Crisis Point of Western Leadership

Two of the most frequent phrases used by observers to describe Kosovo in the Balkans are “the tinderbox of Europe” and “the powder keg of Europe.” Kosovo could yet provide the tinder to spark the flames of the greatest war man will ever know.
From the September 1998 Trumpet Print Edition

Kosovo is being ripped apart. “They wonder if the world has simply shut its eyes to their fate,” decried a WTN journalist. By August, almost a quarter of a million refugees had left Kosovo, threatening a humanitarian catastrophe as observers anticipated starvation and loss of life in the event of the sudden arrival of the cruel Balkan winter.

Why is Kosovo a region of current conflict? Why has the world stood by and watched repeated inhumane policies of ethnic cleansing? How does this continuing running sore of Balkan conflict bear on the future of Europe and, indeed, the world?

History of Trouble

As Noel Malcolm observes in his excellent, recently released book on the subject, “The Yugoslav crisis began in Kosovo and it will end in Kosovo…. [This is] one of the few things on which all parties to the conflicts of the 1990s seem to agree” (Kosovo—A Short History, p. xxvii).

Malcolm goes to the heart and core of the matter. He slices through the multiplicity of views touted by the media, almost all of which have assumed the causes of the Balkan problems to be “ethnic conflicts.” Malcolm quite rightly argues that this is far from the truth. The real cause of the continuing Balkan crisis has been the aggressively pursued political policies of Balkan leaders, primarily Serbian Slobodan Milosevic and Croatian leader Franjo Tudjman. They have deliberately created conflict via military initiatives for political and territorial gain.

As to the depth of history attached to conflict in Kosovo, we can begin in 1389. (See also sidebar, below; for more information on the Balkan region, request a free copy of the May 1997 edition of The Trumpet.) The great 1389 Battle of Kosovo, between the Serbian Empire and the Ottoman Turks, is the focal point of all Balkan history. It is the subject of myth, poetry, song, dramatic play and many versions of documented history. In fact, it is hard to separate the myth from the reality of this crucial turning point in Serbian history: their “glorious defeat” at the hands of the Ottoman armies. Thus commenced 400 years of rule by Turkey over Serbia.

Early Ethnic Cleansing

During the early 1800s, the Ottomans introduced certain ambitious reforms designed to westernize their empire and turn it into a modern state. In 1830 they granted full autonomy to the Serbian principality.

By 1912, war ripped through the Balkans as Serbia, joining with other Balkan states, fought to drive the Ottoman Empire out of Europe. With this war won, Serbia re-acquired Kosovo, and Austria forced Serbia to join with Montenegro in yielding up part of their newly conquered territory to create an independent Albania. It was during the period between the First and Second World Wars that the Serbians attempted to consolidate their hold on Kosovo by means of the process commonly referred to in modern parlance as ethnic cleansing. Muslims, Albanians and Turks were expelled from their land and their property given over to Serb colonists.

The intensity of Serbian aggression against Albanians in Kosovo increased to the point where between 1912 and 1913 gross atrocities were committed by combined Serbian/Montenegran forces in campaigns which sacked Albanian villages, whole village populations being massacred in the process. This was followed by a policy of forced conversions of Muslims and Catholics to orthodoxy, the penalty for refusal being torture or death. Peculiarly, the Montenegrans enforced this policy more stringently than did the Serbians. The combined initiatives of “ethnic cleansing” and forced conversion were designed to change the population statistics of conquered areas to ease their assimilation by the Montenegran and Serbian governments. The Serbian king placed Kosovo under military rule, disarming all Albanians. This Serb hegemony was, however, to be short-lived. The Austro/Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914.

On August 3, Germany mobilized, declaring war on Russia and France in quick succession, and quickly invading neutral Luxemburg and Belgium. Britain entered the conflict on August 5. The lighting of the Balkan tinderbox had thus resulted in the First World War.

Four months later, the Serbs were routed, Austria occupying Kosovo to the north with Bulgaria taking the south. By 1918, however, with the Austro-Hungarians facing defeat, the Serbs once again occupied Kosovo. Regarded as an integral part of the Serbian kingdom, following the armistice, Kosovo remained under Serb rule within the newly declared Yugoslav state.

