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June 27, 2008

Michael Totten: Kosovo is Not an Islamist Beachhead

Earlier this year, during the events surrounding Kosovo's declaration of independence, I wrote that we should recognize the newly independent country and that I was pleased when President Bush did so. Whatever the circumstances of our U.N. or NATO commitment, the power to recognize foreign sovereigns is securely within the president's authority and was appropriately used in this situation. I wrote:

My default position when it comes to things like this is to support democratic freedom movements. You're going to have to overcome that presumption in order to convince me that Kosovo's independence is a bad thing. You're going to have to go a step further than that to persuade me that we should actively discourage Kosovo's independence.

At the time, several commenters cautioned that Kosovo would be another majority Muslim nation and that it would therefore be a source of trouble for us and especially for Europe because Muslim countries have tended to radicalize in the last few decades. I disagreed, saying:

I think it is a mistake to view Kosovo's independence through our Clash of Civilizations Glasses. It is majority Islamic, but these people are Muslims like the British are Anglican. They're not regular mosque-goers and the salat is not generally followed, much less the hajj. (For example, the rioters yesterday were largely drunk, a big no-no in Islam.) There is no movement to create a sharia court system. Yes, yes, the last time I wrote that, I was told, "Not yet." The possibility that Kosovo may one day get cozy with Wahhabism doesn't, in my mind, justify supporting the subjugation of these people by a different religious and ethnic group--especially not one that hasn't had actual control of the region for close to 10 years. If they want their own country, good for them.

I've got to confess to feeling some indecent pleasure that Michael Totten writes substantially the same thing in next month's Standpoint Magazine. He's a hell of a lot more credible than me. Here are the first and final paragraphs:

On February 17, 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. Some are concerned about what NATO, the United Nations, and the European Union have nurtured there since the military and humanitarian intervention in 1999. James Jatras, a U.S.-based advocate for the Serbian Orthodox Community, put it bluntly last year when he said Kosovo was a “a beachhead into the rest of Europe” for “radical Muslims” and “terrorist elements.” It’s an assertion without evidence. “We’ve been here for so long,” said United States Army Sergeant Zachary Gore in Eastern Kosovo, “and not seen any evidence of it, that we’ve reached the assumption that it is not a viable threat.”


The danger in Kosovo isn’t that international peace keepers are nurturing a jihad state. Rather, a premature withdrawal may lead to a resumption of the fighting between Serbs and Albanians that they moved in to stop in the first place.

As the man says, go read the whole thing.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 01:22 PM

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