Skip to comments.Christopher Hitchens - South Ossetia Isn't Kosovo
Posted on 08/21/2008 2:24:04 AM PDT by HAL9000
While it is almost certainly true that Moscow's action in the Ossetian and (for good measure) the Abkhazian enclave of Georgia has been, in a real sense, the revenge for the independence of Kosovo (on Feb. 14 Vladimir Putin said publicly that Western recognition of Kosovar independence would be met by intensified Russian support for irredentism in South Ossetia), it is extremely important to bear in mind that this observation does not permit us the moral sloth of allowing any equivalence between the two dramas.
Perhaps one could mention just some of the more salient differences?
1. Russia had never expressed any interest ...
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(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com ...
Good analysis. The Russians were very clever in trying to assert Kosovo as a precedent. I do think we should not have recognized Kosovo, because it does set a very bad precedent - but the precedent was for recognition of the take over by an aggressive “micro-nationality,” as Hitchens calls them, or worse still, the carving out of a region by Muslim domestic aggression.
We seem to have had a massive intelligence failure in Georgia, though. Putin practically announced his plan, other people (in the regular press) observed that this would lead to Russia’s self-justification of its actions in S. Ossetia, and in the days leading up to the attack, the European press was full of accounts of “activity” in that area. Why were we so surprised and unprepared?
Perhaps, as usual, there was intelligence and nobody listened to it because it conflicted with how we wanted things to be. Or perhaps, because this has been going on for a long time, we just shrugged and thought, oh, more of the same old same old.
The Russians have been in full bluster mode lately. It’s tempting to ignore this as just the juvenile rantings of a country that wants to attract attention, but we would have been wiser to have taken some of their ranting at face value and responded before they tried to put it into action.
Well, that makes sense. A country that claims to be a great power should, theoretically, act responsibly and refrain from moves like this. The peculiar thing about Russia right now is that it is acting like some crazy little statelet itself, and in fact seems to be modeling itself more on nutty states like Iran than on the supposed great power model. The blustering leaders, the sudden power grabs, the deviousness, the blithe ignorance of agreements, etc. are really more typical of third-rate dictatorships.
Perhaps one of our errors is that we were honestly trying to treat Russia as a responsible great power, or at any rate, one that was trying to reach that point. But suddenly it has revealed itself simply to be another unstable, unpredictable and uncivilized rogue state.
1) "Home by October"
2) "We pledge that Kosovo will never become an independent state."
3) "There is convincing evidence of concentration camps where the Serbs are keeping tens of thousands of Kosovans."
Remember who said them?
Russia was a two-faced nation. Iran was the bad face of Russia. Or as people traditionally call them, its puppet state. Russia is now just dropping its two faced approach to international diplomacy and letting the world see the true Russian leadership. Not a pretty sight. The world had to see it eventually and the sooner the better. It is extremely difficult to deal with two-faced nations because they can always claim to be trying to help by controlling that bad face.
Russia had never expressed any interest in Ossetian or Abkhazian micronationalisms, while Georgia was an integral part of the Soviet Union. It is thus impossible to avoid the suspicion that these small peoples are being used as "strategic minorities" to negate the independence of the larger Georgian republic and to warn all those with pro-Russian populations on their soil of what may, in turn, befall them.
and hard on the heels of a Russian obstruction of any U.N. action in the case of Zimbabwe.
If it matters, I agree with the critics who say that the Bush administration garnered the worst of both worlds by giving the Georgians the impression of U.S. support and then defaulting at the push-comes-to-shove moment.
Well, I don't agree. As I read hither and yon specifics about the agreement between US and Georgia, there was absolutely no reason for Georgia to stretch what was agreed to. I don't agree the US gave that "impression" as much as it was a case of GA "hoping" that when push might come to shove... This is a honest hope.
In this regard: My daughter in her car hit a tire rim lying on the highway. $2400 in damages. She was fine but shaken. Long story short, AFTERwards we learned that had the tire rim been THROWN at her car; coverage would have taken place. But running over it? Nope. And she gets negative points in her driving profile. She now just wishes she'd read the "nuances" in her insurance clauses aforehand.
No comparison between my daughter's "accident" and what is happening in Russia/GA - except by analogy in comprehending "finer details".
And while the majority of us get up early to drive/commute to do the Job thing, in order to earn money to pay taxes, buy groceries, etc., away from home... robbers and burglars enter our homes as a "thief" in the day. Our cars get ripped off right outside our workplaces.
North Carolina is seeing an unprecedented rash of car breakins, with the GPS system being stolen.
Just the GPS thingees....
"Kosovo, which was legally part of Yugoslavia but not of Serbia was never manipulated as part of the partition or intervention plan of another countrythe United States, in fact, spent far too long on the pretense that the Yugoslav federation could be savedand, for a lengthy period, pursued its majority-rule claims by passive resistance and other nonviolent means.
"NATO intervention occurred only when Serbian forces had resorted to mass deportation and full-dress ethnic "cleansing.""
I fail to see how the independence of Kosovo is different IN ANY WAY from that of, say, Croatia, Slovenia or Bosnia. All are simply parts of the old Yugoslavia which decided to go their separate ways.
>”Kosovo, which was legally part of Yugoslavia but not of Serbia
Actually, Kosovo was considered a Autonomous Province of Serbia-their words, not mine. In other words, while it had political autonomy, it was still a Serbian province, at least more or less.
