- The Washington Times - Friday, March 24, 2000

On the one year anniversary of the beginning of the NATO bombing of Kosovo, the United Nations and NATO must face the fact that they have fostered something of an ethnic Albanian monster. It was all pomp and circumstance last September when NATO's supreme commander, Gen. Wesley Clark, peacekeeping commander Lt. Gen. Mike Jackson and chief of the U.N. mission Bernard Kouchner shook hands with their rebel commander of choice: Kosovo Liberation Army chief Gen. Agim Ceku. Cameras snapped, the generals smiled, and the KLA members were presented with new uniforms and a new name: the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC). Now the KPC, whose salary is being paid by the United Nations, is being accused by the United Nations of killings, torture and much besides in an internal U.N. document recently leaked to the press. What to do? Backpeddle, of course.

The report, written by Mr. Kouchner's office for Secretary General Kofi Annan, cites the KPC's death threats against Kosovo peacekeeping officers, the use of torture in the KPC's own headquarters, the corps' possible supervision of a prostitution racket, and Mr. Ceku's poor leadership of the rebel army. In its response to that news article, the United Nations explains the report "was an internal document not intended for the public." Of course it wasn't. If it had been, the general public would be horrified to know U.N. money given for peacekeeping around $1.9 million is being used to kill, torture and enforce hatred.

In addition, the rebuttal by Mr. Annan's spokesman said these liberation fighters aren't KPC members at all: "The article and/or report, mistakenly refers to KPC applicants of which there were some 18,000, as if they were already KPC members. This is a common mistake even among the international staff." If its own international staff is confusing who it is supporting, it's no wonder the United Nations & Co. are having a hard time keeping them under control.

The response continued: "Those who applied for the KPC with the International Organization of Migration received cards confirming only that they had begun the application process. This in no way meant that they had been vetted, screened or accepted." Still, the KPC "will absorb a significant part of the energies and manpower of the former KLA." In any event, these people are apparently not nervously awaiting acceptance of their applications to act as a militant liberation force.

And those beautiful new uniforms they're wearing? They're not real either, the United Nations says. "Many have uniforms given them by Kfor at the time of the demilitarization in September as an expedient alternative to the then-illegal KLA uniforms. These are not KPC uniforms, which will only be issued to bona fide, screened, vetted and accepted members of the KPC; training has begun this month." On the ground, that is a distinction without meaning. Militants who threatened, tortured and killed in the name of the new corps likely didn't feel a need to show a U.N. stamp of approval to their victims.

As much as the United Nations disapproves of the militant KPC impostors though, in its public statement it stands by the KPC's leader, Mr. Ceku. Contrary to its internal report, the United Nations says in its rebuttal: "We have confidence in General Ceku, who is personally committed to establishing the KPC as a disciplined agency. Both in word and deed he has been active in the transformation process." No offense, but placing the general under the subheading, "Activities against minorities, including hate speech," seems an odd way to reward such esteemed behavior, if that is indeed what he is practicing.

The United Nations has said it is very concerned about the "misdeeds" described in the report. That concern is warranted, but must be accompanied by a realization that supporting a rebel army on the ground has in many instances aggravated, not alleviated the process of ethnic cleansing. The United Nations needs to decide which of the stories it is now telling it actually believes. If indeed the rebel corps is as volatile as the internal document describes, and there is plenty of evidence on the ground to support this, the United Nations needs urgently to reconsider this disturbing partnership.

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