Kosovo and the dark side of democracy

by Chris Bertram on February 29, 2008

Further to my post the other day on Kosovo, and whether or not it sets a precedent for other would-be secessionist movements, I’d just like to note a very interesting piece by Pratap Bhanu Mehta in the Indian Express, which I found thanks to Chris Brooke at the Virtual Stoa. Mehta draws on Michael Mann’s work on “the dark side of democracy” to argue that the Kosovo case does indeed threaten future instability. On the immediate political pragmatics, whilst Mehta is surely right to argue that the backing of the US and other Western powers meant that the Kosovo Albanians were under no pressure to negotiate a solution that fell short of independence, defenders of independence can reply that, given what has gone on since 1990, they would have had no reason to believe anyway that remaining within a Serb-dominated state would given them even basic safety, let alone more extensive human rights guarantees. That disagreement aside, Mehta makes a good deal of sense on the connections between democracy, ethnic homogenization and the disastrous doctrine of national self-determination:

In the 19th century, there was a memorable debate between John Stuart Mill and Lord Acton. John Stuart Mill had argued, in a text that was to become the bible for separatists all over, including Jinnah and Savarkar, that democracy functions best in a mono-ethnic societies. Lord Acton had replied that a consequence of this belief would be bloodletting and migration on an unprecedented scale; it was more important to secure liberal protections than link ethnicity to democracy. It was this link that Woodrow Wilson elevated to a simple-minded defence of self-determination. The result, as Mann demonstrated with great empirical rigour, was that European nation states, 150 years later, were far more ethnically homogenous than they were in the 19th century; most EU countries were more than 85 per cent mono-ethnic. Most of this homogeneity was produced by horrendous violence, of which Milosevic’s marauding henchmen were only the latest incarnation. This homogeneity was complicated somewhat by migration from some former colonies. But very few nation states in Europe remained zones where indigenous multi-ethnicity could be accommodated.

{ 152 comments }

1

qb 02.29.08 at 1:21 pm

um it’s a little hard to tell from the text, and maybe it’s just that i’m tired, but it sort of looks as if Mehta is claiming that the argument between Mill and Acton “resulted” in violence-induced homogenization? that can’t be right, but i can’t find a charitable way to read this; someone please explain, or provide some more context for the quote!

2

Great Zamfir 02.29.08 at 1:38 pm

I think he would arguing that Woodrow Wilson’s “simple-minded defence of self-determination” lead to this, not the argument between Mill and Acton.

But I am bit surprized about his claim that European nation states are now more ethnically homogeneous than 150 years ago. Most of this ‘homogenization’ is linked to the collapse of the Austrian empire, and the Soviet one later on. Those events seem far too specific to generalize to a statement that Europe as a whole has moved to homogeneous states.

3

Marko Attila Hoare 02.29.08 at 1:47 pm

I take it from this that Pratap Bhanu Mehta profoundly regrets India’s secession from the multiethnic British Empire, under which Hindus and Muslims apparently lived happily together, as Churchill liked to point out.

4

Chris Bertram 02.29.08 at 1:48 pm

Not just those events, GZ, there’s also the collapse of the Ottoman empire and WW2 and its aftermath (to name but two other episodes). The specific claim is made on p.41 of Mann’s original NLR article.

5

Chris Bertram 02.29.08 at 1:50 pm

Well, Marko, it wouldn’t be unreasonable of him to regret _partition_, would it? (Not that I’ve any knowledge of his specific view.)

6

PHB 02.29.08 at 1:50 pm

The same effect might well be explained more simply as a consequence of the invention of gunpowder. The use of force was no longer an ultra-skilled occupation requiring exclusive attention. It became possible to turn a bunch of illiterate farm workers into an army with a modest expenditure on guns and amunition.

In order to maintain control of a geographic location the state had to rely on more than just brute force. Nationalism provided a substitute.

States tended to expand to the point where they were able to maintain control. Maintaining control of a homogenous population is somewhat easier than maintaining control of a population with a distinct culture or language.

7

abb1 02.29.08 at 1:54 pm

…defenders of independence can reply that, given what has gone on since 1990, they would have had no reason to believe anyway that remaining within a Serb-dominated state would given them even basic safety, let alone more extensive human rights guarantees…

They can reply, of course, but what kind of argument is it? Sounds like some kinda anti-Serbism or Serbo-phobia.

8

Jacob T. Levy 02.29.08 at 2:01 pm

I take it from this that Pratap Bhanu Mehta profoundly regrets India’s secession from the multiethnic British Empire

Given the invocation of Jinnah, I think a more-fair reading would be that he regrets the preemptive secession from a hypothetical newly-independent-and-unified India. Given the violence associated with Partition and the later violence associated with the secession of Bangladesh, that’s not a crazy regret to have. On the other hand, the thing about the nationalization of nation-states is that it’s in part competitive, and being a large minority in someone else’s democratic nation-state is often unattractive– you’re never sure how nationalistic that nation-state is going to be.

Most of this ‘homogenization’ is linked to the collapse of the Austrian empire, and the Soviet one later on.– you forgot to mention the Ottoman; and the Czarist empire went through a round of collapse and contraction before the Soviet empire expanded and collapsed again. But the replacement of multiethnic empires with aspirationally-monoethnic democracies is just what was at stake, and those imperial cases covered a lot of real estate. A majority of now-extant European states are on land that one of those empires once controlled.

The reinforcing movement from the other side was German and Italian unification. Altogether, Europe now looks *much* more like “one democratic-state per nation, one nation per democratic state” than would have been imaginable a couple centuries ago. The final result is a Mehta says: A Europe of democratic nation-states.

9

Jacob T. Levy 02.29.08 at 2:03 pm

lots of similar points made in posts that went up while I was writing my post. Damn simultaneity. It’s part of the problem, doncha know– I read all about it in Imagined Communities. I’m quite sure this is what Anderson meant.

10

qb 02.29.08 at 2:30 pm

Zamfir, I agree that makes more sense–it’s the ‘150 years later’ part that threw me off. Wilson would have had to adopt the principle of self-determination when he was less than 2 years old. I see now the view is that Mill and Wilson were both contributing figures in the supposed homogenization–it’s just sloppy writing on top of a dubious causal claim.

BTW, Wellman’s “A Theory of Secession” has soothing words, at about the same level of abstraction as Buchanan’s theory, for anyone afraid of the “disastrous doctrine” of self-determination.

11

SamChevre 02.29.08 at 2:32 pm

This highlights one of the real weak spots of democracy; there’s no coherent method for boundary-setting. (In other word, who gets to vote on what? Should school policy be set by the town, the state, the nation? How do you decide?)

I also repeat my nomination of Wilsonian ethnic nationalism for “worst widely-implemented idea of the 20th century.”