>I fail to see how the independence of Kosovo is different IN ANY WAY from that of, say, Croatia, Slovenia or Bosnia. All are simply parts of the old Yugoslavia which decided to go their separate ways.
Under the old Yugoslav constitution, Republics had the right, at least on paper, to suceed, while autonomous provinces or regions (which Kosovo was), didn’t.
The Russians moved during the Olympics because Georgia launched a massive attack on civilian areas of South Ossetia during the Olympics. But, you already knew that. You fail to mention it because it doesn't fit your propaganda!
In fact, Kosovo has never been recognized internationally as part of Serbia. It was only ever recognized as part of Yugoslavia, and with the liquidation of that state Serbian claims upon its territory became null and void.
Moral sloth? Moral sloth is defending what we did in the interest of Albanian Muslim terrorism and criminality in Kosovo. What Russia is doing in Georgia is abhorrent, but at least South Ossetians aren't Muslim terrorists, and they aren't world renowned as drug runners, sex slave traders, and gangsters like Kosovars and Albanians are.
“I fail to see how the independence of Kosovo is different IN ANY WAY from that of, say, Croatia, Slovenia or Bosnia. All are simply parts of the old Yugoslavia which decided to go their separate ways. “
Kosovo was historically Serbian long before Yugoslavia was formed. Croatia, Slovienia were not.
Hitchens is trying to rewrite History!
Besides being historically Serbian, Kosovo was recognized as Serbian by the Treaty of London and the Treaty of Bucharest.
The mass movement of people out of Kosovo started after NATO bombs started falling! The UCK also encouraged Albanians to leave.
Georgia launched a massive attack on civilian areas of South Ossetia
during before the Olympics because Russian "peace keepers" and S. Ossetian separatist militia forces were launching attacks into Georgian towns outside the Ossetian border and harrassing and killing ethnic Georgians living in the Ossetian region. But, you already knew that. You fail to mention it because it doesn't fit your propaganda!
That is not entirely true.
South Ossetia is a mountainous inland district. Its main asset is a tunnel through the mountains linked to the Russian region of North Ossetia, which Georgian officials say is used for smuggling guns, drugs and counterfeit $100 bills. According to several sources, the financial resources of South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity were linked to the criminal world drug and gun trafficking.
(more on that at the link)
1. "Russia had never expressed any interest in Ossetian or Abkhazian micronationalisms, while Georgia was an integral part of the Soviet Union."
The assumption here is that Russia needed to "want S. Ossetia and Abkhazia", not the other way around. In fact, in monitored elections and voting, over 90% of S. Ossetians said that they wanted to belong to Russia, not Georgia. But the wishes of the S. Ossetian people has been completely ignored in order to male the case against Russia.
2.Kosovo, which was legally part of Yugoslavia but not of Serbia was never manipulated as part of the partition or intervention plan of another country"
That is just plain stupid. Kosovo was part of Serbia before there was a Yugoslavia, which is why Kosovo and all the major cities in it bear Serbian, not Albanian, names. Kosovo never had the legal right to secede from Yugoslavia that the other republics did, nor were "Albanians" ever considered a constituent people of Yugoslavia when Yugoslavia existed -- "Yugoslavia" translates to land of the South Slavs and Albanians are not Slavs, they were aliens and in many cases, illegal aliens.
3.Does anybody remember the speeches in which the Russian ambassador to the United Nations asked the General Assembly or Security Council to endorse his country's plan to send land, air, and sea forces deep into the territory and waters of a former colony that is now a U.N. member state?"
Does anyone remember the UN GRANTING that permission to us? No, we went ahead without it, so who the point is?
4.The six former constituent republics of Yugoslavia, which all exercised their pre-existing constitutional right to secede from rule by Belgrade, are seated as members of the United Nations, as, indeed, is Georgia. Twenty out of 27 states of the European Union have also recognized the government of Kosovo as an entity de jure as well as de facto. The Kosovar population is estimated at 1.8 million, which makes it larger than that of some existing E.U. member states. Does anyone seriously imagine that Russia ever even remotely intends to sponsor any statehood claims for the tiny local populations of Ossetia and Abkhazia?"
The S. Ossetian and Abkhazians are small numbers of people who seem to recognize that they are too small to survive on their own so they aren't asking for "independence" from anyone other than to be free of Georgia. And this is our business, how?
5. Heartbreakingly difficult though the task has been, and remains, the whole emphasis of Western policy in the Balkans has been on de-emphasizing ethnic divisions; subsidizing cities and communities that practice reconciliation; and encouraging, for example, Serbs and Albanians to cooperate in Kosovo."
This is too stupid for words. We let the Albanians drive out virtually every non-Albanian including Serbs, Roma and Gorani, destroy hundreds of Christian churches, and sell Serbs for body parts, and this is what Hitchens calls "reconciliation and cooperation between Serbs and Albanians"? What an idiot!
6. Those who like to describe Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev as reacting to an "encirclement" of Russia may wish to spill some geopolitical ink on explaining how Kosovo forms part of this menacing ring of steel
Irrelevant. Kosovo set the precedent that the US could do anything it wants, irrespective of international law, thousands of miles from its borders. That alone was enough of a threat to Russia to bring someone like Putin to power to overcome the sense of shame Russia felt over Kosovo.
Hitchens is a bitter old drunk, whose chief claim to fame is a book called "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything", a tribute to nihilistic atheism. This has made Hitchens a useful tool for Islam, as he thinks that most Christians are morons and as such, Hitchens could never even begin to understand Kosovo.
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