March 22, 2008

Who Else is Afraid of Kosovo?

China fears Kosovo because the rulers in Beijing fear Tibet may become the Kosovo of Central Asia. This isn't a bug, it's a feature.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at March 22, 2008 1:49 PM
Comments
Sometimes I forget, with all of the annoying "America is the worst!1!!" rhetoric that most people have no idea how complicated other countries really are, and how screwed up their bureaucracies really are. This article is a good reminder.
My favorite line is
Some Chinese suspect the US of seeking an independent Taiwan as an "unsinkable aircraft carrier" for use against a future Chinese enemy.
I just really like the phrase "unsinkable aircraft carrier."
Posted by: James at March 22, 2008 7:53 pm
What an interesting thought ...
Posted by: Warhorse at March 22, 2008 10:00 pm
I believe collectivist/tribalist personalities (and by extension, countries where a collectivist culture is dominant) are particularly sensitive to issues of national unity.
To perceive a great part of your identity as derivative from the collective leads to feeling personally threatened by the prospect of some province you might have never even set foot in
breaking away from the Mother Nation.
About a week after Kosovo declared its independence I had to take a cab to school. I remembered the driver from previous cab rides, a very friendly Serbian woman who had always been a sweetheart to talk to.
Nothing but pleasant small talk throughout most of the ride, but then she just had to ask about my take on the Kosovo issue.
I tried to tell her, as delicately as I could, that I don't care whether Kosovo falls under Serb jurisdiction, Albanian jurisdiction, becomes its own country, or is under international administration, so long as the life, liberty, and property of all its inhabitants were vigorously protected, regardless of their ethnicity. I half-jokingly said the ideal solution would be for Kosovo to become a US territory but in the realm of realistic possibilities, I didn't think Belgrade had a good history of providing productive government services for Kosovo.
Now this is a sweet good-natured little woman but she got so upset and sour over this I was a bit taken aback. She said she understands that over 95% of the population there is Albanian, but that has got nothing to do with it, because the LAND is Serbian land.
I asked "what do you mean?" People have real estate and properties there and each owns the land his/her house is built on. It's private ownership not collective ownership: members of the Serbian minority each own the piece of land their property lies in, same thing for members of the Albanian majority.
She got even more frustrated, as if I was willingly not understanding what she was saying: "Well, take Quebec for example. Its nation is French majority, but that is nevertheless Canadian land, and they can't just break away from Canada!"
I asked her whether she owned any land or property in Quebec, she replies "no", and I ask her in what sense then does she as a Canadian own Quebec. All Canadians do is subsidize Quebec, why would she as a Canadian be negatively affected if Quebec broke away from Canada, stopped receiving subsidies, and started managing itself, so long as she was allowed to freely visit there as before, and to buy/sell property, including land.
She got even more upset, and told me I was too young to understand, but Kosovo was Serbian land.
This is crazy. This woman was a Serb from Croatia, she had never set foot in Kosovo, she didn't even live in Serbia anymore, she had immigrated to Canada many years. Yet she cannot think of these issues in anything but collectivist terms and feels threatened and humiliated by a territorial loss of her distant motherland, a loss of no more than nominal value anyway.
Do I need to get into much even crazier it is for Russians to give a damn, Russians who have never stepped foot in Serbia, let alone Kosovo? These second-hand collectivist delusions are insane!
My understanding of government's legitimate role is the protection of its citizens and their property from acts of violence/coercion and destruction, through courts, police, etc. Whenever Serbs express such attitudes toward Kosovo, they just reinforce my judgment that they could never run the province justly. "Kosovo is Serbia" was probably the mantra many of them felt could justify treating the Albanian population as half-slaves, imposing on them quotas for higher education and employment, and finally driving them off their homes or killing them off in 1999. After all they were just unwelcome visitors/usurpators of "Serbian Land"...
The only legitimate actions a Belgrade administration could understake in Kosovo would be to protect the rights and property of the citizens there, about 95% of whom are Albanian. I highly doubt Serbs have any interest in doing that.
Local government is always better than central government. The new local administration of Kosovo will now be held accountable to its own people.
Posted by: medaura at March 23, 2008 12:46 pm
Interesting article, except:
neither Tibet nor Taiwan is culturally or ethnically or historically part of China. Only right of more or less recent military occupation establish its claims.
It would be far better off to cut them loose and pay attention to the home front. Does it miss Mongolia? Maybe it should worry about Manchuria.
Posted by: Brian H at March 24, 2008 12:16 am
corr: "establishes"
Posted by: Brian H at March 24, 2008 12:17 am