12

Marko Attila Hoare 02.29.08 at 2:37 pm

#5, #8

Yes, my guess is that Mehta probably approves of his own, Indian nation’s secession from the British Empire, but not of Pakistan’s secession from India.

But if the independence of India led to the counter-secession of Pakistan, with all the communal massacres that this involved, the logic of Mehta’s position should be, that the secession of India from the British Empire – which began the process of independent nation-state formation that led to partition and communal massacre – was a mistake in the first place.

Furthermore, if Britain had simply refused to recognise the independence of India, would the international community have been justified in simply withholding recognition of Indian independence permanently ?

13

franck 02.29.08 at 2:41 pm

Given that Kosovo had a nonviolent resistance movement for a decade before the emergence of the KLA and during that time Serbia was content to run Kosovo as a colonial province where Albanians were denied any state-related job or influence, it’s pretty clear that Serbia has no interest in treating 90% of the population of Kosovo as fellow citizens. Since even now there is no desire in mainstream Serbian political thought to accept Kosovar Albanians are citizens of Serbia, even after Serbia suffered greviously for its mass killings and ethnic cleansing of Kosovar Albanians, it seems to me quite reasonable for those self-same Kosovar Albanians to have no basis in which to trust the Serbian state on anything.

14

franck 02.29.08 at 2:45 pm

marko,

That’s an interesting point. It’s also quite relevant for Bangladesh, where India recognized the rebels as the legitimate government of Bangladesh and the Americans were strongly opposed, to the extent of putting two aircraft carriers in the Indian Ocean to threaten India.

For me, Partition was a mistake because it relied on a created national identity that did not exist. It’s clear that there was never a desire on the part of West Pakistan to recognize East Pakistan as an equal in the government – East Pakistanis (that is to say Bangladeshis) were never recognized as full citizens. Of course, all national identities are constructed, but the creators of Pakistan deluded themselves into thinking they could make one even though most people rejected the idea.

15

Chris Bertram 02.29.08 at 2:58 pm

Marko,

I don’t think that’s a good form of argument, since the causal relationship is clearly much weaker than one of logical entailment. Hence the phrase, “the logic of Mehta’s position” has no more than rhetorical force.

16

John Emerson 02.29.08 at 3:00 pm

What’s up with Switzerland, anyway?

17

abb1 02.29.08 at 3:01 pm

…it’s pretty clear that Serbia has no interest in treating 90% of the population of Kosovo as fellow citizens

Any evidence of this?

18

John Emerson 02.29.08 at 3:03 pm

When Germans were encouraged to leave Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland after WWI, Jews usually were counted as Germans. Dramatic irony there.

19

Matt 02.29.08 at 3:10 pm

_What’s up with Switzerland, anyway?_ Banking, good chocolate, Fondu, some pretty unpleasent xenophobia, watches, more or less the same thing as always.

20

John Emerson 02.29.08 at 3:16 pm

But how can you be xenophobic with four official languages? What’s their secret?

21

abb1 02.29.08 at 3:23 pm

Mountains, tons of mountains.

22

Marko Attila Hoare 02.29.08 at 3:24 pm

#14

Franck, that’s a very good point. Bangladesh’s secession from Pakistan was unilateral, and it was nevertheless supported by India. Furthermore, India unilaterally recognised Bangladesh’s independence, without Pakistan’s permission.

http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/1971/Dec06/index.html

Perhaps Mehta would like to comment on whether or not this was a ‘dangerous precedent’ ?

23

John Emerson 02.29.08 at 3:27 pm

Yeah, but the different Swiss don’t kill each other. In the old days the hired out to kill Austrians, Frenchmen, Italians, etc., but now they don’t kill anyone.

24

Russell Arben Fox 02.29.08 at 3:27 pm

Samchevre (#11),

This highlights one of the real weak spots of democracy; there’s no coherent method for boundary-setting. (In other word, who gets to vote on what? Should school policy be set by the town, the state, the nation? How do you decide?)

This isn’t a weak point just for or even particularly for democracy; it’s a central fault point in every kind of politics. Unless you’re going for the totalitarian option (which not even Hobbes imagined could be pulled off), then you’re going to have to wrestle with peoplehood, with finding and founding boundaries. Democracy, or at least pretty much everything about democracy we moderns consider legitimate and worthwhile, had to begin from or at least develop at the same time as a distinct sense of belonging. Ethnic self-determination has a terrible track record, but I’m not sure any other style of “nationa imagining” (nice shout-out to Benedict Anderson, Jacob) necessarily has done better or at the cost of less blood.

I absolutely agree that in his debate with Acton and elsewhere, Mill let his inner 19th-century racist run free. But at least he was trying to come up with some basis for extending self-government to more people around the globe–and frankly, considering how he without a second thought slammed what might be called “unreasonable seccession movements” of his day (asking why the Bretons or the Scots could possibly prefer their own nation to that offered by the French and British nations), Mehta–at least in regards to this debate over Kosovo–ought to give him a little more benefit of the doubt.

25

abb1 02.29.08 at 3:31 pm

‘You have a great point – no you have a great point’ – that sounds a lot like sockpuppetry. You guy(s) need to fight each other a little.

26

Russell Arben Fox 02.29.08 at 3:32 pm

Marko (#3, #12, #22): excellent observations, all–though I suppose that decolonization and the break-up of the “multiethnic British Empire” was a specific and distinct enough event to not be much of a precedent when it comes to discussing nationality and democracy.

27

Chris Bertram 02.29.08 at 3:36 pm

RAF:

considering how he without a second thought slammed what might be called “unreasonable seccession movements” of his day (asking why the Bretons or the Scots could possibly prefer their own nation to that offered by the French and British nations), Mehta … ought to give his a little more benefit of the doubt

Um, I don’t think so Russell. Mill’s remarks on the Bretons and the Scots show him to be a partisan of what Mann calls “coerced assimilation”, in other words of the pursuit of ethnic homogeneity by administrative bullying.

28

seth edenbaum 02.29.08 at 3:37 pm

Again this is largely a discussion of ideas about, not actions in Kosovo. But how was this specific situation handled, given the conflicts and relations, West and East, Russian and European, Albanian and Serb. Stability itself has a moral value. How much has cool reason prevailed in the minds of the well intentioned?
Not much at all.
Cool reason discussing the glories and dangers of democracy is not cool reason discussing the actions of the players.

29

John Emerson 02.29.08 at 3:39 pm

There are still big chunks of the world, a third to half perhaps, where a real nation-state government could only be attained via ethnic cleansing of some sort (including forced migration).

30

abb1 02.29.08 at 3:47 pm

If you want to move from liberalism to ethnic nationalism, why not jump directly to tribalism?

