Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Recognizing Kosovo Independence: Dangerous Precedent

For an analysis of the implications for global stability of the recent Kosovo declaration of independence, see this five-minute video by Stephen Zunes on the important independent source of global affairs developments Real News:

Well, this is a very dangerous precedent, because if it's ignoring the UN
Security Council resolution, makes it an irreversible fact, what is the point of
UN Security Council resolutions? That it is back to the old-fashioned kind of
power politics. My interpretation of 1244 is that it does not include
independence as an option within that same work. And indeed it seemed to make a
lot more sense for Kosovo to enjoy the status of the Iraqi Kurds or the
Taiwanese, who even for those of us who believe that morally they have a right
to independence, recognize that they essentially had that already, and by making
a formal declaration as such and having this kind of recognition by foreign
powers can destabilize the region and create a very dangerous precedent, which
would very likely cause far more problems than a compromise, a solution might
have done.

It is of course difficult to determine whether the short-term implications of failing completely to satisfy the aspirations for independence of a particular group outweigh the long-term implications doing so. If decision makers make a sincere attempt to weigh short-term against long-term implications and explain their thinking, then they have at least minimally done their jobs. In the case of Kosovo, it would not have been hard to anticipate how the precedent of declaaration of total independence despite the unclear wording of the relevant U.N. resolution might be used by other oppressed groups aspiring to attain freedom.

One of the keys to foreseeing the future is thinking about how the long-term implications of behavior may differ from the short-term implications; another is thinking about how the implications for the group involved may differ from the implications for other groups that may take some event as a precedent. To fail to consider such complications in advance is to throw away valuable tools for the protection of our security.

Further Reading...

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