Friday, February 17, 2006

The Kosovo Debate Continues

James G. Poulos published this essay in the American Spectator. which builds on my response in the January/February issue of Foreign Affairs to Charles Kupchan's Independence for Kosovo from the November/December 2005 edition.

I don't know that our positions are all that far apart. I found it quite refreshing that he noted, "If independence for Kosovo would cause others to assert similar, even if not identical, claims, why would the resulting adjustments create unmanageable instability? ... To the extent that a firm Kosovo decision can force the issue for other international inconsistencies, the West should seize the opportunity to eliminate areas inviting to corruption, smuggling, the sex trade, and terror, by enfolding them into either a neighboring nation or into the legitimate community of independent nations." This is in marked contrast to some who while strongly advocating independence for Kosovo with tremendous vigor argue for holding other states together at all costs. My warnings are that a unilateral Kosovo precedent that we try to argue is so singularly unique so as to have no relevance elsewhere in the world will cause us a great deal of problems. If, in pushing for a final status solution for Kosovo, this allows us to make progress on other frozen conflicts, on a case by case basis, then those possible risks that I outlined can be mitigated.

At the U.S.-Russia Dialogue this past week, the Kosovo question did come up and the Russian participants made it pretty clear that they do not believe Kosovo to be a unique case but part of a larger continuum of frozen conflicts across the greater Black Sea region, and some held up, again, the idea of a general settlement of granting independence or a great deal of autonomy to all such enclaves, not just Kosovo. Even Chechnya, at this point, is envisioned to have a broad degree of autonomy within the Russian Federation. Senior Chinese officials I've spoken to have been more indirect but they have indicated they would not support a solution that would have to be imposed on Serbia and/or would not continue safeguards to prevent a Kosovo precedent from being utilized by others (not only Taiwan, but Sudan and other places).

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