Monday, August 11, 2008

Ghosts of Kosovo in the Caucasus

Some of the rhetoric that the U.S. and NATO bandied about in 1999 to justify the Kosovo operation may be coming back to haunt us in the wake of the 2008 Ossetian war.

Russia has claimed that its mandate from the 1992 Sochi agreement to "keep the peace" gives it the right to take whatever measures are necessary to secure South Ossetia. But this can be interpreted to mean that Russia has the right to strike targets in Georgia proper on the grounds that Georgia's warfighting abilities must be degraded--similar to the NATO rationale in 1999 for hitting targets in Serbia itself, not just Serbian units in Kosovo.

Russia is also utilizing the "loss of sovereignty" argument that was advanced against Serbia in 1999--that Georgia's attack on South Ossetia which seemed to target civilians has produced such a negative reaction among Ossetians who claim they can no longer live under Georgian rule. So, the argument is that Tbilisi has forfeited its right to exercise sovereignty over South Ossetia just as Serbia supposedly lost its sovereign rights over Kosovo.

And whether the West, and particularly the U.S., buys this or not is no longer the issue. Moscow doesn't seem to care whether we accept these comparisons, just as we didn't care about Moscow's opinion on Kosovo final status. We can either try to fight it--which we don't seem to want to do--or we will have to accept it de facto--which is where things seem to be headed, at least given the tenor of the French peace mission, which wants a restoration of the August 6 status quo--which for all intents and purposes is a Russian victory and a Georgian defeat.

A final and sobering note of comparison. The 1999 Kosovo war soured U.S.-Russia relations and prevented cooperation that might have nipped Al-Qaeda in the bud in Afghanistan prior to 9/11. The Ossetian war today is going to torpedo any effort to restart the U.S.-Russia partnership--and what consequences might result?

This seems about right. We've finally reaped what we've sowed in our relations with Russia. We've repeatedly demonstrated that we do not care what they think about major issues in European security, so they are not going to listen to us. Both the US and the EU have failed to advance a post-Cold War security agenda on the continent that really includes Russia. We may live to regret that.
We are not going back to the August 6 status quo ante. That is over. Russia will either incorporate the 2 territories into the Russian Federation or will organize them into states; a la Turkish Cypriot Republic.

Russia will also advance her interests in Ukraine; getting ready for the violent breakup of Ukranine.
Forget Kosovo. Remember our response to Russia's attempt to hold Chechenya? "Disproportionate?"

We condemned the Russians when they brutally repressed an insurrection in the breakaway province of Chechenya. Now we are defending another country which was trying to suppress two independence movements in its country.

The Bush administration has no credibility. Backing Kosovo's claim for independence while denying the Serbians of Bosia the same. The admission of the Baltic states and the failed attempt to bring Georgia into NATO while failing to find a new, Russian-neutral mission for NATO. Missile defense promised for Eastern Europe.

I can't blame the Russians if they believe we are out to get them.

A voice from the past provides a glimpse of the near future.
On the subject of Georgia/Russia and article in yesterdays NY Times had it about right for my ideas as to what HAS happened. When US/Euro/Nato involved themselves in the action of Kosovo breaking away from Serbs and Croats (Macedonians and Albainians--Enver Hoxha would be spinning in his grave over this...) the Russians TOLD the Americans and others at the UN Security Council that by setting the precedence on Kosovo, they were setting the table for Ossetia breaking away (again) from Georgia. Complicating matters is Georgia's aspirations to join NATO, putting a big thorn in the underbelly of Russia and blocking their lines of communication with Iran.... Now that this chess move is underway, the response from the US would/should be to shut up or trade Iran for Kosovo...since Russia has been "supporting" the US in Iran re the nuclear "agenda".

Pretty clear to me that the cowboy mentality has been usurped by the "old European" ways of politics and diplomacy. In short, it is obvious to the entire world that Putin is still a Master at his game, especially in his own back yard.

"Let the games begin"/Checkmate.


Kosovo was never worth anything to Russia beyond the US-EU involvement against Serbia. There is no way that Russia will abandon Iran, not now and not ever - the existence of a sovereign and non-aligned (against US-EU) is absolutely essential to the security of the Russian State.
I couldn't possibly agree with you more. Thank you for making this comparison, it's important for people to know. I can't say I'm surprised that what's good for the goose isn't necessarily good for the gander when it comes to world politics.
Giuliani encouraged Albanian protesters outside Serb midnight Easter 1999 service while McCain had airmen write Happy Easter on bombs, both paid by Dioguardi's heroin lobby paid. Brzezinski and Buchanan are winking anti-Semitic votes for Obama, deliver USA to Pope's feudal basket of Bamana Republics. Talal got Pontifical medal as Fatima mandates Catholic-Muslim union against Jews (Francis Johnson, Great Sign, 1979, p. 126), Catholic Roger Taney wrote Dred Scott decision. John Wilkes Booth, Tammany Hall and Joe McCarthy were Catholics. Now Catholic majority Supreme Court. NYC top drop outs: Hispanic 32%, Black 25%, Italian 20%. NYC top illegals: Ecuadorean, Italian, Polish. Ate glis-glis but blamed plague on others, now lettuce coli. Kosovo is Aztlan precedent. Their bigotry most encouraged terror yet they reap most security funds. Rabbi circumcizes lower, Pope upper brain. Tort explosion by glib casuistry. Bazelya 1992 case proves PLO-IRA-KLA links.
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