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5. Kosovo's Changing
Institutional Fate

In spring 1999, Serbia attempted to ethnically cleanse Kosovo because the province had become an internal frontier. Through a combination of local armed insurgency and international diplomatic and military action, Serbia's infrastructural power in the province was severely undermined, prompting its resort to extreme despotism. Although many observers had anticipated such a campaign since the early 1990s, Serbia had waited until the decade's end to make its move; until March 1999, Kosovo had been a ghetto within Serbia. Like Sandžak and Vojvodina, Kosovo remained firmly lodged within the Serbian core for most of the 1990s, granting Serbian authorities both juridical and empirical sovereignty over the contested area. Once ethnic Albanian insurgents and Western powers launched a combined and intense challenge to Serbian sovereignty in 1999, however, Kosovo seemed poised to exit Serbia's orbit. Kosovo was "externalized," much as Bosnia had been in 1992, leading to similarly awful results.

Full-scale ethnic cleansing in Kosovo was triggered by the NATO air war on March 24, 1999. As NATO warplanes struck at Serbia's heartland, Yugoslav federal troops, Serbian police, and sundry paramilitaries began to expel ethnic Albanian civilians with devastating efficiency. The heaviest outflow occurred between March 31 and April 8, 1999, when Serbian forces expelled roughly 400,000 ethnic Albanians.[1] By early June, over 863,000 persons, representing almost half of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian population, had fled or been driven across provincial borders,

while another 500,000 were displaced within the province itself.[2] During spring and early summer 1999, Serbian troops killed an estimated 10,000 ethnic Albanian civilians and insurgents, [3] while NATO bombs slew some 500 Serb civilians and 600 troops.[4]

Were it not for the importance of institutional settings, Serbia is likely to have ethnically cleansed Kosovo much earlier. Ardent Serbian nationalists had begun complaining bitterly of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian threat as early as 1981, when demonstrations in Kosovo favoring republican status for the autonomous province had rocked the country.[5] During the late 1980s and early 1990s, moreover, the plight of Kosovo's ethnic Serb community was central to the Serbian nationalist revival, providing justification for Slobodan Milošević's anti-bureaucratic revolution and administrative centralization. Despite powerful anti-Albanian sentiments, however, the Serbian state comprehensively forced Kosovo's ethnic Albanians out only years after the rise of Serbian nationalism and the beginning of Yugoslavia's wars. An analysis of Kosovo's changing institutional fortunes can explain this delay.


Kosovo's institutional setting went through three distinct phases. In tracing changes over time rather than space, this chapter differs from its predecessors, which contrasted coterminous Serbian violence in different locales. Kosovo's first phase lasted from 1989 to 1997, when Serbia bolstered its grip over the province and deployed methods of ethnic policing. A second, transitional, phase began in 1998, when ethnic Albanian guerrillas threatened Serbia's empirical sovereignty by capturing pockets of rural territory for short periods of time. The third began in spring 1999, when Serbia was expelled from the international community and a combined NATO and ethnic Albanian assault fundamentally threatened Serbia's juridical and empirical sovereignty.

It is vital that we recognize the very different Serbian repertoires of violence in each phase. During the first period, Serbia stuck to ethnic policing in Kosovo, despite its simultaneous use of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. Kosovo's predicament in this period, in other words, resembled that of Vojvodina and the Sandžak. During the second phase, Serbian troops displaced as many as 300,000 persons, but still did not escalate to fullscale ethnic cleansing.[6] Despite widespread rural suffering, the bulk of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians remained in place, and Kosovo's urban areas remained largely undestroyed.[7] It was only in the third and final phase

that Serbia used Bosnia-style methods in Kosovo, seeking to comprehensively empty the province of its unwanted population. It is only by clearly distinguishing between each of these three periods that we can identify the precise causes of Serbia's varying violent repertoires in Kosovo.


Serbia began to tighten its grip over Kosovo in the late 1980s during Slobodan Milošević's campaign for territorial and administrative centralization. In 1987, Milošević's Kosovo allies purged the local communist party branch of rivals, and in 1989, the central party branch in Serbia initiated sweeping changes to the province's constitutional status, essentially revoking its autonomy. In April 1990, the party dissolved Kosovo's provincial interior ministry altogether and fired its 4,000 ethnic Albanian police officers.[8] Soon after, Serbian authorities disbanded Kosovo's parliament and declared a state of emergency. In July 1992, Belgrade abolished the province of Kosovo, creating a new territorialadministrative unit, Kosovo-Metohija, or "Kosmet." Kosovo was now fully incorporated into Serbia's newly centralized administrative structure, bolstering the state's infrastructural control. Kosmet's parliament was composed chiefly of ethnic Serbs, since ethnic Albanians boycotted elections and refused to serve in Kosmet bodies. Instead, they recognized the authority of Kosovo's former parliament and participated in a host of unofficial governing efforts in education, health, and foreign affairs.[9]

In 1990, Kosovo's former ethnic Albanian parliamentarians convened to declare Kosovo a full Yugoslav republic, a move not broadly recognized either within the federation or internationally. Had Kosovo succeeded on this count, it might have been eligible for secession and international recognition. In May 1991, parliamentarians elected Ibrahim Rugova, head of the Democratic League of Kosova (LDK), as Kosovo's new "president," a post not recognized by Serbian authorities in Belgrade.[10] When Slovenia and Croatia demanded international recognition of their own independence in 1991, ethnic Albanian politicians followed suit, organizing an autumn referendum in support of sovereignty. In May 1992, privately organized elections gave the Democratic League a majority in the province's unofficial assembly, and League representatives pressed Western countries to recognize Kosovo's sovereignty. The province remained tightly controlled by Serbia, however; Kosovo Albanians

continued to pay Serbian taxes, and Albania was the only country to recognize Kosovo's independence. At that point, Kosovo did not launch an armed insurrection against Serbia, leaving the latter's juridical and empirical sovereignty intact. Kosovo remained firmly controlled by Belgrade, and like Sandžak and Vojvodina, experienced police-style repression, not ethnic cleansing.