31

Russell Arben Fox 02.29.08 at 3:58 pm

Chris (#27)

Mill’s remarks on the Bretons and the Scots show him to be a partisan of what Mann calls “coerced assimilation”, in other words of the pursuit of ethnic homogeneity by administrative bullying.

Chris, I’m not an expert on Mill, so correct me if I’m wrong. But the context in which he was writing was one in which the Bretons and Scots had long since been formally absorbed by the French and British states, correct? And Mill wondered why on earth these poor benighted Bretons and Scots complained about this. Similarly, Kosovo is a region that has struggled over its incorporation within a post-Yugoslavian environment; in pushing for independence, it is challenging a larger, once legitimate polity. I’m not defending Mill by any means, but still: if he was willing critize the Bretons and Scots, then doesn’t that mean he’s not quite the self-determination absolutist Mehta’s comment makes him out to be?

32

franck 02.29.08 at 4:14 pm

Well, let’s see. Right now, Serbia is attempting a partition of Kosovo that is purely ethnically based. Every place in Kosovo that is dominated by Serbs is attempting to assert its right to federate with Serbia. Serbia is making no attempt to claim parts of Kosovo that are dominated by Albanians. Ethnic Albanians that work in northern Mitrovica are being prevented from coming to work, and there have been attempts to ethnically cleanse northern Kosovo of what few Albanians remain there. There has been no official apology from the Serbian government for past official Serbian government acts that disenfranchised Albanians, or for state-sponsored death squads against Albanians. There was no attempt to provide polling places for Kosovo Albanians to vote in the recent Serbian elections, and there has been no attempt to create a Kosovo government that includes any Albanians.

As far as I can tell, the current Serbian government has made no attempt to include Kosovo Albanians in any aspect of its government. That suggests to me that they don’t view them as citizens with an equal claim on the government. And since they would make up 20% of the population of a Serbia that includes Kosovo, that is a serious failing.

33

c.l. ball 02.29.08 at 4:19 pm

Re the EU v. 19th century Europe figure, I don’t have Mann’s 1999 article accessible but I do have his eponymous 2004 book (it was published in 2005 but the LC date is 2004 and the preface is dated Dec. 2003). On p.507 he makes an 80% mono-ethnic claim for the EU (excluding the UK, Belgium, Switzerland, and Spain). His point is that at this level, ethnic cleansing has subsided as a real risk for much of Europe, and his broader point is that this ethnic homogenization accompanied democratization. Not all homogenization, however, was the result of violent ethnic cleansing — some of the “cleansing” is voluntary or marginally violent (see his table 1.1, p.12).

Mehta is possibly disingenuous in his use of Mann to impeach Kosovo’s independence, however. In his book, Mann concludes that neither repression nor assimilation will work in cases where there are rival claims to sovereignty that are plausible and achievable. Such cases include Muslim Kashmir and other border regions of India (p.523) and Kosovo (p.525). This does not mean that secession in required in India, but new autonomy arrangements would be necessary, and in Kosovo, he says partition is the least bad outcome.

The real question in this debate is: what is the primary goal? If violence reduction is the paramount goal, then the case for secession/partition depends on the external and internal security of the successor states. A Kosovo subject to Macedonian and Albanian military intervention along with Serb revanchism is not necessarily better off. Focusing on violence, however, also makes “cultural repression” — ethnic cleansing via “institutionalized coercion” rather than mass killing, as Mann defines it — preferable if it is feasible that this would end autonomy claims and thereby forestall future mass killings. Not all of Europe killed to homogenization. Of course, as Mann notes, this means violating what we now consider core human rights.

If ethnic survival is the primary goal, then the risk of anti-secession violence is worth running so long as it is not suicidal — if you are subject to mass killing when demanding non-sovereign autonomy, I don’t see the added risk of deciding that secession is the best choice.

Re Indian independence v. multi-ethnic British Empire, sure, if London was willing to grant all adult residents of India citizenship with suffrage, I’m sure they would have accepted. Of course, Indian constituencies would have made up the majority of Parliament and the Congress party would have become the ruling party of the British Empire.

34

abb1 02.29.08 at 4:20 pm

I’ve read Mark Ames’ piece from 2000 on exile.ru where he says that Serbs can’t even enter KLA-controlled areas in Kosovo, let alone “provide polling places”. Maybe it’s different now, I don’t know.

35

Great Zamfir 02.29.08 at 4:27 pm

Qb, I read the entire piece again, and I have to say that Mehta comes very close to indeed claiming that the idea itself of coupling democracy and ethnic homogenity is the cause of the violent separations of the last century.

He puts lot of emphasis on precendents and ideas as a cause of separationist movements. If he fears the Indian subcontinent is so unstable that Kosovo is a dangerous precedent, is it not the unstability itself that is the major problem?

A similar view shows in the part about Russia and India, towards the end of his piece. He criticizes America for recognizing Kosovo, but not Taiwan. This seems to ignore political realities a bit too much.

36

John Emerson 02.29.08 at 4:32 pm

The more the citizens / subjects / inhabitants identify with their state, the stronger the state is. The more homogeneous the population is, the more likely that this identification will be achieved.

But strong states are only sometimes a good thing. They’re better than civil war, and better than very weak do-nothing states who can’t provide even minimal state services, but with states stronger is not better.

Civilized, humane people with any degree of understanding of the world can be patriotic up to a point. America’s patriotism is a horrible blemish.

37

John M 02.29.08 at 5:01 pm

Poor blemished America! How it must envy the purity of our pristine European nationalisms.

38

seth edenbaum 02.29.08 at 5:33 pm

“Poor blemished America! How it must envy the purity of our pristine European nationalisms.”

We’re an empire of citizens not ethnicity. The relation among our constituent groups is our advantage (as more modern) over otherwise social democratic Europe.

39

Dr. Minorka 02.29.08 at 6:05 pm

“The relation among our constituent groups is our advantage (as more modern) over otherwise social democratic Europe.”
Sorry, this is an illusion. Your country is a functioning, rich country. That is your advantage. Crisis breeds societal madness. (I’m a Hungarian, so my experience is a little bit different like yours)

40

Kumar 02.29.08 at 6:12 pm

The attempts by several commenters to suggest that Mr. Mehta is inconsistent in arguing against recognition of Kosovan independence, while (presumably) lauding Indian (or Bangladeshi) independence are not convincing. After all, a simple counter-argument to such views is that Mr. Mehta is not against secession per se.

Rather, he is very much against secessionist projects that are coupled to aspirations to build a (religiously or ethnically) homogeneous state from territories that are very heterogeneous. Neither the Indian (i.e., Nehru, Gandhi and rest of the Congress party), nor the Bangladeshi, independence movement (i.e., Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman’s party) had that character.

Regards,
Kumar

41

Marc Mulholland 02.29.08 at 6:25 pm

“We’re an empire of citizens not ethnicity.”

