Saturday, June 13, 2015

Kosovo Ain't Crimea, Crimea Ain't Kosovo

The standard line for Putin apologists and Russophiles is that Crimea is just Kosovo but a bit to the east.  This is lousy comparative politics, so let's list how they are different:
  • The US and its friends took a decade to intervene in Kosovo (one can start the clock anytime, but I choose to start the revocation of Kosovo's autonomy within Serbia) after years of both massacres and negotiations.  Crimea happened immediately after Russia's stooge fled Kiev.  Russia moved before any effort could be made to bargain, to send a peace keeping mission or preventative mission.  this really is the key
  • US and its friends did not conquer Kosovo and annex it.  Russia did hold a sham referendum and annexed Crimea.  
  • Oh yeah, we could compare how the decisions were made.  Kosovo's parliament voted for independence years after the local populace demanded it.  Crimea's referendum happened shortly after Russia de facto occupied Crimea, the opponents were roughed up and/or arrested, and it is pretty clear that the results were just a bit fraudulent.
  • Kosovo was after ... Bosnia, where the west had dithered while genocide happened.  Oh, and Kosovo was also after Transnistria, where a Russian military unit essentially seceded from Moldova and after Russia's support for Armenian irredentism, and other Russian efforts in the former Soviet Union.  Crimea was after ... Georgia where Russia did a nice job of playing Georgia and then created not one but two de facto independent states/failed states from territory carved out of Georgia. 
  • US and its friends did not use nuclear threats during the crisis or afterwards, although SACEUR Gen. Wesley Clark was determined to confront Russia's moves to Pristina.  Russia has been making nuclear threats in many directions.
  • The aftermath of American and Russian intervention tends to create failed states.  In the former, this is mostly not intentional.  In the latter, it is entirely intentional.
  • After Kosovo, the US and its allies stopped.  There was no more armed intervention in the Balkans but the US (ok, one minor effort to stop Macedonia from imploding in 2001).  After Crimea, Russia launched a war in Ukraine, not just supporting separatists but sending its own forces, prolonging the conflict and violating ceasefires.  
Of course, the US is not blameless in the world, as one could criticize the invasion of Iraq (which I have done repeatedly since it happened).  But that does not legitimate or excuse what Russia is doing now.  Russia's behavior threatens European security in ways that Kosovo never did precisely because there was never a threat that the US/NATO would be invading anywhere else.  Russia?   It is not done with Ukraine--the conflict goes on because Russia wants it to go on.  And Russia has been making provocative moves towards the Baltics ever since.  Where is that Estonian officer that got grabbedStill in Russia.

One can argue that all interventions are illegal, although responsibility to protect may suggest otherwise.  Kosovo, whatever its flaws, was an effort to prevent further massacres after all other efforts had failed.  Crimea and now Donbass are efforts by Russia to destabilize a neighbor after Russia lost its grip.  Yes, we can compare the two, but the comparison reveals significant differences and only superficial similarities.


caseyedwards said...

The main thing that gave power to the Kosovo independence move was that it was occupied by us and NATO! That was after bombing of Serbia! So maybe russia should have bombed Kiev until ukraine pulled out of crimea! Maybe that would have been better for you.

Anonymous said...

Everything you wrote is correct. However, this is a question of law and should be treated purely from legal, formal standpoint. If you see someone killing somebody on the street, can you go and shoot him? No, you cannot. You are not a policeman and have no right to administer justice.

Nobody has given the right to the US or West to police the world. Genocide? It does not matter. If you do not have UN Security Council resolution, you have no right to intervene. This is law. Dura lex, sed lex.

Yes, US is not blameless. Thank you for admitting that. However, where are the sanctions against the US for the Iraqi war? How did the US pay for their mistakes? Why was it not excluded from G8? Why?

We don't have the world government, so we should not have the world policeman. The people of the world have no representation in the US government, yet they are constantly affected, sometimes in brutal ways, by the USG, which is not accountable to them. This should stop. Yankee, go home.