Friday, November 02, 2007

The Diplomacy of Expediency

The BBC called last night to get my thoughts on the ongoing crisis in Bosnia and the attempts by some of the key Contact Group countries to get Serbia to stop trying to link the final status of Kosovo with the fate of Bosnia.

Later, after thinking about it in greater detail, it does seem to me that the problems we are facing in Bosnia and Kosovo and by extension in Iraq and Sudan and elsewhere comes, in part, from what we might term the diplomacy of expediency--saying or pledging things that in the long run we have no intention of carrying out, but as a tactic to get fighting to stop or getting consensus. So in 1999 we said we were satisfied with a Kosovo that had "substantial autonomy" rather than full independence. The United States which had rejected various forms of partition and devolution for Bosnia accepted the principle in the Dayton Accords of 1995. We told the Turks in 2003 that the fall of Saddam Hussein and the emergence of an autonomous Kurdish region would not pose a security threat to their interests. And the list goes on.

Expediency can be a useful tactic. But I fear that when it has been used in recent years it has been not to create breathing room but to simply push an issue "down the road"--to where, hopefully, someone else becomes responsible for it.

Well, that seems to be the case with Turkey--this report now out, that the US broke its promises to Turkey on the PKK.
Yes expediency as a tactical tool to delay making choices and buying time is an acceptable pratice is statecraft.

However, in case of Kosovo, expediency went against the principles of the Peace of Westphalia. Its extension to East Timor (a state made of 750,000 dirt-farmers), Darfur, and now Kurdish Iraq is a direct threat to a large number of states who see behind this nefarious Western machinations.
Absolutely true. The UN resolution on Kosovo recognized Serbian sovereignty there, and provides for the return of Serbian forces to Kosovo. Now the world sees that the USG have no intention to deliver on its committments, and that we retain the tendency to lie our way into wars, so our diplomacy everywhere is handicapped.
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