Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Balkan trap

David Seaton's News Links
It is a cliché of geopolitics that the Americans play poker and the Russians play chess. Chess is by far the more subtle game of course, objectives have to be thought out several moves in advance, traps are laid and sprung on the unwary, pawns are sacrificed to waylay a queen.

I get the feeling that Vladimir Putin's Russia has decided to use the issue of Kosovar independence to humiliate NATO, the European Union and the United States in one master stroke and take full revenge for the humiliation that Yeltsin's impotent Russia received in 1999, when they were helpless to save Serbian unity from the attacks of US led NATO... and also to use Kosovo and Bosnia as trading chips in forcing the withdrawal of America's planned missile shield from Poland and the Czech republic.

Russia will veto any UN resolution granting Kosovo independence and they are upping the ante by equating the independence of Kosovo with the breaking up of Bosnia, by encouraging the independence of the Bosnian Serb, Republika Srpska. If this happens fighting could easily break out again in the Balkans and there would be little that the "west" could do about it.

At this moment the US armed forces are stretched to a breaking point in Iraq and the NATO countries cannot find the political will to send more troops in Afghanistan. It would be impossible for either to smother a new outbreak of fighting in the Balkans without abandoning Iraq and Afghanistan.

As to the European Union, although Britain and France would join the United States in supporting a unilateral declaration of Kosovar independence, Orthodox Greece is firmly opposed and would veto any EU support for it. Spain, with its Basque and Catalonian separatist movements is certainly against encouraging national "self-determination" movements of any kind anywhere, much less in Europe itself. Romania, Cyprus, Slovakia and Cyprus; all with separatist problems of their own would probably veto any EU declaration of Kosovar independence too. Certainly any attempt to strong arm all these countries into line would set the European back considerably.

Renewed fighting between Orthodox Serbs and Muslim Bosnians and Kosovars would, of course, further aggravate the "war of civilizations" and give Bosnian Muslims further reasons to radicalize.

We are looking, in fact, at a rather perfect trap. DS

Again and Again in the Balkans - Editorial - New York Times
Abstract: The Albanians of Kosovo are woefully unprepared for the independence they demand. The European Commission reported recently that the Kosovo administration is plagued by graft, cronyism and organized crime. If that weren’t bad enough, Russia has thrown its weight behind the Serbs, and together they have goaded Bosnian Serbs into threatening to break up the Bosnian quasi-federation created by the Dayton accords should Kosovo become independent. This is the Balkan mess that the United States, Russia and the European Union confront when they next meet in the latest, and possibly last, round of talks with the Serbs and Kosovar Albanians. A unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo, recognized by the United States and part of Europe but not by the United Nations, Russia or Serbia, would be unsatisfactory; a renewal of strife in Bosnia would be an outright disaster. READ IT ALL

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