The Albanian Electoral Boycott

Serbia's tight embrace of Kosovo held hidden dangers for the Belgrade regime, however, since ethnic Albanians were also Serbian citizens with the right to vote. With an estimated 800,000 eligible voters, Kosovo might have played a key role in internal Serbian politics, perhaps even helping to defeat Milošević's Socialist Party. The Democratic League promoted a comprehensive electoral boycott, however, hoping to delegitimize Serbian rule, which it viewed as an illegal occupation. Even had the League been interested in cooperating with Serbia's anti-Milošević opposition, it would have been hard-pressed to find compatible allies, since many of Milošević's rivals were just as nationalist and suspicious of ethnic Albanians as the ruling Socialists. As prominent Kosovo politician Adem Demaçi noted in 1996, "We know that if Albanians entered the [Serbian] parliament, which would mean legalizing our occupation, we could jointly with the opposition bring down Milošević. But the irony is that what these small [Serbian] opposition parties offer to Albanians is still worse."[11] Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo were largely uninterested in working with either Serbian politicians or Serbian electoral processes.[12] Indeed, many believed that as long as Milošević remained in power, their chances of earning international support for their independence remained high.[13] The Democratic League's electoral boycott had far-reaching implications. Only 15.6 percent of voters in Kosovo's capital Priština participated in the 1993 national elections, compared to 61.3 percent for Serbia as a whole. But since most Priština voters were ethnic Serbs supporting Milošević's Socialists, the regime received a significant electoral assist from the ethnic Albanians' boycott. The Socialists gained twenty-one parliamentary seats from only 60,000 Priština votes, compared to sixteen seats from 255,071 votes in Belgrade, meaning that the boycott had effectively reduced the electoral price of a Socialist seat in Priština to 2,855 votes, compared to almost 16,000 in Belgrade.[14] With Milošević's party earning only 123 of 250 Serbian parliamentary seats, Kosovo's electoral windfall was an important part of the Socialist Party's victory.


Empirical Sovereignty: Serbia's Monopoly of Violence

Without an effective monopoly over violence, however, Serbia's efforts to administratively tighten control over Kosovo would have come to naught. Juridical sovereignty might have lent Serbia some ability to dominate, but an effective armed challenge might have easily undercut its control. Until 1998, though, there was no real ethnic Albanian insurgency, and Serbian forces effortlessly kept the province under central control. Serbia's efforts in this were greatly aided by the LDK's commitment to unarmed resistance, a decision largely prompted by Serbia's 1990 confiscation of Kosovo's territorial defense armory.[15] As Democratic League leader Ibrahim Rugova explained in 1993, "The police have become Serbianised and Serbian militia units have moved into our region," creating a situation in which the "balance of forces is so lopsided we don't have the means for defending ourselves." Kosovo's ethnic Albanians, Rugova said, had therefore "opted for a peaceful course to show, in particular Europe, that we're not helping to destabilise the Balkans."[16]

Rugova's position then seemed quite reasonable to many, as nonviolent protests had brought the Berlin wall down shortly before and had secured independence for the Baltic states. Kosovo's leaders appeared optimistic that similar results could be achieved against Serbia. The Bosnian example, moreover, demonstrated that armed struggle was an entirely risky proposition. LDK leaders therefore chose passive resistance, hoping their reward would eventually come in the form of Western recognition of Kosovo's sovereignty. In the short term, however, Serbia's grip over the province tightened.

Juridical Sovereignty and the International Human Rights Norm

Serbia's juridical sovereignty was bolstered by the West's disinterest in supporting Kosovo's claims for independence. As was true for the Sandžak and Vojvodina, the Western rationale was that only Yugoslav republics, not regions, were entitled to secede.[17] Shortly after its 1992 recognition of Bosnian independence, a U.S. representative declared that "Serbian actions in Kosovo represent one of the worst human rights problems in Europe,"[18] signaling her government's intent to apply the human rights norm to the region, not sovereignty. In subsequent years, international officials of various stripes all insisted that Kosovo must remain within Serbia, albeit with its autonomy restored and its residents'

human rights guaranteed. In December 1992, the United States strengthened its human rights commitments by warning Serbia of a military strike if it initiated Kosovo hostilities.[19] The American threat was not aimed at securing Kosovo's sovereignty, but at preserving a modicum of ethnic Albanians' human rights. Throughout the 1990s, Western diplomats applauded the Democratic League's restraint while avoiding any discussion of independence. The ethnic Albanian leadership was not invited to the 1995 Dayton peace negotiations on Bosnia, and Kosovo's self-declared state remained virtually unrecognized.[20] Western insistence on human rights for Kosovo, however, propelled nongovernmental bodies to organize myriad Kosovo activities around the human rights norm, and international agencies remained heavily engaged with the province through monitoring, information gathering, and transnational lobbying. The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, later known as the OSCE, sent human rights monitors to Kosovo in 1992, where they stayed until ejected by Serbia in July 1993.[21] Private groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International regularly visited Kosovo to gather information and write reports, pushing Western governments to confront Serbian abuses. "Since human rights violations are the one subject on which the international community is unanimous and vocal," one leading nongovernmental group noted, "human rights monitoring is given extremely high priority and attention in Kosovo."[22]

Ethnic Albanian politicians in Kosovo cheerfully cooperated with the human rights monitors, hoping their interest would eventually trigger international support for Kosovo's sovereignty. Many ethnic Albanians in Kosovo mistook Western human rights interest as tacit support for independence, a misunderstanding that continued at least until the 1995 Dayton conference.[23] Hopeful that the notion of an independent Kosovo might eventually gain broad global backing, the Democratic League resolved to continue with nonviolent resistance and appeals to international human rights monitors. Thus while Kosovo resisted incorporation into Serbia and lobbied vigorously for international recognition, it did not physically challenge Serbian military supremacy on the ground.

The Specter of Serbian Despotism

Although Kosovo's position within the Serbian political core led to policing, not war, many initially feared otherwise. "When diplomats look on the map for the next Balkan flash point," one journalist confidently opined, Kosovo "is where their finger falls," while another argued that

Kosovo's forced depopulation was next on Belgrade's agenda due to the proximity of international borders to Kosovo's population centers.[24] This concern was fueled by warnings from ethnic Albanian political leaders, who drew parallels between their plight and that of Bosnia. Ibrahim Rugova, for example, said in 1993 that Serbia's "ultimate goal" was to "create their own cleansed territory here in Kosovo, a territory without a people. They do not even want to have us as slaves."[25] Bujar Bukoshi, another top LDK official, wrote that Kosovo was potentially "more dangerous" than Bosnia, and that Serbian ethnic cleansing had begun in Kosovo "long before the first Muslim villages were attacked in Bosnia."[26] Yet since Serbia continued to use policing rather than Bosniastyle depopulation, ethnic Albanian politicians developed new terms to describe Serbian policy, including "institutionalized" or "quiet" ethnic cleansing.[27] As evidence, they pointed to the emigration of some 300,000 Kosovo Albanians during the 1990s to escape Serbian police repression, military conscription, and job-related discrimination.[28]

