Global Politics

Interview with James Rubin

(Tell us for the US what an independent Kosovo means?) This is unfinished business from the Cold War that is being finished and with their independence, the last Balkan War which was so tragic has now come to an end. (This piece of tape is you speaking before the NATO air strikes a decade ago [clip]. That was from 1998. months after you condemned the terrorist actions by the Kosovo Liberation Army, the US entered talks with the KLA. Bring us back to those talks.) About nine years ago I did find myself negotiating with their rebel commanders of the KLA and they were a mix of good and not good people and I think there was discomfort in our own government about how this was going to turn out. We're pleased to support Kosovo's independence because the leaders of that movement have evolved in a dramatically positive action from terrorist rebels to responsible members of the international community and that evolution was a risk at the time. But the KLA has evolved with the support of the West and of the US. (How much can the US forgive in terms of actions that are still being done because only 10% of the population of Kosovo is made up of Serbs who are afraid of going outside. Thousands have left and ethnic cleansing continues for them). I think scale does matter, and those abuses should be condemned. But this is a miniscule amount compared to the full scale nationwide ethnic cleansing from a decade ago. The ethnic Albanian majority is pledging to resolve these problems but we need to distinguish between Slobodan Milosevic's campaign of mass murder and the difficult situation the minority Serbs find themselves in today. (So the lesson is once again is there aren't total good and total bad guys. Is your reaction then tempered a bit knowing this is imperfect?) Well the world is imperfect. We have to not make the perfect enemy. Democratic nations came out of Milosevic's defeat and by and large Europe is whole and free and democratic. Another important lesson from Kosovo is that the US led the world and NATO on a moral principal and a principal on behalf of Muslims in Europe. And it's a shame that that reality on behalf of Muslims is not better understood in the Muslim World and could perhaps foster a greater understanding between Muslims around the world and the US.