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REMEMBER THE LAST WAR?
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Kosovo is sending up ugly flares again, reminding the international community that all is not well in the Balkans.
America might wish to wash its hands of this "nation building" headache, but Kosovo is not a conflict that can easily be dismissed. Especially not now, when the lawless region in the hands of armed gangs and extremists could prove an ideal incubator for terrorists bent on disrupting the nearby Athens Olympics.
As deadly riots earlier this year demonstrated, Kosovo remains a place that can flare overnight into an ugly war aimed at eliminating the ancient cultural monuments of its Serbian minority. After the riots, U.N. administrator Harri Holkeri, a former prime minister of Finland, had to be briefly hospitalized for fatigue; last week, he resigned.
The morass should be a warning sign to Washington, which still has 2,000 troops in Kosovo. The United Nations is not equipped or ready to resolve the tensions between majority Albanians and minority Serbs in a province Serbs treasure as the cradle of their culture. Moreover, America's neglect of festering problems in the Balkans has allowed virulent nationalism to take hold. Just the latest sign was last week's assassination of Dusko Jovanovic, editor of nearby Montenegro's most important opposition newspaper, Dan.
Next door, in Serbia, America's narrow focus on extraditing accused war criminals has discouraged reformers and alienated the people.
As Crown Prince Alexander II, heir to the Serbian throne, recently told the San Francisco Chronicle, America now spends "more money for war than peace" and that is a "flawed foreign policy."
The prince is right. Saving the Balkans from the sort of neglect that will fan further strife and bloodshed is a humanitarian mission that must involve us all.
© 2004 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission.
Copyright © 1998 NJ.K.V. Prestolonaslednik Aleksandar II
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