US Foreign policy – Change please

August 30, 2008

United States Foreign policy during last decades could be described as series of strategical errors. When Soviet Union splintered, the US saw possibility to widen its influence through breakaway republics and former satellites, do whatever want in the rest of world and feed her powerful military-industrial complex. Supporting on one hand nationalist/populist leaders (Georgia, Ukraine, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo) and with one hand elsewhere dictatorships (Asia, South & Middle America); making alliances with terrorist groups (Al Quida, KLA) shows that the aim was only reach short term tactical gain. Attacks to Serbia and Iraq were made on base of fabricated information/propaganda and probably also the intelligence from Afghanistan was not better.

From polarization to dialogue

All above mentioned has now lead to polarization of world and confrontation between Russia and the US. When the US has acted (lunatic style) as one’s own discretion one effect is that UNSC has been guided to sidetrack. United States policy in the Balkans has been dysfunctional, characterized by cynicism, duplicity and short term tactical gain and at world level as series of strategical errors. Let’s hope that those errors are not duplicated any more in Caucasus.

I see that the only way out from today’s confrontation is that the Great Powers start dialogue from empty table with equal basis, one output could be the restoration of UNSC as a forum for global conflicts. The global challenges e.g. environment, poverty, 3rd world conflicts etc.are so big that no individual power can solve them. These challenges should be top priority, not short term wins of private armies, military industry and shortsighted politicians.

Change in US election?

I have considered Obama as good alternative to McCain with hope to see some change with US Foreign policy. However when he selected Biden as his running mate based e.g. Biden’s experience about foreign affairs I doubt his judgement. Selecting a man on the record for stating that “all Serbs should be placed in Nazi-style concentration camps” during Senatorial deliberations in 1999 over NATO aggression on Serbia, and that United States ought to conduct a fascist, “Japanese-German style occupation” of Serbia. My expectations are now below zero level – unfortunately.


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Is Transnistria the next follow up of Kosovo UDI?

August 25, 2008

Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, is backing independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia  – Georgia’s two rebel provinces.   The vote came after a brief war between Russia and Georgia following Georgia’s assault on the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali Aug. 7. Both countries won de-facto independence in the 1990s after wars with the government in Tbilisi.  The road which started from Kosovo UDI seems to continue long because it is estimated that there is about five thousand ethnic groups on globe.

After Georgia’s separatists my bet is that in Europe Transnistria could be the next breakaway province.  Let’s look this maybe next new state closer:

Pridnestrovie – also known by the unofficial name, Transnistria – is a new and emerging country in South Eastern Europe, sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine. Although widely seen as part of Moldova, historically, Pridnestrovie and Moldova were always separate. Throughout 2500 years of history, the Dniester River forming the current border has been a traditional border between Slav lands (Scythia, 450 B.C.) to the East and Romanian lands (Dacia) to the West.

The population is some 550.000. The inhabitants of Pridnestrovie are for the most part Slavic. This is in stark contrast to Moldova, on the other side of the Dniester River, where 4/5ths of the population are of Romanian descent and where ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians only make up 6 to 8 percent, respectively.

Pridnestrovie meets the requirements for sovereign statehood under international law, as it has a defined territory, a population, effective elected authority, and the capability to enter into international relations. It is currently seeking international recognition of its de facto independence and statehood.

The economy of Pridnestrovie is a mixed market-based economy. Following a large scale privatization process, most of the companies in the country are now privately owned. The economy is export-oriented and based on a mix of heavy industry and manufacturing. According to the latest data from the nation’s Customs, Pridnestrovie – which is also known as Transnistria, or Transdniester – now trades with 99 foreign countries.

Source and more info about Transnistria e.g. from The Tiraspol Times

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Out from confrontation

August 22, 2008

Caucasus suffers about US Cowboy policy

Georgia is one again failed example about US Foreign policy which aims to create classical “banana republic” to Eastern Europe where US controls crucial foreign and/or domestic policies of another nation through ties with its military and intelligence institutions. EU’s military, political, and corporate elites have already increasingly become dependents or confederates of the US military-industrial complex. While Russia wishes to safe its “inner courtyard” – sc “Russian World” US is doing the same with its MacWorld. However today it seems that those two worlds have more and more common zone: Many ex Soviet republics have joined or are dreaming of joining NATO, missiles and radars are coming closer and closer Moscow – it feels that new cold war, old polarization/confrontation, is coming.

The bluff of US Foreign Policy has normally been “western democracy” etc. However the record in Georgia was questionable. In one report, Human Rights Watch asserted that “the fragility of Georgia’s commitment to human rights and the rule of law were revealed on Nov. 7, 2007, when government forces used violent and excessive force to disperse a series of largely peaceful demonstrations in the capital, Tbilisi.” In the other report even (the Western nearly governmental elite lobby group) International Crisis Group warned of a creeping authoritarianism in Georgia and urged Western governments to pressure the regime in Tbilisi to respect democratic principles.

To show his admiration for the U.S. president, Saakashvili even renamed the main road to Tbilisi’s airport George W. Bush Street. It is good to think globally but better act locally. Like in Balkans before Caucasia is today suffering US cowboy policy which is creating unnecessary confrontation with Russia. There is maybe way out from banana republic status when local governments start to develop their policies more from domestic needs without too much adoring transatlantic short term games.

3rd way out

As a Finn I would like to ask if third way could be possible also elsewhere. Finland has over 1000 km common border with Russia, number of wars has been between us and Russia/USSR but also lot of good times like Autonomy time 1806-1917 as well last decades with increasing economic cooperation. With this background today more Finns are against than pro to join NATO and our dear neighbours in Sweden have similar results in opinion pools.

This neutral – unallied – position makes it possible to approach world politics, human rights, economical issues etc with critical way be that critics to east or west I do not mean that critics should be end in itself or the top priority for Caucasian countries. However I am from old school and believe that real progress can be made only after fresh debate, dialogue or at least tolerance between local stakeholders not copying values or practices e.g. from Bruxelles bureaucrats.

The unallied position is same time open to all kind of cooperation to all directions. The statements about world events are our own; they are not coming from Washington or Moscow. Personally I like this third way, is it possible also for Caucasus – I hope local stakeholders can decide.

For economical development EU has e.g. its Neighbourhood programmes for non-member states. EU can also make any kind of individual agreements such as customs, visa regime etc with non-members so they can enjoy many EU benefits without membership.

Realism?

I do not know if my proposal is realistic. I know that my mother was fleeing from home when USSR occupied that part of Finland during WWII. I also know that I have found some of my best friends from Russia. Lesson learned – one can forget past wrongdoings and look forward. Dialogue and tolerance at local level is in my opinion the best quarantee for sustainable solutions. Collecting guns on the borders is from my point of view the worst scenario excluding use of them.


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Documentary movies Yugoslavia and Kosovo wars

August 19, 2008

Please note that I have added two interesting movies to my Document Library. They are

  • Yugoslavia: The Avoidable War Part 1, and
  • Yugoslavia: The Avoidable War Part 2

This is a documentary movie which traces how crucial mistakes made by the West helped lead to the unnecessary breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, culminating in the devastating NATO bombing campaign in 1999.  The length of the movie is 85 min/each part.

The best documentary movie about Kosovo war maybe is “Stolen Kosovo”from Czech TV tells the real story and undermines the US & EU propaganda. A documentary which traces how crucial mistakes made by the West helped lead to the unnecessary breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, culminating in the devastating NATO bombing campaign in 1999.  The movie has been banned and removed regular basis from YouTube but you can try to search YouTube for:

  • “Uloupené Kosovo” or
  • “Stolen Kosovo (Uloupene Kosovo)”

This some 90 min movie has been in YouTube as whole, in 10 parts and 2 parts with or without English subtitles.  If you find so enjoy.


Spark, fire and water: Kosovo & Georgia

August 19, 2008

Bearing in mind the risks for Poland’s allies in the Caucasus, Georgia above all, Warsaw’s recognition of the Kosovo Albanians’ secession was described as an irresponsible move by Nobel Peace laureate and former Polish president, Lech Walesa. “Recognizing Kosovo will bring nothing but trouble. No one can be denied the right to self-determination, but only within the bounds of common sense,” he was quoted as saying at the time. Walesa stressed in his statements to the Polish media that Kosovo was “with its irresponsible behavior, causing new divisions in Europe and globally and undermining international relations”. Jiri Dienstbier, former UN human rights rapporteur for former Yugoslavia and former Czech foreign minister has stated that “It is clear and certain, after all that’s been said and done, that Kosovo will never, but really never, be a legal and legitimate independent country.”

Spark & fire

Making references to both prestigious politician Mr Obrad Kesic from UPI has made quite interesting analysis with name “Kosovo spark, Ossetia fire” published in Middle East Times Aug. 13th.  He claims that “Kosovo’s independence came about in large part through an arrogant and reckless attitude in Washington, as well as in some EU capitals, that the positions of Serbia and Russia could simply be ignored”.

Mr.Kesic continues:

“The U.N. Security Council and international law could be bypassed simply by arguing that the Kosovo problem was “unique” and easily quarantined from other similar ethnically motivated disputes over territory. There was a mistaken belief that if American and EU diplomats, officials and leaders repeated the official mantra that “Kosovo is unique” and that “Kosovo is not a precedent” that this would suffice to contain any possible repercussions from a policy that was hastily endorsed as “the only possible” option. American and some European diplomats grew fond of saying that Serbia and Russia should accept “reality” and the “facts on the ground” in Kosovo.”

Water

The one exit way from current crisis is the one I fully can agree.  Mr. Kesic states:

One option is to admit the EU and U.S. policy on Kosovo was a mistake and attempt to manage the Georgian crisis in light of this. That would mean freezing Kosovo’s independence by returning complete authority over the province to the United Nations and by restarting negotiations between Serbs and Kosovar Albanians under U.N. sponsorship. For Georgia this would signify the only hope that Russia would lose its moral ground for further military escalation and that it could return to the status quo prior to its own military actions on Aug. 6. This would also allow for the United Nations to regain credibility and legitimacy for new peace talks on South Ossetia and Abkhazia and for any possible peacekeeping role.

If American and EU officials continue to ignore the new international reality that they have helped create by backing Kosovo’s independence, they will have chosen a road that will lead to new separatist conflicts well beyond the Balkans and the Caucasus.

Mr Kesic really hit the nail on the head – nothing to add!


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Power in service of ethics

August 14, 2008

During last twenty years war for humanitarian reasons has came quite popular in political vocabulary e.g. in Balkans and now with Georgia case. The ideal to use power in the service of ethics is good. The problem is the low level of ethics when US is using her power in world. I remember their actions in Chile to establish dictatorship, their support to killing squads in middle and south America. In 1983, U.S. troops invaded Grenada because it – a tiny island with 110,000 inhabitants – represented a military threat to the USA. In Balkans US made alliances first with Serb leaders (who later came ICTY wanteds) and after with KLA (which before was described as terror organization), al Quida (1st ally then one element in “axis of terror”) etc.

US started to bomb Serbia – without UNSC approval and based purpose-oriented reports from field – supporting separatist movements. Later US repeated the same in Afghanistan and Iraq (again based false reports).  Before 9-11, the US was supportive of the Chechen rebels, suddenly after 9-11 radical Islam, was the new enemy. This is regardless of whatever Chechen terrorists were doing to Russia on their own.

In Europe the Kosovo question highlights the core problem of EU – uncritical following of US foreign (cowboy) policy . Some times I ask if it is EU, only UK or ex-Sovjet lapdogs the 51st state of USA. To me it is alarming, that this US policy has been made both during democratic and republican US presidents. Future shows if the change will come with new president, will he change old advisers also. And will US succeed to gain support for these actions either through the use of NATO or by persuading the European Community or the newly emerging states of Central and Eastern Europe to get on side.  I hope that change will come and different actors both sides of Atlantic could have debate from more equal base than before.

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Opening Bosnian X-files

August 12, 2008

Very interesting interview of former Hague Tribunal spokeswoman Florence Hartmann popped to my eyes from newspaper Blic.  Referring the arrest of Radovan Karadzic she told, that “information about the fugitives’ whereabouts was abundant, however, it would always turn out that one of the three countries – the U.S., Britain or France – would block arrests.”  She adds that former Bosnian secret police chief Momir Munibabić was sacked on former High Representative Paddy Ashdown’s orders, “for being efficient in his search for Karadžić, and for sending information to Del Ponte“. “Now that Karadžić has finally been arrested, he can tell a lot about secret deals that led to the fall of Srebrenica. His testimony represents a great risk for the great western powers,” Hartmann is convinced.

These statements of ICTY insider arouse few associations to my mind, such as

  • Is the Holbrooke-Karadzic deal existing, like the accused has said ( Karadzic claims that his going into hiding formed part of a deal with Holbrooke, which included his withdrawal from public life in exchange for not being arrested).
  • Was the secret deal made about Srebrenica (Bosnian Government and the Bosnian Serb party, possibly with the knowledge of one or more Contact Group States, had an understanding that Srebrenica would not be vigorously defended by the Bosniacs in return for an undertaking by the Serbs not to vigorously defend territory around Sarajevo. The capture of Srebrenica  made it easier for the Bosniacs and Serbs to agree on the territorial basis of a peace settlement.  The result of the tragedy in Srebrenica contributed in some ways to the conclusion of a peace agreement — by galvanizing the will of the international community, by distracting the Serbs from the coming Croatian attack, by reducing the vulnerability of UNPROFOR personnel to hostage-taking, and by making certain territorial questions easier for the parties to resolve).
  • Are we finally getting more clear wider picture about connections between numbers (Srebrenica figure game), reports (as mean of one-sided propaganda)  and political PR marketing considering events in Balkans during 1990’s?

One can have different opinions about bias of ICTY but from my point of view it offers so far best forum to get some answer to questions mentioned before when both prosecutor and defence have made their case.  Anyway the statements of Mrs.Hartmann – as well the book of her former boss del Ponte describing e.g.  organ trafficking of Serb civils by Albanian mafia – are giving quite disgusting picture about “realpolitik” behind noble statements of international community.


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Kosovo > South-Ossetia > Abkhazia > ???

August 8, 2008

Georgia launched a major military offensive against South Ossetia on Friday in a bid to regain control of its breakaway province.   The attack started few hours after declared ceasefire, just before opening Day of Olympics.  It’s been confirmed that some Russian peacekeepers working in the region have been killed in the fighting, although exact figures have not yet been released the death toll can already be as high as 1400.

Kosovo’s unilateral proclamation of independence from Serbia last February played a key role in these developments. There may be endless disputes over whether this has created a legal precedent or not, but realpolitik takes its course regardless. The claim of Great (western) powers that Kosovo is an absolutely unique case was shown to be a joke almost immediately when UDI based to their orchestration opened the Pandora box.

Moscow and quite a few other capitals considered the move a serious step toward the degradation of international law and the triumph of arbitrary approaches to the resolution of global problems. Nonetheless, Russia has chosen a course of compromise. Russia’s leaders could not ignore what happened in the Balkans, but they chose not respond by recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, even though they believe that after Kosovo was proclaimed independent they had every right to do so.

Pandora box starts to open

  • Armenian political expert Stepan Grigoryan says that Yerevan should recognize Serbia’s Kosovo province as a precedent for its recognition of Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • The Silesian Autonomy Movement has sent a petition to Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk asking him to allow all regional communities to gain autonomy status. If he does not agree, the Silesians say they are ready to raise the issue of separation, according to media reports. The movement officially declares its support for the autonomy of Silesia. The association was founded in 1991 and is based mainly in the Polish part of Upper Silesia.
  • On May 4, the oil-rich department (province) of Santa Cruz held a vote on autonomy – that is, declaring its independence from the rest of Bolivia.  Bolivian government calls the actions of separatist movement as the Kosovo strategy – an American attempt to destabilize a national government it cannot control.
  • The potentially destabilizing consequences of this precedent  have been much discussed with reference to other unhappy portions of other internationally recognized sovereign states with strong separatist movements practicing precarious but effective self-rule, such as  Transniestria,  Bosnia’s Republika Srpska, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Kashmir, Tibet and Kurdistan.

Exit strategy

The root of the problem is that the international community cannot agree on rules for the independence of small regions. Russia said that granting independence to Kosovo would set a dangerous precedent.  I agree with those who said, that Kosovo status – as well other conflicts – can be determine only by negotiations, not by imposition.

From my point of view the best exit strategy from Pandora box is to return to Kosovo case from where all today’s development started.  The steps forward could be following:

  1. Starting real negotiations between local stakeholders with support interested Great Powers and without determined outcome (which was not the case with Status Talks lead by Ahtisaari nor Troika).
  2. Accepting the deal made by local partners be it anything they can agree.
  3. The international community (and donors) should then support implementation of this deal made by negotiations.

Similar steps could be applied other conflicts also.  The possible outcome can be based e.g. to Westphalian order (Westphalian sovereignty is the concept of nation state sovereignty based on two principles: territoriality and the exclusion of external actors from domestic authority structures).

Results can vary from case to case.  The form of deal can be e.g. independence with or without partition, federation, confederation, some of autonomy models such as Aland (Province of Finland) or Hong Kong model. At its best the solution can be like”velvet divorce” of the Czechs and Slovaks.  And also the worst scenario probably is better than situation today.



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Operation Storm – forgotten pogrom

August 5, 2008

Today 13 years has went since the massive ethnic cleansing of more than 250,000 Serbs from Krajina in Croatia. Thirteen years ago, on August 4 1995, 200,000 Croat army and police troops from Croatia and the Croat Defense Council from Bosnia-Herzegovina, under the command of Franjo Tudjman, attacked the United Nations protected zones (safe havens) with Serbian population in northern Dalmatia, Lika, Kordun and Banija. They were helped on the Bosnian side by the Bosnian Muslim fighters and had the operation backed, coordinated and logistically supported by the leading Western powers.


A day later, on August 5, Croat troops have entered the ethnically cleansed town of Knin which was under the heavy missile barrage earlier where, prior to the “Storm”, more than 90 percent of the population were Serbs.  In a few days, the complete Serbian population from Krajina in Croatia was forced to flee towards Serbia and Republic of Srpska. Columns with over 250,000 expelled Croatia Serbs were under constant assault of Croat artillery and under fire from the fighter jets which followed them on their collective exodus from Croatia.

According to the data of the Documentation-information Center Veritas, in the pogrom by the Croat army close to 2,000 people were killed, while the Croat Helsinki board claims that during the “Operation Storm” 670 Serbian civilians were killed.

After the “Storm” which, according to Croat president, successfully finalized the ethnic cleansing of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, Tudjman cynically described the pogrom of Croatia Serbs at the opening of the Military school Ban Josip Jelacic in Zagreb, on December 14 1998: “We have, therefore, resolved the Serbian question! There will no longer be 12 percent of Serbs, nor 9 percent of Yugoslavs [mostly Serbs who were declaring themselves as “Yugoslavs” during the censuses], as before.

There are many stories about ethnic cleansing in Balkans. The (western) mainstream media has mostly described how Serbs have tried to cleanse their neighbor regions. This one sided picture is regrettable common even today. people are forgetting, that one explanation to brutalities made by Serbs is their response to brutality others made against them. Also one should remember that Serbia has today more refugees than any other country in western Balkans and international community does not have a slightest attempt to help them return back to their original homes.

As source describing Storm background I have used article published in  http://www.byzantinesacredart.com/blog/


Operation Storm – forgotten pogrom

August 5, 2008

Today 13 years has went since the massive ethnic cleansing of more than 250,000 Serbs from Krajina in Croatia. Thirteen years ago, on August 4 1995, 200,000 Croat army and police troops from Croatia and the Croat Defense Council from Bosnia-Herzegovina, under the command of Franjo Tudjman, attacked the United Nations protected zones (safe havens) with Serbian population in northern Dalmatia, Lika, Kordun and Banija. They were helped on the Bosnian side by the Bosnian Muslim fighters and had the operation backed, coordinated and logistically supported by the leading Western powers.


A day later, on August 5, Croat troops have entered the ethnically cleansed town of Knin which was under the heavy missile barrage earlier where, prior to the “Storm”, more than 90 percent of the population were Serbs.  In a few days, the complete Serbian population from Krajina in Croatia was forced to flee towards Serbia and Republic of Srpska. Columns with over 250,000 expelled Croatia Serbs were under constant assault of Croat artillery and under fire from the fighter jets which followed them on their collective exodus from Croatia.

According to the data of the Documentation-information Center Veritas, in the pogrom by the Croat army close to 2,000 people were killed, while the Croat Helsinki board claims that during the “Operation Storm” 670 Serbian civilians were killed.

After the “Storm” which, according to Croat president, successfully finalized the ethnic cleansing of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, Tudjman cynically described the pogrom of Croatia Serbs at the opening of the Military school Ban Josip Jelacic in Zagreb, on December 14 1998: “We have, therefore, resolved the Serbian question! There will no longer be 12 percent of Serbs, nor 9 percent of Yugoslavs [mostly Serbs who were declaring themselves as “Yugoslavs” during the censuses], as before.

There are many stories about ethnic cleansing in Balkans. The (western) mainstream media has mostly described how Serbs have tried to cleanse their neighbor regions. This one sided picture is regrettable common even today. people are forgetting, that one explanation to brutalities made by Serbs is their response to brutality others made against them. Also one should remember that Serbia has today more refugees than any other country in western Balkans and international community does not have a slightest attempt to help them return back to their original homes.

As source describing Storm background I have used article published in  http://www.byzantinesacredart.com/blog/