Medaura: History becomes an important element in a cultural or ethnic conflict. It defines the 'home territory'. Kosovo always has been a disputed area between Serbs and Albanians. As far as I'm aware, the territory is historically Serbian (but you can go everywhere with history) since the 11th century (being of Bulgarian, Byzantine, Ottoman interests).
Posted by: Briggs at March 24, 2008 4:31 am
I dont think it would just be Tibet, China has a lot of provinces that want/deserve freedom, including it's own Muslim population that has been suffering from the same tactics that the Tibetans have for a long time, especially imprisionment and an attempt by the Chinese to destroy the society by mass importation of Chinese from other areas of the country.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uyghur_people
Posted by: Marc at March 24, 2008 5:26 am
Briggs,
You are wrong about history. Illyrian tribes (ancestors of modern-day Albanians) inhabited that region (and much of the Balkans) since at least 1000 B.C. The region fell under Roman rule, but was still inhabited by prehistoric Albanians (Romans were merely the tax collectors and administrators).
Slavs in general and Serbs in particular didn't appear in the region until the 6th century A.D. They INVADED the region of Kosovo, so how are their claims to it legitimate? Albanians and Serbs have been fighting over that land ever since, with Serbs being repelled from from time to time and invading again and again.
In the 11th century was the peak of Serbian expansionism, where they managed to invade as deep as what's today the northern half of Albania. So according to your understanding, just because they managed to take over those regions at some point, they are their historic lands? Northern Albania should now be part of Serbia?
I say that those issues from centuries past are largely irrelevant, if both Serbs and Albanians have managed elevate themselves above mere savage tribes that can only own by means of conquering. In today's culture people acquire land and other wealth via contract. The people who live in Kosovo privately own the land on which their homes are built. 95% of those people are Albanian. There is no notion of collective historic ownership/attachment which should supersede private property rights.
Posted by: medaura at March 24, 2008 10:41 am
So according to your understanding, just because they managed to take over those regions at some point, they are their historic lands? Northern Albania should now be part of Serbia?
I believe that this is part of the thinking process that supports the Zionist claim to Israel, is it not?
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at March 24, 2008 11:47 am
I was going to pop that one in as well double-plus-ungood.
Medaura:
Well, in general the current 'modern European states' have a 'trace-able' 'history' that goes back to Medieval times and not Roman & Pre-Roman as the basis for their national identity that forms the basis of their 'nationstate'. With the exception of Belgium and probably a couple of others.
Is the connection Illyrian tribes & Albanians confirmed through DNA & genetic testing?
Posted by: Briggs at March 24, 2008 12:31 pm
DPU: I believe that this is part of the thinking process that supports the Zionist claim to Israel, is it not?
No. That's what the Kosovars used to think, but they woke up and realized they were wrong.
"Zionists" don't "claim" Israel. Israel is a country and a member of the United Nations. Arabs "claim" Israel, even though it isn't theirs, because they conquered it a long time ago.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 24, 2008 2:23 pm
Hope you and the author of the linked piece are right on this score, but it's difficult to imagine this analogy holds much water given the fact China hasn't so much as backed off its commitments relative to Sudan, a far more egregious example of human rights abuses than Tibet or Kosovo. Likewise, in this piece the argument is being forwarded that Kosovo does set a precedent whereas in the adjacent piece the argument is Kosovo does not set a precedent that relevant governments might worry over.
Posted by: Michael_B at March 24, 2008 2:40 pm
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at March 24, 2008 3:39 pm
DPU: Why are you quoting the word Zionists in this context?
I was just quoting you and didn't mean anything else by it.
I'm referring to the claim that the century-old Zionist movement made on Israel: that it was the logical place to create a Jewish state because it was the traditional homeland of the Jews.
Neither Kosovo nor Serbia is similar to Israel in this way. In this article I refered to the state of Israel in 2008, not the Zionist movement in the first half of the 20th century.
DPU: My understanding was that many Palestinians claim it because they were dispossessed of it
The Palestinians didn't possess it. The Turks did, then the British, then the Israelis.
I would support the right of return for Palestinian landowners except that so many of them vow to destroy Israel upon their return. Not being a fan of either genocide or a ratcheting up of the Arab-Israeli conflict, I can't get behind that.
Israel was supposed to get the West Bank and Gaza, remember. The overwhelming majority are willing to give it up, though, in return for peace if the Palestinians ever decide to say yes. They shouldn't be compared with the Serbs, who have no good reason to keep Kosovo, who are unwilling to give it up even though they already have peace, and were recently willing to commit genocide and ethnic cleansing to keep it.
