Monday, July 31, 2006

Exception to right of self-defense

by Stella Jatras

Oliver North explored the subject of self-defense in his July 23 column for the Washingtom Times: " 'As a sovereign nation, Israel has every right to defend itself from terrorist activities,' said President Bush. 'I fully support Israel's right to defend itself,' said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat. 'Israel must defend itself, and it had the right to do so,' said French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy."

Apparently, the right to defend one's sovereignty applies to everyone except the Serbs.

Where were these words and sentiments when NATO, led by former President Clinton, who -- in violation of international law, the NATO charter and without the approval of Congress -- bombed tiny, sovereign Yugoslavia that had no weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), never attacked us and was never a threat to this country? While the Clinton administration supported the Bosnian Muslim government of Alija Izetbegovic, the Bosnian Embassy in Vienna issued a passport to Osama bin Laden that enabled him to make three visits to Bosnia and Kosovo.

Because of Mr. Clinton's flawed Balkans policy (based on self-inflicted atrocities by Bosnian Muslim forces), Bosnia has become al Qaeda's corridor into Europe. This was evident as far back as 1992 when authors Yossef Bodansky and Vaughn S. Forrest wrote a report for the House Republican Research Committee on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare titled, "Iran's European Springboard?" That report said, "Thus, Tehran and its allies are using the violence in Bosnia-Herzegovina as a springboard for the launching of a jihad in Europe.... Bosnia-Herzegovina's Muslims have long been considered by the Islamist leadership in the Middle East to be ripe as a vehicle for the expansion of Islamic militancy into Europe."

A 1997 report for the Senate Republican Policy Committee titled, "Clint
on-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base," identifies Bosnia as "a steppingstone" into Western Europe. These predictions have been borne out by reports the explosives in London subway bombings and Madrid train bombings have been traced back to the Balkans.

Even more dire is the fact that some members of Congress support ceding Serbia's Jerusalem to the rule of indicted Muslim war criminals, thereby creating another mini-Afghanistan in the heart of the Balkans. An independent Albanian Kosovo would guarantee the eradication of Serbia culture, language and religion there. What else can be expected, given the track record of destruction and desecration of Serbian churches and the beatings, murder and ethnic cleansing of Serbs, Roma and other non-Muslims since 1999, all under the watchful and impotent eye of U.N. administrators?

The real tragedy is that the Serbs were once the majority in Kosovo until ethnically cleansed by Adolf Hitler's Nazis, then by communist dictator Josip Broz Tito. The latter, in his hatred for the Serbs, encouraged Muslim Albanians to cross illegally into Christian Kosovo as easily as illegals today -- including possible terrorists -- cross our borders from Canada and Mexico.

Former UNPROFOR commander in Bosnia, Canadian Maj. Gen. Lewis MacKenzie summed it up best when he said, "The Kosovo-Albanians have played us like a Stradivarius. We have subsidized and indirectly supported their violent campaign for an ethnically pure and independent Kosovo. We have never blamed them for being the perpetrators of the violence in the early 1990s and we continue to portray them as the designated victim today in spite of evidence to the contrary. When they achieve independence with the help of our tax dollars, combined with those of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, just consider the message of encouragement this sends to other terrorist-supported independence movements around the world."

The bottom line is that independence for Kosovo is not just a Serbian issue; it is a decision that would be not only detrimental to the area's security but also set a precedent that an ethnic group that attains majority status in a geographical region of a sovereign country has the right to declare independence -- a precedent that would not be in the best interest of the United States and other countries with growing ethnic minorities.

After September 11, 2001, President Bush declared we would do whatever it takes to defend this country against [Muslim] terrorists. The president has now taken his "war on terror," worldwide. And just as Israel, like any other nation, has the right to defend its sovereignty, the Serbian people should have had the right to defend their sovereignty against the same Muslim terrorists who threaten the world today. Unfortunately, that right was denied to them and we are witnessing the consequences today.

For the sake of reason, we must all encourage our representatives to say "No to Kosovo Independence." For granting that independence would open a Pandora's Box of breakaway states and establish another rogue nation.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

As Bush stands firm in the Middle East, he capitulates Europe

Writing for an outfit called FamilySecurityMatters.org last week, Weekly Standard contributor and longtime champion of Balkan Muslims Stephen Schwartz describes an overnight bus ride from Kosovo's capital Pristina to a resort town in Montenegro:

"A man behind me began speaking almost immediately and without stopping, in Albanian — which I understand…insistently focused on the nature of G-d (a favorite subject for Islamic fundamentalists), [and on] the nefarious influence of Sufis who thought they could reinterpret the faith, the evil intentions of Americans, Iraq, and bloodshed. I was startled because it is rare to hear Albanians, after the rescue of Kosovo, badmouth Americans…G-d is one, who are these people like this American who come and try to tell us how to be Muslims? What about Iraq? Why is this American here with his friend?"

