Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Irredentist Amnesia

“For the first time since the Second World War, one European country has taken a province by force from another European country,” Radoslaw Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister
Oh really?  I guess it depends on what counts as European, what counts as province, and what counts as by force....  I wonder what the Azeris would say to the Poles, given that Armenia fought a largely successful irredentist war to take Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan, not to mention a "land bridge" hunk of Azeribaijan so that Armenia would have access to NK.

What about hunks of Croatia and Bosnia?  Serbia occupied a hunk of Croatia for several years, and both Serbia and Croatia tried to hold onto pieces of Bosnia.  Sure, those gains did not last, but they surely lasted longer than the current occupation of Crimea.  

Oh yeah, how about Cyprus?  It is divided these days with Turkish Cyprus created by the deployment of the Turkish army.

I do not mean to suggest that Russia should not be shamed, shunned and punished.  It is just that this irredentism is not unprecedented. 

Oh, and a related observation: it is damned hard to reassure an ally.  We can do lots of stuff to try to make the Poles and Baltics feel more secure, but nervousness about neighbors and allies' assurances are really, really hard to diminish.  Remember how much the US had to do in the 1980s to assure the Europeans that the US would really sacrifice Chicago for Bonn or Paris.

Anyhow, that's my Irredentism and Alliances lecture for this morning.

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