Serbs were solid backers of Bush
Cleveland Plain Dealer (Ohio), November 11, 2004
Goriented constituencies nationwide are presenting their political bills to the newly empowered Bush administration and the enhanced Republican majority in Congress. Each can, with justice, claim some part of the credit: gun-owners, pro-lifers, tax-cutters, security moms, veterans, small-business owners, farmers you name it.
But of any group, in any state, the one that plausibly can lay most claim to the Bush margin of victory are the estimated 50,000-plus Serbian-Americans of Ohio.
Serbs had special reason to dread a John Kerry presidency. Holding the unenviable distinction of having been the only European people since World War II to have been bombed (twice) by the United States or more precisely, by the Clinton administration Serbs could see the whole collection from the 1990s waiting to assume high posts in a Kerry administration. This group included Wesley Clark, Richard Holbrooke, Jamie Rubin, Sandy Berger, Leon Fuerth and Madeleine Albright.
If the Clinton lineup got a second chance at bat under Kerry, Serbs had no reason to doubt that they would once again be the ball. Even during the campaign, the Clinton-Kerry team began winding up for the first pitch, set for early 2005: final detachment of the Serbian province of Kosovo and giving it status as an independent country. The beneficiary would be the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), terrorist organization whose leadership is composed of the most notorious organized crime mafia in Europe. The KLA has documented links to the global jihad terror network, including the Iranians and al-Qaida.
Following the 1999 Clinton war against Serbia, Kosovo was placed under NATO occupation and the KLA was given free rein to drive most Serbs from Kosovo, the historic heart of their nation. Scores of ancient Orthodox Christian churches and monasteries were destroyed. Even now, five years after the war, the KLA still launches sporadic terror attacks on the dwindling number of Serb targets to punctuate its demands for a "final solution" an independent Muslim Kosovo with no Christian Serbs.
Kerry and his top advisers made clear their readiness to comply. Among the prominent guests at the Democratic Convention in Boston was KLA commander Hashim Thaci, also known by his criminal alias "Snake." On his return to Kosovo, Thaci gleefully declared: "It was confirmed once again that a Democratic administration would recognize and respect the will of the people of Kosova for self-determination."
Earlier this year, a Dutch TV network broadcast a documentary showing Clark and Holbrooke attending a fund-raiser in Brooklyn at which they accepted donations to the Kerry campaign from self-identified members of the KLA. These same KLA members are then shown packing up and shipping weapons to Kosovo for a renewed insurrection, in evident violation of a number of federal laws. They openly spoke of their expectation that their donations would be rewarded once Kerry became president.
The Serbian pro-Bush effort was a true grass-roots event, spontaneously mobilizing itself. "Serbian Americans believe a Bush administration will have the integrity and wisdom to pursue even-handed and objective policies with respect to their ancestral homeland, Serbia," declared www.serbsforbush.com
, "and toward Serbs throughout the Balkans."
Moreover, 10 days before the election, the Bush campaign issued an appeal to Orthodox Christians (not only Serbs, but Greeks, Russians, etc.) as a faith community, a first for either major party. Compared to the Kerry campaign's blatant collusion with the criminal and terrorist KLA, the Bush pledge to the Orthodox to seek "equitable and lasting solutions to international crises and conflicts, such as those that continue to afflict the Middle East, the Balkans and the Caucasus" was a welcome alternative. The statement rapidly saturated Orthodox news sites both in the United States (see www.orthodoxchristiansforbush.com
) and abroad.
The result was possibly the most lopsided pro-Bush turnout of any community among American Serbs and other Orthodox sympathetic to Serb concerns. So when American Serbs and especially Ohio Serbs tell the Bush White House that they are behind the president 100 percent, they can be taken at their word.
The Bush approach promises finally to rectify what has been the most glaring U.S. inconsistency in prosecuting the war against international jihad terrorism. American and Ohio Serbs know perhaps better than anyone how the Clinton errors of the past have hurt American interests, especially in the war on terror where, very simply, some Democrats were on the other side.
Now it will be up to the second Bush administration decisively to reject the course that Kerry's crowd would have implemented had they been given the chance.
Jatras is an attorney in Washington, D.C. He was previously a senior policy analyst for the Republican leadership team in the U.S. Senate.