Schwartz then describes a rest stop: "I did not find out where I was until I asked a waiter in the restaurant, because none of the Albanians crowded in the back with me and my Sufi companion and the whisperer in darkness would speak civilly to me. When I asked one man, in Albanian, the name of the town, he answered in Serbian: 'ne znam,' 'I don't know.' Another said it was the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica (it wasn't). And finally a thin punk who could not have been over 20, and who, I soon realized, had been encouraging the voice behind me, said in perfect English, 'I don't understand English.' At the end of the rest period all three people filed back into the bus and avoided looking at me.

"Muhammad woke up and asked me what was going on. I told him, 'Someone back here is making Wahhabi speeches.' He grinned as if in disbelief, but said, 'I'm not surprised.........


(Excerpt) Read more at Jewish World Review ...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

While Lebanon Boils, Watch Bosnia

By Douglas Farah, Wednesday July 19, 2006

It is always very hard to focus on broad pictures when so many fires are in need of being put out. But it is imperative to keep in mind in the ongoing conflict Iran’s long-standing ties not only to Hezbollah, but to Islamists in Bosnia, a relationship that spans more than a decade.

There is concern among Bosnian contacts that, if Iran feels things are going badly in Lebanon and that the war needs another front, it would take little to ignite Bosnia. It would not be hard to do and the international presence in Bosnia is greatly reduced. So is the intelligence capacity developed in the late 1990s. Several key intelligence-gathering units have been dissolved in Bosnia in the past six months, meaning the West is more blind there than any time since the mid-1990s.

To date Iranian intelligence maintains a huge apparatus in Bosnia and several dozen, if not hundreds, of trainers with the elite units of the Bosnian military. In addition, several hundred mujahadeen who fought in Afghanistan and then Bosnia remain scattered around Bosnia, many of them still with the elite Bosnia units or in the intelligence apparatus.

It is worth remembering this heavy Iranian involvement in the Bosnian conflict because it was in Bosnia that al Qaeda developed its template for future operations. One of the most interesting things is that, while the mujahadeen and Bosnian Muslims were supported by Saudi Arabia and many others, much of the aid flowed through Iran, despite the Shi’ite-Sunni divide. The bridge was Hasan Cengic, an Iranian intelligence agent and later Bosnia’s deputy defense minister who has been designated by the U.S. Treasury Department. Cengic did some of his earliest weapons deals through Viktor Bout, who flew in hundreds of tons of weapons for the Bosnian Muslims in 1992. He later “sold” Cengic at least one aircraft, and perhaps more.

Cengic, although working on behalf of Iran, coordinated the Saudi’s multi-hundred million dollar financial support for the Bosnian Muslims as well. There are concrete examples of this. During one period in the late 1990s, Wa’el Julaidan, now designated by both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia as a terrorist financier, received $8 millon from a Cengic-controlled account of the Third World Relief Agency. Julaidan later repaid the money to the TWRA account in a series of smaller payments.

Given Iran’s ongoing desire to push a pan-Islamist agenda and the advantages it gains from ongoing turmoil-not only in terms of oil revenues, but in terms of being able to build alliances, move agents and set a pan-Islamist agenda-its leaders could well feel the need to use another arrow from its quiver. But it could be that no one is watching Bosnia as it prepares to burn.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Vlade Divac, Global Basketball Ambassador and Tireless Philanthropist, Awarded Ellis Island Medal of Honor

(PRWEB) May 16, 2006 -- Vlade Divac, recently retired NBA All-Star and current scout with the Los Angeles Lakers, whose achievements off the court are as impressive as those he had on the court, was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor on May 13, 2006. The National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations awards the medal to outstanding American citizens who live a life dedicated to community service, promoting American values, and building bridges between ethnic communities living within the United States and abroad. According to NECO, "The Ellis Island Medals of Honor pay tribute to the ancestry groups that comprise America's unique cultural mosaic."

"I was very honored and humbled to be included into such a distinguished group of medalists. Receiving the Ellis Island Medal of Honor was one of the highlights of my life and I certainly plan to contribute to this great nation for many years to come. I would like to thank all the immigrants who enabled my family to live in this country as well as all Serbian people whom I had a chance to proudly represent at this wonderful event. " - Vlade Divac, Los Angeles Lakers

Divac, who was born in Yugoslavia (presently Serbia and Montenegro), was among the first Eastern European immigrants to be drafted into the NBA when he was selected as a first-round pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1989. Divac established himself as one of the most versatile centers in the league, joining basketball greats Hakeen Olajuwon and Kareem Abdul-Jabar as the only players to amass 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds and 1,500 blocked shots. His brilliant career, which spanned from 1989 until 2005, was instrumental in paving the way for the wave of talented European immigrants who continue to make their presence felt in the NBA.

Divac is the cofounder of The Group Seven Children's Foundation(www.groupseven.org), an organization dedicated to assisting children who have been displaced and impoverished due to the break up of a nation. The group has raised more than $2 million dollars for humanitarian projects related to its cause. Divac has been instrumental in making housing available to children and their families in tsunami-ravaged Indonesia, providing books and classroom instructional materials to children in Ethiopia and offering emergency aid including diapers, water, and other essential assistance to survivors of Hurricane Katrina in the United States.