The Serbs have much more in common with the Arabs. They just can't let the little piece go. The Kosovars are much more likely to let Mitrovica go. Watch.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 24, 2008 5:44 pm
"I believe that this is part of the thinking process that supports the Zionist claim to Israel, is it not?"
Actually, the Jews owned the land first. The Arabs once conquered it, like the Serbs once conquered Kosovo.
Israel was then conquered by the Turks and finally the British. The British gave it to the Zionists, who defended it in the war of independence.
The Arab claim to the land is that they once conquered it, but so did the Jews. If conquering the land establishes a claim then the Jews have both the oldest and the newest claim.
If first ownership establishes a claim then the Jews have that claim too (since the previous owners are extinct).
If religion establishes a claim then the Jews have that claim too, since both Bible and Quran say so and even the Zoroastrians agreed.
If the UN are the authority, then the Jews have that claim too, since the UN founded Israel.
If defence against genocide is a claim, then the Jews have that claim too, since the Arabs did try to destroy them.
If the fact that Jews, especially middle-eastern Jews, have to live SOMEWHERE, establishes a claim, then the Jews have that claim too.
And if buying land from current title holders and settling there establishes a claim to the land bought, the Jews, via the JNF, hold that claim too.
And if living there and being born there establishes a claim, then the Jews have that claim as well.
I think few peoples in the world have such a good claim on their land.
Jews own Israel by conquest, first and last, by international law, League of Nations and UN, by first recorded ownership, by religion, theirs and their enemies', through buying it, by necessity to exist somewhere, and by necessity to have some place where anti-Semites cannot go and get them.
Posted by: Leauki at March 25, 2008 5:18 am
"I would support the right of return for Palestinian landowners except that so many of them vow to destroy Israel upon their return."
And oddly enough, though often referred to, the UN resolution actually says that the refugees must be allowed to come back IF they want to live in peace with the Jews.
But they didn't and don't.
And that was three generations ago. I doubt there are that many refugees left.
(It also seems to me that the "right of return" is often understood as including the right of people who sold their land to Jews to return and reclaim the land they sold. Or what exactly is Hamas' claim on Tel Aviv?)
Also, who supports an equal right for the Jews of Hevron to return? Is there a UN resolution about that?
Posted by: Leauki at March 25, 2008 5:22 am
Neither Kosovo nor Serbia is similar to Israel in this way. In this article I refered to the state of Israel in 2008, not the Zionist movement in the first half of the 20th century
You don't mention Israel at all in this article.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at March 25, 2008 10:29 am
DPU,
Sorry, I was thinking this was the previous thread about my article in Commentary.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 25, 2008 11:48 am
The Palestinians didn't possess it. The Turks did, then the British, then the Israelis.
This implies that no Palestinians owned any land in what is now Israel. They did, and were forcefully dispossessed of that land, by eviction, and by threat of and actual acts of violence, including terrorist bombings of marketplaces and buses, and several out-and-out massacres.
There was more than enough violence and atrocities on both sides, and there was a great deal of soul-searching at least on the Israeli side about what they were doing (and many refused to participate). But let's not hide the fact that ethnic cleansing occurred on a grand scale, and that it was done for the purposes of securing the state of Israel.
Israel was supposed to get the West Bank and Gaza, remember.
They were? When?
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at March 25, 2008 11:50 am
Actually, the Jews owned the land first. The Arabs once conquered it, like the Serbs once conquered Kosovo.
Uh, yeah. That was the point that I made.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at March 25, 2008 11:53 am
And oddly enough, though often referred to, the UN resolution actually says that the refugees must be allowed to come back IF they want to live in peace with the Jews.

But they didn't and don't.


Is this reference to UN General Assembly resolution 194?
What criteria is used to determine whether an individual Palestinian can return? An oath of loyalty? A promise to live in peace or face expulsion? How many have refused?
How many refugees have been accepted back? How many could Israel accept as citizens?
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at March 25, 2008 1:46 pm
Briggs,
Please, your agenda can be seen from miles away. Are you even trying to be subtle?
"Well, in general the current 'modern European states' have a 'trace-able' 'history' that goes back to Medieval times and not Roman & Pre-Roman as the basis for their national identity that forms the basis of their 'nationstate'."
You can put every other word of your sentence in quotes to mitigate their meaning but even all quotes considered, what you are saying doesn
Posted by: medaura at March 25, 2008 6:36 pm
Post a comment

Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Read my blog on Kindle









Sponsored Links

Buy a used boat

Shanghai Hotels

Yachts for sale


Recommended Reading