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Response to “The Case Against Kosovo Independence” by Raju G.C. Thomas

I’m sure those of you who have been following the future status of Kosovo read Raju G.C. Thomas’s article, “The case Against Kosovo Independence.”  Mr. Thomas is an emeritus professor at Marquette University and a former professor at the University of Belgrade.  His article can be found here.

Mr. Thomas’s main argument is that “many other countries with territorially concentrated ethnic minorities have reason to be anxious about the precedent that might be set if Kosovo’s declaration of independence is recognized.” http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/images/authors/george_c_thomas.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/author.asp%3Fid%3D696&h=143&w=98&sz=4&hl=en&start=6&um=1&tbnid=m9pMwygg_zQBDM:&tbnh=94&tbnw=64&prev=/images%3Fq%3D%2522raju%2Bg.c.%2Bthomas%2522%26svnum%3D10%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3DoffIn support of that conclusion, Mr. Thomas reasons that allowing “Kosovo’s independence would demonstrate that violent secessionism works.” 

As a threshold matter, Mr. Thomas’s reasoning falls into the “wildfire” category of arguments against Kosovo independence.  It goes something like this:  if Kosovo declares independence, then everyone with half a brain and the ability to speak a language will declare independence. 

For example, former Serbian foreign minister Vuk Draskovic argued that Kosovo’s declaration of independence would cause a chain reaction in Cyprus, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Chechnya, and Taiwan — to name a few.  Relatedly, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his unknown lapdog Michael Averko have argued that if Kosovo is allowed to secede from Serbia, then the same right should be given to the territories of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria. 

I think one of the most important things to point out about the “wildfire” category of arguments is the mistaken impression that the world consists of hundreds and thousands of separatist territories itching to see when Kosovo declares independence so that they can follow.  Strangely, the territories that many cite in the “wildfire” category of arguments have already unilaterally seceded:  Abkhazia, Transnistria, South Ossetia, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.  These territories that most everyone in the “wildfire” category of arguments cite to were not directly inspired by Kosovo’s attempt to secede from Serbia. 

For example, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus formally declared independence in 1983 — many years before Kosovo’s attempt to break from Serbia.  In Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria, the precedent was the breakup of the USSR, not Kosovo’s attempt to secede from Serbia.

Next, Mr. Thoma’s argument that Kosovo independence would send a message that “violent secessionism works” is puzzling.  According to Mr. Thomas, the “violent secessionism” by the Kosovar Albanians occurred as follows: 

First, faceless ethnic secessionists attack cvilians and police.  Not knowing where the enemy is hiding within the civilian population, security forces retaliate indiscriminately. Human rights violations elicit an international outcry and condemnation, followed by intervention and occupation by foreign military forces.  And, in the denouement, the state loses control of its province as the secessonists declare independence.

Apart from the gross oversimplification of the events leading up the conflict, Mr. Thomas suggests that the Serbians and the international community were duped by a Kosovar Albanian conspiracy to obtain land that belonged to Serbia.  This is ridiculous.  To be sure, the Kosovar Albanians committed serious crimes and terrorism against the Serbians, but Mr. Thoma’s blithe dismissal of the existence of any Serb aggression, Serb crime, and Serb oppression against Kosovar Albanians is inexplicable.

Mr. Thomas then attempts to use UN Resolution 1244 for the broad theory that it does not allow for a unilateral declaration of independence.  In an another post, which can be found here, I argue that that conclusion is not supported by the text of UN Resolution 1244 itself. 

In the end, Mr. Thomas’s “case” against Kosovo independence falls flat.

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About Mr. Cheeseburger 9000

I am Mr. Cheeseburger 9000. I like my burgers medium-rare with a side order of french fries.

3 responses to “Response to “The Case Against Kosovo Independence” by Raju G.C. Thomas

  1. That is an excellent point. Along with Kosovo, independence needs to be given to Transnistria, Abkhazia and a handful of other countries that are already even further along on that road than Kosovo is. But that is where it ends. There is no reason to believe the wildfire argument.

    A much more compelling argument is that objective standards must be set (and must be met) by the countries that wish to become independent. That means Kosovo, Transnistria and a few others qualify. But the majority of the so-called “wildfire”-candidates clearly don’t. And thus, they won’t become independent.

  2. Kru ⋅

    Hi Mr. Cheeseburger,
    How about posting some info on Chechnya, and the suffering those people have been enduring. I never hear anything about Chechnya anymore. Do you know anything about whats going on? Thank you for your wonderful site I really enjoy it. My computer has been down for 5 days and I just got back on line. You have posted some interesting articles. I was just hoping you could bring to light some info on Chechnya, because I believe those people have and continue to suffer too much. Bush and the west mention nothing about this. At first I can remember a British leader coming out strongly against Russia when they were first destroying Grozny in Chechnya. But because of 9/11 and Bush’s brilliant foreign policy mind Chechnya was covered up and never mentioned or covered here in the US. Another good topic maybe the middle east. Bush’s policy of let the Israelites beat the crap out of the Palestinians for 8 years and then attempt to arrange a peace settlement would be interesting. Sorry for posting this here was not sure where to place general comments.
    My Best Kru

  3. Dear Kru,

    Thank you for your support. I have read all your comments and I suggest this: you should write a blog expressing your ideas. Hell, it’s free to do!!

    Anyway, I have kept an eye on Chechnya but I still have a lot to do research wise to write on it. Give me some time. I am motivated to comment on it.

    Sincerely,
    Mr. Cheeseburger 9000

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