Friday, February 22, 2008

Accept the Reality of Kosovo Independence

I will be on KPFA Monday morning 0705 LA Time on Kosovo but in the meantime, the latest production from the connect to reality production line.

From Tribune, 22 February
Accept the Reality of Kosovo Independence

THE bluster about the illegality of Kosovo independence begs some questions. If you want legality, perhaps someone should ask Moscow to point out the United Nations resolution that gave the Russian Federation the former Soviet Union’s permanent seat and veto on the Security Council. There isn’t one. Sometimes people find it best to accept reality.

In contrast, now that Kosovo has declared its independence, we can expect many people, including so-called socialists, to discover a sudden attachment to international law. Most of them were not such devoted defenders of it when Slobodan Milosevic was defying 50 UN resolutions and committing the crimes against humanity for which he eventually ended up on trial in The Hague.

With the same insouciance that Palme Dutt once dismissed Stalin’s crimes as “spots on the sun”, apologists for Milosevic overlook or dismiss the thousands of Kosovars killed by his regime when it was expelling almost a million Kosovars. In their own language, it is perhaps “no coincidence” that, for some tankies,the Kosovars were indiscrete in their choice of allies. They were supported reluctantly by Bill Clinton and forcibly by European democratic socialists, while their murderers had Moscow’s blessing.

In the course of this sun-spotting, one frequent claim was that “only” 2,000 were killed. In fact, double that number of slaughtered had already been unearthed. Since then, hundreds more have been discovered whose rotting bodies were carried in refrigerated trucks to be disposed of in Serbia. Proportional to the population of Kosovo, “only” 2,000 would the equivalent of 60,000 victims in Britain. Multiply by at least three and you realise why Kosovars refuse to be re-integrated into a Serbia whose leaders have yet to seriously admit that their forces did anything wrong.

Any rational point of view would suggest that such atrocities by Belgrade extinguished any residual claim of sovereignty over or loyalty from the Kosovars. When, in 1971, the Pakistani army staged mass killings and rapes of the Bengalis in East Pakistan, and foolishly took on India, it lost and Bangladesh seceded. Bangladesh became a member of the Commonwealth, recognised by almost 90 countries, and a member of many of the subsidiary bodies even before its first application – supported by Moscow – to join the UN became the occasion off Beijing’s first veto. In the end, reality triumphed. China and Pakistan dropped the veto in 1974.

When one hears so-called socialists denying the right to self-determination to a people, claiming that they are Jihadists or Islamo-fascists and asserting the right of Serbia to the land they live in because of ancient monasteries there, one can only wonder why they don’t rush off and join the church. In fact, not only are many Kosovars, Catholic and Orthodox, refreshingly few of them are very religious at all – as any visit to a Pristina cafĂ© to drink the potent local raki would soon demonstrate.

There are some very bad Kosovars, and on the body count across the Balkans, in absolute terms there are even more murderous Serbs. But self-determination applies to all people, not just those whose morals we approve of. Kosovo does risk being a dysfunctional state, with a limited economy, a severe crime and smuggling problem, undeveloped institutions and a flourishing gangster class. That puts it on a par with about half the membership of the UN. Indeed, looking at the wars that Belgrade has visited on its neighbours, the black-marketing and profiteering that Milosevic made the bedrock of its economy, its failure to reform its security apparatus to the extent of arresting war criminals, one might question Serbia’s credentials for independence. At least Kosovo insists on EU supervision of its administration.

No one has produced any reasonable plan to show how, without massive repression, Serbia is to re-assert its sovereignty over a country, 90 per cent of whose population does not want it. One parallel would be a government in London deciding to hold on to Scotland by military force, despite a clear vote by the majority of its population for independence. And perhaps a closer parallel would be London deciding to take back Ireland based on a much longer political history of continuous sovereignty than Serbia can demonstrate over Kosovo. This is more about Serbian politicians pandering to the nationalist vote at home – which is where Milosevic began the road to Kosovar independence in 1989, when he withdrew the province’s autonomy.

Russia’s support for Serbia also smacks of playing the nationalist card at home. And the EU could steal its ace by telling the US to forget the plans for positioning radars and missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic in return for a more mature attitude from Moscow.

Serbia’s rulers should be told firmly but politely that when they stop posturing over the “illegality” of Kosovar independence and attend to the genuine illegality of harbouring mass murderers wanted in The Hague, they will have a bright future in an EU which has made formerly fortified frontiers administrative boundaries, and which has guaranteed minorities unprecedented rights.

No comments: