Baruch, as you have demonstrated on many occasions while we cohabited as graduate students, for the threat of an escalation to be credible, it’s not enough for others to suspect you probably mean it. They have to know you’ll escalate, even if the cost to you is greater than the cost to others, because you’re irrationally stubborn that way, because you have done so in the past, and probably because you enjoy it.
Which brings me to an article today that I feel quite queasy about:
Russia’s ambassador to Nato, Dmitry Rogozin, has warned that Russia could use military force if the Kosovo independence dispute escalates.
“If the EU develops a unified position or if Nato exceeds its mandate set by the UN, then these organisations will be in conflict with the UN,” he said.
In that case Russia would “proceed on the basis that in order to be respected we need to use brute force”, he said.
With Kosovo, the added bonus from the point of view of the Serbs and Russians is that while they believe the land is theirs, very few ethnic Serbs actually live there, which makes indiscriminate bombing a no-brainer, should it come to that. In other words, the cost to others will actually be higher than the cost to themselves. Which bodes ill.
A question to you: What’s up with Cyprus, Greece, Slovakia, Spain, Bulgaria and Romania not recognizing Kosovo? Okay, that was hypothetical, the answer is that some of them have a significant conservative Christian constituency, while others are guilty of being a country while Balkan. In both cases, it means seeing international affairs through an us-vs-them Christians-vs-heathens lens. The rest of us, meanwhile, have graduated to a human-rights, self-determination perspective on things.
An example: My Arabic teacher, who has passports from Greece, Italy and Egypt, is 110% Catholic and has a Russian fiancé (don’t ask), is outraged that Kosovo has declared independence. One argument: “The Albanians (=Muslims) only recently moved there.” (My answer: How many centuries do yo have to live somewhere before you own the place?) Another argument: “The EU only helps Muslim countries. Why don’t they support (Christian) Southern Sudan? (My Answer: We do, they’ve got a referendum coming in 2011, and then they’ll get to be independent.)