Monday, February 18, 2008

Declaration of Independence

Kosovo declared independence yesterday. The recent story of Yugoslavia is murky and complicated (as is all of the regions history), but that doesn't mean we can't say anything definitive about it.
The place where the unraveling of Yugoslavia may well end is also the place where the drama arguably began. It was after the a clash between Kosovar police and Serbian protestors that Milošević was able to rise to power on nationalist sentiment, declaring "No one will dare beat you again."
Kosovo presents a dilemma for anti-interventionism. While I strongly opposed the Iraq war, I find it very difficult to think that Milošević ought to have been left to his own devices. In Serbia, the United States took action to head-off an unfolding genocide of Albanians by the Serb military.
It is true that the United States things remain bad in the former Yugoslavia, but the reality is that unobstructed "ethnic cleansing" would have been worse. It is also true that the United States policy was morally callous when it came to the unfolding tragedy of the Balkans (see Samantha Power's A Problem from Hell: American Policy in the Age of Genocide and article on the subject by Mark Danner). However, our policy was unjust because we ignored genocide so long, not because we intervened. The intervention was necessary.

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