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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Free Tibet like you freed Kosovo

March 13, 2008

by Grant Walliser
March 11th, 2008
www.thoughtleader.co.za
Thought Leader, South Africa

Every now and then in the messy quagmire that is diplomacy and
international relations, the true hypocrisy of all this jostling for
national position becomes glaringly obvious. Lightly camouflaged
behind a veneer of garish moral make-up and far from the bright lights
of CNN and the BBC, the diplomatic whores and pimps of our world's
nations ply their trade.

March 10 2008 is the 49th anniversary of the Tibetan national uprising
against Chinese occupation, supported clandestinely and unsurprisingly
by the CIA (has there been a single revolution where these nosy
fellows were not involved?). All around the world there are marches to
free the beleaguered country from Chinese rule, but China will not
budge on its position and the world stops short of doing anything more
about it except to march and protest and arrange for meetings between
spiritually barren Hollywood stars and the Dalai Lama, who uses them
for photo opportunities for his cause.

Way across on the other side of Europe, the pimps have been rather
busier of late on a more conveniently soluble, accolade-earning
problem. Backed by a paternal dose of US and EU support, young Kosovo
has just announced its independence from Serbia. Unlike Tibet, Kosovo
is not an invaded country ruled by Serbs. It is formally, and now I
guess formerly, an official province of Serbia with an ethnic Albanian
population that has in recent history rapidly increased in number to
become the dominating ethnicity of the formerly majority Serb
province. After the reversal of Milosevic's ethnic cleansing debacle,
the Albanians now number about 90% of the population in part due to a
wave of Serbian refugees that left for other parts of Serbia after the
war.

Since the end of the war in 1999, Serbia has largely been on a
moderate path towards EU membership. In the most recent elections,
Serbs elected Boris Tadic, a moderate for whom EU membership is a top
priority. In short, the Serbs have been toeing the Western and EU
line, stumbling only on the emotional issues of handing over wartime
generals and releasing Kosovo to the Albanian majority, both of which
were still under negotiation.

Imagine then, if you will, the surprise when the US and the EU along
with the Albanian leadership in Kosovo planned and implemented a
unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia. The timing was
superb and no coincidence. Literally days after the Serbs had chosen a
moderate leader to work towards EU membership, a move that would
include the bilaterally negotiated resolution of the Kosovo issue, the
Albanian minority staunchly supported by the US delivered a literal
slap in the face of Serbian efforts and declared unilateral
independence for the rogue province out from under them.

Serbia was stunned, Russia and China grumbled in disgust and even
certain sleeping EU nations such as Spain, Greece and Cyprus were
woken up to the hard reality that their little rogue provinces might
soon be doing the same. For Serbs who had voted to resolve the issue
fairly and bilaterally by voting in Tadic instead of his hard-line
rival Nicolic, it was an insult and further proof that there seemed to
be one set of rules for all other countries in the world and a special
set just for Serbia. It is simply another case of global bullying by
that old, meddling schoolyard ruffian, the US of A and her ruthless EU
cohort.

Serbs duly protested, of course, and although the attack on the US
embassy can hardly be condoned, it also seems rather naive of the US
to expect Serbs to take the news lying down and for there to be no
backlash. To ponder a parallel, I wonder how the US might react if
Serbia, working with Russia and China, connived with the burgeoning
Mexican population of Texas and after unilaterally declaring
independence, swiftly moved to recognise it officially as a new
country. I suspect there may be a few scenes like we saw when France
opposed the "war on terror" and French products and businesses became
targets. So lets temper American outrage about flag and embassy right
there and give it the perspective it deserves.

One also has to ask why the EU, the US and the Albanian majority in
Kosovo decided to take the entire emotionally charged province lock,
stock and barrel? Since the move was unilateral and all parties knew
that Serbia would vehemently object, why could they not make a peace
offering and gain some moral altitude by declaring independence of a
modified region, excluding certain Serbian enclaves? Most notably, why
not exclude the Serbian part of Mitrovica that comes complete with a
handy river for a border? They will surely pull a "Kosovo" on Kosovo
and declare their own independence and rejoin Serbia anyway. It simply
shows the disdain with which the declaration was made.

