Sunday, February 17, 2008

Welcome to the World

Well, it's happened. Kosovo has finally given up on waiting for the UN's blessing and has unilaterally declared independence from Serbia. About time, really. The US and the majority of the EU are expected to recognize Kosovo's status tomorrow, at which point it will be more or less official, at least by one measure of these things. We don't often think about it, but "statehood" really is pretty nebulous, once you start considering how many quasi-states there are out there. There's Israel, an established, fully-functioning democracy that isn't recognized by its neighbors. You've got Taiwan, which is a fully independent state in everything except name. There are reservations for Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians, both of which are treated as theoretically sovereign for domestic purposes, but without any international recognition. And then there are some even stranger cases.

In any case, theoretical musings aside, Kosovo's independence is probably a good thing, and good on the US and those European countries who have committed themselves to recognize the new nation. Serbia has behaved abominably in regional geopolitics for a very long time. Kosovo has waited patiently. I understand that there are good reasons we can't go around encouraging every discontented minority group to declare independence. I realize that ethnic conflicts cannot always be solved by redrawing borders. But now and then it might be worth a try, right?

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