When it became evident that Serbia was not about to forcibly empty the province, however, foreign observers began to describe Kosovo as a "time bomb" that had failed to explode.[29] By 1997, the correlation between Kosovo's position within the Serbian core and police-style repression seemed solid, taking Kosovo off the West's crisis agenda. As one Kosovobased Western aid worker said in winter 1997, "Kosovo is no longer a major worry for us."[30] As long as Kosovo remained securely trapped within Serbia, ethnic cleansing seemed unlikely, and Western powers were content to call for improvements in Serbia's human rights record. Like Sandžak and Vojvodina, Kosovo seemed destined to languish indefinitely under Serbia's thumb, spared Bosnia-style destruction while experiencing a harsh, police-style regime of national domination. Arbitrary arrests, torture, press restrictions, house searches, and myriad bureaucratic harassments were widespread, but there was no violent ethnic cleansing.[31]

The Paramilitary Threat

The persistence of Serbian infrastructural power during this phase was highlighted by the failure of semi-private Serbian paramilitaries to carry out their threats. "Serbian ethnic cleansers [in Kosovo] are itching to have a go," the Economist observed in 1993, but were being held in check by a Serbian government concerned with international opinion.[32] Kosovo's position within the core was a barrier to private nationalist violence, much as it was in both the Sandžak and Vojvodina.


The threat of Kosovo paramilitary violence was persistent, however. In 1990, ultra-radical Vojislav Šešelj publicly voiced his support for ethnic Albanian expulsions, specifying later that 300,000 "illegal [Albanian] immigrants" should be forcibly removed.[33] In late 1991, he proposed organizing and arming ethnic Serbs in Kosovo for upcoming battles, and later that same year, the Serbian interior ministry did in fact distribute thousands of light weapons. By the decade's end, local Serbs reportedly held almost 75,000 government-issued rifles.[34] Other demonstrations of paramilitary fierceness included efforts by Dragoslav Bokan's White Eagles, who paraded through downtown Priština in April 1992 and then opened up a recruitment office;[35] Šešelj's četniks, who marched through ethnic Albanian villages in 1993;[36] and Arkan's Tigers, who drove through downtown Priština and Podujevo in 1995.[37] To maintain their credibility, the Belgrade-based paramilitaries publicly demonstrated their commitment to Kosovo's ethic Serb community, but Kosovo's institutional setting also constrained their actions, preventing them from using Bosnia-style methods. The resemblance to Sandžak is striking.

Displays of anti-Albanian sentiment crested just before Serbia's 1992 national elections, when Arkan and Šešelj campaigned heavily for the Serbian vote in Kosovo. Competing for the ultra-radical mantle, the two men pushed the political rhetoric to new and dangerous heights. Setting up base in Priština, Arkan drove through Kosovo with armed supporters, promising local Serbs he would aggressively suppress ethnic Albanian secessionists.[38] A "key element in Arkan's [1992 electoral] strategy," Miranda Vickers writes, "was to … mobilize support for a cleansing program," a theme also promoted by Vojislav Šešelj.[39] "Kosovo is Serbian and will stay Serbian," Arkan promised at one 1992 rally, vowing that "none of our sacred land will be given to the Albanians." More ominously, he warned that "those who look towards Tirana [Albania's capital] will be expelled."[40] Arkan and Šešelj's electoral successes among local Serbs in 1992 prompted ethnic Albanian politicians to warn again that ethnic cleansing was imminent.[41] Yet despite the threats and weapons, Serbian officials blocked paramilitaries from resorting to massacres or forced depopulation. With its sovereignty over Kosovo guaranteed, the state was unwilling to tolerate paramilitary freelancing.


In early 1998, Serbia's empirical rule over Kosovo was weakened by a surprisingly successful guerrilla movement, the Kosova Liberation Army

(KLA). The group had gradually made its presence felt during 1996–97, but became a significant force only in February and March 1998. Until that time, ethnic Albanians favoring armed struggle had been effectively marginalized by Rugova's Democratic League, but as Rugova's policies lost credibility, the radicals gained in strength. Kosovo's transition to frontier-like conditions, in other words, was nourished by Rugova's declining political fortunes and the collapse of his political strategy.

Like many post-Yugoslav parties, the Democratic League was a broadly based nationalist movement comprising both former ethnic Albanian communists and longtime anticommunist dissidents. As Serbian centralization efforts unfolded in the early 1990s, Kosovo's ethnic Albanians closed ranks behind the League, and for some years, the party's political hegemony was uncontested. Its position was weakened in 1995 following the Dayton peace conference, however, which ended the Bosnian war without reference to Kosovo's sovereignty.[42] At the same conference Western powers had recognized the Bosnian Serb region, Republika Srpska, as a non-sovereign entity within Bosnia, signaling to Kosovo Albanians that denials notwithstanding, the West tacitly rewarded violent secessionism, not restraint. Bosnian Serbs had fought and earned partial international recognition, but Kosovo received nothing.

Critics of the LDK had become increasingly vocal in 1994, with some demanding more vigorous (but still nonviolent) action against Serbian authorities.[43] In 1996, Adem Demaçi, a leading ethnic Albanian political figure, proposed combining more aggressive protests against Serbian rule with more limited political demands.[44] Rexhup Qosja, another nationalist iconoclast, also supported greater confrontation, but insisted on remaining committed to full Kosovo independence.[45] Demaçi and Qosja's critiques of the LDK strategy were uncommonly blunt, but they stopped well short of advocating armed insurrection.[46] Splits within the Democratic League itself appeared in 1997, with two key LDK leaders, Hydajet Hyseni and Fehmi Agani, joining Demaçi and Qosja in advocating for more aggressive political activism.[47]

Kosovo was soon to be enveloped in armed struggle, but for a brief moment in 1997, it seemed that the LDK's critics might unleash a more proactive wave of unarmed resistance against Serbia.[48] In September, thousands of ethnic Albanian students defied both the LDK and Western diplomats, demonstrating for the right to attend ethnic Albanian schools, and for the first time in seven years, protesters were back on Kosovo's streets, dramatizing their claims and challenging the Serbian authorities. Serbian police reacted with disproportionate force, but the protests attracted international

attention and raised local morale. The demonstrations continued during the fall, and one particularly brutal police response in December 1997 spurred prominent Serbs, including the Serbian Patriarch himself, to criticize the government's actions. In early 1998, however, student protestors were eclipsed by the rising KLA guerrilla movement.

