Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

16 years after the 1998-99 War,  impoverished Kosovo still lacks basic water, electricity and waste management.

Another US “Success Story”: The Creation and Abandonment of Kosovo

Thomas S. Harrington

Kosovo is falling apart at the seams, with it thousands of its citizens seeking desperately to escape life there by any means possible.

Haven’t heard about that one?

Perhaps that’s because the US is almost wholly responsible for creating an independent Kosovo, and from there, the brutal and corrupt power structure that lords cruelly over the life of its people.

The creation of an independent Kosovo in the name of democracy and humanitarianism is considered by the Clinton crowd to be one of the US's first post-Cold War foreign policy successes.

Under the direction of the late egotist Richard Holbrooke, intellectual—if we can use that word—godfather of today's Susan Rices and Samantha Powers, a new US protectorate was created in the heart of the Balkans, one of the more historically unstable regions of the Western world.

Of course, it had nothing to do with democracy and humanitarianism and everything to do, as has been the case with most major moves the US has undertaken in the world since 1989, with the need to give the US the ability to:

  • project power into every corner of the globe
  • disrupt the possibility of any country or bloc of countries impeding its economic and military designs.

More concretely, it was part of the US plan to make sure that the then newly unshackled countries of Eastern and Southeastern Europe would essentially be beholden to it, and not their EU neighbors.

Once this dependence was established, as it was in Kosovo, Bulgaria, Poland (which did not need much coaxing) and the Baltic Republics, the US could, as Rumsfeld famously let slip in 2003, play the new Europe off against the old Europe and, in this way, neuter any ability the Old Continent might have to act as a check upon US prerogatives.

The program has worked like a charm. How do we know? Just look at the way, the more important European countries (to call them "powers" today would be to strain credibility) like Germany and France have, until quite recently, completely acquiesced to a foreign policy on Ukraine that was wholly designed in Washington, and that is completely inimical to their economic and strategic interests.

Russia needs Europe and Europe needs Russia.

But the strategic players in Washington, those sons and daughters of Brzezinski, Holbrooke and Albright, have other ideas.

And up until last week's meeting in Minsk with Putin, it seems that neither Merkel, nor Hollande truly understood role of useful idiots they were playing within the US game.

But back to Kosovo. After promoting the independence of a completely unviable state to get what it really wanted, that is, "the largest U.S. military base built outside of the U.S. since the Vietnam War", the US has, in its inimitably egotistical, callous and heedless fashion, left Kosovo and the Kosovans to rot in hell.

After whipping up the worst kind of cheap nationalism there to enable its plan, the US now has left them on their own to live in grinding poverty among the mafias that grew up around the flow of cash generated by base construction and CIA black funds. With all this, of course, come the adjunct "industries" of prostitution and drugs which always proliferate in poor societies that receive grotesquely large and shadily administered injections of foreign capital.

Things are so bad that people are fleeing en masse through the mountains and snow to get to the well-known democratic paradise known as Serbia.

And what makes it worse, is that we could describe several other equal, or much worse, instances around the world where the same plan of "creative destruction" has played out under direct US tutelage.

This is who we are. This is what we borrow trillions from the Chinese to do.

When, if ever, will the American people begin to face theses facts?


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Thomas S. Harrington

Thomas S. Harrington

Thomas S. Harrington is professor of Hispanic Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of Public Intellectuals and Nation Building in the Iberian Peninsula, 1900–1925: The Alchemy of Identity (Bucknell University Press, 2014).

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Scientists to BlackRock Vice Chairman: New Fossil Fuel Development 'Incompatible' With 1.5°C

"The only responsible course of action is to do everything in our power to stop fossil fuel expansion and further emissions."

Jessica Corbett ·


Goldman Prize Awarded to Activists Who Showed Nature's 'Amazing Capability to Regenerate'

"While the many challenges before us can feel daunting, and at times make us lose faith, these seven leaders give us a reason for hope and remind us what can be accomplished in the face of adversity."

Julia Conley ·


Faith Leaders Call for Federal Election Monitors in Georgia to Protect Black Voters

"It is imperative that our election this November is monitored to preserve ballot integrity and ensure ballot security."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Inaction Is Bought': Here Are the Receipts on NRA's Purchase of GOP

"The issue is money in politics," said Nina Turner after the nation's latest mass killing of students and teachers. Right-wing lawmakers are "allowing children to die because of the gun lobby."

Kenny Stancil ·


'This Is on You!' Beto Interrupts Abbott Press Conference on Texas Massacre

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke accused Texas' GOP leaders of "doing nothing and offering us nothing" in the wake of the massacre at Robb Elementary School.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo