The roots of this crisis are astonishingly complex, ancient and bloody.
. . .In 1389, Serbian armies fought — virtually to the death — while losing the Battle of Kosovo, but managed to stop the Ottoman Empire from reaching into Europe. The Kosovo Plain became holy ground.
Leap ahead to World War II, when Nazi Germany tried to use Albanian Muslims and Catholic Croats to crush the Serbs. Then Communists — such as Milosevic — took over. In the mid-1990s, the United States all but encouraged Croat efforts to purge Serbs from Krajina, where they had lived for 500 years. The West has been silent as Turkey expelled waves of Eastern Orthodox Christians.
Since morphing from Communist to nationalist, Milosevic has skillfully used Serbia’s array of fears, hatreds and resentments to justify terror in Kosovo and elsewhere by his paramilitary and police units. The Serbian strongman knows that Kosovo contains 1,300 churches and monasteries, many of them irreplaceable historic sites.
Retired New York Times editor A.M. Rosenthal, who once won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting in Eastern Europe, put it this way: “I do not get emotional about the history of Kosovo. I am not a Serb. Serbs do.
. . .Serbs are as likely to give up Kosovo willingly because the Albanians want it as Israelis are to give up Jerusalem because the Arabs want it.”
Um… Hurrah? Not really. Ethnic nationalism, especially when it includes religion (in this case, Muslims destroying Orthodox Churches), is just plain ugly. I watched Hotel Rwanda last night (dvfmama called it “Another Schindler’s List” which seems about right to me) and the amount of hatred that people can incite towards their fellow man over the most minor differences is astonishing. Serbia is not immune. The word balkanize came from that region of the world for a very good reason. A hundred and fifty churches in the area have already been destroyed. Church services are conducted under the watch of armed guards. Milosevic aggravated the problems by empowering the (traditionally Orthodox) Serbians encouraging violence against the (traditionally Muslim) Kosovars. It isn’t a simple thing. Kosovo’s independence will not solve the problems. Update: Here is a pretty good summary of the history of Kosovo and Serbia: