September 5, 2008

Russia’s Kosovo Precedent

Russia

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 5, 2008 3:07 PM
Comments
A pdf of "The Russian Doctrine," seemingly revealing of at least one prominent line of thought within Russian hierarchies and salons (and referenced within Walter Laqueur's piece here). Excerpt:
"The
Posted by: Michael_B at September 5, 2008 3:37 pm
Nicaragua is first to to enjoy a delicious mouthful of Russian ass.
Posted by: Cannoneer No4 at September 5, 2008 6:00 pm
Albania remains a dysfunctional post-communist mess of a place, though one that at least is less corrupt, authoritarian, and dysfunctional than Russia.
LOL
Are you trying to attract FSB/RBN/Russophile trolls, Mike?
Posted by: Cannoneer No4 at September 5, 2008 6:14 pm
Population is not really a criteria for viability or recognition. There are at least 20 countries with smaller populations than South Ossetia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population ,
yes many of them are small islands, but so what.
Montenegro (population 500,000) was allowed to secede by Yugoslavia as it had been a constituent republic of that federation. Kosovo was never a republic and was always a part of Serbia. One of the elements in international law in recognizing the secession from a sovereign state is whether or not the sovereign state agrees to it. In the case of Kosovo, Serbia has not agreed. This is why the unilateral secession of Kosovo is contrary to international law.
Russia is certainly no believer in self-determination (witness Chechnya) and its recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia is completely cynical and self-serving but the circumstances leading to the secession of Kosovo will resound for many years.
It would be interesting to know why the South Ossetians and the Abkhazians are so keen to not be ruled by Georgians.
Posted by: Eliot at September 6, 2008 4:56 am
Brilliant as always, Michael.
Posted by: TimG at September 6, 2008 6:18 am
Elliot said:
Kosovo was never a republic and was always a part of Serbia. One of the elements in international law in recognizing the secession from a sovereign state is whether or not the sovereign state agrees to it. In the case of Kosovo, Serbia has not agreed. This is why the unilateral secession of Kosovo is contrary to international law.
You are very mistaken there. Kosovo's status within the Yugoslavian federation has been subject to continuous changes:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/26/kosovo.serbia
But legally, Kosovo was not incorporated into the Serbian kingdom in 1912; it remained occupied territory until some time after 1918. Then, finally, it was incorporated, not into a Serbian state, but into a Yugoslav one. And with one big interruption (the second world war) it remained part of some sort of Yugoslav state until June 2006.
Until the destruction of the old federal Yugoslavia by Milosevic, Kosovo had a dual status. It was called a part of Serbia; but it was also called a unit of the federation. In all practical ways, the latter sense prevailed: Kosovo had its own parliament and government, and was directly represented at the federal level, alongside Serbia. It was, in fact, one of the eight units of the federal system.
Almost all the other units have now become independent states. Historically, the independence of Kosovo just completes that process. Therefore, Kosovo has become an ex-Yugoslav state, as any historian could tell you.

So that's bull. I don't remember the Ottoman Empire agreeing to Serbia annexing Kosovo either. Shouldn't Kosovo be part of Turkey now according to international law?
And I must have missed it when we accepted a World Government legislating international laws.
Posted by: medaura at September 6, 2008 1:52 pm
Kosovo was a province of the Serbian Republic within Yugoslavia and more recently as part of Serbia. For an interesting academic discussion see this article 'The Legality of Kosovo's Declaration of Independence'
http://blogs.georgetown.edu/?id=31306
by a professor of International Law at Georgetown, which cites a Supreme Court of Canada case concerning the right of Quebec to secede.
Posted by: Eliot at September 6, 2008 3:22 pm
Well if South Ossetia is not viable on its own, maybe it should be a part of Russia.
My understanding from talking to Europeans is that Kosovo is NOT an economically viable state, and will indefinately require massive foreign assistance.
The real question is who gets to decide which ethnic enclave gets to be independent and which doesn't, and what is the basis for that decision. At this point it seems the answer to the former question is "the United States" and the answer to latter one is "when it suits the perceived interests of United States allies or hurts the perceived enemies of the neocon/liberal internationalist order.
Please explain why would you force the South Ossetians and Abkhazians to be a part of Georgia when they don't want to be.
I support independence for just about any ethnic enclave that wants it, provided that enclave itself is largely monoethnic. If such a right WAS recognized internationally, central governments would treat peoples in the hinterlands of their countries better, and government authority the world over would tend to be more regionalized and localized. That is, closer to the people. A good thing.
Posted by: markus at September 8, 2008 6:50 am
I support independence for just about any ethnic enclave that wants it, provided that enclave itself is largely monoethnic.
I'm not sure that's a good model. For one thing, it scraps the definition of sovereignty that we've been using for a while, which causes some level of political instability. Another problem that adds to that stability is that we could see a lot more of this, a neighboring power exploiting ethnic divisions to add to their own territory.
A better model that I favor is increased regional autonomy withing a federation. The EU seems headed in that direction. It provides much of the advantages of independence while still retaining economic and political security.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 8, 2008 9:46 am
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 09/08/2008 A short recon of what
Posted by: David M at September 8, 2008 10:10 am
The real question is who gets to decide which ethnic enclave gets to be independent and which doesn't, and what is the basis for that decision. At this point it seems the answer to the former question is "the United States" and the answer to latter one is "when it suits the perceived interests of United States allies or hurts the perceived enemies of the neocon/liberal internationalist order.
I support independence for just about any ethnic enclave that wants it, provided that enclave itself is largely monoethnic. If such a right WAS recognized internationally, central governments would treat peoples in the hinterlands of their countries better, and government authority the world over would tend to be more regionalized and localized. That is, closer to the people. A good thing.

So, you too have conditions. Why blame big boys then? For just because they can?
Posted by: leo at September 8, 2008 10:39 am
Markus: Please explain why would you force the South Ossetians and Abkhazians to be a part of Georgia when they don't want to be.
I don't support it for Abkhazia because Georgians outnumbered Abkhaz by 3 to 1 until they were ethnically cleansed. That's a bogus way to declare independence. Like I wrote, this isn't like Kosovo, it's like the Serb Republica Srpska in Bosnia, forged by nationalist-socialist war criminals, not national liberators.
Ossetia more closely fits the Kosovo model and I'm a bit more sympathetic. What I don't approve of is Russia's violent annexation of it, and also the ethnic cleansing of Georgians there.
Much hay is made out of "ethnic cleansing" of Serbs in Kosovo, but there's a huge difference between disorganized and illegal mobs chasing out a minority of Kosovo's Serbs on two occasions, and the Russian Army chasing out all the Georgians from Abkhazia and South Ossetia with tanks.
Also, the Kosovo precedent discourages ethnic cleansing. The Abkhazia precedent, though not so much the South Ossetia precedent, encourages it. That's not something to celebrate.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 8, 2008 11:10 am
"My understanding from talking to Europeans is that Kosovo is NOT an economically viable state, and will indefinately require massive foreign assistance. "
My recollection was that Kosovo would've eventually been absorbed into Albania due to the high population of Albanians there, not unlike SO being absorbed into Russia.
Posted by: h0mi at September 8, 2008 11:18 am
DPU -- I'm not sure what definition of sovereignty you are referring to. Wiki calls sovereignty the legitimate exercise of exclusive power in an area. I'm just arguing what the ideal boundaries of those areas usually are: ones that encompass a single ethnic group. For the same reason that a household made up of family members is generally a more stable and pleasant place to live than a household made up of unrelated people forced to live together by circumstance. And because, from an evolutionary perspective, living with one's own people is more natural and healthy in the long run than living in a melting pot. See Frank Salter's On Genetic Interests, reviewed here: http://www.amren.com/store/on_genetic_interests_rev.html
I agree, however, that local or regional autonomy is a worthy substitute -- if the people prefer that, or if it is practically necessary to avoid war with greater powers. Puerto Ricans don't seem to want independence. And most Iraqi Kurds seem content with de facto, rather than de jure, independence.
Posted by: markus at September 8, 2008 11:21 am
DPU: A better model that I favor is increased regional autonomy withing a federation. The EU seems headed in that direction. It provides much of the advantages of independence while still retaining economic and political security.
That's generally the best way to go about it.
And that, by the way, is what Kosovo had inside Serbia before Slobodan Milosevic went on a bloodthirsty rampage and changed the game there forever.
Every faction in Georgia behaved badly in the early 1990s and changed the game there, as well. Saakashvili isn't an angel either, but he's no Slobodan Milosevic, and Georgians, unlike Serbs, no longer have a sizeable political constituency that supports ethnic national purity. Re-intergrating with autonomy inside Georgia wouldn't have been dangerous for either Abkhazia or South Ossetia. In Serbia, meanwhile, the Radical Party (which almost won the last election) campaigned on the platform that Milosevic "didn't go far enough."
Russia's violent annexation of both are dangerous for a host of reasons. Lots of countries all over the world could justify invasions of their neighbors if this is signed off on internationally, which is why Russia is getting just about zero support.
The West only looks hypocritical here to those who squint and don't look very closely at what happened in each place. Russia is being much more hypocritical. At least the Serbs aren't. They oppose what Russia just did.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 8, 2008 11:22 am
Markus: I'm just arguing what the ideal boundaries of those areas usually are: ones that encompass a single ethnic group.
Ideally, yes. But that's because bad borders sometimes start wars. It isn't worth starting a bunch of wars to "fix" that problem.
That isn't a problem in civilized countries. France feels no need to violently annex the French parts of Belgium, for instance.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 8, 2008 11:25 am
Michael -- your rationale for which monoethnic states you support makes logical sense. Some states are created by and supported by bullies, others are created by the bullied and supported by the USA. But quite a few ethnically-pure and morally legitimate states got that way through violence, conflict and displacement. See Israel/Palestine, and also India/Pakistan. Remember -- if the half million or so Arabs hadn't involuntarily left the tiny Jewish state in 1948, the Arabs would be a near-majority in Israel today. And its a good thing they are not. I also don't know if your historical facts are entirely accurate. Just how and when did all those Albanians and Turks come to Kosovo, and how did the Serbs get displaced? The details are murky, but my understanding is that a hell of a lot of churches got burned. Things are similarly murky in Abkhazia, were it seems ironically enough as if the region was initially depopulated of Abkhazians by Russians. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhajir_(Caucasus)
Posted by: markus at September 8, 2008 11:55 am
One last thing: I gotta admit, your article, plus this wiki entry on the ethnic cleansing of georgians from askhazia, has left me more pro-georgian than I've have been since this conflict began:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_cleansing_of_Georgians_in_Abkhazia
I still believe, though, that regardless of started the conflict, and who is more guilty, separation of enemies is better and smarter than forced mixing.
Posted by: markus at September 8, 2008 12:24 pm
Markus,
The real question is who gets to decide which ethnic enclave gets to be independent and which doesn't, and what is the basis for that decision.
I would say that if "ethnic enclaves" demonstrate a clear inability to live together peacefully (without outside interference acting as provocateurs) then it makes sense that for the good of everyone, they should live apart.
Such was the case in the Balkans. You can't tell people that they have to remain part of a country after their fellow countrymen have tried to annihilate them.
At this point it seems the answer to the former question is "the United States" and the answer to latter one is "when it suits the perceived interests of United States allies or hurts the perceived enemies of the neocon/liberal internationalist order.
Since you mentioned the United States, I will use the US as an example of what I just said. Here in Southern California, hispanics are now a majority of the population. I don't know what the census data says, but one would have to be blind and obtuse to travel around Los Angeles and not see the truth of that. The demographics were different here, 20 years ago - whites were the majority then. If hispanics here decided they wanted to be autonomous (or wanted to become part of Mexico) should the US federal government let them? The answer is clearly no. You don't get to immigrate en masse into a country and then break off sections of that country to represent your ethnic group, right? That'd be insane, and no country would allow immigration if that precedent was ever set.
But, what if American whites decided to ethnically cleanse southern California of latinos? And had the support of the Federal government in doing that? Maybe even with the help (directly or indirectly) of federal troops? And police? And what if that ethnic cleansing effort backfired and failed in a big way? Would latinos in Southern California be justified in demanding autonomy then? I would say, in my personal opinion and as a matter of common sense, that the answer would have to be yes.
My 2 cents worth.
Posted by: programmmer_craig at September 8, 2008 12:58 pm
programmer_craig: If we as a nation continue to allow Mexicans to emigrate to America in large concentrations, if non-Hispanic Americans continue to LEAVE the same areas these Mexicans move into, and if we are stupid enough as a nation not to demand assimilation of those who do come here -- I would say yes, we deserve to lose that territory. (Though I think few Mexicans would want to rejoin Mexico. They LEFT Mexico, remember, in search of a better life working for the gringos.)