In 1941 the Balkans suffered invasion by Germany and the Axis powers. Yugoslavia was split into Nazi puppet states. By 1945, with the Germans driven out of Yugoslavia, 10,000 Albanians fought 40,000 Yugoslav troops for control of Kosovo. The Albanians were beaten, suffering heavy casualties. Ethnic cleansing re-commenced via the deportation of thousands of Albanian Muslims to Turkey, with dozens simply murdered in multiple incidents in the 1950s. Uprisings occurred in Kosovo among ethnic Albanian students. In 1974, Kosovo was granted autonomy, but not independence.

Further student uprisings occurred in Kosovo in 1981, inspired by the Albanian separatist movements resulting in the imposition of martial law.

In 1989, the watershed year when the Berlin Wall cracked, Slobodan Milosevic revoked Kosovo’s autonomy. 1991 saw the Bosnian war erupt, and Slovenia and Croatia, formally seceding from Yugoslavia, gained instant recognition by the Vatican and the German government. Continuing unrest plagued Kosovo as the “National Movement of the Liberation of Kosovo” sought to assert itself against Serbian rule.

In January of this year, multiple thousands of Albanians protested in the streets of Pristina, capital of Kosovo. Serbian state police and military personnel surrounded and attacked the village of Prekaz. This resulted in the Albanian separatist movement, the KLA, mounting multiple insurgencies. By August, the Serbian police and troops had routed the KLA and closed the escape routes for 230,000 refugees scattered throughout the hills, forests and alpine country en route to the Albanian border. The UN warns that Kosovo teeters on the brink of a massive humanitarian disaster.

Inept Leadership

The American President had promised that his government would not permit a repetition of the Bosnian tragedy. Meanwhile, the British Prime minister declared, “This is Milosevic’s final warning”; Robin Cook, foreign minister for Britain, warned Milosevic that he should take the threats of retribution from the West most seriously. The UN warned Milosevic; Madeleine Albright, U.S. Secretary of State, repeated President Clinton’s warning; NATO rattled its sabers in pitiful war games in Albania; and world leaders and shuttle diplomats talk in huddled meetings of air strikes.

Talk, talk, talk—threats, but no action! The Serbian leader has the world’s greatest powers checkmated!

No one is game to move! World leaders, their advisors and spin doctors all fear the consequences of lighting the touch tape attached to the Balkan powder keg. Why?

The Domino Effect

Richard Holbrooke, shuttle-diplomat who brokered the false peace of the Balkans (the Dayton Accords), summed it up. “If Kosovo goes independent, then Albania will say ‘Well, it [Kosovo] is part of greater Albania.’ Then the Albanians in Macedonia will say, ‘Hey, we want to join greater Albania, we want to get out from under these Macedonians.’ So then all the borders down there will be up for grabs. The Greeks will say, ‘Hey, why should we respect this border? There are 300,000 Greeks living in southern Albania.’ … [Then] Bulgaria might decide to grab off a piece [of Macedonia] since the Bulgarians claim that Bulgarians and Macedonians are indistinguishable in the east” (Intelligence Digest, June 5).

The stalemated Western leaders are in a bind. The German foreign minister, Klaus Kinkel, declared that no military intervention is possible without UN backing, and that this will not happen because of Russian opposition. Meanwhile, the greatest military power of all, the United States, is caught up in a domestic affair which reaches right to the top of its lame-duck presidency. The world fiddles while Kosovo burns.

Just One More War?

Will Kosovo trigger just one more war in the litany of life-taking that has wearied this world in the hot peace that has followed the close of the Cold War? Just one more war—or the trigger that could blow that whole world sky-high? These are the questions on Western leaders’ minds.

Over 100 million people have died in twentieth century warfare. Since the end of World War II, most killing has resulted from tribal, ethnic and religious conflicts.

As John Keegan, British military historian, stated in the TV series War and Civilization, “War can take two paths from this point onwards…it may revert to the pattern of mass warfare that we saw in the first half of the century, in which there will inevitably be a resort to nuclear weapons and the end of civilization. Or it may persist on the track that’s perceptible since the end of the Cold War.”

The former alternative is suicidal. The latter yields little immediate hope, for “In spite of their victories in the Cold War and, more recently, in the Gulf War, the United States and its allies, the states with the greatest interest in peace and the greatest power to preserve it, appear to be faltering in their willingness to pay the price in money and the risk of lives” (Donald Kagan, On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace, p. 572).

The Missing Dimension

Clearly, something is missing in the makeup of humankind. A missing ingredient—a missing dimension. Six thousand years of the documented history of man reveal his inability to live at peace with neighboring nations.

