Friday’s edition of the Macedonian journal Utrenski Vesnik carried a report that has, so far, not found its way into the ever-vigilant Western news media’s reports from the region.

Namely, as related by the correspondent of the Belgrade B-92 radio from the Macedonian capital of Skoplje, “Two days ago, Albanian extremists along the Macedonian-Yugoslav border near the village of Tanusevci shot at an American plane, which was subsequently forced to make an emergency landing at a still unidentified location on Kosovo. The craft used for night-reconnaissance was flown by a two-man crew, which came through without any serious consequences.

“Utrenski Vesnik claims that the aircraft was fired upon with 300 to 400 12.7 mm anti-aircraft ammunition from the territory of Kosovo, between the villages of Debelde and Tanusevci. The low-flying craft was hit several times, causing it to lose radio contact with the command in Pristina, and KFOR sought aid from the Macedonian side in trying to find a location for the forced landing.”

KFOR spokesman Richard Heffer spun the story in the following way: “I believe he [the pilot] saw fire. Basically, he thought he was being shot at, and he took evasive action.”

So the incident definitely happened, it’s just a matter of whether it all happened in real space and time, as reported by the Macedonian paper, or just in the heads of the U.S. pilot and KFOR’s spokesman, who merely “believe” or “thought” that it all took place.

Assuming that Western military spokesmen in the Balkans have not adapted a policy by which they plan to announce everything that goes through the minds of their troops while they “keep the peace” in the region, it becomes clear that such equivocating language on the part of the KFOR spokesman is being used with the purpose of downplaying the whole matter. And the logical question that comes up is — why?

For it is fairly certain that had such a thing happened in, say, Iraq, downtown Baghdad probably would have been burning by now. At the very least, the spot from which the fire originated would have been bombed into cinders and Saddam Hussein issued fresh statements testifying to U.S. and British “continued resolve,” etc.

But U.S. planes did not bomb Albanian terrorist positions — and they are not going to. And they shouldn’t, for they have no business bombing anybody in the Balkans. But they have bombed the Serbs time and again, on the basis of inventions or unfounded claims. And they may again. One need only hear U.S. diplomat Shawn Sullivan, chief of the new NATO office in Pristina, as quoted by AFP several days earlier:

“If a stray shell hit Outpost Sapper [near an Albanian terrorist base in the “demilitarized zone” between Kosovo and Serbia], it would be the worst thing the [Yugoslav] government could experience,” the U.S. adviser said.

Asked if KFOR would retaliate against Serb forces, he said: “I would think so. I don’t think we would accept an ‘Oops, we’re sorry.'”

Of course not. But Albanian terrorists need not even apologize.

UN Special Envoy for Human Rights, Jiri Dienstbier, stated in Prague on Friday that “KFOR has not fulfilled the task given to it by the Security Council Resolution … What is happening there [on Kosovo] is organized ethnic cleansing …”

He also charged that Albanian terrorist units regularly move “in front of their [KFOR’s] eyes” but that the “international community does not want to risk anything,” citing Western governments’ fears of possible casualties among the KFOR troops. “It is impossible, however, to fight against violence without using violence,” continued Dienstbier.

However, as Shawn Sullivan made it plain, violence is an option, if it’s directed against the Serbs.

So, Milosevic is gone, but nothing in essence has changed. And there is no need to dwell on obvious answers to the above-mentioned double standards. Just like Iraq, Serbia is simply too strong a factor to be left unmolested in its particular region. And the Empire needs to be in control wherever it can.

So I have a suggestion for the Imperial Command. Empires by themselves are not necessarily bad. Rome left behind the legacy of Roman Law; Byzantium Christianized its surroundings; Britain spread the ideas of parlimentarianism to all corners of the globe. But empires based on raw force have left only destruction in their wake, along with hateful memories of their presence. And when internal contradictions reached their peak, even the biggest empires collapsed from within.

Thus, if the Western democracies wish to extend their rule, they first need to impose their stated standards uniformly. Otherwise, the cynicism and hypocrisy they use on the outside is sure to bounce back at them like a boomerang. But, then, that is already taking place.

As it stands, the West’s “moral” crusade in the Balkans has descended to the level of that African tribe that says, “What is Good is when we steal the other tribe’s cattle. What is Bad is when the other tribe comes and steals our own.”

Aleksandar Pavic in Belgrade has covered Yugoslavia’s historic election and its dramatic aftermath for

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.