As evidenced by the happy irrelevance of ethnicity to US history.

42

novakant 02.29.08 at 6:40 pm

The more the citizens / subjects / inhabitants identify with their state, the stronger the state is. The more homogeneous the population is, the more likely that this identification will be achieved.

I don’t think so. There are few cases where the population identifies as strongly with their state as it does in the US, yet that population is the opposite of homogenous.

43

Tom Hurka 02.29.08 at 6:40 pm

If Wilsonian ethnic nationalism was such a terrible idea, was it then one of the great things about the 1919 settlement that it combined Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites in a single state of Iraq?

44

mpowell 02.29.08 at 6:42 pm


As evidenced by the happy irrelevance of ethnicity to US history.

There’s plenty to criticize in American history. But compared to other world historical examples, it’s made a decent showing of itself.

45

abb1 02.29.08 at 7:03 pm

I suspect that making population identify with the state is something the state does. Propaganda, basically. Generation after generation – mass-media, arts, legends, ferrytales. Simple as that.

46

seth edenbaum 02.29.08 at 7:23 pm

40/43
As regards ethnicity and the US: as opposed to most other countries, the record and the answer is a simple yes. We slaughtered the natives and some of us arrived as slaves but we are a nation of immigrants who refer to ourselves as such.
The European model since the fall of Rome has been tribalism. I’m surprised that someone who makes a living studying The Troubles would miss these basic facts. On both sides of my family I’m the descendent of refugees from persecution: Protestant and Jewish/Eastern and Western European.

To add: The US relationship to the “troubles” in the middle east comes from two sources, the greed for oil and the fact that the US shares with Israel the status of safe haven for jewish refugees from your European hell. And ironically or not, one of the factors now mitigating that crisis is that we offer safe haven to Muslims as well, who assimilate precisely because they are welcome to.

So stuff it.

47

RICKM 02.29.08 at 7:30 pm

Frank and Marco-

The Jalal thesis argues that Jinnah offered the partition plan as a bargaining chip–with the belief that his offer would firmly be rejected. To the extend that Jalal’s argument is true, one cannot claim that the creation of Pakistan was the logical outcome of India’s independence.

48

Marko Attila Hoare 02.29.08 at 8:52 pm

#46

“To the extend that Jalal’s argument is true, one cannot claim that the creation of Pakistan was the logical outcome of India’s independence.”

It may not have been the only logical outcome, but it was certainly the outcome that actually happened.

49

vkrishna 02.29.08 at 10:47 pm

The “multiethnic British Empire” was not a democracy, and Indians had little or no control
over how their society was run, so the argument regarding Indian independence is not valid.
I also think Kumar’s point is valuable. The secession of Bangladesh was not due to a secessionist project coupled to homogenous ethnic aspirations, and was rather a reactive undertaking (to West Pakistani policy). I should also add that most European critiques and analysis of the stability (pre and post Indian independence) of the Indian state was (and may still be) rooted in an essentially tribalist context, and in analog to the European experience with multiethnic stability.

50

qb 02.29.08 at 10:53 pm

Zamfir @ 35: he fears the Indian subcontinent is so unstable that Kosovo is a dangerous precedent, is it not the unstability itself that is the major problem?

You are right, and the point generalizes. The problem is not with the principle of self-determination; it is with the assumption that it is an unqualified right held by all nations regardless of context.

There is no inherent value to either nation-states or to multi-ethnic states; the only relevant questions are about whether particular secessions would or would not lead to serious instability.

51

Marko Attila Hoare 03.01.08 at 12:18 am

#49

Vkrishna, it seems to me that certain Indian commentators have somewhat flexible principles when it’s a question of secession:

India’s secession from the British Empire – good
Pakistan’s secession from India – bad
Bangladesh’s secession from Pakistan – good
Kashmir’s secession from India – bad
Kosovo’s secession from Serbia – bad

Why not just come out and say ‘our position on particular acts of secession is determined by our own, Indian-nationalist agenda’, and have done with it ? Why try to pretend that it has anything to do with multiethnic ideals or Michael Mann or concern for international law ?

Nobody is really fooled.

52

Scott Hughes 03.01.08 at 12:43 am

I usually like secession. I like seeing any place declare independence. But nationalism is dangerous. We don’t see as much of it in the United States, luckily–e pluribus unum.

53

soru 03.01.08 at 12:52 am

London:Rome::India:Byzantium

54

Kumar 03.01.08 at 1:05 am

Mr. Hoare:

The argument you attempted to run against Mr. Mehta–his alleged inconsistency in deploring Kosovan independence while lauding Indian independence–indeed depends crucially on whether the creation of Pakistan was a ‘logical’ consequence of Indian independence (from Britain). Only if nationalist projects that are liberal (i.e., not based on homogenizing a particular territory) consistently lead to the creation of illiberal nationalist projects can you convincingly argue that Mr. Mehta is inconsistent in his beliefs about the grounds for secession.

Mr. Mehta can surely argue that he views Indian independence with more than a tinge of regret: as one who believes in liberal nationalist projects, he lauds the creation of the Republic of India while ruing the illiberal choices of others (in reaction–literally–to the idea of the Indian republic).

Finally, it is your attempt to cast aspersions on those who you claim have an Indian-nationalist agenda which is not convincing: Is everyone who has misgivings about Kosovan independence an Indian-nationalist?

Certainly, the arguments I have proffered are made in good faith. If your argument makes better sense, surely they will prevail. More argument, less invective, please. Nobody is really fooled by dressing up the latter as the former.

Regards,
Kumar

55

glyn morgan 03.01.08 at 1:19 am

re: chris bertram’s remark @27

I don’t think there is any evidence to suggest that Mill would support the “coerced assimilation” of the Scots, the Welsh, the Basques and the Bretons–the groups he mentions in Chapter XVI of Considerations on Representative Government. A lot depends here, of course, on what is meant by coercion. But the harm principle would restrict the range of actions that could be taken in pursuit of assimilation. Not funding minority language schools–whether a desirable policy or not–hardly counts as coercion. Consider here also what Mill has to say about Mormon polygamy. He considers it a barbarous practice, but does not think coercion is justified to end it.

56

claudia 03.01.08 at 1:27 am

You can’t really get a grip on Kosovo until you understand just how corrupt, oppressive, and fundamentally brutal Serb rule was in the 1990s.

The decade started with Serb cops firing into crowds of unarmed civilians, and finished with death squads and ethnic cleansing; in between you had the closing of Albanian schools, firing of roughly half the work force from state-owned jobs, explicitly apartheid system in which ethnic Serbs were vastly privileged over the Albanian minority, etc., etc.

You also can’t get it until you realize how much the Albanians hate the Serbs, and how much the Serbs hate and despise the Albanians. The Serbs want Kosovo, but they don’t want the Albanians; they never considered them to be citizens of Serbia, even when they formally were.

