History might repeat itself

Jason Csehi

For once, I agree with China, Russia, India and others concerning an international issue that has turned volatile and hinted at escalation. To the chagrin of many, President Bush has made another decision that most conservatives disagree with. After supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants and trying to unify North America into a EU-styled union with a “superhighway” running through our heartland, he decided to support the independence bid by ethnic Albanians in Kosovo against the wishes of Belgrade, in direct violation of the United Nations’ Resolution 1244. It states, “The people of Kosovo can enjoy substantial autonomy within Serbia.” Serbia has hitherto obliged.

The issue of ethnic cleansing and religious strife in the Balkans is deep-seated and centuries-old. Though unlikely, armed conflict against separation would likely be justified. Abraham Lincoln, often called the greatest leader of men, waged war to keep the Confederate States in the Union. Kosovo is similar in nature, but not to be confused with the circumstances under which Montenegro left in 2006, which it had the right to do under the lawful constitution of Serbia and Montenegro.

It would be in the best interest of the U.S. to be in agreement with Russia and China about Kosovo. John Bolton, a hawk in the conservative ranks who is known for ardent foreign policy stances as our ambassador to the U.N., has summarized the situation and the consequences of wayward policy. In The Washington Times in late January, Bolton and his co-authors suggested that “the United States should not prompt an unnecessary crisis” with Russia; they stressed the need to work together against the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea. They asked, “On an issue of minor importance to the United States, is this a useful expenditure of significant political capital with Russia?”

Bolton and company thoroughly backed their claim. To wit, “Even if Kosovo declared itself an independent state, it would be a dysfunctional one and a ward of the international community for the indefinite future. Corruption and organized crime are rampant. The economy, aside from international largesse and criminal activities, is nonviable. Law enforcement, integrity of the courts, protection of persons and property, and other prerequisites for statehood are practically nonexistent.”

President Boris Tadi‡, who recently won re-election, is staunchly in favor of keeping Kosovo in Serbia. Since this latest debacle in Eastern European diplomacy has transpired, The New York Times quoted a notable Serbian commentator: “If Tadi‡ is good enough for the EU and Washington, why is he not acceptable to the Albanians in Kosovo?”

With a 50 percent unemployment rate and the aforementioned troubles, it is quite foolish for the Albanian Kosovars to have sought independence. Though Serbia cannot compare economically with its neighbors such as Slovenia or Croatia, we must admit that it would have been better for the U.S. and other Western nations to have discouraged separation; to have done so would have been in the best interest of both Kosovars and players on the international stage. Instead, yet another spark has been lit that could once again reignite the tinderbox of Europe.

It remains unclear whether history will be kind to George Bush for the War on Terror, but for neglecting the wishes of Europe’s Serbian population, there is no doubt as to the outcome.

Jason Csehi is a history graduate student and a guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.