A NEW LIGHT SHED ON THE MATTER OF KOSOVO
"Kosovo is going to be independent one way or another. . . . It will either be done in a controlled, supervised way that provides for the well-being of the Serbian people, or it will take place in an uncontrolled way."
Daniel Fried, American Assistant Secretary of State, quoted by Alan W. Dowd, in "An Independent Kosovo: the least bad option," www.worldpoliticsreview.com.
"Sergei Ivanov, first deputy prime minister of Russia, said yesterday that recognition of an independent Kosovo by European governments would open a Pandora's box".."
The Financial Times, 11 February 2008
For ages it seems, it has been the antagonists of the dominant consensus of Western elites, particulary in Western Europe and the USA, such as myself, about the prevailing bias in favor of an independent Kosovo, who have felt themselves to be in the wilderness. Ever since the Kosovo war of 1999, a war without merit and a bit of a fraud to boot (not entirely of course), it has been the cry of the bien pensant consensus, that an 'independent Kosovo,' damned the consequences to both Serbia and to the larger region as a whole, is the ne plus ultra. The fact that without both Serbian approval and more importantly Russian approval any such independence would both: a) patently illegal under international law; b) without Security Council approval, and, hence without international legitimacy, has been completely ignored. Now however we are nearing the countdown to this horrible event: on the 17th of this month, it is widely mooted that the authorities in Pristina, egged on by the Americans and their more supine allies, will 'declare,' Kosovo's independence of Belgrade. What that 'independence' will mean in reality of course is an entirely different kettle of fish. Particulary since Belgrade, has declared that it will impose an economic blockade of the province, and, do all it can to scuttle Pristina's unilateral action, short of using force.
Now, at the very last moment, some in official Washington, albeit on the sidelines of power, but, still individuals who can be said to have held the highest offices of state in the past have come to recognize that the matter of Kosovo requires much more than simply mouthing idiotic platitudes. In a statement appearing in the Washington Times, and, reprinted by the Brookings Institute(www.brookings.edu/opinions), Messieurs John Bolton, Lawrence Eagleburger and Peter Rodman, argue that the USA and its NATO / EU allies must carefully weigh their options before mindlessly agreeing to Kosovo's self-declared independence. As this highly experienced trio write:
"We believe an imposed settlement of the Kosovo question and seeking to partition Serbia's sovereign territory without its consent is not in the interest of the United States. The blithe assumption of American policy — that the mere passage of nine years of relative quiet would be enough to lull Serbia and Russia into reversing their positions on a conflict that goes back centuries — has proven to be naive in the extreme.
We believe U.S. policy on Kosovo must be re-examined without delay, and we urge the Bush administration to make it clear that pending the results of such re-examination it would withhold recognition of a Kosovo independence declaration and discourage Kosovo's Albanians from taking that step".
As this the gang of three correctly note, the idea, nay the idee fixe of American
policy that it can impose Kosovo's independence on Belgrade `a la some type of diktat is highly dangerous both for Kosovo and the wider region:
"Recognition of Kosovo's independence without Serbia's consent would set a precedent with far-reaching and unpredictable consequences for many other regions of the world. The Kosovo model already has been cited by supporters of the Basque separatist movement in Spain and the Turkish-controlled area of northern Cyprus. Neither the Security Council nor any other international body has the power or authority to impose a change of any country's borders".
Equally dangerous is of course the reaction in Moskva. To merely dismiss it, as individuals such as Richard Holbrooke have done recently as mere play-acting is as Bolton, Eagleburger and Rodman note, seriously mistaken:
"Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the current policy is the dismissive attitude displayed toward Russia's objections. Whatever disagreements the United States may have with Moscow on other issues, and there are many, the United States should not prompt an unnecessary crisis in U.S.-Russia relations. There are urgent matters regarding which the United States must work with Russia, including Iran's nuclear intentions and North Korea's nuclear capability. Such cooperation would be undercut by American action to neutralize Moscow's legitimate concerns regarding Kosovo.
If the U.S. moves forward with recognizing Kosovo, Moscow's passivity cannot be taken for granted. It may have been one thing in 1999 for the United States and NATO to take action against Yugoslavia over the objections of a weak Russia.
Today, it would be unwise to dismiss Russia's willingness and ability to assist Serbia. On an issue of minor importance to the United States, is this a useful expenditure of significant political capital with Russia"?
In short, our three learned gentlemen, maintain what I and many others with an unbiased and balanced opinion have stated in public for quite awhile now: that Pristina's quest for independence is both a dangerous move and one which at this juncture is quite unnecessary. To blindly back it for erroneous reasons relating to dislike of the Milosevic regime of the 1990's, is a mistake of historic proportions. Hopefully the words of our trio will be taken to heart, by people in authority both in the USA and in Westen Europe before it is too late.