April 1, 2001
There is a price to pay when you bed with the devil, and it is coming due these days in the Balkans. While the Bush Administration has roundly condemned efforts by Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to destabilize and carve off a piece of Western Macedonia, people ought to know that these are our guys, and for the past four years they have been doing our work.
When the KLA made its first public appearence in1997, the U.S. had already helped arm and shape it as a weapon against Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic. Back in 1987, Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI), an organization of retired U.S. military personnel on contract to the Pentagon, started training the KLA in Albania.
MPRI recruited some of the Balkan’s nastiest customers to start the insurrection in Kosovo. MPRI had the inside track on bad guys, because the Delaware-based outfit had trained the Croats who ethnically cleansed 350,000 Croatian Serbs from Krajina province in 1995.
Former Croat Brigadier Gen. Agrim Ceku, who led that attack (aided by MPRI advisors) was tapped to head up the KLA, along with Xhavt Haliti, a former officer in Albania’s dreaded secret police, the Sigurimi. What the U.S. State Department, the Pentagon, and the media didn’t tell the public was that the KLA leadership had deep ties with the drug trade in Europe and North America.
According to an Interpol report, “Kosovo Albanians hold the largest share of the heroin market in Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, the Czech republic, Norway and Sweden.” The European Office of Police has linked the KLA to the Sicilian, Calabrian, Neopolitan and Russian mafias. And back in 1995, when the KLA was just starting to take form, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warned that its leadership had close ties to the drug trade.
We are not talking penny ante stuff here. According to Interpol,and investigative journalist Frank Viviano, the so-called “Balkan Route” is worth $400 billion annually, and is the conduit for 90 percent of the heroin and cocaine coming into Europe.
This link between policy and drugs is an old one for the U.S. It started at the end of World War II when the OSS, precursor of the CIA, joined with the drug-dealing Corsican Brotherhood to drive out Communist and left-led unions in Italy and France. It shifted to Southeast Asia in the 1960s, when another anti-Communist crusade led the CIA to front for the export of heroin from Laos and Vietnam. Then in the ‘80s, the Reagan Administration’s obsession with overthrowing the Sandinistas got us into the cocaine trade in Latin America. And at this very moment, U.S. aid is pouring into the Colombian military, and their proxies, the paramilitaries, both of which control large chunks of the coca trade in Latin America.
When Yugoslavia began to break up in 1990, the U.S. saw the whole thing through a simple East vs. West, Cold War prism. The Slovenes, Croats and Bosnians were the “good guys” because they were “pro-West,” and the Serbs and Milosevic were the Communist “bad guys.” Certainly Slobodan Milosovic is a certified “bad guy”, and an ethnic cleanser par excellence. But “our” guys were nothing to write home about.
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman argued that “Genocide is a natural phenomenon.” His counter-part in Bosnia, Alija Izetbegovic, wrote, “There can be no peace or coexistence between Islamic faith and non-Islamic faith and institutions.”
In 1990, when Yugoslavia began disassembling, Serbia pleaded with the rest of Europe not to recognize any of the independent provinces until a political settlement had been reached and a reasonable breakup plan put in place. But old wars and new agendas torpedoed common sense.
The Vatican led the charge, recognizing largely Roman Catholic Slovenia and Croatia in 1991 as part of its on-going jihad against the Eastern Orthodox Church. Germany was right behind, re-establishing its pre-World War I sphere of influence in the northern Balkans. And the U.S., which could see only communists and anti-Communists, quickly followed. The outcome was the Balkan war, which has now spread to Southern Serbia and Western Macedonia.
Civil wars rarely consist of “good guys” and “bad guys,” particularly when they have a strong religious/nationalist streak. That is why one avoids getting involved in them. But the U.S. was so focused on getting rid of “bad guy” Slobodan Milosvic that it turned a blind eye to the drug dealing, and helped train the KLA. Then the Clinton Administration told the Serbs they would be bombed unless they signed the Rambouillet Agreement.
Remember Rambouillet? There’s a piece of history gone down the memory hole. Sometime check out Appendix B, subsections 7 and 8, as well as clauses 11 and 15. If the Serbs had signed it would have given NATO carte blanche to arrest and detain anyone in Serbia and total immunity from Serbian law. It was almost an exact copy of the ultimatum the Austro-Hungarian Empire delivered to Serbia following the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand in 1914. Serbia’s rejection sparked World War I.
In the words of Dan Goure of the conservative Center for Strategic and International Studies, “Rambouillet was not a negotiation, it was a setup, a lynch party. The (Clinton) Administration saw the ethnic cleansing as an aid for their case. The more the better.”
So we bombed and “won.” And now the Devil is demanding his due. The people who run the KLA not only want an independent Kosovo, they want a Greater Albania, and they expect the U.S. to help them get it. There is no reason they shouldn’t think that. Didn’t the bombing make Kosovo into a de facto independent country? And aren’t there Albanians in Southern Serbia, not to mention Southern Montenegro and Western Bulgaria?
In fact, it has been through the American controlled Sector B that the KLA has infiltrated Southern Serbia, killing policemen, mining roads, and kidnapping two Yugoslav officers March 14. As one senior European Kosovo commander told the London Observer in early March, “The CIA has been allowed to run riot in Kosovo with a private army to overthrow Slobodan Milosevic. Now he is gone and the U.S. State Department seems incapable of reining in its bastard army.”
NATO and the Bush Administration may want to wash its hands of the dustup in Macedonia—with the exception of Spain, no one has offered to send more troops to help seal off KLA attacks into Macedonia and Serbia—but bad things in the Balkans tend to get worse. Russian President Valdimir Putin is warning that the crisis, could well engulf “ the whole Balkan region.”
While the recent fighting is unlikely to lead to another 1914, events have a habit of spinning out of control in that area of the world. Not for nothing did “Balkanize” become a generic verb. If Macedonia is destabilized, look for Greece and Bulgaria to get involved. If Greece is up to something, can Turkey be far behind? What happens if there is a big shootout between the KLA and the Yugoslav Army in Southern Serbia?
The Domino theory didn’t work in Southeast Asia, but don’t bet on that in the Balkans.