Posted by: markus at September 8, 2008 1:12 pm
An interesting take on the Georgian crisis, from an energy war perspective.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 8, 2008 2:24 pm
Markus: Just how and when did all those Albanians and Turks come to Kosovo, and how did the Serbs get displaced?
The Albanians have lived there since the time of antiquity. They are the indigenous inhabitants. The Turks invaded, but they were resisted by Albanians as well as by Serbs. The Albanian national hero led the anti-Turkish resistance.
The Serbs are Slavs from the north and are far more recent additions to the landscape. Unlike the Albanians, they arrived by invasion. But they, too, have been there long enough that they shouldn't be kicked out.
The details are murky, but my understanding is that a hell of a lot of churches got burned.
Yes, some Serbs churches (never Albanian churches) were burned by mobs in 1999 as acts of revenge for being ethnically cleansed, and again for three days in 2004 after rumors that Serbs killed Albanian children. The Kosovo government was not involved. Kosovo doesn't even have an army (they have NATO), so there is really no comparison with what the Yugoslav and Russiam armies have done.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 8, 2008 2:24 pm
For the same reason that a household made up of family members is generally a more stable and pleasant place to live than a household made up of unrelated people forced to live together by circumstance. And because, from an evolutionary perspective, living with one's own people is more natural and healthy in the long run than living in a melting pot.
That idea has been used to justify wars of ethnic cleansing, various genocides, the tribalism and sectarianism that infects the Middle East, Jim Crow laws, white flight, Pat Buchanan, Shariah laws, religious wars, identity politics and just about every form of apartheid that has existed since civilization began.
This idea is also contrary to the idea that all people should be considered equal. Under a properly functioning democracy, all citizens are considered to be equal, and all have the same rights under law, whether they were born Albanian, Russian or Bantuu.
About Salter and his social darwinism - in Spiked, there's an interesting article about how the right and the left are using science to justify political fears about immigration and race, trying to turn divisive identity politics into a "natural feature of the human condition"
Posted by: maryatexitzero at September 8, 2008 2:35 pm
MJT: But they, too, have been there long enough that they shouldn't be kicked out.
Now there's an interesting statement. What's the cutoff time, and how does it apply to, say, the Palestinians?
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 8, 2008 3:26 pm
DPU,
I don't know what the cutoff time is. We could argue about it forever, and I don't even know for sure what my position should be. But the Serbs have been in the Balkans longer than white people have been in North and South America. They are clearly on the "let them stay" side of the cutoff limit that any reasonable person could possibly make.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 8, 2008 3:36 pm
"Now there's an interesting statement. What's the cutoff time, and how does it apply to, say, the Palestinians?"
Or to non-native North Americans?
Posted by: Lindsey at September 8, 2008 3:40 pm
But the Serbs have been in the Balkans longer than white people have been in North and South America.
That's reasonable, of course. My point was a can of worms that would derail the current conversation. Please ignore it.
BTW, is DougF still reading here? There's an outstanding wager we had that I think is settled now.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 8, 2008 4:50 pm
Michael Totten, you are a very good writer but you articles should NOT be viewed as attempts to describe a situation as objectively as possible. You write as an advocate trying to further a case. And you do a very good job. But your articles definitely have a strong bias.
As to Georgia, Ambassador Jack Matlock had it right when he recently wrote:
Posted by: KolyaV at September 8, 2008 10:00 pm
Mary,
My life experiences have taught me that identity politics IS a natural feature of the human condition. Those experiences include several times moving from less diverse regions, cities, neighborhoods and jobs - places were people knew one another and mostly trusted one another - to more "diverse" places where conflict and mistrust, or tolerance at best, were common features. Also, my world travel experiences, visiting places like Buenos Aires and Rio De Jenairo. Both cities have great economic stratification, but the former city, very homogenous (or, if you insist, made up of fully assimilated Italian and Spanish immigrants) is a much safer and pleasant place to be.
I find it interesting that in the very interesting article by Malik you linked to he spends about 75 percent of the article (very fairly) laying out Salter's arguments in great detail, only raising his objections (familiar ones like "the Irish and British working class used to be considered black") very weakly and almost perfunctorily at the end.
The point about the Irish-Americans, supposedly called "negros" in the 19th century, is that within a generation or two they joined and were accepted as full members of the majority sub-group of their countries. It happened NATURALLY, different people discovering NATURAL bonds affinity. It wasn't necessary to create the National Association for the Advancement of Irish People or Irish anti-defamation league. For a variety of reasons that is proven to be difficult or impossible with other groups.
I'm not opposed to assimilation WHEN IT WORKS, but I think that absent natural, readily apparent bonds - whether cultural, religious, racial, or linguistic - it is a much more difficult task than giving each group their own plot of land. And since I really DO appreciate the diversity of humanity, I think there are other good reasons for allowing each group to have their own little neighborhood on this crowded planet. And to the extent that some immigration and group mixing is necessary, its details be based on an honest assessment about what bonds have made it easier for Irish, Scotch, Germans and Italian immigrants to assimilate in the USA than for non-European immigrants.
I also don't share your animus toward Pat Buchanan (though I disagree with him on some social issues). He's been tarred as anti-Jewish, but ironically reading him (and other paleocons) has given me an understanding of and appreciation for Jews, and their commitment to ensuring their own ethnic survival by putting their own people first, that I never had before. Natan Sharkansky's new book on identity, in fact, echoes a lot of Buchanan's themes.
Posted by: markus at September 9, 2008 10:02 am
The point about the Irish-Americans, supposedly called "negros" in the 19th century..
LOL. That reminds me of the great quote from the Irish movie, The Commitments. "Do you not get it, lads? The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it once, say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud."
I also don't share your animus toward Pat Buchanan (though I disagree with him on some social issues). He's been tarred as anti-Jewish, but ironically reading him (and other paleocons) has given me an understanding of and appreciation for Jews, and their commitment to ensuring their own ethnic survival by putting their own people first, that I never had before.
markus, you and Pat would probably be horrified by Israel, where immigrants of all colors and nationalities work together, live together and thrive. It's the antithesis of the isolationist paradise you seem to be imagining.
Isolationism is my main objection to Pat Buchanan and the right/left trend towards championing cultural 'purity'. Isolationism leads to stagnating, static societies. Social scientists may not want to admit that, but historians will.
In any case, the concept of a "very homogenous" just doesn't work with the concept that all people are created equal. Because if you're willing to admit that all people should have equal rights under the law, then you have to let all citizens live and work wherever they please.
Which means that, in a free, democratic society, there's nothing you can do to prevent a Bantuu family, or a Jewish family, or some of those black Irish from moving to your neighborhood. You can have freedom or you can have purity, but you can't have both.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at September 9, 2008 12:40 pm
It has absolutely nothing to do with equality, Mary. Oil and water are "equal" to one another, they just don't go well together usually.
And on Israel, you've got to be kidding right? There are no Bantuus in Israel, despite your assertion that "a free,democratic society" can do "nothing" to prevent them from moving there. Of course, there are guest workers, just like in Saudi Arabia, but they're not citizens, and if they have children in Israel those children are not citizens either. And there are Israeli Arabs, who although they certainly prefer Israel to the dysfunctional Arab regimes in the area, are still, by all accounts, almost completely separated from the Jewish majority, with separate neighborhoods and schools. There is no legal way for Jews to marry non-Jews, and non-Jewish citizens are not allowed to buy land from the Jewish National Fund. The Israeli citizens I have spoken to say their interaction with Israeli Arabs is practically nil, and a friend who recently went there on a "Birthright" trip told me she didn't think she saw a single Arab. Lastly, there is broad agreement in Israel that a Jewish demographic majority must be preserved.
It is a perfectly reasonable place: a state for Jews, and for non-Jews who happened to still live inside its boundaries after the cease fire of 1949, and their descendants.
Posted by: markus at September 9, 2008 2:08 pm
markus, have you ever been to Israel?
I don't know if there are Bantuus there, but Israel has taken in Sudanese Muslim refugees. They've also taken in Vietnamese refugees. Their human rights and refugee treatment may not be perfect, but historically, they can proudly compare themselves to any Middle Eastern (or European) country.
It has absolutely nothing to do with equality, Mary. Oil and water are "equal" to one another, they just don't go well together usually.
Oil and water (or milk and butter) can be mixed, if you heat one element up, whisk in a little flour, then add the other. You can even mix in some sugar, if it's not too granular.
Of course, I haven't a clue about what any of these helpful cooking hints have to do with democracy vs isolationism.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at September 9, 2008 2:24 pm
For an interesting academic discussion see this article 'The Legality of Kosovo's Declaration of Independence'
Here's the problem:
Independence is the only way to assure what 1244 wanted to ensure (peace and self-determination). Albanians had autonomy before only to have it taken with a strike of the pen (backed by tanks.)
Based on Serb actions since 1878 till 1999 and how they have behaved since then (brutal propaganda campaign, never apologizing, playing victims, vowing to reapeat it again) etc. you can see that their intentions have not changed. In short, they cannot be trusted and Serbs have lost the right to rule over Albanians in Kosovo.
http://www.seep.ceu.hu/archives/issue61/herbert.pdf ("Who Deserves Kosovo? An Argument from Social Contract Theory")
Also, 1244 never mentions Serbia and the territory is mentioned only in the pre-amble, not legally binding (although it demonstrates intent)
To the person who said Kosovo has been Serbia forever:

Please don't use loaded words unless you know the history. Serbs came from Russia somewhere in the 7th century and only 1190 did they got Kosovo--long after they had a state and church (not exactly a "cradle" or "Jerusalem" either.) Before them it was the Bulgars and the Byzantine that ruled it for 100's of years. After about 200 years of Serbs rule, the Turks held it for 400 years. Does that sound like forever? In 1912 Albanians made 75% of the population. We have this from 1300's to give you an idea how Kosovo became 'their' land:

""The monastery at Decani stands on a terrace commanding passes into High Albania. When Stefan Uros III founded it in 1330, he gave it many villages in the plain and catuns of Vlachs and Albanians between the Lim and the Beli Drim. Vlachs and Albanians had to carry salt for the monastery and provide it with serf labour.17 A large number of churches were sited strategically at Prizren and in 1348 Dusan is recorded as giving Albanian catuns to a monastery there. Metohija in fact was a great monastic estate."

links.jstor.org/sici?sici=1478-4017(1955)1%3A21%3C171%3AJKTEOA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-9
and then of course Dusan writes his code still in 1330's where he states how to keep Albanians out of 'his' lands.
And before all that? It was Dardania, a Roman province. DNA type E3b1a-M78 and E3b1a2-V13 is in England believed to have been brought there by Roman soldiers in CE 43. Guess who is the CENTER of such DNA? The Albanians in Kosovo and FYROM. What a coincidence!!
(peer reviewed paper, not Serbin propaganda)
http://www.jogg.info/32/bird.htm
Posted by: nameless-fool at September 9, 2008 2:27 pm
My recollection was that Kosovo would've eventually been absorbed into Albania due to the high population of Albanians there, not unlike SO being absorbed into Russia.
Do not confuse Albanian (as Serbs try to say 'Illegal immigrant' from Albania) with a person of Albanian ethnicity. Albania is as it is today because Russia lobbied to give as much Albanian populated lands as possible to Servs and Montengrins. About half of Albanians were left out in 1912-18 Treaties. They are Albanians in Fyrom and in Montengro...and of course in Greece, now hellenized. http://www.greekhelsinki.gr/english/reports/arvanites.html (as much as 45% of 'Greeks' might be of Albanian origin.)
People move, and just because something was Greek, Roman or French once it does not mean that it still should be 100's to 1000's of years later. Plus no one knows who is what anyway after 1000 years. Territories were supposed to be divided based on ethnographic makeup at the time of division, not history, otherwise Serbs, the very latecomers, would have to go back to Russia and hope they accept them back.
Kosovo was 75% Albanian in 1912, and Serbs even wanted Northern Albania because they 'had ruled it once' 450 years ago.
Assuming Serbs are right, we'll make a deal with Serbs: We'll leave Kosovo when they leave Vojvodina, Bosnia, Montenegro and Croatia. Fair? Sine they want to get smart: Albanians in Albania...right after Serbs go to Serbia.
For the record: Serbs believe that Drubovnic is built on "Serbian rock," that Montengro is Serbian, that Bosnia is Serbian (see WWI,) that Krajina is Serbian, that Vojvodina is Serbian, and there is a huge fight between the Churches of Serbia and FYROM over old churches. Dusan got crowned there and Serbs claim ownership of a lot of stuff. They have Russian syndrome of wannabe empire: "Where lies a dead or a living Serb is Serbia" is their motto. Too bad their neighbors are now armed and no one wants to live in their USSR.
To those to turn this into a religious thing, it isn't: 90% of the songs from The Northern Albanian tribes, Malesoret, are about fighting Malazezt (Montegrins) and Shkijt /Shkjate(Serbs.) Turks only dared to go there in 1911, to lose.