The Origins of Kosovo's Armed Rebellion

During the early and mid-1990s, there was some indication that at least a handful of Kosovo Albanians were planning armed rebellion. In 1993, Serbian police arrested 100 men, including fifteen former military officers, charging them with creating a clandestine ethnic Albanian defense ministry for the shadow Kosovo state.[49] The authorities said the group was part of Rugova's LDK, but the League's leaders denied the charge. In 1994 and 1995, Serbian forces arrested an additional 400 persons, including dozens of former ethnic Albanian police officers, charging them with membership in a secret police force.[50] Human rights groups said the trials were unfair and relied on coerced information, but there seems to have been some merit to the Serbian claims.[51]

One small but important group was the Popular Movement for Kosova, or LPK, [52] which emerged from a 1993 split within the radical Popular Movement for the Republic of Kosova (LPRK), active since the late 1970s.[53] Supported initially by communist Albania, the LPRK began with a leftist critique of Yugoslav socialism, arguing it had become complacent. The LPRK's most pressing concern was self-determination for Kosovo, however, not social reform. Following the province's 1981 wave of demonstrations, Serbian and Yugoslav authorities arrested or forced into exile most LPRK cadres.[54]

In the early 1990s, a handful of LPRK activists initiated limited training exercises in northern Albania, some of which were reportedly coordinated with LDK official Bujar Bukoshi, then prime minister of Kosovo's Bonn-based government-in-exile.[55] From Europe, Bukoshi had more freedom than his colleagues in Kosovo to explore the potential for armed resistance. These early efforts soon petered out, however, and the training camps were disbanded. The dearth of arms, money, and international support seemed overwhelming. Would-be fighters had few modern weapons, and the Albanian authorities were unwilling to permit arms smuggling. Low-key training in remote mountainous areas was one thing, but weapons acquisition and cross-border infiltration into Kosovo was far too risky.


In 1993, the LPRK split into the Popular Movement for Kosova (LPK), rooted in Europe's Kosovo diaspora, and the National Movement for the Liberation of Kosova (LKCK), based more heavily in Kosovo itself. The Popular Movement seized the initiative, creating the Kosova Liberation Army during a secret 1993 Macedonian meeting.[56] Conditions were still not right for a serious armed effort, however, as the small KLA had few members, modern weapons, and no territorial safe haven alongside Kosovo. Although Albania was a logical platform for crossborder activities, the government remained unsupportive.[57] Albania's politicians were sympathetic to Kosovo's plight, but feared antagonizing Serbia as well as Western powers. Instead, they promoted both human and sovereignty rights for Kosovo in international venues, provided Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League with international connections, and helped open an LDK office in Tirana. In 1992, Albania's sympathies for Kosovo had been briefly bolstered by contributions to Albanian Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha, who won the country's first postcommunist elections. Soon after, however, Berisha backtracked to reassure Western diplomats, and in 1994, Berisha abandoned the notion of Kosovo independence altogether, throwing his support behind a plan for Kosovo's territorial autonomy within Serbia.[58]

Piercing Kosovo's Borders

The Albanian state's ability to block cross-border movements evaporated in spring 1997, however, when the country's popular financial pyramid schemes collapsed amidst accusations of corruption, mismanagement, and fraud.[59] Massive economic losses, coupled with popular disgust with Berisha's rule, sparked waves of antigovernment protest. The machinery of the Albanian state seemed to disappear overnight as crowds stormed municipalities, police stations, and military bases, flooding illegal markets with looted weapons. One estimate calculated 500,000 assault rifles offered at $100 per unit, [60] while another counted a million weapons at under $15.[61] Whatever the true price, Kosova Liberation Army fighters gained unexpected access to massive amounts of cheap, modern arms. Of equal importance, parts of northern Albania slid from central control, becoming an area where "armed gangs with assault rifles … roam freely," and where the "police and officials are corrupt or powerless."[62] Under such conditions, KLA activists could easily reinforce their presence along the Kosovo border.[63] Popular support for the KLA in Albania's north was widespread, as many locals had family

in Kosovo. For the first time, the pieces began to fall in place for the guerrillas: weapons, a secure territorial base, and access to Kosovo's borders.

The KLA Insurgency Begins

Serbia began to move away from ethnic policing only in 1998, when the ethnic Albanian insurgency finally began to disrupt Serbia's iron grip over the province. The KLA had assumed responsibility for attacks on ethnic Serbs as early as April 1996, earning them a "terror group" designation by Serbian and Western officials. Until 1998, however, the fighting did not take on serious proportions. Serbian officials counted thirtynine persons slain by ethnic Albanian guerrillas between 1991 and 1997, with the bulk of those coming in 1996 and 1997.[64] In 1997, the KLA informed Albanian-language papers it was the national liberation movement's "armed wing,"[65] and the organization's first public appearance came on November 28, 1997, at a funeral for an ethnic Albanian slain by Serbian police in a gunfight. Three masked men in military fatigues delivered a short speech favoring independence to 20,000 mourners and then slipped away, sparking widespread enthusiasm.[66] Serbian officials took the KLA threat seriously, jailing dozens for alleged military activities in 1997, but the Democratic League dismissed the group's attacks as Serbian provocations.[67]

Toward the end of 1997, local gunmen claiming KLA ties stepped up attacks in the Drenica region, chipping away at Serbia's monopoly over violence. In late January, Serbian police raided Donji Prekaz village, home to the KLA-affiliated Jashari clan, but were repulsed by gunfire. A larger Serbian force returned in early March, destroying the Jashari compound entirely and killing fifty-eight persons, including twenty-eight women and children.[68] Serbian forces launched similar operations in Likošane and čirez villages, killing twenty-six.[69] In each case, the police shelled residential areas, executed prisoners, and looted valuables. One Serbian officer reportedly acknowledged that security forces had gotten "out of hand," with more killings averted at the last minute by a senior commander.[70]

Serbian intelligence initially assumed the KLA to be a small guerrilla faction whose activities could be easily crushed. Belgrade leaders reportedly debated using specialized units, which would have granted the KLA political significance, or deploying regular forces, which would have played down the group's importance. The government chose the latter, but according to Zoran Kusovac, "The only tactics regular troops

knew was to pound any suspected ‘terrorist resistance' with all means available."[71] The result was a bout of spectacular brutality and, contrary to Serbian expectations, a dramatic upsurge in rebellious sentiment. The KLA had begun with only a few hundred members, drawing on a handful of extended families and activists smuggled from abroad. Once Serbia began killing civilians and combatants alike in early 1998, however, the group's ranks swelled dramatically.[72] This remarkable growth stemmed from a combination of factors. First, the KLA's political colleagues in the LPK had reportedly organized loose networks of supporters in Kosovo since 1993, and these became active once the fighting began. More importantly, the notion of armed rebellion apparently enjoyed considerable support in rural Kosovo, where the urban elite's preference for passive resistance had been discredited.[73] Third, the Drenica killings prompted entire social networks, such as extended families and rural LDK chapters, to enlist en masse. "Once the rebellion erupted," Hedges writes, "local LDK leaders immediately picked up weapons and became commanders of village units," while villages "formed ad hoc militias that, while they identify themselves as KLA, act independently."[74] As a result, intra-KLA coordination became a serious problem as autonomous groups sprang up wholesale throughout the countryside.[75] At the same time, however, the notion of armed struggle remained unconvincing for some key urban intellectuals, as well as some leaders of extended families.[76]

