Monday, February 25, 2008

Pragmatic Foreign Policy vs. Supporting Autonomy

The following is excerpted from Ted Galen Carpenter's piece in the Middle East Times:

Major countries like Russia, India and China worry that their own restless ethnic or political minorities could seek to emulate Kosovo. Russia frets especially about Chechnya; India about Kashmir; and China about Xinjiang, Tibet and Taiwan. Beijing's uneasiness about the Kosovo precedent with respect to Taiwan was not eased when Taipei promptly congratulated the Kosovars and emphasized the United Nations' need to respect the principle of national self-determination, i.e., Taiwan's claim to sovereignty.

But there are potential secessionist arenas in Europe itself. Cyprus understandably opposes Kosovo's move, given the pretensions of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Turkey, which set up the TRNC, has its own problems to worry about given the ongoing insurgency of Kurdish secessionists. Spain may one day be less than thrilled about Pristina's action if its own Basque separatists are encouraged to rev up their violent campaign. And London, which vied with Washington in its enthusiasm for Kosovo's independence, may have reason to rue that stance if Scotland decides on independence.

These are all hairy problems, and legitimate ones. I'm curious to know how libertarians balance the goal of autonomous self-rule versus the political reality of bloody, crushing resistance. Peaceful independent nations are very often born out of violent conflict. And while conflict should be avoided when at all possible, is it really always to be avoided*?

Perhaps the US recognition of Kosovo will provoke conflict (although I still don't know how US recognition after the fact would increase the risk of Serbia retaliating) and that I can see as troubling, but are we for self-rule for all people or just us?

I'm all ears.

*CLARIFICATION: I'm not trying to put words in Dr. Carpenter's mouth with this statement. It just seems that his argument in this case rests on the underlying premise of stability at all costs. I should have reworded the sentence.

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