I’m just back from Moscow, and re-read a piece I wrote in the International Herald Tribune about Kosovo late last year. It reminded of a wonderful book called March of Folly by the historian Barbara Tuchman. I’m copying below the opening and closing arguments of the piece:-
While Kosovo was a defining issue of post-Cold War global leadership, there is now a gaping silence from all global powers – except Russia – on an acceptable way forward. Kosovo’s two million citizens interpret this as a signal that the United States and much of Europe would support its independence.
Kosovo, therefore, is in danger of falling victim to the type of opaque diplomacy that has been behind some of the gravest global conflicts. One of the more recent is Saddam Hussein’s belief that the United States would not object to Iraq’s 1991 invasion of Kuwait.
Too much is at stake for international policy to be misread again. The West must declare clearly what it will or will not do if Kosovo declares independence, and it must avoid enveloping Kosovo in a clash with Russia.
It is time for politicians in both Serbia and Kosovo to lead their people away from the contentious issue of independence. The West must also send an unequivocal message that the way forward is to deliver not nationalistic symbolism but good governance.
The legitimacy of both Serbia and Kosovo will come not from their ability to protect historical legends, but to provide health, education and a thriving economy for their citizens.
Does this not apply to Georgia as well?