Information Technology Approach To Interoperability Essay Example For College

Introduction

The adoption of digital systems in healthcare poses a number of advantages for providers and patients. However, the wide variety of solutions raises the issue of compatibility between different platforms, preventing efficient data exchange. The following paper provides an overview of a solution to the issue covered in FierceHealthIT and outlines the main advantages and challenges associated with it.

Topic Selection and Rationale

The topic chosen for the assignment is the implementation of interoperability framework capable of sharing data across multiple vendors and capturing certain patient-generated information. The article covering the topic presents an example of such a system created by a non-profit organization SSM Health and launched in 2016 (Hirsch, 2018). According to the information from the article, the system is leveraging the possibilities offered by health information exchanges (HIEs) from several states and is compatible with several patient-centered services that collect, store, and process data submitted by the patients (Hirsch, 2018).

The topic was chosen for two reasons. First, the issue of interoperability of digital data is a serious problem in the field of modern healthcare. The ongoing shift from paper-based to digital data formats requires the compatibility of the information across multiple platforms and systems. Currently, there is no unified standard that could be adopted in an agreeable fashion by the developers of the solutions and clinicians. As a result, it is reasonable to expect the decline of compatibility in the short term, especially in the absence of a central authority that could point to the most viable direction of development. Second, the system covered in the article is built upon health information exchange services, which are expected to become the default approach in data storage, transfer, and analysis. The existence of a functional prototype that is efficient and has the potential for further development is essential for a successful transformation of health care delivery practices.

Impact on Practice

In order to understand the implications of the existence of interoperable systems on nursing practices, it is necessary to outline the current state of affairs in healthcare. Despite significant progress made in the transition to the use of digital data, a significant proportion of information is still stored in paper format. When the need to transfer a certain document to a specific party arises, it is usually done using mail, fax, or is delivered by the patient. In addition to enormous operational inefficiency and slow speed of the transfer, this method creates a number of safety concerns and may result in loss of data or exposure of sensitive information. Importantly, the current state of technology used in healthcare solutions allows eliminating the said issues by using data protection mechanisms and direct messaging (Reicher & Reicher, 2016). However, this approach creates the problem of compatibility, as different vendors use different platforms and, as a result, convert data to different formats.

At this point, it would be reasonable to suggest the introduction of a unified standard as the most appropriate solution. However, this outcome is unlikely due to the multitude of different platforms. Thus, in the short term, it would be more appropriate to aim at increasing interoperability between different sources of data to facilitate seamless and secure exchange of data between stakeholders.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Approach

The approach to interoperability described in the article has several advantages. First, it allows the participants in the network to retain their preferred data formats. While this seems like a counterintuitive solution, it should be acknowledged that in many cases, software solutions used by healthcare providers and related organizations are relatively modern and, as a result, expensive. The high cost of transition to digital data is often cited as one of the reasons behind the insufficient pace of healthcare reform. In this light, the requirement to switch to a different format would result in massive financial difficulties and would not be possible for many organizations, whereas an increase in interoperability can be achieved relatively easily.

With this in mind, it is also necessary to recognize the involvement of external stakeholders. The difficulty of deploying unified healthcare standards, in this case, is complicated by the need to account for systems used in unrelated organizations, such as the Department of Defense database mentioned in the article (Hirsch, 2018). The interoperability approach would allow ensuring compatibility with these external systems in the most efficient manner possible.

Third, it is necessary to point out the benefits of the financial aspects of the approach. As was mentioned above, the shift to a new system is associated with major expenses, such as for purchasing of new software and hardware and staff training. In at least some cases, the effect will be cumulative, since some of the facilities have undergone the adoption of new platforms for handling digital patient data. The interoperability approach would mitigate the losses by ensuring compatibility with existing systems and, by extension, eliminating the need for major expenses.

Fourth, HIE-based approach is a feasible way of engaging the patients in health care delivery process by allowing patient-oriented services to interface with the network. Currently, a growing number of services incorporate functions based on patient-generated data, such as information on seasonal immunizations and biometric readings. Once processed and converted into an appropriate format, this data can provide valuable insights both for clinicians and nurses. In addition, the integration of patient-generated data would increase patient involvement in the treatment process, which is known to have a positive effect on patient outcomes (Renedo, Marston, Spyridonidis, & Barlow, 2015).

Finally, in the long term, it is possible to expect a positive impact of HIE implementation on monitoring and reporting of public health. Traditionally, gathering and processing large amounts of data requires significant time and resources. HIE implementation would allow obtaining the necessary data relatively seamlessly.

However, it is also important to acknowledge several challenges. First, in the short term, it is possible to expect technical difficulties that may lead to loss of data. Second, the variability of systems can make progress in achieving interoperability uneven, leading to delays in some areas of healthcare. Finally, it is possible to expect the emergence of data security issues, especially considering the involvement of different operating systems and devices.