The KLA's initial funding reportedly came from drug trafficking, money laundering, and migrant smuggling, [77] with one source estimating in early 1999 that half the KLA's budget was drug related.[78] In March 1999, British reporters "established that police forces in three Western European countries … are separately investigating growing evidence the drug money is funding the KLA's leap from obscurity to power."[79] Although some of this was speculation based on the growing European prominence of Albanian-speaking drug traders, the Kosovo Liberation Army most likely did draw at least some funds from criminal activities.[80] The Serbian killings in Drenica, however, broadened the KLA's appeal among the large Kosovar Albanian diaspora, making it easier to raise legal funds there.[81] Until then, the 800,000 to 1 million strong community[82] had mostly donated to the LDK's fund-raising agency.[83] With money and arms becoming increasingly available, KLA convoys began infiltrating the Kosovo border from northern Albania, often in columns as large as 200 horses and 1,000 persons.[84] Between January and September 1998, according to the Serbian authorities, border guards killed

90 suspected KLA infiltrators and captured 947 rifles, 161 light machine guns, 33 mortars, 55 mines, 3,295 grenades, and almost 350,000 rounds of ammunition.[85] Serbian control over Kosovo's boundaries was beginning to slip, and a central pillar of Kosovo's ghetto status was crumbling.[86] A second threat to Serbian domination was the decline in its empirical sovereignty in Kosovo itself. Here, the KLA enjoyed some early successes in summer 1998, holding up to 40 percent of rural Kosovo for short periods.[87] At one point, "The asphalt belong[ed] to the Serbian security forces and forest paths to the UCK [KLA]."[88] This established the KLA as a political player to be reckoned with, but civilians paid a heavy price. With Kosovo no longer fully under Serbian control, Serbian forces began to shift from ethnic policing to cleansing.

Partial Ethnic Cleansing

Serbia's effort to retake lost areas began in May 1998 as troops sought to seal Kosovo's border with Albania by forcibly depopulating villages near the boundary line.[89] Some 15,000 civilians fled to Albania, a further 30,000 trekked into Montenegro, and others walked deeper into Kosovo. Serbian forces began a second offensive in late July 1998, assaulting KLA-held regions in the province's interior.[90] They retook Malisevo, one of two towns held by the Kosova Liberation Army, [91] and by mid-August, had recaptured much of the province's territory.[92] The KLA's retreat stemmed from inferior firepower and poor coordination, as the guerrillas were divided into three distinct and often acrimonious groups. As a result of the Serbian offensive, some 300,000 of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians fled into the surrounding hills. Serbian forces perpetrated several massacres, including two late September incidents in Gornje Obrinje and Golubovac.[93] Overall, Serbian forces killed some 2,000 ethnic Albanians, including both combatants and civilians, and destroyed or damaged 43 percent of homes in 210 rural communities.[94]

Most of the targeted areas, however, were suspected guerrilla transit routes or bases.[95] For the most part, Serbian forces did not kill or destroy in areas where they still enjoyed empirical sovereignty, such as Kosovo's cities, attacking chiefly peripheral areas held by the insurgents. Areas of fragmented authority became objects of localized ethnic cleansing or bloody Serbian reprisals, while areas of uncontested Serbian dominance remained objects of ethnic policing. The Kosovo ghetto was collapsing, but not entirely. Serbia still projected infrastructural power

in many heavily populated areas, sticking to ethnic policing rather than cleansing.

The International Human Rights Norm in Action

Following the embarrassment of their Bosnian failures, Western leaders were determined to be more forceful with Serbia over Kosovo.[96] NATO leaders repeatedly argued they must not be humiliated by Serbia, and roundly chastised Serbia for its excessively violent response to the KLA rebellion.[97] The six-country "Contact Group," composed of France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Britain, and the United States, issued increasingly tough warnings, threatening sanctions and even military action if Serbia did not accept mediation and negotiations. For the Contact Group, the preferred solution was an internationally mediated agreement for Kosovo's autonomy within Yugoslavia, which would sideline the KLA, reduce Serbian troop levels, and maintain Serbian juridical sovereignty over the province.

On March 9, 1998, the Contact Group warned Serbia to begin negotiations or face sanctions, but an April 1998 referendum in Serbia supported the government's refusal, triggering limited sanctions. In late March, the UN Security Council imposed a comprehensive arms embargo on Serbia and Montenegro.[98] After Serbia's May 1998 offensive, Western commentators increasingly discussed the possibility of air strikes on Serbian targets, and on June 15, NATO warplanes flew over Albania and Macedonia in a show of force. Western diplomacy intensified in August and September, both threatening and cajoling Serbia to cease military operations. The fate of the internally displaced civilians in Kosovo's hills was high on the international agenda as aid officials warned of a looming humanitarian catastrophe. Serbian representatives periodically signaled their willingness to negotiate, but Serbian ground forces continued their offensive.

In late September 1998, the Security Council ordered Serbia to cease its fire, withdraw troops, and begin negotiations. On October 16, Western threats produced a Serbian agreement to halt its offensive, withdraw some forces, and permit refugee return. Most importantly, Serbia agreed to allow some 2,000 unarmed OSCE representatives to monitor ceasefire compliance and human rights conditions in Kosovo. Although Serbian military forces had managed to retake much territory before the cease-fire began, Milošević's agreement to international observers cost him heavily at home, drawing the ire of Serbian nationalists.[99]


The OSCE monitors remained in Kosovo until March 20, 1999, Serbia withdrew some troops, and the fighting did die down. Neither side halted military preparations, however, using the time to organize themselves for a future offensive, with the KLA's mobilization in northern Albania and parts of rural Kosovo matched by a Serbian buildup along Kosovo's Serbian borders. "As far as one can tell," one analyst suggests, "neither side fully abided" by the October peace deal, and "the KLA quickly recovered from the battering it received from the Serbs in the summer fighting."[100] KLA ambushes against Serbian forces continued, while Serbian retaliations were brutal. One such retaliation in mid January 1999 was particularly noteworthy, killing forty-five persons in the village of Račak, many execution-style. The massacre prompted a U.S. ultimatum to Serbia: sign a Western-designed peace treaty in Rambouillet, France, or face NATO air strikes. When the Rambouillet summit failed, the OSCE withdrew its monitors.