I could go on at length, but here’s a telling detail: Serbs have a derogatory term, _Shiptar_, for Albanians. “Shiptar” occupies almost exactly the same space as “nigger” in American English. And it’s the standard term in Serbia, just as “nigger” was in the South fifty years ago. I mean, it’s universal to the point where not using it immediately marks the speaker as either very formal or some sort of prissy liberal.

You’ll notice that of the various autonomy plans Serbia put forward for Kosovo last year, not one involved the Albanians having any representation in Serbia’s Parliament or government.

Doug M.

57

vkrishna 03.01.08 at 2:38 am

Mr Hoare:
I think you are not entirely cognizant of the history of the British Empire and Indian independence. First, India did not secede from the British Empire. It was an unwilling colony of the British Empire gained through coercion, with no rights allowed to its citizens, who were taxed and looted unto death. This was therefore not a matter of secession, but the culmination of a long historical process of demands for individual rights and *freedom*. Early leaders of the independence struggle believed that they could agitate for and obtain equal treatment and constitutional rights for Indians, like the British citizens of the empire, but were disabused of such notions. These leaders included Mr. Gandhi, incidentally. So the issue of secession does not enter here, and since Mr. Mehta’s arguments concern democracies, this example is not valid on those grounds either.

Secondly, Pakistan did not secede from India. The state of Pakistan was formed on August 14, 1947, one day before the Indian state was constituted on August 15, 1947. Your framing of this event is consequently wrong and misleading.

The formation of Pakistan was *not* a logical neccessity of Indian independence, and the demographic argument (of religion) made in its favor was and is flawed, because the current Indian Union still has a large muslim population than Pakistan. Also, while Mr. Mehta may regret partition, (and it is natural to do so given the trauma and bloodshed that accompanied Partition), I seriously doubt that he or any other reasonable commentator would wish it to be undone and Pakistan reassimilated into India.

There is also no inconsistency in Indian support for the formation of Bangladesh. This had nothing to do with ethnic considerations on India’s part. The facts were simple, there was a genocide in East Pakistan (many of the victims were religious minorities), and a consequent refugee influx from East Pakistan into India of > 10 million people. This was the main motivation for India’s military intervention. It is also fairly clearly that the current multiethnic character of Bangla society would not have survived if the secession had not occurred.

Kashmir’s (it should be Jammu and Kashmir) secession has never been popularly mandated. Additionally, allowing such a secession would be a direct attack on the secular, multiethnic foundations of the Indian state, because it would be an acknowledgement that an multiethnic state like India is unstable and the two nation theory (based on religion) is valid.

I have no brief on Kosovo, especially since its history, especially of minorities in the region, is markedly different from India. My understanding is that Serbian rule is distinguished by ethnic and religious brutality, and I really do not have an opinion on the secession of Kosovo. (see eg. remarks in 56). So, you are directing your ire in the wrong direction. My remarks were simply a response to what I thought were your ill considered comments on Indian history.

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Marko Attila Hoare 03.01.08 at 8:58 am

#57

vkrishna, my argument is really not with supporters of Indian independence, but with people who support the right to secede for their own nation while denying it to other nations, in a manner that is inconsistent.

“First, India did not secede from the British Empire. It was an unwilling colony of the British Empire gained through coercion, with no rights allowed to its citizens, who were taxed and looted unto death.”

Kosova, too, was an unwilling colony of Serbia gained through coercion; its Albanian citizens were at best second-class citizens and at worst were subject to genocidal treatment.

“This was therefore not a matter of secession, but the culmination of a long historical process of demands for individual rights and freedom.”

I’m not quite sure why the justified and democratic character of Indian independence (which I don’t deny) makes it any less a matter of secession. Secession, in cases such as India’s and Kosova’s, can indeed be the culmination of a long historical process of demands for individual rights and freedom.

“Early leaders of the independence struggle believed that they could agitate for and obtain equal treatment and constitutional rights for Indians, like the British citizens of the empire, but were disabused of such notions.”

I think most Kosova Albanians would say that it was made entirely clear to them, over many years, that they could never enjoy equal treatment and constitutional rights within either Yugoslavia or Serbia.

“So the issue of secession does not enter here, and since Mr. Mehta’s arguments concern democracies, this example is not valid on those grounds either.”

Serbia was never a genuine democracy until 2000, by which time its rule over Kosova had already ended. Even after that, its attempt to reassert its rule over Kosova meant denying citizenship rights to the Albanian majority.

Thus, in the referendum over a new Serbian constitution held in 2006 – for the deliberate purpose of reasserting the Serbian claim to Kosova – Serbia’s government banned Kosova Albanians from voting in the referendum while allowing Kosova Serbs to do so.

“Secondly, Pakistan did not secede from India. The state of Pakistan was formed on August 14, 1947, one day before the Indian state was constituted on August 15, 1947. Your framing of this event is consequently wrong and misleading.”

I disagree. India did not suddenly come into being on 15 August 1947. There was British India before that. Whether you define the carving out of Pakistan from the former British India as an act of secession, partition, independence, etc., is a matter of semantics.

“The facts were simple, there was a genocide in East Pakistan (many of the victims were religious minorities), and a consequent refugee influx from East Pakistan into India of > 10 million people. This was the main motivation for India’s military intervention.”

Very similar circumstances surrounded NATO’s intervention in Kosova in 1999. Indeed; I think India’s intervention in East Pakistan / Bangladesh, and NATO’s intervention in Kosova, were both entirely justified to prevent genocide.

“Kashmir’s (it should be Jammu and Kashmir) secession has never been popularly mandated. Additionally, allowing such a secession would be a direct attack on the secular, multiethnic foundations of the Indian state, because it would be an acknowledgement that an multiethnic state like India is unstable and the two nation theory (based on religion) is valid.”

This is really a whole debate in its own right. But I suspect that many Indian commentators really have Kashmir in mind when they argue against Kosova’s independence.

59

abb1 03.01.08 at 9:42 am

Doug,
You’ll notice that of the various autonomy plans Serbia put forward for Kosovo last year, not one involved the Albanians having any representation in Serbia’s Parliament or government.

Maybe I misunderstand what you’re saying here, in which case I apologize. But if this is what it sounds like, why should Albanians as such have some special representation in the Parliament?

What about the Gypsies, for example? What about the people who are three quoter Serb and one eighth Albanians and one eighth Gypsies (consult the guy in the comments a couple threads down for all the possible combinations) – should they have a special representative? Don’t you think this is kinda silly?

60

claudia 03.01.08 at 12:10 pm

“Maybe I misunderstand what you’re saying here, in which case I apologize. But if this is what it sounds like, why should Albanians as such have some special representation in the Parliament?”