Informatics Skills and Knowledge

The selected topic required knowledge of digital data systems and services for collecting and processing patient-submitted data. Next, a basic understanding of data format compatibility was necessary for developing the assignment. Finally, the familiarity with data analysis and security was helpful in outlining some of the pros and cons of the approach.

Conclusion

As can be seen, HIE demonstrates significant potential for data interoperability in healthcare. Thus, in the short term, it can be recommended for the providers to examine the existing functional prototypes of the system. In the long run, it is advised to implement the interoperability solutions on an institutional level and support the process with relevant policies and guidelines to support the transition and increase the overall efficiency of the system.

References

Hirsch, M. D. (2018). Without a single solution, hospitals are taking different paths to interoperability. Web.

Reicher, J. J., & Reicher, M. A. (2016). Implementation of certified EHR, patient portal, and “direct” messaging technology in a radiology environment enhances communication of radiology results to both referring physicians and patients. Journal of Digital Imaging, 29(3), 337-340.

Renedo, A., Marston, C. A., Spyridonidis, D., & Barlow, J. (2015). Patient and public involvement in healthcare quality improvement: How organizations can help patients and professionals to collaborate. Public Management Review, 17(1), 17-34.

The Kosovo Liberation Front – Heroes, Villains Or Both?

Introduction

The Kosovo Liberation Front, also known as Kosovo Liberation Army, was a para-military movement that fought against Serbian army, security forces, and pro-Serbian movements in Kosovo insurgency of 1995-1999, which ended with the formation of an independent and partially-recognized Albanian state. Its role and place in history are disputed – the KLA is viewed as national heroes by some and Islamic terrorists by others.

The KLA has been praised by the international community for fighting for freedom, and for their bravery in the face of an overwhelming foe. At the same time condemned for civilian executions, destruction of historical monuments and religious places, forceful relocation of over 200,000 Serbians, the creation of concentration camps, and religious extremism (Freedman 337). The viewpoints usually differ based on prevalent political opinions regarding Serbia, Kosovo, Albanians, and Islam in general.

As it often happens during civil conflicts, there is no clearly defined separation between right and wrong, good and evil. Both sides believe to be on the right, and both sides commit atrocities, driven by hatred, fear, and other human vices. The conflict caused more than 13,500 deaths among the Albanians, Serbs, Bosniaks, and Roma, and over 1.5 million of people were displaced (Freedman 337). In order to understand the role of KLA in the contemporary history of the Kosovo state, one has to look at both sides of the coin and expand the view beyond the immediate boundaries of the battlefield, where the war was waged. As it often happens with wars, its immediate consequences go far beyond the borders of one country.

During the Kosovo War of 1998-1999, KLA was responsible for many atrocities, ranging from the use of child soldiers to desecration of religious monuments, creation of concentration camps, mass executions, organ trade, drug money, weapon smuggling, and other crimes. Were the sacrifices worth it? This paper is dedicated to studying and analyzing the appearance of KLA, its actions, the results of these actions, and the political consequences of the Kosovar rebellion on the international views regarding national sovereignty and border integrity.

The Revolts of 1981 and the Economic Situation in Yugoslavia

The events that led to the Kosovo uprising in 1995 could be traced to protests in 1981. Back then, Kosovo was a part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Geis et al. 107). As a province that was largely populated by Albanians, they were treated as an autonomous province, with expanded rights for self-governance. In practice, however, there were tensions between the Albanian and the Serbian populations in the country.

The revolt was motivated by the poor economic state of the Albanian province – the majority of the population were out of work young people and students. Historically, students played a very important role in any civil uprisings, being the most motivated and, occasionally, misinformed revolutionary force. The first point of controversy for Kosovo uprising comes from this time period – one of the primary slogans for the revolt stated that SFRY leadership purposefully choked the Albanian province and artificially caused poverty in the province (Geis et al. 108). However, OECD economic surveys state that by 1978 the country was in a massive economic recession with inflation rates of over 40%, and with 20 billion dollars in external debt (OECD 39). Thus, poverty was present across the entire country, and not just Kosovo.

Still, this rhetoric was efficient in further escalating the conflict. It gave one of the first major points that helped justify the protests. The initial revolt generated among the students of the University of Pristina, and soon spread across the province. Over 20,000 students participated in protests. The Serbian government responded by involving large numbers of police to pacify the protestors. This resulted in violence and mass arrests. As a result, over 11 protestors died, and over 4,200 were jailed. Degrees of punishment varied from fines to imprisonment for up to 15 years (Geis et al. 111).

Although the revolt was quelled, the population of Kosovo viewed the involvement of federal troops as an attack on themselves, a violent subjugation of the province and violation of its rights. This caused a rise in ethnical nationalism, which was already high due to the introduction of Albanology in the University of Pristina. The People’s Movement of Kosovo (LPK), which was formed in 1982, was the precursor to the Kosovo Liberation Army (Freedman 139).

It was formed largely by disgruntled students, their professors, and sympathizers. The ideology of this organization stated that the only way for Kosovo to earn its freedom is through violent conflict. History of Albanian independence as the concept of Greater Albania as historical justification for separatism were the building blocks behind the motivations of these people. While the creation of LPK was largely spontaneous and motivated by anger and desire for a better future for the people of Kosovo, it lacked the necessary structure and funding to support itself. Support came from abroad – diasporas of ethnic Albanians started fundraising campaigns in order to supply the LPK with means for survival. Political exiles spread words about the atrocities that happened during the suppression of student riots of 1981. The largest fundraising campaign was held in Switzerland and Germany. LPK played the pivotal role in the creation of the KLA in 1991-1992 (Perrit 24).

Through analyzing this time period of Yugoslavian history, it is possible to see that the formation of KLA was inevitable. The initial protests were motivated largely by economic factors, but after the violent suppression and arrests of more than 20% of participants, nationalist views and beliefs gained large public support. The conflict could have been prevented only by radical reforms which could have stabilized the economy and solve the social and economic tensions present in the region. Instead, the situation became worse – the economic collapse of the state continued throughout the 1980s and culminated in 11.6% GDP drop in the year 1990 (OECD 41).

This coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union – one of the main allies of the Yugoslavian Regime, and subsequent fall of the entire socialist bloc. The inability of the Yugoslavian state to provide for its provinces lead to its disintegration. Still, leaving the state peacefully was not an option for Kosovo, as there were no legal mechanisms to justify its separation. The lack of such mechanisms was yet another reason for the subsequent creation of KLA.

Factors that Contributed to the Formation and Popularization of KLA in 1989-1997

Part of the reason why KLA received so much public support and rose from numbers of mere 200 to fielding thousands of militias is due to repetitive failures from the Yugoslavian government to peacefully resolve the situation coupled with failures of other, more peacefully oriented political forces to provide an alternative that would satisfy the country’s national ambitions (Geis et al. 123). In this situation, many Kosovars simply saw no alternative to KLA and its ways of achieving political goals through violent means.

The situation regarding Kosovo escalated in 1989, when Slobodan Milosevic revoked the autonomy of the region, returning its status to what it was prior to the end of the Second World War (Geis et al. 123). This meant serious sanctions on the region’s right to autonomy and self-governance. The purpose of such a decision was clear – by revoking the region’s status and forcing numerous leaders to lose their power within the region, Milosevic sought to bring the region under Serbian control again.

Through controlling the administrative apparatus, he sought to dismantle nationalist support at the highest level of Kosovar administrative system. His assumption was that without it, the people of Kosovo would not be able to stage an outright revolt, and any discontent caused by such measures would subside in time, as people would get used to the new leadership. Milosevic saw this plan to be a necessity, as without it and with the economic situation rapidly declining, another civil revolt in Kosovo was only a matter of time.

This plan spectacularly backfired, however. Albanians saw the revocation of their rights to self-governance and replacement of popular leaders with pro-Serbian executives as an attack on their national identity and responded in kind. Violent protests sparked all over the region and were violently put down by Milosevic’s forces (Geis et al. 154).

The ethnic Albanian leaders ejected from the local bureaucracy formed the Democratic League of Kosovo, led by Ibrahim Rugova. This party would, for the next 6 years, serve as an opponent to LPK and, subsequently, to the KLA. While both organizations had goals of gaining independence from Serbia in mind, their methods varied greatly. The Democratic League of Kosovo promoted their cause through peaceful means, while the LPK stated that without armed struggle, independence was impossible. For a time, DLK was the primary political force for change in Kosovo (Perrit 8).

That was understandable – the Albanians were frightened by Milosevic’s display of force and willingness to use it. In order to promote the idea of independence, DLK started developing a “parallel government” – offering Albanians services similar to those of official governmental bodies, focusing primary on education and healthcare (Geis et al. 123).

DLK placed high hopes in the Dayton Accords of 1995 – a document that was supposed to become an instrument of peaceful separation of republics into separate states. The document dealt with a conflict between Croatia and Yugoslavia, putting an end to the Bosnian war, which was fought for over 3 years. However, these hopes were proven to be false – the situation with Kosovo was not even included in the document, and thus granted Kosovo nothing. This was viewed as a major failure of the “Party of Peace,” while giving a significant boost to the war rhetoric. KLA announced its existence in 1995, with the initial staff of fewer than 200 members – a number that would soon grow. Three years later, the KLA would play an important part in Kosovo War of 1998-1999 (Geis et al. 158).

To summarize the information and draw conclusions from the previous chapter, two large factors that contributed to the popularity and support of the KLA were cruel and unjust measures taken by Slobodan Milosevic in order to secure Kosovo as part of Serbia, and the impotency of DLK at promoting a peaceful solution to the brewing ethnical conflict. All factors considered, a war for independence was considered to be the only solution by a large number of Kosovar citizens.

Kosovo War of 1998-1999

Before the war, there was a long prelude, which took place between 1995 and 1998. It is when KLA first began to attack Serbian police patrols, military installations, and government officials. Serbian police and armed forces responded with increasing ferocity as the attacks mounted and grew in scale. A full-scale conflict erupted in February-March 1998, and the battles were largely fought along the Serbian-Albanian borders, as the insurgents lead by Adem Jashari were looking to unite their strongholds with Albania, while Serbian troops were aiming to prevent them from doing so (Perrit 38).

Battles took place over numerous small settlements and villages, with atrocities committed by both sides. Serbian forces were accused of massive executions of ethnic Albanians, while the KLA was accused of doing the same to residents of Serbian enclaves. The ensuing fight caused massive civil displacements, as many Kosovar and Serbian civilians fled the conflict. Allegedly, Serbian security forces targeted civilians for suspicions of them working with the KLA. Pristina, Podujevo, and Drenika valley were the three major war theaters, with the first two being key cities within Kosovo, and the latter being considered a stronghold of the KLA (Perrit 50).

The stalemate was broken only when NATO forces invaded the country in March-June 1999, and supported KLA efforts with an extensive aerial bombardment of Serbian and Yugoslavian forces and installations, which severely reduced the country’s capabilities at facilitating their operation in Kosovo – the military was not prepared to face a technologically superior foe. After the war had ended in June 1999, KLA was officially disbanded and reformed as the legitimate military and police force of the newfound state (Perrit 129).

After the War

After the war was over and Kosovo received limited recognition from various European states, KLA was disbanded, as there was no need for it to remain underground anymore. Hashim Thaci, one of the leaders of KLA, became the leader of the newfound Democratic Party of Kosovo. A large portion of KLA was renamed into Kosovo Protection Corps, while the rest joined Kosovo Police (Perrit 143).

Some members of the organization, however, did not return to peaceful lives and migrated outside of the country, in order to fight in other wars that were being fought in the Balkans at the moment. Some of those insurgencies included the Insurgency in Makedonia, and revolts in South Serbia as well. These battles were fought for the greater overarching goal of “Greater Albania,” masked by pretense at fighting for freedom and self-identification. These forces were led by Ali Ahmeti and bore the acronym NLA, which stood for National Liberation Army and had an emblem similar to KLA – a black two-headed eagle over a red font (Perrit 169).

Outside Support of KLA and their Motivations

Viewing the creation of KLA, as a strictly internal affair within the parameters of the Yugoslavian political system would be an erroneous approach. No country exists in a vacuum, and outside political forces could shape its internal conflicts, each pursuing their own distinctive agendas.

The outside supporters of KLA could be spread in three distinct categories. The first group of supporters comes from ethnic Albanian diasporas around the world and from Albania itself. The second group includes NATO and members of secret services of several countries, such as Germany and Great Britain (Brummer 274). The third group is based on religious principles – many Muslims around the world viewed the conflict through the prism of religion, and lent their support to KLA in order to fight “Christian oppression” and “infidels.” These supporters came namely from Turkey and the Middle East, many of which had connections to Al-Qaeda (Bodansky 239).

These three groups for lending KLA support differ one from another. Albanian diasporas have different reasons for supporting a violent insurgency. As it was mentioned before, numerous Albanians were forced out of the country as a result of civilian protests in 1981 (Perrit 73). These Albanians formed the core of foreign support, sending funds in order to support KLA. Not all of this money was earned the legal way, however.

There have been numerous reports of Albanian drug cartels supporting the war effort through illegal means. Other sources of support came from Albania itself – the collapse of the Albanian state was followed by massive lootings of military supply depots and weapon stashes across the country. Many of these weapons were then illegally smuggled into Yugoslavia and sold to KLA. Some of Albanians invested in KLA’s cause supported it out of nationalistic worldviews and the idea of “Greater Albania” – a concept promoted and spread out by the University of Pristina for at least a decade prior to the military conflict (Perrit 26).

Motivations of NATO and several countries associated with it are more difficult to decipher. The official position of these countries is that their interventions and subsequent support of KLA are motivated solely by humanitarian concerns and the loss of life of the civilian population. In March 1999, Bill Clinton stated that Serbian and Yugoslavian actions in Kosovo represent a threat to the US (Geis et al. 77).

However, the subsequent actions of NATO in this war and the following wars in Iraq, Iran, Libya, Afghanistan, and other countries put that claim under scrutiny. The USA and its allies have demonstrated their pursuit of political and economic interests on all occasions, meaning that the Yugoslavian campaign could have been pursuing same interests (Geis et al. 79). Some of the most recurring arguments criticizing NATO involvement state that the campaign was used to distract the attention of the American people away from the Clinton scandal prior to elections. Other claims involve a conspiracy to destroy the Yugoslavian state by dissecting it into weaker and smaller nations perpetually engaged in a struggle between one another instead of forming a new political power in the Balkans.

The third force, driven by religious motivations, is, perhaps, the most dangerous. Al-Qaeda viewed the Kosovo conflict as a trampoline for exporting radical Islamism beliefs in Europe (Bodansky 240). KLA accepted volunteers from numerous Islamic nations, which allowed integration of Al-Qaeda propagandists into the force. This corresponded with the traits that Middle Eastern terrorist organizations displayed over the years – the idea of Islamic expansion to the West and the formation of a new “Caliphate.” According to Yossef Bodansky (228), the majority of foreign volunteers to KLA was allied to Bin Laden and Zawahiri.

Motivations of all three outside supporter groups for KLA are thus suspect to corruption and pursuing interests outside of announced goals of freedom of Kosovo from Serbian tyranny. As the purpose of this paper is to give a historical account of KLA and its actions, understanding the motivations of its supporters is important. If KLA was willing to accept assistance from such a varied group of supporters, it could mean that their own dedication to the announced goals of independence from Serbia was not as solid as initially claimed.

KLA Tactics during the Kosovo War of 1998-1999

During Kosovo War, KLA resorted to tactics of mountain and guerilla warfare. This tactic was adopted, as it was the most effective when facing regular Yugoslavian military forces along with Serbian security forces. Despite frequent supplies of arms and armaments from Albania and instructors from Germany, Great Britain, and the USA (Brummer 279), KLA remained largely a paramilitary force with no means of armored combat, anti-air, missile and large-caliber artillery, and advanced reconnaissance. In a direct confrontation, KLA stood no chance against the Yugoslavian army, which meant that it had to resort to other means of combat.

Tactics employed by KLA soldiers resembled those used in Chechnya and Ingushetia during the First Chechen War, which lasted from 1994 to 1996. Some of the KLA volunteers had experience in fighting organized armed forces of Russian Federation and were familiar with the equipment. They offered strategic and tactical advice, in addition to training new recruits (Kaldor 123).

KLA used ambush tactics to great success. Many of the KLA soldiers were natives to Kosovo and knew the terrain much better than their Serbian counterparts. In addition to that, they had wide support of the residing population, which informed KLA about Serbian movements and attack plans (Kaldor 34). The attempts of Serbian and Yugoslavian forces to crack down this intelligence network through punitive raids and mass executions did not help their cause and only brought more supporters to KLA’s side. At the same time, KLA forced many Serbian enclaves out of the province, meaning that Yugoslavian army had no support of their own. Thus, Kosovo turned into a completely foreign and predominantly hostile territory.

KLA employed a standard array of guerrilla war tactics, which included bombings, ambushes, mountain warfare, and urban warfare. They operated in small groups of three, which included a demolitions expert, a sniper, and fire support. Larger operations involved numerous units such as these, with groups of 30-50 combatants (Kaldor 137). Traveling in larger groups was risky, as larger groups were easier to spot. Mortars and short-range artillery pieces were used to provide limited support to the advancing forces.

They proved useful in urban and mountain terrain, as shells fired from these weapons traveled in a steep arc, meaning they could go over terrain to hit their target. These weapons proved invaluable during attacks on military checkpoints and police outposts. Mines were extensively used against military convoys and armored vehicles, as well as infantry. It was not uncommon to place bombs within houses following KLA retreat from particular locations and buildings (Kaldor 169). Lastly, all approaches to hidden caches were extensively mined as well, with the location of these mines known only to the KLA. This meant that reaching weapon caches was extremely difficult and dangerous.

In addition to strongholds in distant mountain areas, KLA employed a number of hidden caches scattered around the countryside. These caches allowed for KLA soldiers to operate without carrying supplies around. During the day, they were able to assume civilian identities in order to avoid suspicion from Serbian and Yugoslavian forces and taking weapons during the night in order to perform operations (Kaldor 169).

KLA employed a number of tactics considered terrorist by modern standards and wartime laws. Such tactics included terror tactics against Serbian population of Kosovo, attacks on police and government officials, car bombings, and attacks on the civilian population outside of Kosovo. Other tactics involved hiding in civilian facilities such as schools, hospitals, kindergartens, and other locations commonly considered off-limits during warfare. These tactics forced the military to attack these critical components of infrastructure, which further hurt their public image in the Western media, and further turned the population against them (Kaldor 187).