Serbia's harsh offensive had triggered vigorous international human rights attention and threats of Western air strikes against Serbia. It did not, however, push the West to challenge Serbia's juridical sovereignty over the province, although increased discussion of an international military presence in Kosovo, coupled with vague promises to negotiate Kosovo's final status later on, signaled a tendency to drift in that direction. Still, Kosovo's Albanian leaders had failed to convince Western powers to substitute the sovereignty norm for human rights. Unlike Bosnia, Croatia, or Slovenia, Kosovo was still located within Serbia, and was thus unable to successfully lobby for international recognition.

Assessing Serbia's 1998 Violence in Kosovo

Although some dubbed Serbia's 1998 repertoires of violence "ethnic cleansing," they were in fact quite different than the violence to come. During 1998, Serbia did not seek to expel Kosovo's ethnic Albanians from the province altogether, choosing instead to raid villages suspected of supporting the KLA; in response, many villagers fled into the hills. Although this certainly was forced displacement of a sort, it did not amount to a wholesale ethnic cleansing effort. Most importantly, Serbian forces did not move against Kosovo's urban population. The state's monopoly over violence was threatened in several key rural areas and that, for the most part, was where Serbian efforts were focused. Thus by the fall of 1998, Serbian authorities were pursuing a bifurcated strategy in which piecemeal rural cleansing existed alongside ethnic policing in the

cities. This mixed approach was sparked by changes in Kosovo's institutional conditions, the most important of which was Serbia's increasing loss of empirical sovereignty over parts of the province. The Kosovo Liberation Army had created semi-autonomous pockets and pierced the Kosovo ghetto's walls, but Serbia's loss of control was sporadic and localized, as were its ethnic cleansing operations.

Another factor inhibiting full-scale ethnic cleansing was the Western world's unwillingness to cut Serbia off entirely. By insisting they still recognized Serbia's juridical sovereignty in Kosovo and by continuing to negotiate with Serbian officials, Western powers and international institutions signaled their acceptance of Serbia as part of the international community. This was expressed most powerfully in October 1998, when the OSCE sent unarmed monitors into Kosovo, thereby respecting Serbian rights over the province.

These monitors, however, created a major contradiction for international actors. Their job was to record events on the ground in detail, bringing the media, human rights organizations, and Western governments into immediate and intimate contact with the effects of Serbian state violence. With this level of proximity, it was difficult for Western governments to downplay Serbian human rights abuses in the name of stability. Given the power of international human rights norms and the density of human rights groups clustered around Balkan events, Serbian massacres were bound to excite tremendous international attention, pushing Western governments to take concrete action. The monitors brought the reality of Serbian massacres to key Western audiences in a way that was difficult to ignore.

There is little doubt that Serbian operations against suspected KLA supporters in 1998 and 1999 were entirely brutal affairs. At the same time, however, Kosovo suffered equally or less than other areas of the world during those same years.[101] Those conflicts did not have hundreds of human rights monitors on the scene, however, with a direct line to powerful diplomatic offices and Western journalists. The discourse and actors of the international human rights norm had by now fully enveloped and penetrated Kosovo and Western agencies concerned with Balkan events, transforming Serbian massacres into major international political events.


Despite its partial loss of empirical sovereignty over Kosovo, Serbia had not yet moved to full-scale ethnic cleansing by spring 1999, suggesting

that as long as Western powers recognized Serbian juridical sovereignty over the province, despotism was not an attractive option. Serbia, it seemed, still had too much to lose by pushing its own citizens out of territory that it lawfully ruled. Once Western powers questioned Serbia's juridical sovereignty over Kosovo by launching the air war, however, the region was no longer fully part of the Serbian core, and Belgrade lost all semblance of restraint. This is a controversial claim, as it suggests that NATO bears indirect responsibility for Serbian ethnic cleansing. It was hotly denied by NATO representatives, who say that Serbia was already in the process of ethnically cleansing the province when NATO intervened. Most available evidence, however, suggests otherwise.

The best data come from the OSCE, whose monitors were on the ground until four days before the NATO air war began. Its report says Serbian ethnic cleansing began in earnest when its monitors withdrew on March 20, and escalated dramatically when the air raids began.[102] A New York Times report makes a similar claim, saying the Serbian attack "kicked into high gear on March 24, the night NATO began bombing Yugoslavia."[103] My own interviews along the Albanian border lend credence to this view. According to dozens of refugees from Kosovo's urban centers, Serbian troops began emptying the region's towns for the first time on March 25. Drawing on my research, Human Rights Watch wrote on March 30, 1999, that "the Yugoslav government evidently made a decision over the weekend [of March 25–27] to ‘cleanse’ the region of ethnic Albanians."[104] Indeed, the rate of ethnic Albanian depopulation in April and May 1999 was ten times greater than during the most intense Serbian offensives of 1998.[105]

Western politicians and NATO officials were uncomfortable with these facts, as they suggested the air war endangered the very people they were trying to protect. On March 28, 1999, President Clinton denied the NATO bombings were accelerating Serbia's expulsions, and NATO officials said shortly thereafter that the air war had only pushed Serbian forces to speed up an existing expulsion plan.[106] As evidence, officials pointed to Serbian troop mobilizations in Kosovo in January 1999[107] and a secret Serbian plan, "Operation Horseshoe."[108] According to the German government, Belgrade devised Horseshoe in late 1998 and set it in motion during January 1999, months before the NATO air war began.[109] The plan allegedly ordered Serbian forces to begin attacking Kosovo from the north, east, and west, forcing the population to flee southward.[110] In June 1999, KLA soldiers and British reporters in Kosovo said they had discovered proof of Horseshoe amidst captured Serbian documents.[111]


The notion that NATO's intervention only slightly accelerated an ongoing Serbian expulsion campaign is radically at odds with Western intelligence assessments prior to the air war, however. In early 1999, U.S. intelligence officials believed that an upcoming Serbian offensive in Kosovo would be a limited attack. According to experts on U.S. military policy, the Central Intelligence Agency did not even "prominently raise the possibility" of systematic depopulation in the months leading up to the air assault. The commander of NATO's Serbia war operations agreed, saying, "We never expected that the Serbs would push ahead with the wholesale deportation of the ethnic Albanian population."[112] At least some U.S. officials continued to maintain this position after the NATO air war began, despite the embarrassment it caused their government. Five days after the air campaign began, a Pentagon spokesman said no one "could have foreseen the breadth of this [Serbian] brutality," contradicting his own president, who had stated one day earlier that the United States had intervened precisely because it knew a Serbian ethnic cleansing offensive was imminent.[113] In fact, the evidence suggests that prior to the war, most U.S. analysts believed Serbia would at the very worst expel some 350,000 persons from their homes, repeating their 1998 actions.[114] The dearth of humanitarian provision along Kosovo's borders lends credence to this view. According to UN relief workers, Western governments did not warn of a mass flow of refugees prior to the air war.[115] It is also true that no supplies had been pre-positioned along Kosovo's borders prior to the launching of NATO's air war.[116]

Was there, then, any Serbian expulsion plan at all? According to Serbian reporter Braca Grubačić, editor of a respected English-language newsletter in Belgrade, there was no preconceived plan. "There were vague ideas about expulsions" prior to the NATO attack, he said, but no premeditated ethnic cleansing scheme. Once the bombing began, however, Serbian troops and paramilitaries "just did it," since there was a broad Serbian attitude of "we'll fuck'em if they start."[117] This argument is indirectly supported by retired German general Heinz Loquai, who claims "Operation Horseshoe" was a German government invention aimed at legitimating its controversial participation in the Kosovo war.[118] According to Loquai, German intelligence obtained vague reports via Bulgarian security sources of Serbian plans for Kosovo and then repackaged the rumors as the full-blown "Operation Horseshoe."

