Kosovo and the Failure of the Left

Imagine coming across the following description of recent events in a certain place. In this account, the revolt of an oppressed people against its overlords is called a “civil war.” The armed insurgents are “terrorists” and “pawns of foreign governments.” The government of this country may have acted brutally, but it is fighting guerillas who do not accept its rule, so what do you expect? State Department propaganda, justifying US support for a repressive regime? No, this is the language and tone of the US left’s stance towards the Kosovar Albanians’ revolt against their Serbian rulers. With few exceptions, the left has failed to recognize the scale of Serbian oppression in Kosovo and the legitimacy of the Albanians’ struggle for independence. Instead, by referring to the crisis as a “civil war,” it has implicitly accepted Serbia’s claim that Kosovo belongs to Serbia. By characterizing the KLA’s attacks on Serb policemen and other representatives of the Serbian government as provocations, the left has accepted the Serbs’ justification for their barbaric attacks on Albanian villages. (See Eric Lormand, “Additional Considerations,” Agenda, May/ June 1999, p. 18. Also see the Kosovo pages at the Z Maga- zine website, http://www.zmag.org, for several examples of this.) In this article I do not address directly the issue of the US/NATO bombing campaign that ended a few weeks ago. (See Tom O’Donnell, “On the Left’s Confusion Over US/ NATO Intervention in Kosovo,” Agenda, May/June 1999, pp. 14-15, or online at http://www-personal.umich.edu/ ~twod/politics/kosovo, for a thorough response to various left objections to the bombing.) Rather, I focus on the lack of awareness demonstrated by the left, by and large, to the extent of Serbian persecution of the Kosovar Albanians.
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