Thankfully, not all thinking Americans were behind the decision to
support the unilateral independence of Kosovo. In fact, the very few
who know the region intimately could scarcely believe their ears when
their own country blundered ahead with its loud proclamation of
support. Former US secretary of state Lawrence Eagleburger; John
Bolton, the former permanent US representative to the United Nations;
and Peter Rodman, the former assistant secretary of defence for
international security affairs, were three of the bigger names to
stand up and ask what on earth the US was thinking. All three of these
esteemed and respected fellows — along with countries such as China,
Brazil and even South Africa — have urged that a lasting solution can
only be as a result of bilateral negotiation. They have warned that
Serbia today is not the Serbia of Milosevic, and that treating it as
such is to breed his successor and bring instability to a region
making progress.

I won't go through the long and tedious historical arguments that were
the subject of a previous blog, but there are some very good arguments
why Serbia and its Serbs have a strong and indisputable historical
claim to Kosovo; at the very least as good and often far better than
the Albanian claims to the territory. It should also be noted that
during both world wars, the ethnic Albanians indulged in ethic
cleansing of Serbs from Kosovo, making the claim of the US and EU that
this is a special case because of the ethnic cleansing under Milosevic
flimsy at best.

As for the precedent that this rash action sets, it is hardly possible
to know where to start pointing out the pitfalls. Perhaps to remain in
the Balkans at first, Serbia has promptly said that it will now
investigate the possibility of supporting the declaration of
independence of the majority Serb province of Bosnia, Republica
Srpska, as well as enclaves within Kosovo such as Mitrovica. Since
provinces are now fair game, nobody who supported the Kosovo
independence should have even a wobbly leg to stand on and Bosnia
could duly be ripped asunder. Palestinians are licking their chops, as
are the Basques, the Tamil Tigers, the Kurds in Turkey and Iraq — and
perhaps even little Orania has taken a breath, opened its eyes and
started thinking about its future. Fair enough, I guess.

Along the same lines then, why on earth should Tibet not simply
declare its independence from China? If Kosovo is a called a "special
case" to justify EU and US support, then Tibet must surely be a
no-brainer, super-special case. It was formerly a country, not a
province, and it was invaded by China in living memory. It is the very
modern icon of human rights abuse and displacement and the entire
world largely agrees that China is in the wrong and should give poor
Tibet back its autonomy. Should it declare independence from China,
one would like to believe that the US and the EU would be forced to
step up to the plate and recognise it in a flash. On the moral basis
of Kosovo, they should have no choice but to do so.

But they won't. Tibet will remain occupied.

There is quite simply no way that either of them will risk standing up
to China and it is inconceivable — in fact, unthinkable — that they
would do so unilaterally without China's consent. That kind of
arrogant disregard can only be dished out to countries too weak to
resist, preferably ones that you have bombed into submission and ones
against which your voters are still nicely prejudiced and from whom
you don't buy billions of dollars' worth of toys, computers and dog
food.

Bottom line: China is a big pimp on the street and Serbia is not. That
means you can gang up on Serbia, garner support in Kosovo and build US
military bases in nice strategic positions. It means you can run
detention centres like Guantánamo Bay in Kosovo and it means you can
kick your old enemy Russia and your new one Iran smugly in the balls.
And should Russian diplomacy make inroads with Poland and the Czech
Republic when you need to put up your missile defence system at the
confluence of Russia and Middle East, what a great alternative your
new best buddy Kosovo would make. The clues to otherwise indefensible
and incomprehensible behaviour are all in the timing and the agendas
playing out behind the scenes.

Look no further than the dark corner of the street where the pimps and
whores ply their trade. There you might be surprised to find the
"democratically pious" and "morally righteous" elbowing their way to
the front and slipping a few dollar bills to the whores for the right
to play the control and submission game with them in the dark rooms
where few good people ever tread.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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