The speed and efficiency with which Serbia carried out the expulsions, however, makes the notion of an entirely spontaneous effort seem unlikely. Serbian operations were too rapid, systematic, and coordinated to

have been thrown together, in the heat of war and at the last moment, by impetuous Serbian fighters. Some careful planning must have been in place before the air war, even as only one of several possible scenarios. A reasonable interpretation of events is that Serbian officers, like their counterparts worldwide, prepared different scenarios for different contingencies during late 1998 and early 1999. A substantial military offensive aimed at clearing certain pro-KLA areas of fighters and their civilian supporters is likely to have been prepared for spring 1999, as most Western intelligence officials seem to have anticipated. A broader and more comprehensive effort to empty Kosovo of all ethnic Albanians is also likely to have been on the drawing boards, however, just in case the opportunity arose. As I argued in the introduction to Part I, the Serbian national idea contained a bundle of multiple and conflicting interpretations, and there was no single, cohesive set of tactics for achieving Serbian national goals. Rather, there were multiple possibilities and interpretations, only some of which were translated into action at specific times by particular institutional settings.

Operation Horseshoe, or its functional equivalent, was set in motion in March 1999 because Kosovo's institutional setting had been dramatically transformed by NATO's determined military intervention. "NATO's bombing," a Brookings Institution study argues, "lifted a constraint on the Serb leader that may have been operative until that point. Before that point, [Milošević] had an incentive to keep NATO from attacking him. Once the attack was under way, however, he no longer had that same reason to hold back."[119] In institutional terms, the NATO air strike expelled Serbia from the Western-dominated "international community" and appeared deeply threatening to Serbia's juridical and empirical sovereignty over the province. Although Kosovo was still theoretically located within the Serbian core (a status NATO officially said it had no intention of changing), it appeared on the verge of escaping Serbia's orbit through a combined KLA/NATO effort. Kosovo's ghetto status was evaporating, transforming the region into a Bosnia-like "frontier." With the West finally bombing Belgrade, Serbia no longer could expect any benefits from holding back. It had been isolated from the Western-dominated international community and thus could not expect any gain from continuing to observe any vestige of norms against forced deportation.

Why, specifically, did Serbia pursue ethnic cleansing in Kosovo? First, the notion of changing the ethnic balance in disputed regions was a powerful strand of Serbian political discourse. Many in Serbia saw continued

Serbian rule over Kosovo as the only way to protect local ethnic Serbs and preserve the country's national heritage. Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority, in this view, presented an acute political, military, and demographic threat. Beyond this fundamental point, however, Serbia seemed to have additional tactical considerations. First, it hoped to weaken NATO's resolve by destabilizing Macedonia and Albania.[120] With Italy, Germany, and other European countries fearful of being forced to accept more refugees, moreover, Serbian decision makers may have also gambled that the mass outflow might drive a wedge between the United States and its European allies. Third, Serbia hoped to defeat the KLA by reducing its pool of potential supporters.[121] Although in spring 1999 all areas of Kosovo experienced ethnic cleansing, pro-KLA regions were hardest hit.[122] And finally, Serbian military planners may have hoped to hinder a NATO ground invasion by crowding the roads with refugees. These tactical considerations all backfired, however, as televised images of refugees provided powerful justification for NATO's intervention, boosting popular support in Europe and the United States for the war.[123]

In previous chapters, we saw different manifestations of Serbian nationalism spread over different geographic locales. Chapter 3 discussed the most virulent manifestations of Serbian nationalism in Bosnia, arguing that the region's frontier-like setting led to ethnic cleansing. Chapter 4, by contrast, showed a less despotic manifestation of Serbian nationalism within the Serbian core, where semi-private paramilitaries and nationalist crisis committees were partially constrained by the Serbian state.

The events described in this chapter condense these experiences into one geographic locale, the disputed province of Kosovo, where institutional settings changed over time, not space. Between 1989 and 1997, Kosovo was firmly controlled by Serbia and was tightly integrated into the Serbian core. The West extended the norm of human rights to the province, but steadfastly refused to recognize ethnic Albanian pleas for Kosovo's independence. At the same time, there was a lack of a serious armed insurgency on the ground; the result of these combined circumstances was that Serbian empirical and juridical sovereignty was maintained. Although this left ethnic Albanians trapped under a harsh regime of ethnic policing, it also shielded them from Bosnia-style ethnic cleansing. As had been true in the Sandžak and Vojvodina, semi-private Serbian nationalists threatened extreme violence against Kosovo, but did not follow through with action—or not, at least, until conditions changed.


In 1998, Kosovo's institutional setting shifted dramatically following an effective ethnic Albanian insurgency threatening Serbia's empirical sovereignty over the province. Pockets of rural territory became no-go areas for Serbian forces, and KLA rebels managed to seize as much as 40 percent of the territory for a short time. Kosovo's ghetto status was disrupted, although not entirely dismantled, and Serbian ethnic cleansing was pernicious but piecemeal. Some rural areas were violently depopulated, but others were not, and Kosovo's urban concentrations were not touched. This all changed in 1999, when the withdrawal of OSCE monitors and the NATO air war cut Serbia off from its last ties to the world community and presented the regime with a serious challenge to its control over Kosovo. As had been true for Bosnia, the province was being dramatically and quickly "externalized" by Western action, and again, Serbia responded with ethnic cleansing. Having lost infrastructural control over Kosovo, ethnic cleansing, not ethnic policing, became Serbia's repertoire of violence.

Luckily for Kosovo's ethnic Albanians, the West had greater conviction in 1999 than in 1992. Whereas Bosnia was abandoned to its fate by vaguely well-meaning but entirely undercommitted Western powers in April 1992, Kosovo was not. NATO's intervention was indirectly responsible for the Serbian assault on civilians, but NATO troops eventually saw the task through and brought the refugees home. Some 10,000 ethnic Albanians paid with their lives, however, and hundreds of thousands had lost their homes and possessions.

