Among major world powers, both Russia and China are opposed to an independent Kosovo. Even within Europe there are nations that oppose this independence — Spain — and others where many are uneasy. It would have been politically possible for the American government to have thought a bit more about the implications, the consequences, of having another Muslim state — the product of centuries of Ottoman rule — within Europe, and to have thought a bit more about the historical treatment of the Serbs under that same Ottoman rule, and their understandable bitterness.
There is an independent Albania. Those Albanians who might wish to be in a state that politically embodies their desires could move. The notion that when Muslim populations exist, they must never be asked to endure minority status, and that only the non-Muslim populations are to be asked to do so, is wrong.
There are problems with mere head-counting. One are the tricks one can play with the region whose heads are being counted. If you rip Kosovo out of Serbia, then you will indeed have an area, “Kosovo,” where the Albanians constitute most of the population. Is that the end of the matter? I can find, and so can you, all kinds of places, now part of larger countries, where this or that minority constitute, in a particular area or city, the majority — even if they are the minority elsewhere. So what?
Surely there were other things to consider. What has happened to Serbian monasteries and churches in places now under full Albanian control — that is, those Albanians who are Muslim? Is there a tradition of treating non-Muslims, in this case Serbs, well or ill?
In alerting people to the attacks on Serbs, to the destruction of ancient monasteries, on the infiltration into the area of Arabs with a brand of Islam quite different from the relaxed, syncretistic, version — not exactly full-bodied Islam in practice, because that local practice was affected by the centuries of proximity to non-Muslims, and to the effect of Communism, one is not endorsing any massacres by some Serbs. One can distance oneself — most Serbs do, unfeignedly — from Milosevich and those atrocities that were committed by some Serb forces. And one can also keep in mind both the exaggerations of those atrocities, and the minimizing or even ignoring not only of the atrocities committed by the Muslims, as well as the entire history of the area, the centuries of Muslim rule, the devshirme, and the deep fears evoked when Izetbegovic wrote that he intended to create a Muslim state and impose the Shari’a. Had the Western world shown the slightest intelligent sympathy or understanding of what that set off in the imagination of many Serbs, there might never have been such a reaction, and someone like Milosevic might never have obtained power.
Why wasn’t there? Why didn’t those in the West study what Izetbegovic said? Why didn’t they read what Serb historians, and writers, including Ivo Andric (in his doctoral dissertation, recently-reprinted, “The Development of Spiritual Life in Bosnia under the Influence of Turkish Rule”) were aware of, and that had never been forgotten? When Clinton ordered the bombing of the Serbs, had he heard, ever, about the devshirme? Did he know that Izetbegovic had written about imposing the shari’a? No, of course not. But had he, and had others, they might have reassured the Serbs long before, and helped to make them less panicky, less prone to give power to someone like Milosevic. The West entirely mishandled Serbia.
And right now, despite the dribs and drabs that begin to come out about the exaggerations on which criticism and bombing of Serbians was based, despite the new evidence, or the evidence no longer hidden, of past Muslim atrocities, the Western world still seems ready to overlook what is now happening. And what is now happening are attacks on Serbian villagers, and the destruction of Serbian churches, in Kosovo. Is one supposed to permanently blame Serbia, and never take its side, because of what Milosevic did? Is one to overlook the role of Bosnia as a place of training for those who could tomorrow be conducting Jihad anywhere in the world?
There is no reason not to take Serbia’s side now. There is every reason — of principle and of Infidel self-interest — to take it.
And then there is the larger scheme of things. Does it make sense, at this moment in history, to give Muslims the sense that they are on the march, that they are establishing beachhead after beachhead in Europe itself — even if, for all we know, that sense of triumphalism is based on a misunderstanding of the devotion to Islam of the Albanians (now “Kosovars”) in question? Assuming that the Chechens have a point (and they did have a point, considering the history of Stalin’s treatment of them), was that reason enough to support the Chechens against Russia, or should one have refrained from so doing, because of the larger context, in which any Muslim victory feeds the assurance that other victories are sure to come, that Islam is unstoppable?
Perhaps the rule should be, all over the Western and larger Infidel world, this: whatever makes the Umma happy, or the O.I.C. happy, is to be opposed for that very reason. That’s a rule of thumb. What, after all, is Man, if not Homo pollex?