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Thursday, February 21, 20081203622494

The Serbian Attack on Our Embassy

So Serbs in Belgrade have set the American embassy on fire, on international television.

Useful for us, and for Europe. The only European country stupid enough to sign up as a Russian client since the end of the Cold War -- Yugoslavia/Serbia and Montenegro/Serbia -- is still paying for that action. Today, it harvests the breakdown of political stability that friendship with Moscow naturally entails.


In befriending Russia, they chose poorly


I'm hoping that the serious candidates for President identity Russia as being unhelpful in this situation. I'm pretty confident that two of the three (McCain and Clinton) will do so. If Obama does so as well, I will be pleasantly surprised.

13:34 Posted in Europe | Permalink | Comments (18)

Comments

As I recall, the Serb government actually tried breaking up the riot that burned the embassy. Between that, the narrow margin of victory for Serbia's pro-western government (which still had to express hostility to Kosovar independence) and the roots of Serbian aggression going back at least to the '80s when Milosevic came to power, blaming Russia for this may be granting more credit than is due.

http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10727947

Posted by: Michael | Thursday, February 21, 2008

"As I recall, the Serb government actually tried breaking up the riot that burned the embassy"

MSNBC reported that police protection had been withdrawn from both embassies. Whether this is true or not, the torchings are the outcome of irredentist rhetoric from Belgrade which is made politically possible by Russia.

"Between that, the narrow margin of victory for Serbia's pro-western government (which still had to express hostility to Kosovar independence) and the roots of Serbian aggression going back at least to the '80s when Milosevic came to power, blaming Russia for this may be granting more credit than is due."

I doubt it.

Serbia is unable to control Kosovo now, but with diplomatic support from Russia, she hopes to keep Kosovo's status uncertain enough that in 20 or 40 years Serbia can re-annex Kosovo.

Considering that Serbia's government campaigned on a platform of joining the EU, if Russia was not so opposed to Kosovo's independence, we would be seeing different actions from Belgrade.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, February 22, 2008

"...20 or 40 years Serbia can re-annex Kosovo."

Or 80 or 100 or 200 or 400.

I know some Serbs. They will literally never give up on Kosovo. It is their heartland, is is where the last free host of the Sergbs stood in the Thermopylae of Christendom to the last and fell to the Turks, slaying the Sultan in the process. It does not matter what the historical details may actually be. Poetry trumps facts where the heart is concerned. Kosovo will permanently belong to the Albanians only when the last Serb is dead.

Posted by: Lexington Green | Friday, February 22, 2008

Kosovo is in a similar situation as Israel/Palestine, then. Until its people can define sovereignty by love of the land instead of ethnicity, the only lasting peace it will have will be that of the grave.

Posted by: Michael | Friday, February 22, 2008

Michael,

"Until its people can define sovereignty by love of the land instead of ethnicity, the only lasting peace it will have will be that of the grave."

Multiethnic states are inherently unstable, while countries can rule any number of lands. If your statement is true, then the grave is our only lasting peace.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lexington,

(The Serbian government has now informed us that it was our fault that their thugs burned down our embassy [1]. (I assume they have said similar things to Britain, Croatia, and Germany [2]). )

The Germans have abandoned Pomerania, the Hungarians have forfeited their claims to Transylvania, and even the Greeks have forgotten Smyrna.

Generations are fickle things, as each believe it is the wisest in history, in spite of the fact that the previous was the most foolish. In 20 years, what will the Serbian young think of their parents and their parents' dreams?

[1] http://www.reuters.com/article/europeCrisis/idUSL23564939
[2] http://news.theage.com.au/belgrade-embassy-reopens-after-protests/20080222-1u29.html

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, February 23, 2008

And now the Russians are rattling their rusty sword:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7258801.stm

Posted by: ElamBend | Saturday, February 23, 2008

From the article:

"In that case Russia would "proceed on the basis that in order to be respected we need to use brute force", he said."

Thanks for keeping it classy, Russia.

More seriously, it's important than Russia be seen to lose this bargaining situation in the Balkans -- that it be seen that Russia's client lost out on a vital national interest -- and that would be harder to do if Russia pretended it never happened.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, February 23, 2008

"The Germans have abandoned Pomerania, the Hungarians have forfeited their claims to Transylvania, and even the Greeks have forgotten Smyrna.

Generations are fickle things, as each believe it is the wisest in history, in spite of the fact that the previous was the most foolish. In 20 years, what will the Serbian young think of their parents and their parents' dreams?"