The most recent “success” in ending a war was the conclusion of the Dayton Accords, facilitated between the Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian leaders by U.S. emissary Richard Holbrooke in 1995. Yet, studying Holbrooke’s analysis of events leading to the conclusion of this peace accord, one is struck by the dramatic nature of the mood swings of the Balkan leaders with whom he negotiated. Here were men whose moods could swing most dramatically from red-hot anger to dramatic calmness in a flash. Here were men either unable to exert proper control over their emotions or who were just great deceivers, deliberately and manipulatively using the impression of dramatic mood swings to rattle the opposition and influence outcomes in their own favor. Either way, here were men, leaders of governments, who were missing a vital ingredient to enable them to deal honestly and with true integrity with each other.

It is the same missing ingredient which is absent from the minds of all world leaders and of most of humankind whom they govern. This missing ingredient gives the capability for human minds to gain the missing dimension in their relations with each other—the ability to relate in peace, harmony and unity—doing unto others as we would have them do unto us!

Jesus Christ called this missing ingredient the “Comforter.” He promised it to His disciples. He promised that its possession would lead them into all truth (John 16:7-13). It is only through people who freely possess this most precious of gifts, this “Comforter,” this “spirit of truth,” that true peace is possible.

Little Hope in Humanity

The results of weak and inept human leadership attempting to force self-centered, carnal human will through negotiation in the Balkans are clear for all to see in the Bosnian debacle—250,000 dead, 2 million refugees! To gain what? A threadbare peace which enables a dictator to thumb his nose at the world and pursue his deadly game of ethnic cleansing in ancient, war-weary, strife-torn Kosovo. Richard Holbrooke was able to promise little more than this. At the conclusion to his recent book describing the Dayton process, he declares, “There will be other Bosnias in our lives, different in every detail but similar in one overriding manner: They will originate in distant and ill-understood places, explode with little warning, and present the rest of the world with difficult choices—choices between risky involvement and potentially costly neglect…. Today America and its allies often seem too willing to ignore problems outside their heartland.There will be other Bosnias in our lives” (To End a War, pp. 368-369, emphasis mine).

There is little hope of peace in this statement by one of this world’s top peace negotiators. Yet Holbrooke underlines a powerful truth which explains in some way the unseen dimension that leads the minds of men to war. “The killers were driven by ethnic prejudice rekindled by ultra-nationalists and demagogues. How could adults do such things to their neighbors and former classmates? After a while, the search for explanations failed. One simply had to recognize that there was true evil in the world” (ibid., p. 367).

There is indeed true evil in this world. That evil is centered in a powerful mind, far superior to man, which literally broadcasts evil, murderous, corrupt thoughts into the minds of men, motivating and stimulating the slaughter of millions of human beings in great international conflicts. This truly evil mind deceives the whole world (Rev. 12:9). It is the mind of the mighty fallen archangel, Lucifer (Isa. 14:12). He has the power to destroy the environment, weaken nations, to shake kingdoms loose, to destroy whole cities and imprison multitudes (vv. 16-17). He does it by empowering man with his destructive thoughts, moods and attitudes, broadcast by the power of his own satanic spirit. (For full explanation, request your free copy of Mystery of the Ages.)

Superior Power

Only one superior power exists which can override this negative force of Satan’s spirit—the mind of God! And you can freely possess that power,if you are led to submit to the will of God, and yield to His government over your life (Phil. 2:5). That’s the sole power that will bring peace to this world. That’s the power that will, alone, guarantee no more Bosnias, no more Kosovos—forever! It is possessed by the ultimate leader, the ultimate general, the ultimate governor—Jesus Christ. This world awaits His promised return (John 14:3).

This world needs Christ’s return—and soon! Yet, before He returns to put down all dictators, all other rulers of men (Isa. 9:6-7; I Cor. 15:24-5) and imposes God’s own loving, caring, merciful yet supremely authoritative government of peace on this earth, this world must be made to feel and to recognize the need for the Comforter!

God will shortly permit great tribulation on this earth such as will stop the hearts of men and threaten the existence of all civilization (Luke 21:26 and Matt. 24:21-22). Whether or not it is sparked in Kosovo, it will occur—it is declared by the more sure word of prophecy, guaranteed by the unbreakable word of God.

This God, this beneficent and supreme Father of all mankind, repudiated, blasphemed, ignored, made as it were dead in the minds of weak, professorial, academic, “intellectual” men, will arise with great power to literally impose by His sheer perfect will such a time of punishment on all mankind that will beat man down to the point where he will recognize the only way to peace—submission to the government of Almighty God through obedience to His perfect law.