Monday, February 18, 2008

Opposing Independence for Kosovo a Surrogate for Domestic Politics

Kosovo has declared independence, and the United States is the first to back it up diplomatically. Certain other nations object. On request of gentle readers, we make the following SWNIDish observations:

  • This is the fruit of Wilsonian foreign policy, which in Bush's hands (and oddly in Clinton's hands in this one instance) has become muscular Wilsonianism. We think it's good for the United States to encourage the development of liberty and democracy where it has the opportunity and the means. Albanians in Albania and Kosovo are now the only people in the world who are predominantly Muslim, pro-American, pro-Bush and pro-Clinton. And Bush's trip to Africa highlights the benefits of his enlightened concern for that continent as well, with good results for both sides of the exchange.
  • There is no way imaginable that Kosovo could have returned to Serbian control after the murderous ethnic cleansing campaign mounted by the Serbs in the 1990s. Our personal experience in Kosovo was brief, but it included multiple exposure to billboards listing names of hundreds of missing and dead, with the simple, heartbreaking English caption, "We are still missing them." So independence is the only way this episode could go next.
  • The nations that are protesting this aren't concerned about Kosovo at all but about their own separatist movements. Those countries probably need to reckon with a couple of realities: (a) their own economic and political development can blunt the felt need for independence among ethnic minorities; (b) membership in the European Union makes such independence much less problematic for those from whom the minorities separate, as they tend to become members of the larger European family.
  • The Russians are protesting this not only because they face separatists but because the Russian regime needs foreign enemies to justify its domestic fascism. Russian leaders for centuries have used the myth of Russian-Serbian brotherhood to stoke the fires of nationalism and so to distract Russians from their miserable internal situation. For those who worry about offending Russia, we counter that Russia wants to be offended.
  • Kosovo now needs two things: (a) to get some economic development going; (b) to follow through on its pledge to protect its own minorities (as enshrined in the design of its new flag). In other words, it needs something like the economic and political ideals pursued by the "better angels" in the country that it lionizes, the United States.


Mike said...

As usual, your analysis is solid. It's been a big party over hear so far. It's fun being an American and getting undeserved credit. Enise and I got two machiattos and a free dessert yesterday.

caress said...

I agree that the humanitarian situation is quite complicated and may require a drastic solution.

But the political situation might be different altogether, and it may be hasty to dismiss dissenters just because they have their own political interests. Certainly we have our own political interests as well. I would be skeptical of argument that paint the US position on Kos as purely humanitarian and not at least a titch political. Anyways, the long and the short of it is I am leery to dismiss Moscow's stance just because they are pursuing internal and international policies we may not like.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

If ever there was a part of the world where the United States has little direct political interest, it's the Balkans. If ever there was a ruler who uses foreign affairs for domestic political purposes, it's Putin. And if ever there was a situation that demanded a province's independence, it was Serbia's ethnic cleansing of Kosovo.

"Caress," what motivates you to assume that there must be something else, when no one can adduce anything? Your suspicions seem to have got the better of your judgment.

caress said...

Do you really think the US is motivated by purely humanitarian reasons? Hmm. Interesting. Well, I guess that may just be a difference of opinion, or a difference of suspicions, maybe... b/c neither perspective is really provable. It's more a matter of politics than misjudgement, probably.

I'm certainly not a Russian apologist. Though I'm not an American apologist either. What's the purpose of democracy if we can't question what our government's motives or actions?