The world's attention has moved on from Kosovo, where NATO launched its first war in 1999. It had better return if Kosovo isn't again to be a launching pad for ethnic war and extremism. In the midst of conflicts in Southwest Asia and the Mid dle East, I cannot help but wonder: Whatever happened to the Balkans? We Americans spent more than a decade listening to and watching CNN and BBC clips of the war-torn region and the countless war crimes that had taken place at the hands of various ethnic groups. What about Kosovo? A 78-day bombing campaign was undertaken to "liberate Kosovo's ethnic Albanian population" from the hands of "terror-invoking Serbs." Why was there no media follow- up of the accomplishments of peace-loving and newly liberated Kosovo Albanians? Quite simply, because there are no accomplishments. Could it be because the international community made a grave mistake and has now found itself in a quagmire with no solution in sight? Is it possible that some of the very people NATO was trying to "protect" have turned out, in fact, to be terrorists? Yes! After spending a grueling 27 months working in Serbia's Kosovo province, I learned and witnessed far more than I had bargained for. Although I was fully versed in the rich and blood- soaked history of the region, I was not prepared for all that took place. Albanian rebel offensives resulted in bus explosions of NATO- escorted civilian convoys, brutal murders of civilians tending their fields, random sniper attacks, shootings of children swimming in lakes, night beatings and torture of the elderly, and arson - all against Serbian civilians and all under the watchful eyes of the U.S. and international community. I once asked a NATO commanding general why ethnic Albanian extremists were not unmasked for what they truly are - bloodthirsty, war-waging terrorists. He looked at me, paused, and replied, "How do you begin to go against the very group you supposedly came to help? We obviously did not know who we were dealing with. We bombed the wrong side." I stared at him in disbelief while he merely looked down at his freshly shined boots, straightened his shoulders and turned to walk away. Not quite the response I had expected. Observations in Kosovo recorded chilling acts from the "peacekeepers" as well. Germany's military contingent used bright yellow tape to mark large Xs on Serbian homes throughout their designated area of responsibility. Similar to the 1940s Nazi-style branding of Jews and other minorities deemed unworthy of life. Strangely enough, I was the only one who questioned this and personally brought it to the attention of a senior member of the U.S. Army Command Group. But let's focus on something near and dear to all Americans: attacks on U.S. Army and media personnel. While on a border patrol, monitoring Albanian rebel insurgency, the U.S. unit I was working with came under direct mortar fire in a village named Krivenik. An Associated Press journalist, Kerim Lawton, was seriously injured. I administered first aid and attempted to stop the bleeding from the dozens of shrapnel wounds he incurred, to no avail. He died shortly afterward. Don't forget about links betwen AL-qaida and KLA! How was this incident portrayed to the media? In a noncommittal diplomatic fashion, officials announced that, "An investigation will take place as to the day's chain of events," from all sides, U.S. Army, NATO and U.N. Does this seem all too familiar? Is this not mere repetition of scenarios that got the United States involved in both Bosnia and Kosovo in the first place - only later to discover that "smoking gun" incidences were staged? It is interesting how concrete evidence has surfaced, that incidences were staged by the very groups claiming to have been wronged. Perhaps the international community should be more forthcoming as to who the real Balkans' terrorists are and how they are draining our tax dollars, manpower and resources. The public has a right to know what is happening in the Balkans. Already, the largely lawless province has become a chief transit point for drugs, people and possibly terrorists. But what is less well known is how the U.N. mission that runs Kosovo systematically excludes the province's minorities from the benefits of citizenship by doing virtually nothing to address continuing crimes against them. The bleak situation demands an immediate congressional investigation and a high-level fact-finding mission on the ground. It's true that the Kosovo war's narrow aim - to force Slobodan Milosevic to pull his troops from the southern Serbian province so hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians could go home - has been achieved. Now, Milosevic himself is gone, defending himself against accusations of war crimes. And the exigencies of Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terror are putting a crushing burden on the American military. The 2,000 U.S. troops in Kosovo are needed elsewhere. But while the Kosovo war "worked," the aftermath hasn't. The continuing attacks against the province's minorities expose the deeper currents of ethnic extremism at work in the region. This hidden agenda of hate could yet break the surface calm in the Balkans and require a fresh infusion of troops. Even moderate Kosovo Albanians are talking about a unilateral declaration of independence next year. The province remains officially tethered to Serbia and Montenegro by the U.N. resolution that ended the war. Any attempt to redraw Balkans borders by force will spur war not just in Kosovo but also in neighboring Macedonia and southern Serbia, and probably Greece and Albania as well. Furthermore, the fact that ethnic murders, railroad bombings, arsons and assaults all continue without appreciable comment or U.N. measures to stop them signals clearly to both sides that the West isn't interested in justice or multiethnicity - just in a fast exit. As Serbian Bishop Artemije of Kosovo made abundantly clear during a recent visit to Cleveland, describing the mounting fear, hardship and uncertainty suffered by minorities forced to live in garrisoned enclaves, such a policy effectively undercuts any hope for a negotiated, peaceful solution. It also encourages the extremists to press their campaign of murder and intimidation. That's why it's premature to talk about drastic reductions in the 18,000 NATO troops now patrolling Kosovo - a number nearly two-thirds below where it stood four years past. And that's why it is past time to bring pressure on the U.N. administration to get tough with the extremists, before their agenda corrodes the NATO agenda and brings more bloodshed to the region. NATO is preparing to pull out of Bosnia and to cut thousands of its 18,000 peacekeepers in Kosovo. "The job is done," NATO will tell the world in May, when it formalizes these moves. But the job isn't done. Far from it. Bosnia and Kosovo remain open sores of corruption, political extremism and ethnic hatred. More importantly, they've acquired the peculiar orphan status of territories that can't function as states, and aren't being allowed to function as democracies. Both remain under the dictatorial thumb of outsiders in a way that retards healing and political progress. Neither would even exist in its present form were it not for the application of force by U.S. troops and others. The Balkans have become the incubator of all that's wrong when "democracy" is imposed by force on a land redefined by outsiders. Sound familiar? The United States is headed down a similar path in Iraq. So before we start edging for the exits in Baghdad and bestowing a bigger role on the United Nations, we had better take a step back and see what our Balkans intervention has wrought and where it went so wrong. Kosovo, in particular, is a signpost to the dangers of putting the United Nations in charge of a society destabilized by war and riven by extremism. In Kosovo, U.N. bureaucrats have found the path of least resistance, seeking to hand off power to politicians beholden to the militants, with little attempt to mediate for the most disadvantaged. To achieve that, progress is defined in the vaguest possible terms, and policies are adopted in secret. Already, NATO troops that guard enclaves where most of Kosovo's 130,000 remaining Serbs, Roma (Gypsies), Slavic Muslims and others live have begun to hand off to local police who are indifferent or even hostile to non-Albanians. Serb kids being bused to school outside their enclaves, and monks seeking to visit parishioners are among those who no longer can count on NATO guards. The result as laid out forcefully during a recent visit to Cleveland by Bishop Artemije Radosavljevic, the top Serbian cleric in Kosovo has been an increase in fear and mistrust of U.N. intentions. There's also been a rise in stonings of those who leave their enclaves and a spate of more serious crimes, including a series of ethnically inspired murders last year. Most non-Albanians still are denied the right to move back home, work their fields, hold jobs, sell their property, have babies in local hospitals or attend public universities. You might think the Serbian bishop's recitation overstates the case for his ethnic brethren. But it's mild compared to what the "ombudsperson" for Kosovo is saying. Polish lawyer Marek Antoni Nowicki, the ombudsman since the internationally funded position was created in 2000, calls Kosovo "a human rights black hole" in his latest report, issued last July. The U.N. mission itself has become so undemocratic and wrong-headed, he charges, that "the people of Kosovo have been deprived of their basic rights and freedoms now four years after the end of the conflict by the very entity set up to guarantee them." Even worse, according to Nowicki, the