Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It Is Kosovo Week at TWR

I took part today in a roundtable sponsored by Al-Jazeera on Kosovo. Several of the points that came up:

I noted that the U.S. preference--and this is my preference as well--is to find ways of reconciling self-determination with territorial integrity. In Nagorno-Karabakh, in Abkhazia (a point I also made to Georgia's Rustavi-TV today), in Western Sahara, in Aceh--there are a number of mechanisms which can give effective self-governance and regional control without compromising overall state integrity and raising the hornet's nest of changing boundaries. I think that what has happened with Kosovo is that it has become part of the "legacy" debate for both the Clinton and Bush Administrations, especially since Iraq by all measures is not going that well. The Clinton team wants to contrast Kosovo with Iraq; the Republicans want to retain partial ownership of Kosovo.

The Russian participant in the roundtable--Dimitri Suslov of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policies--issued a withering critique of NATO and the UN in terms of effective state-building in Kosovo--where are the institutions, where is the rule of law, where is the protection of minority rights? Is the United States going to be active in policing whatever final settlement is reached in Kosovo? I had to conclude no it will not--it is looking for a quick exit from the Balkans.

Suslov also took issue with the notion that the U.S. and the EU collectively can and should impose a settlement, arguing that the days in which the "West" can present the world with a fait accompli are coming to an end. In that sense he supports the arguments being advanced by Steven Weber and his co-authors, and we will be having a roundtable next week at the magazine to discuss his arguments.

The US has no plan B--November will roll around and there will be no settlement and they will have to decide whether to go ahead with a recognition of Kosova. So they are hoping that between now and then they can put the pressure both on Moscow and the Serbs to fold.
I would like to know what "pressure on Moscow" would look like. Moscow hopes for nothing from us, having learned in the 1990s how we would exploit any leverage. Conversely, Moscow fears nothing from us, having systematically eliminated their dependencies on the West, also motivated by their experiences of the 1990s.

Conversely, they could cut their energy exports to about half their present level, and still have a current account surplus, while really sticking it hard to every single Western economy. I mean, you try being the "sole Superpower" trying to run the world with 3.5 mbpd less oil and 600 mcmpd less gas.

Fact is, the West needs Russia far more than Russia needs the West, and the Russian government certainly knows that, though many in the West are still confused on this point.
Ditto for Iranian energy.
When US policy makers are going to wake up? When disastrous US policy is going to be changed? US lost credibility. It can’t be power without credibility. Creating problems all over the globe and spreading fear can’t be the prosperous way. Just look at China and Russia foreign policy. Most of other countries are happy to deal with them but not because of fear. I am afraid that US is going to wake up too late.
None of this registers in US. Michael Vlahos' essay in National Interest on losing mythic authority didn't catch on. People still think that Americans will always be greeted as liberators.
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