Divac's other accomplishments include:

•Establishing computer learning centers in Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina that brought students separated by war together through a computer-based curriculum;
•Making new housing available to children and their families in tsunami-ravaged Indonesia;
•Providing books and classroom instructional materials to children in Ethiopia;
•Delivering clothing sets to children living in refugee shelters in Serbia;
•Offering emergency aid including diapers, water, and other essential assistance to survivors of Hurricane Katrina in the United States;
•Distributing school-supply kits and winter shoes to children in Montenegro;
•Supporting after school programs in the Sacramento, California area.
•Delivering food parcels to refugee families in Serbia;
•Training elementary school children in Serbia's eight largest cities in the basics of dental hygiene.

His philanthropic work has earned Divac widespread recognition, including the NBA's Citizenship Award, Sporting News "Good Guys" Award, the "Good Samaritan" Award from International Orthodox Christian Charities and a Medal of Merit from the Serbian Unity Congress. Divac also serves as a United Nations "Goodwill Ambassador" and has participated in the NBA's "Basketball Without Borders" initiative.

At the May 13th ceremony, Divac's table was the most visited by news organizations and fellow event attendees. Dignitaries, fellow nominees, and others clamored to chat with the seven-foot-one-inch superstar athlete and philanthropist. Also at Divac's table was Mira Zivkovich, who nominated Divac for the award. Zivkovich is the CEO and Founder of MZI Global Marketing (www.mziglobal.com), a firm that specializes in helping companies connect to ethnic consumers living within the United States. MZI actively promotes cultural achievements and the value of diversity in America and is also responsible for nominating one of last year's recipients, Serbian-American businessman Thomas Stankovich.

At the black-tie affair, Divac was honored alongside fellow awardees that included Tom Ridge, Former Homeland Security Director; Rita Cosby, Host of MSNBC's "Live & Direct;" and legendary entertainers Siegfried & Roy. In the past, former Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon have been awarded the prestigious Medal, as have other luminous public figures such as General Colin Powell, Frank Sinatra, Donald Trump, Lee Iacocca and Barbara Walters.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Justice for Serbia

Kosovo Independence Imperils Our Democracy
By Vojislav Kostunica
Wednesday, July 12, 2006; A15

The demands for the independence of Kosovo present Southeast Europe and the rest of the world with a compelling question: Will absolute justice be made to yield to relative political interests -- and will authentic democratic values be sacrificed for a mere semblance of peace?

The arguments given by Serbia against independence for its southern province are well known. From the point of view of international law, these arguments are simply irrefutable. They are based on the fundamental documents and pillars of international order: the U.N. Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and relevant resolutions of the U.N. Security Council.

Depriving a democratic country of a part of its territory simply because one ethnic group that has aspirations for that territory threatens violence is impermissible, not only morally but also from the perspective of historical experience. Indeed, tragic occurrences have taught mankind that a policy of appeasement toward those who threaten force only opens the way to more and even greater violence.

There is another, purely pragmatic argument that is equally indisputable: An independent Kosovo could not help becoming a hotbed of chronic tension in the region, both because of the probability of new territorial demands and because of its economic unviability and its widespread network of organized crime.

Viewed strategically, and not just with regard to preserving stability in the Balkans, the arguments against an independent Kosovo are equally strong: Independence for Kosovo would surely be viewed as a precedent, setting off similar demands elsewhere. Those who argue otherwise are, quite simply, closing their eyes to the hard facts. Resolving the problems of national minorities through self-determination (especially in the case of nationalities that already have their own countries nearby) inevitably leads to border changes and all the dangerous complications that this entails.

But even if it remained deaf to all of these arguments, the international community would have to take account of the impact that Kosovo's eventual independence would have on democratic Serbia. Let us recall that Serbia liberated itself from a communist regime on its own by investing enormous effort and taking huge risks. Can such a country, by any measure a democratic one, survive the forcible taking of 15 percent of its territory? What democratically elected government could explain to its voters after such an act that they should continue to believe in the principles of tolerance, liberalism and the sacrosanct will of the people -- the values of enlightened Western civilization, in the name of which they toppled an evil, authoritarian regime?

To put it simply, a young democracy, which in a mere six years has achieved impressive results in developing its economy, building institutions, protecting human rights, battling corruption and crime, and fostering international relations, would stand little chance of survival under such circumstances.

Democracy, in Serbia as anywhere else, is essentially based on the equality of all and, no less important, on trust. If people stop believing in the rules of democracy, if they start thinking that a set of rules is applicable to one nation but not to others, if they feel betrayed by powerful institutions, and if the standards and norms of behavior for relations among individuals and nations alike are trampled upon, then people will lose faith. And where faith is lost, there can be no democracy.

In attempting to preserve the province of Kosovo within its borders, Serbia has acted in the most reasonable and constructive way possible. It is prepared to accept any form of compromise that does not entail independence, and it offers Albanians the greatest possible autonomy, including all legislative, executive and judicial powers, while expecting in return only the inviolability of borders and safety for the non-Albanian population of the province.

In its struggle for Kosovo, Serbia is also struggling for fundamental principles of international justice and order. And, by defending an inalienable part of its territory, Serbia may even be defending the future of democracy as a way of life and a view of the world.

The writer is prime minister of Serbia.