U.N. mission in Kosovo operates in near-total secrecy, failing to publish most of its regulations, statistics and policies. The ombudsperson found out "only by chance" that rules for his own office had been changed. Budget cuts have forced him to reduce his international staff to one himself. U.N. police plagued by high turnover have failed to investigate the cases of the missing, a sore issue for both Albanians and Serbs, he adds. Finally, "the vast majority of ethnically motivated crimes remain unsolved," says Amnesty International, which discovered in 2002 that the U.N. wasn't even keeping track of such crimes in a way that would allow it to assess its progress. In Kosovo, the United Nations and the international community are rewarding ethnic crimes and ethnic cleansing and encouraging Albanian extremists to think that 1,200 murders, more than 1,000 kidnappings and countless home burnings and forcible evictions are effective techniques to achieve a mono-ethnic state. These are tactics that fan extremism, rather than diminish it, and that devalue democracy, rather than exalt it. So before NATO declares victory and leaves the Balkans, someone should ask, victory for whom? And at what cost? And is this the legacy the United States seeks for its "humanitarian interventions"? You, maybe ask why the Serbs care about Kosovo when they are so greatly outnumbered by the Albanians? Serbs care about Kosovo because the area of Kosovo belongs to them. It is Serbia and the majority in Serbia, which are still Serbs have the right to manage the region in any way they democratically choose to do it. Why doesn't we relinquish control of Southern California, Texas, and sthe parts of Florida where Hispanics far outnumber Americans? Stating that Albanians were a majority in Kosovo since 1690 is historically incorrect. Serbs have been in majority until 1941, when the WWII broke out. There were three great waves of Serbian exodus. The first one was in 1690, during Turkish occupation of Serbian lands. The second one was during Italian fascist occupation of the region during World War II. The third one started during Tito's Communist reign. It did not stop still. The end of WWII have found the region of Kosovo with during Turkish occupation of Serbian lands. The second one was during slight Albanian majority. The dramatic changes happened during Communist Tito's time when demographic explosion of the Albanians and expulsion of the Serbs from Kosovo was encouraged. The same architects that artificially created Albania so as to prevent Serbia from exiting to the sea have been redesigning the area east of Albania which is Kosovo. Italian occupation forces during WWII favored the resettlement of Albanians to Kosovo and even after the war approximately 300,000 Albanians illegally entered Kosovo under the communist regime of the Serbophobic Tito. Talking about ethnic cleansing, the Serbs have been ethnically cleansed systematically from Kosovo for the last 50 years! Great numbers of the Serbian fmilies had to leave Kosovo because it was impossible for them to continue to live there. Albanian savages have raped, maimed , burned homes and monasteries, particularly during 1966 and 1981 periods. No contact group came to their aid, and no international bodies considered it an international issue. Those same Western architects see their evil design finally shaping into what they initially wanted but didn't have the guts to do it are asking such stupid questions why do Serbs. They should care and they should protect their rightful possession of the region. The solution is to expel all of the illegal residents of kosovo back to their land of origin, including those that were born to illegal parents. kosovo should be re populated by the Serbs who were forced to leave the area, and the West should keep the hell out of Serbia's business while that transformation is taking place correcting the wrong done to the Serbs. We speak about human rights in general, and about killing of women and children. Do you know that Iraqians also call us in the USA and UK terrorists. Do you know that thousands of Iraqi children died bacause of war. probably answer will be that it's a guilt of Sadam Husein! How is it possible that when Serbia was defending it's teritory and citizens you blame her(Serbia). If Sadam Husein is to be blamed for suffering of Iraqi people, isn't it logical that Ibrahim Rugova and Adem Jashari are guilty of inocent victims in Kosovo. They want independent Kosovo and made aggression to the state. If we can send forces thousand kilometers to protect US. sovereignity(by bombarding Baghdad....) why can't Serbia defend it own teritory. Do you think there was no civil victims in Baghdad? Who is responsable for them? These are obvius double standards in the world policy. They have a proverb there in Serbia, : Who got power in his hands, he