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Kosovo and Self Determination


I’ve been reading articles and comments in "left wing" websites (such as this one and counterpunch) trying to get some information on Kosovo’s declaration of independence. I am struck by the sort of arguments used to dismiss Kosovo’s claim to independence. I understand that every situation is unique, but I think if one supports the right for a people to self determination, this should be consistent across the board. It saddens me that often the only consistency to be found among some leftist commentators is the opposition to anything that the United States supports (though of course the United States isn’t really supporting geniune independence for Kosovo).

Leaving aside the fact that the United States is looking to exploit the situation to develop a client state in Kosovo (something that has rightly been exposed and critisized). The arguments against Kosovo’s independence appear to be the following (in no particular order):

1. Despite Kosovo’s current ethnic make-up, it has historically been an important region for Serbs.

2. There are no real "Kosovars", they are all Alabanians or Yugoslavs, etc.

3. There is already one Albanian state and there is no need for two of them.

4. Kosovo shouldn’t have independence at least until they stop "terrorist" actions against Serbs. The leaders of Kosovo are all thugs and terrorists.

5. Serbia is a sovreign nation and shouldn’t be split up. Serbia should have the authority to veto the decisions made by peoples within its territory.

Anyone familiar with liberation movements in places such as Palestine, Chechnya, Chiapas, Basque Country, Quebec, First Nations land etc. should know the above arguments all too well. I find it a little strange that people who can see the weakness in these arguments when applied to other places seem to accept them when it comes to Kosovo.

Clearly there are serious concerns about the current situation in Kosovo and the mainstream media’s representation of it. The United States and NATO are being hugely hypocritical in their positions and seemed poised to exploit Kosovo. There has been a lot of anti Serb propaganda and Serbia’s concerns certainly are legitimate and need to be addressed. The leadership in Kosovo is not made up of saints committed to co-operation,  freedom and democracy. All of these things are important and need to be exposed and addressed. However, none of them mean that Kosovo does not have a legitimate claim to indpendence that should be supported by anyone who thinks self determination is a right.

* I am not suggesting that the left as a whole is guilty of double standards. These are simply observations I have made from reading *some* elements of what is generally considered "left wing" media.

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