FYI: they are staunch catholics that not only survived the Turks but also the "convert to Orthodoxy or die" Serbian policies before the Turks came.
Posted by: nameless-fool at September 9, 2008 2:56 pm
Georgia Russia conflict - everybody wins.
First of all. I think it is over. Russia will leave Georgia proper eventually and most likely soon.
Both sides will not make too many waves in international courts and will try to sweep entire matter under the rug. Everybody has enough to hide and pray for matter be forgotten.
Abkhazia & South Ossetia - no questions, got de-facto independence from Georgia at very least. Their de-jure recognition is somewhat different matter. It is not all that certain.
Russia - got chance to assert itself and remind everybody else they are still power to be reckoned with.
Also Russia gets to keep Abkhazian Black Sea access as a backup in case of serious trouble with Ukraine.
Granted they would need to spend a lot of money (they may not have) and time to create decent house for its Black Sea Navy but it is still better than nothing. (I'd watch what is doing on in Ukraine, especially Crimea, from now on. Georgia is nothing compared to what's at stake for Russia over there).
US & NATO - Georgia no longer has reasons for not being able to join NATO. Plus US and NATO got rude awakening, which is very good.
Georgia - winner too. It does not need to be preoccupied with Abkhazia and SO question anymore. Now all their effort can be directed to bettering their country and military. One problem with NATO membership though. Russia is not particularly strong and its strength rests on price of oil, which is going to fall eventually. By that time Georgia will be much stronger militarily than it is today and may be ready to gain Abkhazia and SO back. However, as NATO member it will not be allowed to do so. Will Georgia join NATO? Depends on what is stronger, fear of Russia or desire to get land back. I think it is latter.
PS. I think Cold War II will be quieter, shorter and probably without much bang-bang and without another nuclear race. China is the power to watch, especially for Russia.
Posted by: leo at September 10, 2008 6:12 am
No, I haven't been to Israel, Mary. I hope to go there sometime.
Here's the most recent article I can find on the Sudanese refugees in Israel. After arresting them, and detaining some for months, she finally accepted 400 of them after tremendous international and domestic pressure. They also announced that any more that enter will be deported, and that "anyone who enters Israel illegally will be deported."
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/08/19/world/main3182226.shtml
Israel has an Israel-first immigration policy, based on what it perceives is good for Israelis. Mexico has a Mexico-first immigration policy, which is why illegal immigrants in Mexico from central American are deported, and why gringos can't buy land within 50 miles of the ocean. American should have an America first foreign policy.
Posted by: markus at September 10, 2008 6:53 am
Leo, you wrote:
"Russia will leave Georgia proper eventually and most likely soon."
I, for one, never doubted that. Also, it was obvious to me that Russia never intended to take Tbilisi. Despite alarmist rumors, the latter was probably always clear to Georgian and US analysts. After all, Russia never deployed a sufficient number of troops to assault and occupy Tbilisi.
"Abkhazia & South Ossetia - no questions, got de-facto independence from Georgia at very least."
Yes. It just solidified what was already pretty much the case for the last 14 years or more.
"US & NATO - Georgia no longer has reasons for not being able to join NATO."
Since I'm sure that NATO has no plans to conquer any territory, I think Russia is much too paranoid about NATO. If most of the population of a country wants to join NATO and NATO accepts them, I don't see a problem. To be frank, though, I don't think it's to NATO's advantage to have Georgia as a member. It's up to NATO, but if I were NATO, I would not be in a hurry about it. If I were a Georgian, however, I would of course want Georgia to be part of NATO as soon as possible.
"Georgia - winner too. It does not need to be preoccupied with Abkhazia and SO question anymore"
Well, Georgia will be much better off if it indeed stops its obsession of taking back Abkhazia and South Ossetia. To repeat Ambassador Jack Matlock's words, which be wrote before there was any sort of agreement:
Posted by: KolyaV at September 10, 2008 10:07 am
It only confirms that Ambassador Jack Matlock is very smart man. :)
Posted by: leo at September 10, 2008 10:42 am
PS. I think Cold War II will be quieter, shorter and probably without much bang-bang and without another nuclear race. China is the power to watch, especially for Russia.
IMO Russia bit the hand that feeds her. While they have gas /oil and EU needs it, so does Russia so they can't just stop sales. They are alternatives and too much play might make EU to spend the extra money to find them.