You’re misunderstanding. The autonomy plans all had this in common: Kosovar Albanians would be able to vote only in Kosovo.

IOW, there would be no Albanian representatives in the Parliament in Belgrade. Albanians would have no say in running the country of which they were nominally part. We’re not talking about quotas here. The Serbs’ position was, no representation whatsoever for two million people — almost a quarter of the country’s population.

There were formal justifications for this, of course — brief googling will give you more than you want — but the plain fact is, a Parliament with 25% Albanians is a revolting notion to most Serbs, and was a complete political non-starter.

If you’re American, about the only way to grasp this is to think about the South in the days of Jim Crow, when White Supremacy was law and overt expressions of racism were not just respectable but admirable. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’ll help you get your mind around it. Serbs see Albanians as violent, dirty and dangerous; they don’t want to live near them, and they’re creeped out by the idea of Albanians in positions of power or respect. Albanians see Serbs as The Man. The current political scene in Belgrade is rather like that period 40-50 years ago when white Southern politicians were racing to “out-nigger” each other.

Doug M. (not Claudia)

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abb1 03.01.08 at 12:16 pm

I simply don’t understand what “Albanian representative” is. Would there be representatives from Kosovo or not?

Here’s Ames’ piece I mentioned before: http://exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=17187&IBLOCK_ID=35

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abb1 03.01.08 at 12:30 pm

Are you talking about this (wiki):

International negotiations began in 2006 to determine the final status of Kosovo, as envisaged under UN Security Council Resolution 1244. The UN-backed talks, lead by UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari, began in February 2006. Whilst progress was made on technical matters, both parties remained diametrically opposed on the question of status itself.[37]

In February 2007, Ahtisaari delivered a draft status settlement proposal to leaders in Belgrade and Pristina, the basis for a draft UN Security Council Resolution which proposes ‘supervised independence’ for the province. A draft resolution, backed by the United States, the United Kingdom and other European members of the Security Council, was presented and rewritten four times to try to accommodate Russian concerns that such a resolution would undermine the principle of state sovereignty.[38]

I’d like to learn more about it (maybe you have a good link), but I don’t understand how something produced by the UN-run-and-sponsored negotiations can indicate evil intents of the Serbian government. Seems to me there must be more to it.

63

claudia 03.01.08 at 1:58 pm

abb1, no offense, but you’re showing an almost painful level of ignorance here.

The Ahtisaari Plan was the UN’s attempt to paper over the differences between Albanians and Serbs. It proposed “supervised independence” with a lot of special protections for the Serb minority left in Kosovo. It was barely acceptable to the Albanians, completely unacceptable to the Serbs.

After the Plan was presented, face-to-face negotiations were held between Albanian representatives and the Serbian government over about six months. (This was last year.) By summer, it was clear that the Ahtisaari Plan was dead.

The Serb side put forward a counterproposal that would have given Kosovo a great deal of autonomy — but no independence, and no votes in Serbian elections. Kosovo would still be part of Serbia, and Belgrade would still be responsible for defense, foreign policy, and representation before the UN.

So, “Would there be representatives from Kosovo or not?”: for the Albanians, definitely no. It’s likely that some sort of special provision would have been made for the Serb minority in Kosovo to continue to vote in Serbian elections — it would be politically impossible in Belgrade to “abandon” the Serbs in Kosovo — but negotiations never reached that level of detail.

N.B., the Serbian plan also included a guaranteed minumum number of seats in the Kosovar Parliament for minority groups, i.e. Serbs.

As to the Ames piece from 2000: yah, that’s some great journalism there.

“The province is filthy, ugly, completely polluted by NATO ordinance, run by half-wits and thugs, soaked in blood and doomed to be the permanent asshole of Europe… it’s incredible to me that so much blood and so much bile could be spilled over such a pile of shit that passes for a province.”

Hm, I see that Ames also predicted with confidence that the KLA’s party (the PDK) would defeat Ibrahim Rugova’s LDK:

“Ideally, the PDK/KLA will steal the elections, the OSCE will whitewash the theft… One OSCE election official told me over the weekend that KLA attacks and intimidation on the Albanian population and on the LDK in particular have been so fierce that it looks like the Albanians will be successfully terrorized into voting their party, the PDK, into office. That would be a relief to most internationals, and it’s likely that the Albanian population wouldn’t rebel against such an outcome; they’d be too afraid to… As the record shows, the OSCE is nervously covering its ass, while preparing for the theft of the elections…”

In the elections held a few weeks later, Rugova’s LDK crushed the PDK by about 2 to 1.

Mind, Ames 2000 was a lot better than Ames today.

N.B. there has been some pretty good reporting from Kosovo in the last… wait, let me check… seven years. Again, google is your friend.

Doug M.

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snuh 03.01.08 at 2:39 pm

marko, this belief that india “seceded” from the british empire is ahistorical and really weird.

(1) the british empire was not really the sort of national unit which one could really talk about “seceding” from. like other components of the empire, the raj was formally a british dependency, not an integral part of britain. at independence, about half of the raj consisted of “princely states” (states which the british ruled by way of a treaty arrangement with an indian prince).

(2) secession is by definition unilateral (that is, without the consent of the relevant national unit), whereas india became independent with british approval.

also, re your #49, why can’t each of these cases just be judged on their merits? given the differences between each case, isn’t flexibility warranted, rather than something to be attacked?

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abb1 03.01.08 at 3:26 pm

Indeed, I don’t know any specifics of the negotiations that took place in the last few years. It’s just that for a situation like this one I’m very skeptical of any explanation that lays all the blame on one side of the conflict. And especially the side that is, in fact, the weakest. As the post says:

…the backing of the US and other Western powers meant that the Kosovo Albanians were under no pressure to negotiate a solution that fell short of independence…

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Marko Attila Hoare 03.01.08 at 3:44 pm

#64

“like other components of the empire, the raj was formally a british dependency, not an integral part of britain.”

Indeed, and Kosova was an Autonomous Province and a constituent member of the Yugoslav Federation, not an integral part of Serbia.

“secession is by definition unilateral (that is, without the consent of the relevant national unit), whereas india became independent with british approval.”

Well, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard ‘secession’ defined as something that has to be unilateral. According to the online Dictionary.com, ‘to secede’ means:

“to withdraw formally from an alliance, federation, or association, as from a political union, a religious organization, etc.”

Indeed, Dictionary.com, on the same page, gives the example of the break-up of the Soviet Union, when the republics broke away consensually:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/secede

According to Marrian-Webster, ‘to secede’ means

“to withdraw from an organization (as a religious communion or political party or federation)”

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/secede

Nothing there about unilateralism.

Anyway, at what point did Britain accept India’s independence ? Was the Indian nationalist movement ‘secessionist’ before that point ? I was under the impression that Gandhi and Congress had to wage a sustained political campaign involving civil disobedience to get the British out.

