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Camp Bondsteel

An American Castle in Kosovo

By James T. Phillips
14 June 2001

On 28 June 1991, the Yugoslavian Federation fell off the wall. The Humpty-Dumpty of nations shattered into pieces, and years of civil war and domestic conflict blighted the now-independent countries of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia. As the decade of the 1990's waned, the Americans and their NATO allies helped in the continued destruction of Yugoslavia by assisting an ethnic Albanian minority to claim land and independence from what remained of Tito's Cold War creation.

For almost two years, ever since the war between NATO and Yugoslavia ended in 1999, Serbs (and Roma) in Kosovo have been killed and cleansed by ethnic Albanians. NATO soldiers deployed in Kosovo have been ineffective at peacekeeping, and have ignored many instances of injustice. The borders between Kosovo and Serbia, and Kosovo and Macedonia, are the newest killing grounds in the Balkans.

Albanians, encouraged by their "victory" in Kosovo, are now attempting to forcibly take more land from Serbia and new land Macedonia. The Kosovo Liberation Army (the small group of disaffected rebels from the hills of Drenica that initiated the conflict in 1997) has established a new entity, an independent Kosovo that is destined to expand. The KLA, once incapable of fending off the Serbian military in a small area of Kosovo, has grown into a formidable political and military force with the assistance of NATO.

This new Balkan scenario is one that would be familiar to the people who lived in the Levant during the Crusades. The various factions and religions of the Levant fought and feuded amongst themselves for centuries. Power and turf were continuously exchanged, and the lives of Jews, Christians and Muslims ebbed and flowed during the good times and the bad times.

The ugly times arrived along with the Christian Crusaders from Western Europe. The land, and the life that sprang from its rocky soil, did not interest the Crusaders. They would ride into an area of the Levant, subdue the inhabitants, kill the defenders, and then build huge castles where they could hide from the fury and revenge of the survivors. The moral superiority and power of the Crusaders allowed them to stay safe behind the walls of their fortresses, looting the surrounding countryside at will.

In Kosovo, in the year 2001, the modern-day Crusaders of NATO have built another castle. It is named Camp Bondsteel, a tough-sounding name for a not-so-tough military operation. It is located in southern Kosovo, only a few miles from the borders with Macedonia and Serbia where Albanians are now continuing their war of aggression against Serbs and Macedonians under the watchful (and nearby) eyes of NATO.
Camp Bondsteel is an American military base. It was created in the image of small town America, and features bowling alleys and fast food restaurants where young soldiers go to relax after a hard day of observing the killing of innocents. And, although its perimeter is made of steel, and not the stones of the Levant, it is as secure against the wrath of the people as were the castles of the Crusaders.

The Europeans would eventually tire of maintaining the castles spread out through the Levant. They grew weary of being the enemy of all the people, and withdrew after satiating themselves on the blood and fortune of their many foes. The Europeans would continue building castles, and they would go on to fight each other for centuries. However, they did not leave a lasting peace when they left the Levant.
Camp Bondsteel might not last as long as some of the Crusader castles that remain standing in the Levant, and its historical value will be dubious. But, the result will be the same: the occupying outsiders will leave and the people who live on the land (not behind walls) will continue with their lives. They will fight and they will love. They will kill and they will heal. They will eventually create a lasting and honorable peace. The killing and cleansing will stop.

The broken pieces of a Humpty-Dumpty nation will only be a fading memory. The people of the southeastern Europe will sort out their own problems, and the United States, Britain and all the other King's horses and men of NATO will not be the ones to put Yugoslavia back together again.

© The News Insider 2001James T. Phillips is a freelance journalist who has reported on the conflicts in Iraq, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Currently, Phillips edits the web publication

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