Accuracy in Media

David Binder, a veteran European correspondent of the New York Times was on C-SPAN recently talking about Kosovo and making a lot of sense. A frequent visitor to the Balkans for 35 years, he counts among his good friends both Serbs and Albanians. He said the problem of Kosovo would not be solved by taking one side, as we did in Bosnia when we sided with the Muslims. He said the ancient rivalries of the Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Serbs had not been resolved by the Dayton agreement.

Binder discussed the background of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), saying that it had begun in the early ‘90’s with Marxist-Leninist roots and had received strong support from drug traffickers according to law enforcement agencies in Europe. He said that about a year ago they began attacking Serb police and military, drawing a very sharp response from the Serbians. He asserted that the KLA has killed not only Serbs, but also what they call “Albanian collaborationists,” including women and children. He said the Clinton administration has “swallowed their own propaganda” and that the public is getting only one side of the story.

Binder also criticized the wide use of the word “genocide” to describe what is taking place in Kosovo. He said, ” I?m very wary of terms like genocide and massacre until I see absolutely overwhelming evidence of the one or the other.” We have said in previous commentaries that the number of people killed in Kosovo last year by the Serb security forces and the KLA combined was about 2,000 according to the State Department. The number killed this year in the weeks leading up to the bombing was 45. That is a far cry from genocide, which is killing intended to wipe out an entire people.

Many refugees have fled from Kosovo since the bombing began, but we don?t know how many have died. George Kenney, a former foreign service officer who is a close student of the Balkans, says the number killed in the fighting between the Serbs, Croatians and Bosnian Muslims was not more than 70,000 according to the most reliable figures. But the media throw around figures over 200,000.

What few Americans realize is that the Kosovo Albanians, on whose behalf we are fighting a very costly war, were trying to drive out the Serbs from Kosovo during most of 1998. The KLA was spreading terror among the Serbs, who for 20 years or more have been a minority that has suffered discrimination and persecution at the hands of the Albanian majority. As many of them were fleeing from Kosovo, Albanian separatists were dreaming of splitting off chunks of Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia to form a greater Albania.

There is a lesson in this for other countries, including our own, that have taken in large numbers of immigrants from neighboring countries with high birthrates who insist that the state educate their children in the native tongue of the parents. NATO may attack them if these unassimilated immigrants eventually become a majority in parts of the host country and claim the right of secession.

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