“In Serb-dominated northern Kosovo, demonstrators waved Serbian flags and chanted “Kosovo is ours!” Police tried to keep protesters off the Kosovska Mitrovica bridge over the Ibar River. The bridge, which divides Kosovo Serbs from ethnic Albanians, has long been a flashpoint of tensions in Kosovo’s restive north
Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian leaders declared independence from Serbia on Sunday. The province, which is 90 percent ethnic Albanian, has not been under Serbia’s control since 1999, when NATO launched airstrikes to halt a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists. A U.N. mission has governed Kosovo since.
Serbian police said one person died and more than 150 people were injured in unrest Thursday, which erupted after a state-sponsored rally. Nearly 200 people were arrested and 90 shops ransacked, police said in a statement.
On Thursday, nearly 200,000 demonstrated in downtown Belgrade against Kosovo independence. Rioters stormed the U.S. Embassy and set fire to offices and police guardhouses on the sidewalk in front of the building. The nearby Croatian embassy was also attacked, and a residential building next door was damaged by fire.
Dr Christine Helms (oft quoted here)was right in observing that the collective memory of a people is like a storehouse of power, a tool shed in which are kept the instruments of struggle, the weaponry stored up for use in expressing group will.
In the collective memory and mind of the Serbian people they are a besieged Christian Orthodox people beset with enemies; Muslim Bozniaks, Catholic Croats, Albanians of all kinds. In their minds Serbia is eternal and Kosovo IS Serbia. Kosovo is where Serbia began. It is the heart of their national mythos. The issue of the numerical preponderance of the Albanian “trespasser” means nothing to the Serbs. In much the same way, the city of San Antonio IS Texas for most Texans because the Alamo is there.
David Habakkuk wrote here recently that the continuing failure of the “Borgian Collective” that is the Bush Administration lies in its inability to accept the limits of American power. I agree but would add that an often wilful refusal to understand or accept the “tribal” nature of the self image of many peoples is a reinforcing failure of the “Borg.” This is clearly among the major factors in this ineptly managed and unnecesary new crisis in the Balkans. We caused this by ignoring and deprecating what the Serbs hold most dear in their souls. Now people will die for our arrogant meddling.
It is an open question whether or not the neocon jacobin Borg is uniquely unqualified to deal with questions of tribal identity and dreams or if we Americans are generally so afflicted. Texans are, I think, better at this than most of us, but at the same time display the indifference to other tribes that is a penalty paid in compensation for the gift. One might suggest other “minorities” in America that still understand tribal identity and values.
In the main, most Americans have been de-racinated to such an extent that the “obscure” loyalties of far away peoples are simply incomprehensible. As a corollary, those among us in government who do understand such things are often regarded with distrust, and are thought to be “unsound.”
This is a problem . pl