Note that the Germans forgot Pommerania only after defeats at the hands of the allies in WWI and the Russians in WWII. I doubt the Serbs will ever be put under such pressure by Europe. Hell--the Europeans can't even find a couple battalions to send to AF out of their 1.7 million man standing army. No way they're going to fight and die for Kosovo's independence!

tdaxp-would you characterize the German's forfeiting of Pommerania as ethnic clensing? What about Sudeten Germans? See what a can of worms this Kosovo thing is?

Posted by: Smitten Eagle | Sunday, February 24, 2008

"
Note that the Germans forgot Pommerania only after defeats at the hands of the allies in WWI and the Russians in WWII."

Indeed. Similarly, Hungary lost Transylvania and Vojvodina, the Greeks lost Smyrna, and the Serbs lost Kosovo due to armed conflict.

"I doubt the Serbs will ever be put under such pressure by Europe."

Well, they were put under "pressure" of arms in 1999, when they lost governing control over Kosovo.

By way of analogy, Germany formally renounced its claims to her lost provinces sometime later, as Hungary (IIRC) renounced any extraterritorially claims within the past 10 years or so.

"Hell--the Europeans can't even find a couple battalions to send to AF out of their 1.7 million man standing army. No way they're going to fight and die for Kosovo's independence!"

Not sure what you mean here. If you're referring to the Kosovo War, the general pattern was to make Serbs die to expel them from Kosovo. Rarely do capital-rich, labor-poor participants in war seek martyrdom.

"tdaxp-would you characterize the German's forfeiting of Pommerania as ethnic clensing? What about Sudeten Germans?

Certainly. What's your point?

"See what a can of worms this Kosovo thing is?""

How does this question follow?

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Sunday, February 24, 2008

You are correct, sir, in that the Serbs were apparently ejected from their province in 1999 by force of arms. I wouldn't predict a similar feat in the near future. Perhaps I'm wrong, but the combination of European weakness combined with a resurgent Russia leads me to believe that there is no will for such a fight.

I never advocated martyrdom. But armed conflict by its very nature assumes a level of risk on the combatants. NATO does not have the stomach to fight for a truly independent Kosovo. (Half of NATO doesn't even recognize the rump state as it exists today. If NATO won't even send a couple infantry battalions to support a mandated mission in Afghanistan, will it send a couple battalions to battle on behalf of Kosovo? Though I may be wrong, I think not.)

"Europe" lacks the resolve of the Serbs + Russia in this. It's going to devolve in a messy little fight. There will be continued ethnic clensing of Serbs from Kosovo. The Russians + Serbs, neither of whom will ever recognize Kosovo's independence, will back up the Serbian claim to the province while rescuing the ethnic Serbs inside Kosovo. The European states with existing seperatist movements will turn a blind eye to the Russian/Serb actions so long as they are limited to protecting the ethnic Serbian minority. The rest of Europe that favors Kosovar independence will be riddled with indecision and rendered impotent by bureaucratic inaction and a general lack of will.

My point as far as the German's forfeiting Pommerania was that the forfeiture was a result of a feat of arms combined with ethnic cleansing. A feat of arms on Kosovo's behalf will not be successful. The ethnic cleansing of Serbs will probably not be successful. Ergo, I doubt that Serbia can ever be brought to recognize Kosovar independence.

Respectfully Submitted,
S E

Posted by: Smitten Eagle | Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Multiethnic states are inherently unstable, while countries can rule any number of lands. If your statement is true, then the grave is our only lasting peace."

Ok, my fault for indulging the urge toward sweeping rhetoric. The thing is, most of North and South America is comprised of multi-ethnic states. They can work IF they have a common bond (other than ethnicity, of course) to hold them together. In our case, the bond is a shared idea of how things should work; in Kosovo's or Israel/Palestine's case, the ultimate bond of a unitary state might be the mutual historical, spiritual and emotional ties to the same land. But until they look for that non-ethnic bond, whatever it turns out to be, things will be messy.

Posted by: Michael | Monday, February 25, 2008

"In our case, the bond is a shared idea of how things should work"

Strongly disagree, at least outside of the power elite. The majority of Americans want a technocracy, and doubtless have for some time. Their support for the Constitution is shallow: an idea that it's good as long as politics doesn't enter into the picture (in other words, as long as it isn't used to govern a democracy).

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