Kosovo Splitting From Serbia with World Cooperation

Kosovo is getting its independence from Serbia to remarkably little fanfare.

Nearly eight years after NATO warplanes intervened in a bitter ethnic conflict between Serbs and rebellious Kosovo Albanians in the former Yugoslavia, the United States and its European allies have agreed to support Kosovo’s permanent secession from Serbia under continuing international supervision, according to senior U.S. and European officials.

The decision is likely to lead, possibly as early as this summer, to the formal creation of a new Connecticut-size country in southeastern Europe with membership in the United Nations and, eventually, its own army, the officials said. But a foreign diplomat posted in the capital would retain authority to fire officials and rescind legislation deemed divisive, while leaving routine matters of government to local control.

Under the plan, NATO troops would continue to patrol the new state to ensure peace and help protect minorities, but would gradually withdraw as Kosovo neared membership in NATO and the European Union.

Putting Kosovo on a path toward eventual full independence is meant to close a chapter of Balkan history marked by war, political upheaval, widespread loss of life and the destruction of billions of dollars’ worth of property.

Fifteen years ago, when then-Yugoslavia was falling apart in a series of ethic civil wars, those of us who opposed American military intervention argued that no significant threat was posed to U.S. vital interests. The caveat was always that, if things got out of hand in Kosovo, we’d have little choice but the jump in to prevent it becoming a regional crisis.

When that did indeed come to pass, the idea that Kosovo’s independence would eventually followed would have seemed incredible. Now it’s buried on A10 of the Post.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Nicole says:

    I think the US and EU are counting their chickens a bit too early here. Russia’s been making loud noises for a long time that it’s not going to let this go through with out Belgrade’s consent – or, to translate from diplo-speak to English, without some major concessions on our part which we may not be willing to make. In any case, I don’t see this actually coming to fruition without a showdown at the Security Council, or some major horse trading behind the scenes.

  2. Its a quagmire. We need to bring back Tito and “move in a new direction”. /snark off

  3. Sami says:

    Russia is already trying to “trade” Kosova for the breakaways in Georgia. Russia doesn’t give two sh*ts about Serbia, it is only concerned about itself. The will of the U.S. and the E.U. will be followed.

  4. Nicole says:


    Precisely the horse trading I was talking about. I wasn’t saying that Russia particularly cares about Serbia, but I definitely see Moscow positioning itself to take up Belgrade’s cause in order to exact some tradeoffs from the US and EU in other areas. If it comes to that will we be willing to sell out Georgia and Moldova to secure an independent Kosovo? I hope not, and I actually don’t think we will. Kosovo probably will get its independence in the end, but it won’t be nearly so simple.

  5. Sephiroth says:

    The whole Kosovo saga is yet more evidence, as if any more was really needed, that the entire US foreign policy apparatus is fundamentally broken to the core. It’s almost difficult to decide just was what the worst aspect, from the perspective of America’s national interest, of the “intervention.” Firstly, there were the sickening lies told by nearly everyone from Clinton to Kristol to Cohen that “hundreds of thousands” of Muslim Albanians were being “systematically slaughtered” when, in fact, HRW, AI (among others) all later determined that the pre-invasion civilian death totals were only in the hundreds, at most. On the other hand, Western client states such as Turkey, Indonesia, and Mexico carried out counter-insurgencies in the 1990’s, against Kurds, Timorese/Acehians, and Chaipans repectively, that killed orders of magnitude more civilians with American and European weapons, to say nothing of the NATO bombing of Belgrade which killed thousands of innocent Serbs. To hold out Milosevic as an exemplar for what was wrong with the world in spring of 1999 was idiocy any person should have seen through. It would have been cheaper and less deadly to stopped selling Ankara, Jakarta, and Mexico City weapons, and it would have saved far more lives.

    Another unpleasant outcome of that debacle was the spread of the European Union’s sphere of influence into the Balkans. The American elite’s removal of an important obstacle to the expansion of an adversary’s power has never been properly accounted for – in no small part because so many laughably see a decaying and frail Russia as our key rival in the region, rather than our real strategic adversary in that area, the European Union.

    There were, of course, many other baleful results of that operation, not least of which was the alienation of Russia and other Orthodox nations, but this is enough. I’ll end by asking this: how exactly did the Kosovo war benefit the US national interest in any material way?

  6. David M. McCLory says:

    Serbia has solidly and consistently shown that it cannot protect its minorities. These areas must be hived off. Serbia is the author of its own misfortune.

  7. Alex says:

    What Serbia showed was that they had learned from the previous conflict, and were doing their best to prevent civilian casualties while fighting a Muslim organization that had up to that point been considered terrorists. Clinton’s legacy, besides getting blowjobs in the oval office, was blowing up large portions of a democratic nation and killing Chinese diplomats all while protecting Islamic terrorists. He was a real winner, that guy.