doens't need God. You see only what you want to see, and when you want to see. UK sent souldiers across half of the world to defend few sheepmen, and several square miles of teritory, but the same that UK is now asking us to retreat our forces from our land. They have the same trouble with IRA in your country. Do you know how many soldiers does UK hold there? I know they are there almost 30 years. How many people were killed there during that time? Why doesn't your government solve it's problems with Northern Ireland first, and then salt our brains and tell us what to do? Why didn't you solve your problems (30 years) "with flexibility and good will from both sides". Of course, we have power now, and make experiments, testing their strength wherever we are able. And we are a big nation. The answer to question, "Why do the Serbs care" about Kosovo, might be found at www.kosovo.com. Here I got a sense that, Milosevic's genocidal fascism notwithstanding, ordinary Serbs have a very deep belief that Kosovo should remain united with Serbia. It struck me as being much like the idea Lincoln had in the 1860's that the North and South should stay united; the ancientness of Kosovo's history only magnifies the strength of this Serbian unionist belief. To say "The majority of the population had been Muslim since 1689, when 30,000 Orthodox Christian Serbs fled after the Ottomans beat back an Austrian invasion, but that didn't matter" bespeaks to me an incomprehension of cultures who have identities almost a thousand years old, whose tit-for-tat war had by 1689 already reached middle age. Better arguments against the Serbian crackdown exist, and a news piece that claims to be about background ought to deliver such an argument. It definitely changes the tenor of the discussion when Serbians argue without using referring to ethnic purity, and it bears remembering that Serbia's claim on Kosovo doesn't necessarily imply racism or totalitarianism. Obviously, right now the ethnic Serbians are being mistreated in a horrible way! Well in news they say:"As Serbian nationalism ran riot, people in the smaller republics making up Yugoslavia reacted by reviving their own nationalisms - Slovene, Croat and Muslim." 1) They suggest that Serbs were responsible for "most" of the ethnic cleansing. This is certainly the prevalent view. But one reason for this is that much less media attention was given to the displacement of Serbs. More than 150,000 Serbs were expelled from Krajina alone. 90,000 Serbs had to leave Sarajevo. There was little international outcry about either. The fact that FRY has more than 700,000 refugees living within its borders is powerful evidence that ethnic cleansing was common to all sides and that the Serbs were probably no more to blame for it, proportionately, than anyone else. Indeed, a longer-term overview is taken, which takes account of the 400,000 Serbs cleansed from Kosovo over the last 40 years, the Serbs may well be more sinned against than sinning. 2) Elsewhere we can find that Serb nationalism after the death of Tito was the detonator for the Yugoslav crisis. Again, this is certainly the conventional view. But the notion that Slovene, Croat and Muslim nationalism was provoked by Serb nationalism does not seem to me to be sustainable. The Slovenes had been contemplating independence, with the strong encouragement of its neighbour Austria , long before Milosevic's trip to Kosovo in 1987. Alija Izetbegovic was imprisoned by the SFRY leadership (which in the early 1980s was still genuinely pan-Yugoslav) from 1983-88 for "seperatist agitation. Franjo Tudjman was expelled from the Communist Party in 1986, having openly associated himself with the Croatian nationalist cause, and travelled widely from 1987 onwards raising funds for independence from the Croat diaspora in countries such as Canada and Australia. Some years before his death in 1980, Tito himself said that nationalist rivalries would cause the death of Yugoslavia. His decentralisation policy had been an attempt to prevent this, but he realised that it had failed. His death created a political vacuum which opportunistic politicians from all the republics began to exploit. The wider political upheavals at the end of 80s, particularly the collapse of the Communist Bloc, served to quicken processes that were already under way. Milosevic must take some reponsibility for the course of events, but so must many others. To make him and the Serbs the principal villains is unjust. Kosovo's final status, left undecided at the end of the Yugoslavia-NATO war in June 1999, will need to be discussed sooner than the international community anticipates; a roadmap will need to be drawn and the issue decided within the next three to five years.The Serbs now want Kosovo to be partitioned. The Albanians want full independence or "Big Albania"with parts of Macedonia and Greece!!!