Thursday, March 22, 2007

Dimitri Simes on Kosovo and Russia

For your perusal:

Play ball with Russia--The Kremlin softened its position on Iran; now it rightfully expects the U.S. to listen up on Kosovo.

The idea of quid pro quoe that is discussed in this article is appealing but restrictive.

USG has painted itself into a corner vis a vis Iran. This has given Russia leverage that it did not posess before.

The optimal path for US is to open direct & bilateral discussions with Iran, moderated by the Swiss.

In this manner, the influence of China and Russia in the Persian Gulf will be checked and the strategic position of US enhanced.

Kosovo is irrelevant to US - let UN and Serbia agree on a partition. US need not be involved at all. Let the EU guys go and salvage their own mess - teach them a lesson in humility.
Why specifically on Kosovo? There are areas of much more serious concern for Russia.
Because it will promote stability, peace and economic prosperity for all peoples of the South Caucasus, formal recognition of the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabakh is in interest of the international community.

A pragmatist would note that Kosovo is functionally independent. In other words, there appears to be no realistic way in which Serbia could ever reassert control over the province without massive violence.

In contrast, Nagorno Karabakh has no pragmatic capacity for economic indpendence. States enveloped on four sides rarely do. Neither does, say, South Ossetia, which can only exist as an unofficial re-acquisition of territory by Russia, which is a different scenario than that by which Kosovo came to be independent.

So, Dmitri's realist paradigm here, to me, can't be particularly helpful in practical advice. America can't make Kosovo un-independent. It wouldn't cost much to mollify the Russians by being passive on the issue, but that's really all we can do. No one can expect us to attempt to penalize the Kosovars. There's no moral-rational case for it to be used as cover from scrutiny, and it would be dangerous to antagonize people that we are still on the ground, running a peacekeeping mission amidst.

On another tack,
State disintegration is an interesting global issue, but I'm not sure it's really a genuine problem. Let's say North Cyprus became recognized as a genuine state. Is that necessarily a problem? Why?
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