KLA has been accused of using child soldiers in order to promote its goals. According to Kaldor’s review of the conflict (193), a good number (20%) of KLA’s soldiers were underage, ranging between 16-17 years of age. Around 2% of soldiers were below 12 years of age, though they were not used in direct combat, but rather on supportive roles, like cooking and washing the uniforms. This likely happened due to FRY’s malevolent tactics towards the Albanian population – children whose families were killed and homes destroyed often joined KLA for revenge. This motivation was what fueled KLA’s ranks throughout the campaign, the deeper FRY went into Kosovar territory.

These tactics proved to be effective at holding off Yugoslavian military and Serbian security forces for an entire year. Precision strikes and ambushes were aimed at military convoys and supply routes, which further hampered the military’s operation in the region. When NATO forces joined KLA in their attacks against Yugoslavian military installations, the situation became critical. With their warehouses, weapon caches, and supply routes bombed by NATO air forces, Serbian army was forced to pull its operations out of Kosovo and prepare for defense. In their absence, KLA recaptured territories under Serbian control and fortified themselves there, making their positions much more secure (Kaldor 205).

Controversies about KLA

Controversies about KLA are numerous, ranging from motivations of their supporters to sources of their funding and tactics they implemented during the Kosovo war and prior to it. One of the biggest crimes KLA is accused of is the genocide of Serbian population in Kosovo. They are accused of over 500 murders of Serbians, Roma, and other ethnicities, and of displacement of over 200,000 Serbians, who were not allowed to return to their homes (Freedman 337).

KLA crimes against Serbians became widely known, to the point of KLA being called a “terrorist organization” in many European countries and the USA. However, despite this, KLA was never officially a part of the list of international terrorist organizations. It remained in France’s watch list until 1999, until it was removed due to pressure from Great Britain and the USA (Freedman 342).

Another accusation towards involves receiving support from foreign entities in order to overthrow the Serbian government of Kosovo. Although some may speculate that the ends justify the means, accepting resources, instructors, money, and military assistance from other countries could be considered treason and betrayal of independence and border integrity. KLA’s ties with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in the Middle East cast yet another shadow on KLA – religious fundamentalism was considered to be one of the unifying factors within the organization (Bodansky 215).

On religious grounds and in the name of Islam, numerous orthodox churches and religious monuments of Christian faith in Kosovo were vandalized, damaged, and destroyed. Overall, over 155 Serbian orthodox churches and monasteries were destroyed between 1999 and 2005, as part of repressive actions towards Christianity.

In order to support its operations, KLA did not discriminate. Some of the alleged accusations against the organization include organ trade and kidnappings. Organs such as kidneys, hearts, lungs, and other organs required for complicated surgeries. Prices for such organs on the black market vary between 20,000 to 100,000 dollars, depending on the organ (Lewis). The information about the massacre of over a hundred Serbs in the infamous Yellow House near the town of Burrel sparked a massive scandal and an investigation by EULEX – a European justice and law mission in Kosovo. Although the investigation did not uncover any conclusive evidence of the crimes transpiring, the reports did indicate numerous cases of human organ trade over the last decade (Lewis).

Lastly, there were numerous controversies in regards to tactics that KLA implemented against FRY during the war. Lack of identifiable uniforms, terror tactics, indiscriminate bombings, and hiding in civilian buildings in order to avoid artillery fire and airstrikes, though subjectively viewed as “dishonorable,” were fairly effective, and proved their effectiveness in campaigns in Macedonia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan. These tactics were common for all kinds of insurgents in their struggles in different areas around the world (Kaldor 5).

KLA – Heroes or Terrorists?

As it often is with questions such as these, there is no straight definition of terrorism. This is due to the fact that differences between terrorists and freedom fighters often blur – both use similar tactics, and both use the strength of arms in order to promote a certain political or religious agenda. Whether these agendas are justified or not is a subjective matter, which further complicates the matter. The UN charter does not have a clear definition of what terrorism is, and every country developed its own working definitions in order to combat domestic terrorism on their own territories (“There is no UN Definition of Terrorism”). Ultimately, actions committed by KLA should be viewed through the prism of whether the ends justified the means or not.

Initially, KLA was formed on an impulse rather than with a deliberate purpose and had a goal of fighting for freedom of Kosovo, since all other measures of peaceful solvation of the conflict had failed. At that point of time, it could be said that KLA was dedicated to its initial goals and was considered “pure.”

However, as the conflict evolved into a full-scale war, KLA was forced to adapt in order to survive. Fighting the full might of FRY and Serbian security forces meant taking every opportunity to replenish the organization’s ranks, finances, and weapon stashes. This lead to accepting help from the outside sources, participating in illegal trade, using unorthodox tactics, and adopting religious fundamentalism to keep the morale of the troops high. Were all of these sacrifices and crimes against humanity and morality worth the independence of Kosovo?

