During the past week, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United Nations have moved closer to an agreement over what action (if any) to take regarding the atrocities across the former Yugoslav province of Kosovo. While these two organizations have been mired in indecision, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and the forces of his military have massacred untold numbers of Kosovar innocents under the guise of stomping a rebellion, but more honestly in the name of ethnic cleansing. Now, as the West proceeds into this situation after having carefully considered all the options, their caution threatens to prevent them from taking the action that may be difficult but in the end is the right thing to do.
The Kosovar people are ethnically Albanians. They have no interest in being citizens in Serbia and have been fighting a war of independence. The Kosovo Liberation Army(KLA) has given the Serbian military a fight that it did not expect and thus won a chance at independence. Fighting a guerilla campaign, the KLA would have been ignored by the West, if not for the brutal tactics used by the Serbian soldiers.
The reporting of CNN and other media agencies has forced NATO and the U.N. to take action. Pictures of atrocities committed have appeared on the covers of all the major newspapers and magazines and have been the lead story on the evening news, thus bringing the actions of the Serbians to the attention of the outside world.
Here is where the situation gets somewhat tricky. The western nations are supposed to prevent Milosevic and his troops from committing these atrocities, but at the same time they are supposed to oppose independence for Kosovo. This course of action may be the correct course to take in terms of international relations. It may even be the best in terms of the interests of the U.S. But it is fundamentally wrong, denies our heritage and is a triumph of cognitive dissonance.
The US government believes that it can order air strikes, stop the massacres and then the Serbians and the KLA will then go back and live together peacefully. The fact of the matter is that the Serbian government has been oppressing these ethnic Albanians since the beginning of the Balkan conflict. The situation has become impossible. Neither of these groups is capable of ruling the other equitably. The Kosovar people desire to break from Serbia and we should support them. They have faced a great deal more oppression than the founders of this country did when they took their steps toward independence.
For us to refuse support for their cause is an injustice to the principles of the Declaration of Independence. “Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it.”
Perhaps the US fears a union between Kosovo and Albania. Perhaps it does not want to become entangled in a foreign war. Perhaps it is merely preoccupied with other issues. Whatever the excuse, the US owes it to the memory of our Founding Fathers to put excuses aside and do the right thing.