If we’re going to start restricting the definition of ‘secession’, then I think one could make a very powerful case that Kosova didn’t really ‘secede’ from Serbia either…

67

Marko Attila Hoare 03.01.08 at 3:52 pm

Nationalist verb-conjugation:

I declare independence
You secede

He/she practices separatism

We free ourselves from the empire
They break up a multinational state

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Doug M. 03.01.08 at 4:09 pm

“all the blame on one side of the conflict”

No, blame accrues to the Albanians as well. It’s a complicated story.

“…the backing of the US and other Western powers meant that the Kosovo Albanians were under no pressure to negotiate a solution that fell short of independence…”

There’s some truth to that. On the other hand, the Kosovars got that backing in large part by behaving themselves and signing on to the Ahtisaari Plan. That’s why countries like Sweden, Japan and Peru are recognizing Kosovo’s independence — they like that the Kosovars are following the UN’s original plan, even if the UN itself is paralyzed because of Russia’s veto.

International support for Serbia, OTOH, is largely from (1) countries that are traditionally sympathetic to Serbia (Russia, Greece), (2) countries that have fractious minority regions of their own (Spain, Cyprus, Indonesia, India, Bolivia, Sri Lanka…), and (3) countries who are buying the whole “imperialist plot” theme and opposing independence as a machination of the West(Venezuela, Cuba). Nobody is seriously saying, we support Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo because /that’s going to work out so well/.

I note in passing that, at least in the US, there’s an interesting meeting of the far left and far right — Noam Chomsky and Redstate agree that Kosovar independence is bad.

Anyway. Had the Serbs approached negotiations in good faith, they’d have a much stronger position today. They didn’t. They refused to participate in discussions for the Ahtisaari Plan, relying on the Russian veto to kill it. Then, when forced into FTF discussions with the Albanians, they made it very clear that all they were interested in was legal title over Kosovo and protecting the remaining Serbs there — they wanted nothing to do with their Albanian “citizens”. It’s really hard to see how that was ever going to end well.

Doug M.

69

abb1 03.01.08 at 4:10 pm

If you really have to go thru all this sophistic nonsense and claim that Kosovo independence is the equivalent of decolonization of India, then there’s probably even less there than meets the eye.

70

seth edenbaum 03.01.08 at 4:37 pm

By this logic slaves are in “an alliance, federation, or association” or “a political union” with their masters. At some point the hairsplitting becomes absurd. We’ve reached that point.

Kosovo has been through long periods as part of Serbia and its central to Serbian history. It’s old native ground. But it’s not now. The relation of Kosovo to Serbia is closer to the state of Virginia where the whites have moved out, Latinos have reached at 80% of the population and the Congress has refused to seat the states representatives. And of course Latino’s as indio blood were here first. Sorry, but that has little relation to the struggle for independence of the Philippines. The Modern British “Empire” of Scotland and Wales or the Hatfields and McCoys fighting over fishing holes, is not the conquest of West Africa.

71

Marko Attila Hoare 03.01.08 at 4:43 pm

#69

“If you really have to go thru all this sophistic nonsense and claim that Kosovo independence is the equivalent of decolonization of India, then there’s probably even less there than meets the eye.”

Or perhaps you just know very little about the history of Kosova ?

72

Marko Attila Hoare 03.01.08 at 4:57 pm

#70

“Kosovo has been through long periods as part of Serbia and its central to Serbian history.”

Kosova has formally been part of modern Serbia only since 1945. It has been under Serbian rule since 1912. India was under British rule for much longer.

If you’re going to go back to the Middle Ages to justify Serbia’s possession of Kosova, then you might as well call for southern Spain to be given back to the Arabs.

“The relation of Kosovo to Serbia is closer to the state of Virginia where the whites have moved out, Latinos have reached at 80% of the population and the Congress has refused to seat the states representatives.”

Completely untrue. Virginia is an integral part of the US. Kosova was not an integral part of the Republic of Serbia.

A better parallel would be to compare Kosova’s relationship to Serbia with Puerto Rico’s relationship to the US (though even that does not do justice to the extent to which Kosova had an independent status in the Yugoslav Federation separate from Serbia).

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abb1 03.01.08 at 5:27 pm

@71, both can be true, there is no contradiction.

74

Doug M. 03.01.08 at 5:30 pm

Marko, you’re oversimplifying. Kosovo was conquered by Serbia in 1912, and integrated into the Serb-dominated Kingdom of Yugoslavia thereafter. Then under Tito, Kosovo was /firmly/ part of Serbia for the first generation after WWII — they didn’t start to wiggle out until the late 1960s, and didn’t gain “independent status in the Yugoslav Federation” until after the new Constitution in 1974.

The legality of the various constitutional changes… well, the Serbs could fairly claim that 1973 was imposed on them by a government that wasn’t representative. Other hand, the Serb “recovery” of Kosovo in 1989-90 was done by means that were pretty blatantly illegal.

As to the morality of the various governments… well, the Yugoslav authorities treated the Albanians badly until 1974. Then the Albanians turned around and put a certain amount of pressure on the Kosovo Serbs. (How much and what kind are still disputed.) Then Slobo took over, sowing the wind with an explicit policy of “a Serb foot grinding Albanian faces, forever”. I tend to see Serb rule in the 1990s as being so catastrophically bad and morally bereft as to overshadow what came before and after, but there are plenty of people who disagree.

abb1, I haven’t said a thing about the decolonization of India. But if you want to talk about Kosovo, it’s not hard to learn more — there’s no shortage of material out there.

Doug M.

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seth edenbaum 03.01.08 at 6:52 pm

I’m not defending Serbia or the arguments of either side. This is a discussion of categories and definitions and how to represent the relation of Kosovo to Serbia. That’s all.
In discussing any subject we see it in relation to others; we name it as an “example” or variation of something we already know. At the same time, and this is the hard part, we must be willing to see it as a thing unto itself identical only with itself. Kosovo is not India or Puerto Rico but we are obliged out of practical necessity to place it in the same category as one or the other.
As others have said Marko Attila Hoare is oversimplifying.

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Marko Attila Hoare 03.01.08 at 7:28 pm

#74

“Marko, you’re oversimplifying. Kosovo was conquered by Serbia in 1912, and integrated into the Serb-dominated Kingdom of Yugoslavia thereafter. Then under Tito, Kosovo was /firmly/ part of Serbia for the first generation after WWII —they didn’t start to wiggle out until the late 1960s, and didn’t gain “independent status in the Yugoslav Federation” until after the new Constitution in 1974.”

No Doug, I’m not oversimplifying. Kosovo was a constituent element in the Yugoslav Federal system in its own right from the very start, before it joined Serbia. Kosovo formally joined the Republic of Serbia in 1945, formally through the decision of its own, Kosovar assembly, as an autonomous oblast. It did so only with the authorisation of the Yugoslav centre, and the Yugoslav constitution at all times thereafter guaranteed its distinct status.

