War or peace in Kosovo?

Peacemaking is not easy, especially when war continues. Negotiating a peace is even more difficult when there is no real desire for peace among the combatants. That appears to have been the situation between the Serbs and the Albanian Kosovars as they ended their talks in Rambouillet, France on February 23. Does this mean the effort to make peace is the work of fools? Madeleine Albright and her French and British counterparts worked hard with a team of European and American diplomats to bring the bloodshed in Kosovo to an end. If their strenuous efforts now appear hapless, it is not they who have acted foolishly.

For several years, the Serbs, who claim Kosovo as their ancestral home, refused to return autonomy to the province whose dominant population is ethnic Albanian. The Yugoslav army has conducted a kind of low-intensity warfare against a population that initially adopted various forms of passive resistance. Under the political leadership of Ibrahim Rugova, the Albanians set to work, in the manner of other Eastern European liberation movements, creating political, educational, and cultural institutions parallel to those imposed by the Serbs in Belgrade. Over the past decade, this pacifist strategy worked well enough in creating a civic culture, but it did not win political autonomy for the province. A year ago, a fighting force, the Kosovian Liberation Army (KLA), appeared on the scene. It rejected Rugova...

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