Sunday, October 10, 2004

Oh, Kosovo!

military news about Balkans

As of August 2004:
There are still 20,000 peacekeepers in Kosovo, and no peace. There is 55 percent unemployment, criminal gangs control much of the economic activity there is and most of the population believes that the province should be independent. But the province is still technically part of Serbia. The Albanian majority wants to expel, by force is necessary, the remaining non-Albanians. The UN police force is 20 percent understrength and unable to deal with the growing crime rate...
There are about 20,000 NATO troops on the ground in Kosovo. This number includes the American forces. In addition to the NATO forces, the United Nation Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has about 3,500 international police. The Kosovo Police Force has 6700 men. The Kosovo Protection Corps, consists of approximately 5,000. In other words, there are about 28,000 people whose job it is to maintain order in Kosovo.

Kosovo has, more or less, a population of about 1.9 million, about the same as the Seattle, Washington. Seattle has a police force of 1,800. And King County, in which Seattle is located has about 500 members of its sheriff’s department.

The ratio of Seattle residents to law enforcers is 826 citizen per officer. In Kosovo the ratio is 68 to one. Apparently that is not enough.

Kosovo’s economic outlook is bleak. More than five years after UNMIK and NATO moved in there is almost no industry. According to a study by the Economic Strategy And Project Identification Group(ESPIG) released in August 2004 under the auspices of the European Stability Initiative:

“The private sector that has emerged since 1999 is predominantly small- scale, low-capital intensive ventures in trade and construction. Some local entrepreneurs were able to generate quick wealth as importers. However, apart from building materials, some furniture production and a small food-processing sector, there is hardly any local manufacturing. In Pristina’s “industrial zone”, the largest in Kosovo, 66 plots were rented out in 2002: only 16 were used for production, all with three employees or less,and most were producing doors and window frames.

The post-war boom was also transfer-financed, and therefore unsustainable. The estimated total public expenditure in 2000 in Kosovo was €6.3 billion. In 2003, this had gone down to €3.1 billion (see table). These are very rough estimates, undertaken by the Macroeconomic Policy Unit of the Ministry of Finance and Economy. But the overall implications are clear: GDP growth in Kosovo’s economy was driven by external transfers, rather than from any lasting increase in the productivity of Kosovo’s enterprises. As a result, as budgetary support and reconstruction aid are withdrawn, Kosovo’s economy is almost certain to contract.”

In short, economic things are bad and will get worse.

Ethnic violence remains an issue:
ethnic violence

U. S. troop levels are down to about 2,500 in Kosovo, so the burden here is being carried by the UN and the Europeans. A French general just took over the NATO forces.

The Kosovar Albanians want an independent nation for themselves and are working hard to chase out the Serbs who remain in Kosovo.

In short, after 5 years and billions of dollars, Kosovo is still a mess.

Where are Kerry and Edwards on this issue? Why aren't they asking for investigations into what the exit strategy of the administration that got us into this mess was?

We know the answer. Bill Clinton got us in with Wes Clark's help. And so we stay.

Update: Fixed links including removing a link to a reference that seems to have disappeared, corrected spelling and some other things.

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