[The New Military Humanism: Lessons from Kosovo]

Article excerpt

Vancouver: New Star, 1999, 199pp, $18.00 (ISBN 0-921586-74-4)

Honourable and well-informed people disagree about NATO's war over Kosovo. Was it justified? Was there an alternative? Was it in accordance with international law, given that the authority of the United Nations Security Council was neither sought nor given? Did it achieve those high purposes that NATO spokespersons claimed for it?

World public opinion, if there is such a thing, was outraged at the suppression of Kosovo Albanians by Serbia, simply for resisting Serbian rule. In fact, Kosovo secessionists had been carrying on a relatively low-level insurgency, killing police or postal workers in the employ of the hated Serbian administration. There were 'no go' areas in Kosovo for Serbs. It was, perhaps, not surprising that the Serb/Yugoslav authorities should have decided to hit back, whatever one might think of their tactics.

The Kosovo Albanian insurgency was sparked by the elimination of Kosovo's autonomous status in 1989 by the new leader of Serbia, Slobodan Milo[Symbol Not Transcribed]sevi[Symbol Not Transcribed]. But it is worth noting that Kosovo Albanian nationalists had never been satisfied with the almost total autonomy Kosovo had enjoyed. They wanted more. They wanted full status for Kosovo and the dignity of a republic within the former Yugoslavia, equal to Serbia and the other republics. They wanted Albanians in Yugoslavia to be a constituent 'nation,' not merely a 'nationality' or national minority. What they really wanted, said the Serbs, was to secede from Yugoslavia altogether and become part of a 'Greater Albania.' Some undoubtedly did - and still do - despite the destablizing consequences for the region as a whole. Self-determination uber alles is not a peaceable doctrine.

Serbian tactics against Kosovo Albanian insurgents came to be seen as so offensive (even if they hadn't changed much since 1919), and NATO had so often threatened to take action, that pressure was mounting for the international community finally to do something. …