The “big” news yesterday was President George W. Bush authorized a supply of weapons to Kosovo. Almost like clockwork, Serbianna.com and others began characterizing the U.S. supply of weapons to Kosovo as either a) a provactive escalation of a proxy arms race between the U.S. and Russia, leading to “one-upmanship” which leads to Cold War, b) an arming of jihadist terrorists making up the “narco-state” of Kosovo, a country which is the root of all drug trafficking, organized crime, and human trafficking on the planet, bent on destroying everything Christian and Jewish or c) a combination of both. As with most things, I think we have to look past the headlines and the knee-jerk reaction conclusion and to assess the facts as they truly exist.
You may be wondering why I used quotes for “Kosovo” in the headline. Well, if you just read the headlines, one may think that the weapons are going to the Kosovo government or the Kosovo military (or, if you Serbianna is on your “favorites” list, then to jihadist terrorists/criminals). But there is no Kosovo military. Of course, there is KFOR, which is a multi-national military force that protects Kosovo under the NATO Umbrella. KFOR has the sole responsibility for the protection of Kosovo.
To be sure, as some may point out, there is a 5000 strong Kosovo Protection Corps (TMK). What do they do? They do what most protection corps do in other parts of the world: provide disaster response, humanitarian assistance, etc. More importantly, what do they not do? They have absolutely no authorized role, under either UN Security Council Resolution 1244 or the Ahtisaari Plan, in either Kosovo’s defense, law enforcement, riot control, internal security or any other law and order task. Kosovo will have, under the Ahtisaari Plan, a lightly-armed NATO supervised/controlled security force. And, finally, under UN SCR 1244 and Ahtisaari Plan, there is the Kosovo Police Service, which is about a 7,000 member strong police force, which critically is subordinate to the UNMIK Police.
Under the circumstances, while it appears that the weapons are going to “Kosovo,” they are really going to the international forces which ultimately have supreme control and power over Kosovo despite its declaration of independence on February 17, 2008. In two words, this legal mumbo jumbo is called: “supervised independence”. So, when you read Serbianna, please do not get the mistaken impression that nuclear weapons or stinger missiles are going to be handed out free to anyone in front of the Grand Hotel in Pristina at 12:30 p.m. this Friday.
But there are several questions that we still need answers to. For instance, how many weapons are being sent to Kosovo and what kind of weapons are being sent? Is it just “light weapons” like firearms or is it “heavy weapons,” such as missiles? What measures are in place to ensure that the weapons do not get in the wrong hands? Regardless of the answer, it would be interesting to see which defense firm or firms are getting this “Kosovo” contract — either because the defense firms could disperse these weapons at a loss and thus receive major tax benefits or disperse the weapons at an overinflated price to either conceal total losses or rake in major profit. Indeed, that is a different inquiry altogether.
Further, one must ask why President George W. Bush remained rather opaque in his statement about the weapons delivery. Sure, his advisers or the State Department will likely cite security concerns, but the President could have certainly said a little more than: “I hereby find that the furnishing of defense articles and defense services to Kosovo will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace.” What the hell kind of statement is that? It sounds like a draft of a washing machine contract or a manifesto for the imaginary Country Island of Galacktigar that President Bush was too lazy to transform into a readable speech. Perhaps he spent so much time on his “War Speech” yesterday that he forgot about this one.
President Bush left too many questions that will undoubtedly leave those like Russia and Serbia vexed. Of course, regardless of whether these two countries will always be vexed at the hip by U.S. policy, President Bush could have added more facts or assurances (hah, yes, these are different) about the nature of the weapons, who they were going to, and that the U.S. was not intending to start a proxy arms race. But by leaving these issues completely unaddressed, countries like Russia and Serbia are certainly justified to think the worst.
As history has taught us, Cold Wars can start on faulty assumptions and quickly cascade into an arms race. The idiot from NSA who probably drafted President Bush’s “speech,” should spend a little more time crafting better words for the President instead of trying to find justifications for the Iraq War.