Part I chronicled the rise of Serbian nationalism in the 1980s and early 1990s and the subsequent waves of state-supported or tolerated violence in Bosnia and Serbia proper. Those waves, however, were by no means uniform. Rather than seeing "Serbian nationalist violence" as a homogeneous phenomenon, I have sought to highlight the varieties in repertoires of Serbian state violence across different institutional settings. In Bosnia, Serbian nationalism led to ethnic cleansing during 1992–93, the first terrible year of the Bosnian war, but in the Serbian core, ethnic cleansing did not occur until 1998–99, and then only in Kosovo.

Contemporary Serbian nationalism contained both radical and more moderate strands. The most radical elements, which conventional Western wisdom has most come to associate with Serbia, defined membership in the Serbian community in purely ethnic terms and was committed to

establishing a Greater Serbian state. In that vision, non-Serbs had little hope of fair treatment. More moderate strands of Serbian political discourse were influenced by the longtime existence of a Serbian republic within the socialist and anti-nationalist Yugoslavia, and the insertion of that republic in a wider global context. For states in the post–World War II world, be they communist or liberal, membership in the global universe of moral obligation was at least formally defined by universalistic criteria, including notions of law and order and bureaucratic due process. This phenomenon was increasingly reinforced by global-level norms of human rights.

Serbian nationalism in the 1980s, like many similar ideologies, was an amalgam of both radical and moderate strands, or perhaps more accurately, of national-particularism and universalism. The two coexisted uneasily, and neither achieved lasting hegemony. Radical particularism was victorious in some areas at some times, while strands of universalism had the upper hand elsewhere. Within Serbia proper the state enjoyed unrivaled infrastructural powers, and was thus unwilling to let extreme national particularism reign supreme. Serbia's ethnic cleansing of areas under its juridical and empirical sovereignty would have demolished its identity as a modern, liberal, or socialist state, and would have led to its exile from the wider community of nations. Neither could the Serbian state abandon nationalism altogether, however, because the ruling elite maintained power through its legitimating discourse, and because a nationalist counter-elite was waiting impatiently in the wings. A Serbian government that openly repudiated the Serbian people and abandoned diaspora Serbs altogether risked sparking a substantial domestic political challenge.

In 1992 and 1993, a unique set of events created an institutional setting that led to a despotic regime of power in Bosnia, permitting the most radical strands of Serbian nationalism to predominate. The trigger was the ability of Slovenia and Croatia to win international recognition of their sovereignty, which paved the way for Bosnian independence. Once the West applied the norm of sovereignty, rather than human rights, to Bosnia, the stage was set for the creation of frontier-like conditions. In April 1992, Bosnia was internationally recognized as a sovereign entity distinct from rump Yugoslavia, composed of Serbia and Montenegro, creating two separate institutional entities. Western powers expected sovereignty would insulate Bosnia from Serbian nationalism, but the exact opposite took place.

By separating Bosnia from Serbia, the West provided the radical

strand of Serbian nationalism an opportunity to free itself from the constraints of international and domestic norms. Chaos reigned in Bosnia, but the new, Western-imposed border absolved Serbia from legal responsibility for events. As a result, Serbian nationalism could grow to its fullest and most awful dimensions. On the frontier, membership in the universe of moral obligation was defined by Serbian nationalists in purely particularistic terms, leading to the forced removal of non-Serbs from the newly sovereign Bosnia. The institutional setting facilitating this moment of ethnic cleansing was the frontier, while its mechanisms were the paramilitaries, crisis committees, and the covert, cross-border network linking Belgrade to Bosnia.

Inside the Serbian core, things were very different. Here, the Serbian state remained constrained by national and international norms, which, for a time, reinforced the universalistic strands of Serbian political discourse. With its infrastructural power still high and its juridical and empirical sovereignty ensured, Serbia allowed norms of responsibility, law, order, and universal citizenship to predominate.

Throughout most of the 1990s, communal membership in Serbia was a complex affair. Purely national criteria were still strongly supported, and many non-Serbs lived in a state of threat and discrimination. But as citizens of a Serbian state seeking to project an image of multiethnic harmony to itself and to the world, they could lay claim to protection of a sort from state authorities. Unlike non-Serb Bosnians, the non-Serb citizens of Serbia and Montenegro had a platform from which they could defend themselves. They had rights as citizens of the Serbian state, and these could not be entirely withdrawn without the collapse of the state's legitimacy on both the domestic and international fronts. In Kosovo, this system was undermined in 1998–99 due first to the KLA insurgency, and then to NATO's intervention. With both its empirical and juridical sovereignty over the province under threat, Serbia abandoned its remaining commitments to universalism and unleashed a cruelly intense wave of ethnic cleansing.

International diplomacy and norms played crucial roles in the entire process. Both the frontier and the core were internationalized arenas: On the Bosnian frontier, that internationalization took place through the rapid and surprising consolidation of Bosnia as a full-fledged sovereign state and the grafting of the sovereignty norm onto the Bosnia-Serbia border. Inside the Yugoslav/Serbian core, internationalization was already in place in the state's investment in its "citizenship" in the international community. Even non-Serb populations in Sandžak, Vojvodina,

and Kosovo were partially protected by international human rights norms. Internationalization held the Serbian state accountable for events in its territory, forcing it to restrain radical nationalism. On the Bosnian frontier, however, the opposite took place. In Kosovo, international human rights norms initially helped protect ethnic Albanians from forced depopulation, but as Serbian retaliations for KLA actions became increasingly brutal, human rights pressures forced the West toward military intervention.

Another possibility existed for dealing with the demographic and political challenges posed by non-Serbs in Bosnia, Kosovo, and elsewhere. If Serbs wanted to maintain a radically nationalist notion of communal membership without expelling the non-Serb population, they could have defined Muslims and Croats as subjects with few legal rights, creating a two-tier political hierarchy. Non-Serbs would have occupied the lower tier as subordinate subjects, being permitted to stay on their land, but with severely restricted political and legal rights. In order to create such a formalized two-tier system, however, Serbs would have needed at least the tacit permission of international forces, and more specifically, the large Western powers.

Part II deals with precisely one such system: Israel and the Palestinian territories it occupied beginning in 1967. Here, the Jewish-Israeli population, defined in purely ethno-national terms, controlled some 2 million non-Jews with few political and few legal rights. Palestinians were officially inscribed into the Israeli control system as subordinate subjects, leaving them trapped inside the bureaucratic fabric of the Jewish state, exposing them to harsh ethnic policing while simultaneously shielding them from ethnic cleansing. The institutional setting in which this took place was the Palestinian ghetto, whose construction and methods of operation are the topic of the following chapters.

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