Jewish World Review May 7, 1999 /21 Iyar, 5759
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Another 20,000 Albanians were forced out of the southern city of Prizren just this weekend, to seek refuge in the wilds or try to make their way to Albania or Macedonia. At least the women and children seek refuge. The men would flee, too, if they could escape the execution squads. The stories are familiar by now, the pattern as well established as the Nazis' Einsatzgruppen:
"They crowded all the men together in a big open field. They put them into groups of about 15 and lined them up. The commander told the soldiers to open fire, and the soldier killed them in small groups. Each soldier killed a small group with a machine gun.'' -- Isa Thaci, who witnessed the massacre of 151 men at Izbica.
Who commits these atrocities -- Serbian troops or just free-lancers, the kind of ordinary folks from back home depicted in the book "Hitler's Willing Executioners''? And does it matter much whether the killers are in uniform or not? They're all equally brave when they have to deal only with the unarmed and defenseless.
The spirit of the Serbian enterprise in Kosovo was summed up decades ago: "The soldier in the Eastern Territories is not merely a fighter according to the rules of the art of war but also the bearer of a ruthless national ideology ... therefore the soldier must have an understanding of the necessity of a severe but just revenge on sub-human Jewry.'' -- Order of the Day, October 19, 1941, signed by Field Marshal Walter von Reichenau.
"We gave most of them 24 hours to get out. The rich ones -- and they're all criminals, you know, with satellite TV and big houses -- were tougher to move. But if you push hard enough, they'll all go in the end. They're cowards, those Albanians; they run like rabbits. ...'' At one point, his daughter popped up: "Albanian women smell bad because they eat a lot of lamb fat and you can smell it on their skin.'' Dad himself offered the most familiar line of all by now: "I had to follow my orders. ...'' Befehl ist befehl. Orders are orders.
This time it's the Albanians who are the untermenschen, the sub-humans who are to be cleaned out, the way Europe was once to be made Judenrein. But this time, the West cannot claim it doesn't know what's happening. The eyewitnesses are talking, the television cameras are recording, and the war crimes trial should be convened -- now. Diplomatic feelers? The West need have only one message for Slobodan Milosevic and his accomplices: You're under arrest.
It needs to be made clear that, by this war's end, not a single Serbian soldier, irregular, freebooter or marauder will remain in Kosovo. Instead, the Allies still wage a peculiar halfway war, which may produce only halfway results, and not even halfway justice.
Only slowly, agonizingly slowly, does it become clear to this president that the target list of Allied bombers should be expanded, and the whole might of the Western alliance brought to bear against the enemy -- on land, sea and air. Only now is NATO turning off the lights in Belgrade.
Within 24 hours after the first air raids of the Gulf War, the lights were out in Baghdad. Within 48 hours, there was no more Iraqi television. Within a week, the telephones were out, too. But life in Belgrade now goes on almost normally after a month of spotty bombing. The presidential palace still stands, the telephones still work, and the capital of a regime that has caused so much pain and suffering for others this past decade -- in Bosnia, now in Kosovo, next in Montenegro or Macedonia -- remains largely unscathed.
The command-and-control centers of Serbian society remain a privileged sanctuary, and therefore capable of continuing this war. What does Slobodan Milosevic care how many empty barracks and office buildings are destroyed so long as he remains in absolute control of an emptied Kosovo? The war has actually given him the excuse he sought to hunt down his opposition at home, for not just Albanians are being executed. A particularly troublesome editor has been assassinated, and other dissidents are jailed as the bombs fall. The leader of the Serbian opposition has been dismissed and may soon be silenced.
For too long, dangerously long, the world has underestimated Slobodan Milosevic's brutality. This massive pogrom in Kosovo, complete with executions and "resettlement,'' had to be well planned. All it needed was the signal from Belgrade. And it is still proceeding.
There hasn't been anything like this on the European continent since the Second World War,
since the Holocaust. But even now, the West tries to find some way around this evil --
instead of confronting it. Not until this war is fought as a war will Comrade Milosevic have a
meaningful incentive to release his grip on Kosovo. Speeches are fine, but they cannot
substitute for deeds. Because in war there is no substitute for
05/03/99: A Tale of two colonels