By confiscating private companies (BP) and threatening to take over others Russia might have finally placed itself on the "we can't do business with. Their stock market is 42% down this year and the oligarchs and average person must be feeling the pinch. Plus, they are simply looting Gazprom and not investing in new fields, meaning that soon they will reach a plateau and it goes downhill from there.
Russian bravado aside, they are no where near a superpower. US is 10 times stronger economically and 20 times if you add EU too. Their nukes are useless in MAAD scenarios.
To the person that said "Russia will not take Tiblissi" : Pardon us for being a bit skeptical. Russia has the credibility of Saddam and Milosevic right now; only force works against them.
Say what you will about China, they know which side their bread is buttered on, and they are very pragmatic and consistent. They must be loving this: 1.4 billion Chinese waiting for the world's largest and richest (resource wise) country to self-destruct. They will get it for next to nothing :)
Posted by: nameless-fool at September 10, 2008 7:47 pm
I this article is basically fair, or close enough to it.
Unfortunately, what your article fails to convey is that thinking on this issue is a complete mess, and all the major powers are hypocrites. Why does Kosovo get to be independent, but not Kurdistan?
Which doesn't mean I support Kurdistan's independence, per se. It just means that by a consistent playbook, they have as much right as Kosovo. But we're not consistent: we're all over the flippin' map. I don't know if Russia is more hypocritical than we are. Probably. Both we're both complete hypocrites, historically, on whether ethnic conflict minorities get to have their own states.
The reason is that both sides are dangerous and bad lessons. Granting minorities independence can encourage mass violence, just like *not* granting minority territories independence can... also encourage mass violence.
The key determining factor in leading us to assume Russia did something condemnable in this set of events are not the events themselves, but the fact that it was Russia. If it was France bombing the Georgians in response to a Georgian incursion into French-protected Ossetia, many of us would approve, or not dissaprove, or (probably) ignore it because of the lack of a clear moral lesson to be drawn in 10 seconds.
Posted by: glasnost at September 10, 2008 10:34 pm
If this:
"To the person that said "Russia will not take Tiblissi" : Pardon us for being a bit skeptical"
refers to the following exchange:
///
"Russia will leave Georgia proper eventually and most likely soon."
I, for one, never doubted that. Also, it was obvious to me that Russia never intended to take Tbilisi. Despite alarmist rumors, the latter was probably always clear to Georgian and US analysts. After all, Russia never deployed a sufficient number of troops to assault and occupy Tbilisi.
///
I can just say that you can be as skeptical as you want. To me, though, it was clear that Russia was not going to take Tbilisi. My assumption is that analysts in the Pentagon also did not worry about it, despite the alarmist noises politicians and the media was making. Why I think they were not worried? A couple of reasons:
1. While from the Russian perspective it made perfect sense to occupy South Ossetia and Abkhazia and even enter into Georgia proper for a bit, it made no sense for Russia to enter Tbilisi or occupy all of Georgia. They have a lot of support in South Ossetia and Abkahazia, while they have none in Georgia. Why should they risk an insurgency and a bloody occupation?
2. From the number of Russian troops deployed during the operation it should have been obvious to anyone that Russia had no intention to occupy Tbilisi or the rest of Georgia.
Posted by: KolyaV at September 10, 2008 11:23 pm
Glasnost: If it was France bombing the Georgians in response to a Georgian incursion into French-protected Ossetia, many of us would approve, or not dissaprove, or (probably) ignore it...
That's true. It's also defensible.
I'd give France more of a benefit of the doubt than I give Russia for the same reason I give Russia more of a benefit of doubt than I would give North Korea.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 10, 2008 11:39 pm
"1. While from the Russian perspective it made perfect sense to occupy South Ossetia and Abkhazia and even enter into Georgia proper for a bit, it made no sense for Russia to enter Tbilisi or occupy all of Georgia. They have a lot of support in South Ossetia and Abkahazia, while they have none in Georgia. Why should they risk an insurgency and a bloody occupation?
2. From the number of Russian troops deployed during the operation it should have been obvious to anyone that Russia had no intention to occupy Tbilisi or the rest of Georgia."

I agree with point #1 and disagree with point #2.
Russians are masters of fast deployment and especially in their own backyard. They could easily get more troops. I bet Putin started quiet and extensive mobilization ("Sbori") even before Russia went into war. Most likely 58th Army was not the only one ready and waiting.
Posted by: leo at September 11, 2008 5:28 am
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