McMahan (3), in his analysis of humanitarian interventions that were caused by conflicts such as the Kosovo war, identifies several criteria, which could be used to determine whether or not a particular social struggle is “worth it.” As a showcase situation, he uses the genocide in Rwanda as an example of a state where the revolution would be solicited – the damage caused by the government in this scenario was far worse than anything a civil war would bring.

In the situation in Kosovo, things were different – the government did not indulge in massive executions and concentration camps. The military crackdown on the KLA was largely the result of their attacks on police and military outposts in Kosovo. An argument could be made that the formation of KLA was caused by Slobodan Milosevic’s restrictive and invasive policies towards the Albanian autonomy, but massive atrocities on either side did not begin until the conflict entered its final stages. Prelude to conflict lasted for nearly 20 years, from 1981 to 1998, during which the numbers of civilian casualties remained very low (Geis et al. 53).

Another point that needed to be considered was the feasibility of Kosovo becoming a successful independent state outside of Serbian borders. Economically, that seems like an impossible venture due to the smallness of Kosovo as an autonomy and its incapability to maintain its economy as an independent state. This was demonstrated in the following 18 years after achieving its independence.

After the war for independence was won, with NATO interference and subsequent peace talks, KLA failed to bring order to the province. As it stands, Kosovo is a failing state, with extremely high rates of crime and corruption. It is considered to be a passage point for drug traffic, child, and organ trade. Recent reports say that Hashim Thaci, the leader of Kosovo’s most influential political party, is directly involved with Kosovar crime ring, and uses his political influence to promote personal goals and agendas (Lewis). From a new democracy that was meant to build its own future, having been freed from Serbian oppression, Kosovo degenerated into becoming a little real ruled by a clan of local warlords, with their power supported by former freedom fighters, who had become their personal armies.

Consequences for the International Law and Territorial Disputes

International acknowledgment of Kosovo independence, which was a direct result of KLA’s actions in 1995-1999, opened a Pandora’s Box by creating a precedent in the international arena, where an ethnicity is allowed, through armed struggle, to claim independence and sovereignty over itself and the land it occupies. This served as a catalyst for the re-emergence of numerous separatist movements around the world, such as the separatist movement in Scotland, Catalonia, Transnistria, Chechnya, Macedonia, Turkey, and other regions facing similar problems of national identity (Brummer 280).

With Kosovo receiving limited recognition, inquiries are made as to why similar conflicts do not receive international recognition and support to the same degree. Conflicts in Transnistria, Chechnya, and Macedonia involved armed conflict and war crimes committed on both sides. The international community, on the other hand, remained relatively neutral to these events, which serves as evidence of double standards in regards to international territorial law.

After the violation of Serbian territorial rights with Kosovo, other nations have exploited the precedent and used it as justifications for their own territorial ambitions. The annexing of Crimea in 2014, which happened “on behalf of the people of Crimea,” and the subsequent war in Donbas, Ukraine, demonstrates the far-reaching consequences that KLA’s rebellion against Serbia had on the international political map.

Conclusions

They say that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. As we can see at the very beginning of Kosovo rebellion, the goals of the revolution and independence were anything but noble – the people of Kosovo wanted to free themselves from perceived Serbian rule and build their own future according to their own decisions and religious traditions.

However, the sacrifices that both Kosovar and Serbian people had to pay for Kosovo’s independence may have proven to be just too high. In its armed struggle against FRY, KLA had to, willingly or unwillingly, commit numerous atrocities which earned it the moniker of a terrorist organization. Even though it is not officially listed as a terrorist organization, many of KLA’s leaders are wanted by Hague tribunal for crimes against humanity.

Kosovo War transformed KLA from a liberation movement into a rigid fundamentalist terrorist organization that now rules of Kosovo with an iron fist and facilitates criminal activities it used to sustain itself during the war, even when it is peace. While some sort of justification could have been solicited for KLA during the war, now that it is peace, these practices cannot be considered acceptable.

Are KLA heroes or terrorists? That question remains difficult to answer. The overwhelming amount of evidence indicates that KLA and its actions have brought far more harm than they did good and that independent Kosovo is not much better off than it was under Serbian rule. Instead of totalitarian rule of Slobodan Milosevic, it is now under the authoritarian rule of various crime lords that used to make up the KLA, supported by the strength of criminal arms and former heroes that fought for the independence of the land.

One of the greatest mistakes so often made when doing historical analysis is generalizing. It focuses on the bigger picture but ignores the smaller picture. The bigger picture is made up of thousands of smaller pictures, every picture representing a life lived for something. Every picture is unique and should be viewed separately one from another, even if within the same context. If a soldier of KLA joined in for good reasons, and through his or her struggle maintained adherence to the initial goals through honor and integrity, and afterward did not degenerate to a low-life criminal – then that person is a hero. If not – then that person is a terrorist.

