By Christopher Hyland
Former Deputy National Political Director, 1992 Clinton for President Campaign
President Trump deservers much credit for decisively negotiating, however difficult some of the aspects might be, a successful, much needed Kosovo Serbia Agreement, part of a way forward towards prosperity and peace.
Years of blockage emanating from, among other quarters, Central Europe required undoing. Signed at the White House on September 4th, Special Envoy Ambassador Grenell having worked hard to make it happen, the Agreement is a substantial step forward in normalizing relations between the two countries. President Trump’s and his Kosovo and Serb counterparts’ success in achieving agreement, for this writer, brings to further, positive, conclusion a personal interest of mine in pursuing peace in Kosovo, one which began in 1991 when I worked very hard contributing to Bill Clinton winning the Presidency.
During my tenure as Deputy National Political Director of the Clinton Presidential Campaign, I was honored to have met and had a long conversation with Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova and to have met Kosovo Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi, both of whom championed their cause while espousing peace. I vividly remember both of them agreeing to my suggestion-as reported, if I recall correctly, in Illyria-that Pec, the ancient Orthodox pilgrimage site of great emotional meaning to the Serbs, be designated a special Sovereign Religious State within Kosovo, much as Mount Athos is in Greece. On this issue the leaders were interested in making an effort to accommodate understanding between Kosovo and Serbia. Sadly this substantial, highly respectful Kosovo gesture towards the Serbs was lost.
Before one of Clinton’s major 1992 campaign foreign policy speeches, I passed a note to him that included a request that he include in his comments a commitment to recognize an independent Kosovo. He did not include Kosovo, instead he pledged to recognize the independence of other, then breaking up, parts of the former Yugoslavia. I suggested a similar position be taken in his Milwaukee foreign policy speech, an event which I suggested, still to no avail.
I frequently mentioned, to all who would listen, during the Clinton campaign and later in the Clinton White House, that failure to solve the Kosovo issue would lead to dire consequences. During the Clinton Transition I chaired an Eastern European Conference which Albanian-Americans attended during which Kosovo was also discussed. History proved my suggestions and admonitions valid, when, well into Clinton’s Presidency, hundreds of thousands of Kosovo citizens were displaced, afoot, wandering Kosovo’s highways, facing starvation and worse. Then, in this dire situation, to his credit, finally Clinton acted.
Illyria, the Albanian American newspaper, further introduced me, in the early 1990’s to the Albanian community who came to America from Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, and what is now called North Macedonia. I was very much aware of Illyria, as Albania was called in ancient times. My parents had friends who came from Albania. The Marxist Leninist, then later Maoist regime, led by dictator Enver Hoxha, who terrorized Albania for decades until 1985, was notorious. Albanian Americans made it clear to me that they came to America to be well free of the ideological socialists who had enslaved their lands for decades.
Sadly, over the last almost thirty years since my involvement, during the Clinton Campaign, in attempting to sustain a balanced, fair all round Balkans narrative- in particular as concerns Kosovo-the Democratic Party has increasingly given credence to ideological socialists, the very political extremism which drove Albanians to seek freedom in America and elsewhere. The silence and or damningly supportive commentary Democratic Party leaders are expressing during months of Leftist terrorism in our country is very concerning.
In this election I am urging the Albanian American community, many of whom must be very concerned by the lawlessness overwhelming our cities, to vote for President Trump. Sadly, it appears that Democratic leaders repeatedly give more than tacit approval for this lawlessness. President Trump stands for a strong American economy, having, pre Covid19, achieved record high employment. Most important, he is a bulkhead against extremist ideologues. He will defend us all against the eroding the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Democracy.
Albanians did not suffer decades of socialist dictatorship, often reaching America only after great hardship, to face ideological extremists whose end goal is to overthrow the American economy, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Many Albanians fled the extremist, ideological Marxist Leninist regime of Enver Hoxha, one of the most horrific dictatorships in history, still others Tito’s Socialist Yugoslavia.
Albanian Americans recognize extremism, and they know that once it takes hold, it is very difficult to undo, as fear is its most effective and sinister hand maiden. Clearly the vast majority of Democratic Party leaders do not agree the terrorism being inflicted upon our cities, but an increasing militant, extremist, highly intimidating wing is taking power within the Democratic Party, causing main stream Democratic leaders to be too frightened to utter even so much as one word of caution, let alone protest against the Marxist extremists. There is fear within their ranks.
But we need to challenge these extremists. If democratic leaders will not challenge them, then we need to challenge these extremists at the ballot box.
President Trump safeguards America from the tyranny of extremism. Yes, we need new police procedures, and greater tolerance to correct inequities such as the egregious death of Mr. George Floyd, while recognizing the outstanding work and dedication of law enforcement. But, Marxist extremism in the Democratic Party, Marx a total racist, is not the answer. Any state associated with the word Marxist equates with brutal, police state tactics.
Americans of all backgrounds are, under our Constitution, endeavoring to attain an increasingly better, more tolerant and inclusive society. Albanian Americans, as have numerous other American communities, fled from leftist dictatorships, other Americans liberating themselves from indentured servitude and odious slavery, starvation, and intolerant monarchies. There is fear within their ranks. The Democratic Party has lost it’s way. But, we have not lost our way, we need to challenge these extremists at the ballot box.
America need never be ruled by a party even vaguely reminiscent of or espousing extremist ideology akin to Maoist Albania, Communist Yugoslavia or Soviet Russia. We want an ever better, prosperous, tolerant and inclusive America. President Trump is leading us in that direction, still further along our exceptional journey in history of which we are all an important part.
I urge the Albanian American community to vote for President Donald Trump for a second term.
Christopher Hyland: former Dep.Nat.Pol.Director 1992 Clinton Campaign; recipient of a St. Patrick for Peace in Ireland and life long Republican.