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Land questions whether Kosovo peace will last with Yugoslav leader in power

WASHINGTON (BP)–The negotiated Yugoslavian peace accord with NATO and the United Nations is potentially an unenforceable deal made with a liar, murderer and “Mafioso”-type thug that may prove unworkable, said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
While Land has repeatedly called for the removal of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic over the past nine years and believes the undeclared war by NATO against Yugoslavia meets the criteria of the Christian “just war” theory, Land said the peace accord announced June 9 makes him “nervous” about Milosevic’s next move.
“Here you have a man, Milosevic, whom the best thing you can possibly say about him is that he is a liar. This guy operates Yugoslavia with his henchmen much like a Mafia don, engaging in horrific crimes against humanity, while at the same time, controlling much of Yugoslavia’s private enterprises,” Land said. NATO’s limited air war has forced Milosevic to come to terms, Land said, only “because he and his cronies, like Serb paramilitary leader Zeljko Raznatovic, also known as Arkan, have by hook or crook taken over many Serb business enterprises and are losing the most in NATO’s continued attacks on Yugoslavia’s infrastructure.”
Land said he agrees with published comments by former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, who was sent to Yugoslavia as a special envoy by President Clinton. Dole and former U.N. Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick have expressed concern that while NATO pursued the undeclared war, the United Nations’ peace accord mentions NATO only once, in a footnote.
“Is this a peace that was hard won by NATO only to be turned over to the U.N.?” Land asked. “This deal is much less attractive than what was originally specified in the Rambouillet proposal and far short of the stated goals of the NATO alliance members as they began this conflict.
“Time will tell, but I wonder if NATO got enough concessions from Yugoslavia to ensure a lasting peace will prevail in Kosovo.”
Like various other observers, Land said he is concerned that once again no exit strategy has been announced or, perhaps, even formulated by NATO, the United Nations or the dominant NATO nations involved to ensure that placement of peacekeeping troops in Kosovo does not become an open-ended, seemingly never-ending commitment similar to that which exists in neighboring Bosnia.
“Just like Saddam Hussein, Milosevic has been left in power to continue to cause trouble and constantly probe for political and military weakness within the U.N. peacekeeping force,” Land said. “Milosevic is able to declare victory of sorts — like Saddam, he has withstood the onslaught of the mighty American eagle. In a very real way, this action has only served to strengthen him in the eyes of some similar thugs in other parts of the world.
“Milosevic is one of the latter half of the 20th century’s worst war criminals,” Land said. “NATO’s resolve to try him for the war crimes he has authorized and committed must continue until he and the thugs with whom he rules are arrested, convicted and incarcerated.” Nonetheless, Land said he will “encourage my U.S. representatives and senators to bear a substantial portion of the rebuilding of Kosovo. But I would not give Serbia a dime until Milosevic is gone and, with him, his political henchmen.”
Milosevic remained firmly in control of his country as the peace accords were taking shape, telling Yugoslavs they had won the war in his first televised address in the 11 weeks since the air war began. Milosevic told his fellow Serbs they had acted “heroically” in defending Yugoslavia against foreign aggression and described the Serb-led Yugoslav Army as “invincible” and “the best army in the world,” according to The Washington Post June 11.
Milosevic boasted that Yugoslavia’s goals were met, citing the fact that the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia has been guaranteed by the United States and the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations and Russia. Yugoslavia also succeeded in blocking attempts by Kosovo’s predominantly ethnic Albanian population to achieve independence.
Serbs were quoted by The Post as saying Yugoslavia had shown the world that a small nation of 10 million could withstand the world’s most powerful military alliance while achieving the goals it sought at the onset of its army’s move into Kosovo allegedly to put down a purported liberation effort by the Kosovo Liberation Army.
Land said Milosevic has achieved much of what he set out to do in Kosovo, despite NATO’s intervention after an extended period of time in which NATO issued only empty threats to take action against the Serbs for Milosevic’s foray into Kosovo. “Kosovo, after all, was 90 percent ethnic Albanian before Milosevic invaded, because, among other reasons, they have Europe’s highest birth rate, while the Serbs have Europe’s lowest. By his brutal ethnic cleansing, Milosevic has gone a long way toward reversing that,” Land said.
Land said Americans must not be satisfied with the undeclared war’s outcome until Milosevic and his cronies are held accountable for the construction and use of the first concentration camps built on the European continent and the first use of railroad boxcars to transport people victimized by a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign since Adolph Hitler used the same tactics in World War II.
“Milosevic and his gang are murderers, war criminals, rapists, thugs and he himself is a third-rate tin-pot Hitler,” Land said. “There will be no real chance for a meaningful resolution of this conflict until and unless they are held accountable and tried for their crimes. As Christians we should pray for God’s help in holding them responsible and for the safety and security of the Kosovo citizens who want to return home. We should also pray for the Serbs, that they cast off their murderous leadership, turn them over for trial and vow to never again engage in such barbaric actions against others.”

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  • Daniel Walker Guido