The Kosovo War is a large page in modern history of Kosovo and Serbia, and a small page in overall history of the world. Only time will tell if independent Kosovo will be able to outlive the aftermath of its creation, or if it will become yet another of so-called “Failed States,” like many of those in the Middle East. So far, everything is pointing out to the latter.

Works Cited

Bodansky, Yessef. Bin Laden: The Man who Declared War on America. Crown Publishing, 2011.

Brummer, Klein. “Germany’s Participation in Kosovo War: Bringing agency back in.” Acta Politica, vol. 47, no. 3, 2012, pp. 272-291.

Freedman, Lawrence. “Victims and Victors: Reflections on the Kosovo War.” Review of International Studies, vol. 26, no. 3, 2000, pp. 335-358.

Geis, Anna, Harald Muller, and Niklas Schornig, editors. The Militant Face of Democracy. Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Kaldor, Mary. New and Old Wars. Polity Press, 2012.

Lewis, Paul. “Report Identifies Hashim Thaci as ‘Big Fish’ in Organised Crime”. The Guardian. 2011. Web.

McMahan, John. “Humanitarian intervention, consent, and proportionality.” Oxford Scholarship Online, vol. 1, no. 1, 2010, pp. 1-42.

OECD. OECD Economic Surveys: Yugoslavia. OECD Publishing, 1978.

Perrit, Henry. Kosovo Liberation Army: The Inside Story of an Insurgency. University of Illinois, 2010.

“There is no UN Definition on Terrorism.” Human Rights Voices. Web.

Annie Company: New Product Strategy

Annie’s Target Market and Why

Annie’s should focus on its current core consumer segment because it has proved so successful. It is most likely to consist of well educated, younger mothers who understand the benefits of consuming healthy foods among children. This consumer segment believes in progressive, healthy living derived from healthy, safe foods. Moreover, they have a high tolerance for premium prices offered by Annie’s. The company should also target consumers who opt for fast foods.

In addition, Annie’s can still focus on a prime target market consisting of younger, well-educated mothers who prefer healthy foods, stringent on diets, and want positive living. In this segment, adults rather than kids would largely drive product consumption. It can fight for market shares from fast food outlets that are known for unhealthy diets.

Best New Product Strategy for Annie’s

Frozen food is a new market opportunity for Annie’s. Nevertheless, the company can present its frozen foods as high quality, specialty products, which are made with organic ingredients, such as cheese, crust, tomatoes, and others. As such, Annie’s will still appeal to consumers who believe that frozen foods are not healthy. Moreover, the use of organic products would still demonstrate consistency in product development and Annie’s brand. For segmentation, Annie would still target busy mothers who want frozen healthy foods while positioning the product as a better option with four different flavors, including Cheese, Supreme, Spinach and Mushroom, and Pepperoni.

Moving Forward on the Key Product Decision

Annie’s should move forward and launch the frozen foods into its target markets. The company has already identified multiple opportunities for the product. They make sense with regard to volumes and fit with Annie’s. For instance, Annie’s has noted potential success in cheese and macaroni associated with frozen entrees. Moreover, frozen pizza is equally lucrative. The company has noted that the products can be convenient for busy families, and they can offer great tastes and better ingredients for healthy living and comfort meals.

Moving Forward on Placement and Distribution

Annie’s should adopt diversified multi-channel placement and distribution. Natural foods have attracted solid growth in most developed channels, such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, and United. The company can still claim placement and distribution spaces in these retail stores.

Grocery stores, such as Safeway, Kroger, and Stop & Shop, are large distribution channels with a vital opportunity to grow. Moreover, they can provide opportunities for direct shipment of products to consumers (Kotler and Armstrong 209).

Finally, Annie’s can also place and distribute frozen products through mass retailers, which include Target, Costco, and Walmart. The mass approach will ensure strong overall performance while the new healthy products into these stores will be considered as additional strong gains for driving sales volumes and profitability.

Moving Forward on Promotion

The frozen pizza market is difficult and, therefore, Annie must change its promotional strategies. The company must now incorporate traditional media advertising in its promotions. Moreover, it must revamp current practices involving trade promotions and grassroots efforts, social media, and other areas, but at low costs.

Annie’s has noted heavy spending by leading competitors and, therefore, it cannot simply dismiss this fact. Further, it must revamp packaging for a frozen pizza to communicate vital ingredients and benefits to consumers.

Moving Forward on Pricing

The company must maintain its premium pricing strategy. Nevertheless, the pricing strategy should account for cost, product, promotion, and distribution factors. The prospective consumers will still pay a premium for organic, simple high quality frozen products.

Works Cited

Kotler, Philip and Gary Armstrong. Principles of Marketing 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2005. Print.

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