLA (and don't miss the photo at the link of Holbrooke lounging with armed thugs), but didn't have an hour to spend with the bishops and the imam. It was a time when the diplomatic apparatus of the most powerful country in the world sent a message by its behavior -- the message that the people who mattered in Yugoslavia were the thugs in power. Beside that, Holbrooke calling Serbs "murderous assholes" on television in 1995 was just part of the Clinton approach to diplomacy.

The fact that the Weekly Standard has been so supportive of Clinton's abysmal foreign policy is part of why I don't read the publication much and therefore haven't followed Mr. Schwartz's opus more carefully.

Mr. Schwartz continues:
You write:

1. "why investigators couldn't find evidence of the Kosovo massacres that were the pretext for the assault on Serbia;"

A lie. There are 550 mass grave sites. Everyone knows about them.
Call me a liar if you want to. It's the same definition of "lie" that the Democratic Underground uses against Bush. But the link I gave in my earlier post has the World Court saying that the "mass graves" contain 5,000 bodies. This is, as Detective Sgt. Brian Honeybourn points out, a great evil, but not genocide. It's also not entirely clear that Serbs did all the killing. After-the-fact investigations have turned up evidence that some of the pivotal "massacres" never happened. Or maybe they did, but how many of the victims were killed by Serbs and how many by the KLA? "Everybody" apparently knows a lot of stuff, but when the reporters are so biased, we stupids in the hinterlands don't believe them at all.
2. "about the mass graves of Serbs discovered in Kosovo since the war;"

And where were these? There were a couple of gravesites I know of with fewer than two dozen Serbs altogether in them. They were fully investigated at the Hague. Place names? You don't know what you're taking about. I doubt you could find Kosovo on a map.

3. "and why Kosovo Albanians, set free to create a society in their own image, made it twice as much of a hell as the one Milosevic created for them."

How would you know? What do you know? Nothing. Kosovo is flourishing. But they have yet to be set free.
I honestly hope it's true. Here's a story of a courageous Serb family trying to return to their life in Kosovo. But here's an analysis that suggests that "flourishing" may not be exactly the adjective for it: "Why now? Kosovo has no economy to speak of, no one in authority able to push through privatization, and consequently high unemployment. Hideously abused in the past by the Serbs, the Kosovar Albanians are now on top and have been wreaking vengeance on the Serb minority in their midst, capped last year by the ransacking of churches and a monastery. This naturally stirs strong feelings in Serbia proper, even with Slobodan Milosevic away in custody. Without a functioning judicial system, organized crime in Kosovo is flourishing, so much so that it poses a threat to the entire region."

It's late, and I'll let Mr. Schwartz go on uninterrupted for a while:
4. "Oh, and while he's at it, he might have looked into human trafficking,"

Human trafficking largely involves activity by members of the international community, and Serbian gangsters, using Moldovan women and Ukrainian women to service said internationals. North Albanians, Kosovars, and Albanians from Macedonians do not get involved in this. If you think different, cite cases: indictments, names of the accused, dates of arrests, etc.

"drug dealers" Cite the names of the indicted, accused, dates of arrests, etc. They don't exist. The drug routes run from eastern Macedonia through south Serbia to Belgrade and from Greece through southern Albania to Italy. You can't cite any evidence otherwise. You are a victim of your own bigotry abetted by propagandists.

"and weapons markets." Albanians like guns. So what? You aren't for the second amendment? I am. They are. Deal with it. The gun market is in north Albania, not in Kosovo.
OK. I take it back. None of the links I provided had any information. I don't have dates and places, and the people who have access to dates and places have agendas that are preserved by not publishing them. So there are no drug dealers, no human traffickers and no Al-Qaeda-trained terrorists among the Kosovo Albanians.
The comparison with Kristallnacht is the usual kind of sloppy, morally despicable slobber one can expect from a comfortable American pseudo-intellectual sitting in a couch in pajamas.
I don't use these comparisons lightly, but I think the similarities are very strong between the Night of Broken Glass and the anti-Serb riots that ripped through Kosovo in March of last year. By the way, it was a UN administrator who made the comparison before I did.
As to the heart-breaking spectacle of vandalized Serb churches (sob!) -- the churches that were targeted were mainly recent foundations built to symbolize Serbian domination.
Hearing such hostility to a faith's religious structures makes me wonder if Mr. Schwartz is perhaps a Christian who hates the Orthodox, a Christian who hates Serbs, or a non-Christian who hates Christians. But I'm not asking for an answer to that question. Suffice to say that the hate is evident. On the other hand, he does ascribe considerable foresight to the Christians of the 14th through early 20th centuries, to know where to built churches to symbolize Serbian domination.
The old Orthodox monasteries, which were stolen by the Serbs from their Macedonian and Vlach builders, were largely left alone.
Is that why Decani has to be under constant guard, after its monks rescued Albanians during the war?
Do you know the story of the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Warsaw? It was a gigantic Orthodox structure built by the tsars to symbolize Russian power over Poland. When Poland became independent in the 1920s it was demolished and there is no trace of it today. Just as there will soon be no trace of the Japanese governor's palace in Seoul, Korea. Why should Albanians be held to a different standard than Poles or Koreans? To make foreign Serbophiles happy? Sorry, no thanks.
Even this "foreign Serbophile" was saddened by the Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.
All comments on the record; I will post them to your pathetic blague if you don't.

Stephen Schwartz

P.S. [in follow-up e-mail]: The Serbian government now admits what happened in Kosovo: the Serbs attempted to expel the Albanians, killed many of them, including many children, destroyed many structures, etc. etc.
As a matter of fact, the Serbs are the only ones who admit that their side has done any wrong. It's part of their bad PR, and it's part of why I, as a stupid American who can't find Kosovo on a map (it's next to Ecuador, right?), think it's important to stand up for them every once in a while. I mean, Mr. Schwartz may call me names, but he's not likely to bomb my house.

UPDATE, DEC. 10: I edited out a reference to Michel Chossudovsky in the piece above, because his stand on other matters led me to doubt his credibility. For more information on the Kosovo Liberation Army, from a more authoritative and balanced source, here is a U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee report on the KLA filed one week after the war on Serbia began in 1999.

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