Thursday, February 21, 2008

Riots in Serbia

Yes, imagine that. You cleave off a historically-sensitive part of someone's country, and they get all snippy about it. This is going to be as hillarious as watching the Americans suddenly discover that backing the Shah wasn't the best PR move in history.

I think, long term, the example of Kosovo is going to ruin any possibility of humanitarian intervention for the foreseeable future: we (NATO) explicitly, repeatedly said that the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia was not a prelude to partitioning of Kosovo. President Clinton himself said it repeatedly, in public. And now it turns out to have all been lies.

You want to try and send peacekeepers in to Darfur with this record behind you? I mean, forget Iraq: the single good example of what western military might do was based as much on lies (claims that hundreds of thousands of Kosovars had been murdered, when nowhere near that number were) as the Iraq War was. And was used to dismember a sovereign state in defiance of international law.

There was a time -- we called it the 90s -- where the UN was able to be somewhat more effective because, despite their reservations, Russia and China sat on their vetoes and didn't stonewall the entire process. I think it's safe to say that time is over, and it's in large part because of our own actions.

The interesting thing here is that peace is being bought by the Europeans. The recent presidential elections in Serbia went to the "right" guy (the one who disavowed violence in Kosovo) largely because of a promise of lots of goodies from the EU -- visa-free travel for Serbs in the EU, plus a whole pile of aid money. The American military snottily talks about how the US "cooks dinner" and the Europeans "do dishes", trying to dismiss the power that Europe has when it comes to peacekeeping and nation-building. But there's a very real case to be made here that we'd be looking at the third Balkans War since 1990 if it weren't for the EU.

I'll have more to say about that in a bit.

4 comments:

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

I would point out though that while a lot of this post seems to be about the Americans being wrong-headed and the Europeans more right-headed we need to remember that the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Latvia, Estonia, Denmark, Luxembourg, Finland, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Bulgaria, Hungary, Ireland, Portugal and Switzerland have all either recognized Kosovo's independence or are actively in the process of doing so. As far as I know, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain are the only EU countries that won't. (Australia and Japan are the other "big" countries that will recognize Kosovo as well).

Now, I happen to think that recognizing Kosovo's independence is ABSOLUTELY the right thing to do, but I'd caution people who don't against somehow equating the recognition of Kosovo to some uniquely American foible. The list of countries that will recognize Kosovo includes the VAST MAJORITY of Europe, almost all of Canada's traditional allies, and is currently a lot longer than the list of countries that won't.

And comparing the recognition of Kosovo to the American support of the Shah??? Sorry, but that's just silly.

Mé said...

There is recognizing Kosovo as an independent state; there is recognizing the territorial integrity of Kosovo. With the Serbs dominating the north of Kosovo, I can see a defacto separation of north Mitrovica along the river from the south dominated by Albanian Kosovars. All the recognition of minority rights will not matter. The dispute will end in a stalemate when the two sides recognize the split.

john said...

"And comparing the recognition of Kosovo to the American support of the Shah??? Sorry, but that's just silly."

You've missed my point. It's not that the two acts are the same, it's that American befuddlement over "why do they hate us?" comes from the same deep-rooted ignorance.

I don't even think recognizing Kosovo's independence, now, is necessarily the wrong thing to do. It's certainly the least-bad option left. But this didn't come out of nowhere. It stemmed from a bunch of really bad decisions, starting during the Clinton administration.

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