Kosovo and thoughts on self-determination

This recent post by Amos Anderson prompted me to express my sentiments with regard to the recent declaration of independence by Kosovo.

In my opinion, the tendency of countries and "nations" to aspire to being bigger and grander and more influential and more powerful and more unified, is something that hurts their inhabitants, rather than helps them.

I use "nations" in quotes because nations exist only to the extent that we imagine and identify with them, and the benefits we have from "nations" are also predominantly of the imaginary type - the "pride" that comes from identification.

In my opinion, everyone who owns a reasonably sized piece of land should be able to make their own rules on that piece of land.

American culture is overflowing with praise for Abraham Lincoln - how he unified the nation; how before him people said "United States were", and now they say "United States is".

As if it's a good thing.

Serbia and Russia and China would do best to let people have referendums and if they decide to separate, let them separate. The only rational reason I can conceive against it is if the separating region has natural resources that the larger country finds it in its best interest to retain.

Even so, that is a morally dubious reason to prevent a group of people who feel strongly about going away from you from doing so.


Daniel said…
some pretty good arguments can be found here- http://blitz.blog.siol.net/2008/02/19/karlobag-karlovac-virovitica-v-spomin/
(in Slovene)
denis bider said…
That sounds like an accurate summary of how this history was experienced from a Slovenian perspective.

I'm not sure that Slovenian media gave us unbiased information about all the facts. However, yes, it does appear that the aggression - towards Slovenia, towards Croatia, towards Bosnia - was started by Serbs, and it does seem that their territorial tendencies have been largely irrational. As they still are. As said, I can conceive of no sensible reason why a country would want to be bothered to have to manage a territory over 90% populated by a hostile nation. What for?

Even if it is to protect the under 10% of Serbs that still live there, it is easier to move those Serbs to Serbia than to keep the 90% of Albanians from harming them.
verbatim said…
Although I agree with you article and your commentary about nations, independence and Serbians, I do not support the Kosovo indepedence, because such move cannot be made according to international law. If international community do not need to follow laws that can be dangerous precedent.
denis bider said…
Can you write more about the problem from the perspective of international law?

I don't believe that there is much substance in international law as far as countries are concerned, anyway. The number of countries is within the Dunbar limit for humans, which means that organization within this group of countries is possible, effective, and more flexible without rigid rules. This means that any rules that we have are going to be interpreted as guidelines more so than firm commitments anyway.

International laws may apply to individuals and firms. Countries break them and get away with it all the time. And I'm not sure that this is even wrong or inefficient, because with the number of countries and with the distribution of power that we have, I don't think that it can be any different.

The Serbs should say good riddance to Kosovo and that should be the end of it. At most they could look for an angle to get some kind of compensation for letting go, but it is idiotic to behave destructively over such a thing as Kosovo.
verbatim said…
I do not judge Kosovo's decision in any way. Serbia should get rid of Kosovo earlier as they were holding them back. I also do not see sense in making more and more miniature countries when rest of the world is unifying.

But international community use law for some nations and for some the same laws do not apply (we have a lot of similar cases around the world which do not get recognition because of international law). This is worrying. Even UN resolution regarding Kosovo stated:
Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other States of the region, as set out in the Helsinki Final Act and annex 2,
with which all countries agreed. Independence according to that resolution is not possible.

For country to become independent there should be constitution about that being possible (as in Yugoslavia/Slovenia case; this is probably also case in Kitts/Nevis agreement) or consensual agreement because international laws protect states sovereignty.

Independence of Kosovo now simply means that Taiwan should get international recognition, also North Cyprus, some islands in Indonesia, New Caledonia, half of Caucasus etc. But with these territories international law is "an obstacle".
denis bider said…
Apparently Albanians in Kosovo would prefer to have long-term recognition problems like the Taiwanese or Cypriots, rather than remain in Serbia. And apparently all the countries that have or are going to recognize Kosovo don't mind it...

I am all in favor of as many and as small countries as possible. Freedom is to a large extent synonymous with choice. If you are dissatisfied in your country, what good is it to have freedom to leave, if you have nowhere better to go?

Thank god for small nations like St. Kitts & Nevis. The more the better.

Also, the smaller countries are, the less power bureaucrats have.

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