Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kosovo: Politics, not International Law

The Kosovar declaration of independence earlier this week offers a rare moment of clarity regarding the workings of international affairs. If you want to be generous you can say there are conflicting principles in the story, most notably the need to respect both sovereignty (of Serbia) versus self determination (by Kosovo). If you feel less generous you can simply say that each country relates to Kosovo's declaration through the prism of its own interests, while cynically choosing the terminology that casts its choice in the light of some high principle; were the interests other, a different principle would have been chosen. Interestingly, each side in the discussion manages also to cite international law for the way it proves them right, and therefore the other side must be transgressors.

Here's a list of some of the players and their self interests.

Me, I tend towards the cynical interpretation, leaving none of you surprised. My low opinion of international law as over-riding politics is well known. Though I do admit to a special dose of Schadenfreude at the sight of different members of the EU taking opposite sides on the matter. As Henry Kissinger is famously supposed to have said: "When I want to talk to Europe, whom do I call?"

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