If by “firmly part of Serbia for the first generation after WWII” you mean “firmly under Serbian control”, then yes, that’s true. But Kosovo’s independent status in the Yugoslav Federation under the 1974 Constitution was built upon its earlier status as an autonomous oblast and constituent element of the Yugoslav state.

77

abb1 03.01.08 at 8:03 pm

My gross oversimplification (without knowing much detail, as others noted) would be that they are a bunch of peasants (as opposed to albanians) who (naturally) got radicalized in the 1990s when the government got weakened dramatically and (naturally) primitive tribal reflexes (“lizard brain”) took control. It happened everywhere in Yugoslavia. Not a good thing.

78

aleksandar 03.01.08 at 8:08 pm

I’m sorry but I didn’t recognize that any of you have a knowledge of a History of Serbs and Albanians at Balkan. Albanians coll team selfs Ilirians and they sees that thy live at Kosovo 2000 years. Iliri is a tribe who lived at a mountains on west part of Kosovo, near to Albania border today, and on the Adriatic coast. When Romans came on Balkan thy absorbed them. After Romans Empire breakdown at 6th century comes Slovens tribes at Balkan and made first Serbs country between 610-641 a.c. under jurisdiction of Byzantine. Area who thy have under control was today Macedonia, Kosovo until mountains, Monte Negro and part of Herzegovina. In 9th century thy start be Christians and start organized schools and churches and central church was in today Pec. All that time Ilires tribe is in a mountain area and near to the coast, today Albania coast.
After Turks invasion in 1389 when was killed 50000 Serbs and 200000 Turks sultan Bayazit bring the worst tribe in Otoman Empire at a Serbs holy land Kosovo, Arnautes. They are a professionals executors in Otomans army. Thy forced Serbs population to left Kosovo. Twice Serbs escape from Kosovo because of a terror – 1690 and 1737. Ilirians cooperated with Turks so because of that today population at Kosovo think that there are Iliri. Serbs liberated part of Serbia in long process from 1804 until 1867. After throwing out of Turks from major part of Balkan in I Balkan War 1912 Kosovo is Serbian again. After 1945 and communists victory because of more than 1000 churches and monasteries after Tito confrontation with Stalin and Enver Hodza 1948 thy let more than 100000 Albanians until 1952 to cross a border and colonize Kosovo. After 1952 Albanian border was good protected from Albanian part with mine fields etc. People who come from Albania never have citizenship of Yugoslavia until 1974. They are refuges until 1974 with 5-10 children and after 1974 they didn’t have a clear status. Etc., etc. …

Never mind …

79

matt mckeon 03.01.08 at 9:25 pm

Don’t multi-ethnic empires privilege one ethnic group? The Ottoman Empire privileged Ottoman Turks, the British Empire privileged the British, Greater Serbia, the Serbs and so forth. So multi-ethnic empire generally means: one group on top, the others restricted, constrained, limited, oppressed to greater or lesser degree, deprived of power,and opportunity. The squished down group resents the overlords and wished they could run things themselves, instead of things being run for the benefit of the overlords.

States transcend nationalism, not by conquering other ethnic groups, but by expanding their definition of citizenship to include other, or all ethnic groups. I suggest Serbia has not transcended ethnic nationalism, so why would anyone want be part of a state that by definition will discriminate against you? Far from being a lizard brain reaction, seperating from Serbia is utterly rational.

The new state of Kosovo, like a lot of new states, can be an disaster of course, there is plenty of precedent around the world.

80

blog 03.01.08 at 9:36 pm

From what I have read Kosovo was 50% Serbian up until about WWII when the majority were driven out. So they claim of Serbia to Kosovo as a province seems fairly strong.

81

aleksandar 03.01.08 at 10:02 pm

#79# ” States transcend nationalism, not by conquering other ethnic groups, but by expanding their definition of citizenship to include other, or all ethnic groups “
Apache, Cherokee and some other Indian tribes are “expanded with their definition of citizenship” on a peaceful way?
Americans pleas don’t forget how this people live on their own territory.
Colombo, if you see what happening you are probably turning on a grave.

82

abb1 03.01.08 at 10:21 pm

Maybe Serbia has not transcended ethnic nationalism yet, at this particular moment. And it may very well be that the secession was inevitable, I’m just saying that it’s not a good thing. And, conceptually, it’s not a solution, because, inside any ethnic group there are always sub-groups, villages, clans that tend to split it into smaller and smaller units. You can’t create a state with border guards and embassies for every family, so clearly this logic is not sound. People just have to make an effort to get along, and make arrangements that will facilitate it, like a reasonable degree of autonomy.

83

claudia 03.01.08 at 10:22 pm

Marko — are you saying Kosovo’s constitutional status was the largely the same before and after 1974? That’s not my understanding, at all.

abb1 — no, that’s just… not even wrong. Sorry.

Doug M.

84

claudia 03.01.08 at 10:44 pm

#79 — Dammit, no. Kosovo has been majority Albanian since at least WWI, and probably back into the 19th century. There are Yugoslav censuses going back to 1921.

Doug M.

85

aleksandar 03.01.08 at 10:51 pm

#79-Dammit, no.America has been majority Indians since at least 17th century, and probably back into the bronze age.

86

blog 03.01.08 at 10:52 pm

We4ll, there seems to be people who disagree with that:

Before World War II Serbs constituted a slight majority of the Kosovo population (Avramov, supra). In addition to the murder and expulsion of Serbs, the relative ethnic population balance was further skewed by the entrance of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians from Albania proper during the war. Relying on Italian records from the time, Smilja Avramov estimates that 150,000 to 200,000 Albanians moved into Kosovo between 1941 and 1943.

87

Marko Attila Hoare 03.01.08 at 11:49 pm

#81

Doug,

“Marko—are you saying Kosovo’s constitutional status was the largely the same before and after 1974? That’s not my understanding, at all.”

No, of course not. Nothing I said should have given that impression.

#83

Doug’s right – Kosova was already majority-Albanian in 1912, when it first came under the rule of the modern Serbian state.

88

blog 03.01.08 at 11:58 pm

The Albanians were allies with the Nazis in WWII. Maybe shqiptar doen’t mean “n*gger”. Maybe it means Nazi to the Serbs.

The SS high Command planed to create a mountain division of 10.000 men. The Higher SS and Police Command in Albania, in conduction with the Albanian National Committee, listed 11.398 possible recruits for the Waffen SS mountain division. Most of these recruits were “kossovars”, shqiptar Ghegs from Kosovo Metohija in Serbia. The Shqiptar Tosks were found mainly in southern Albania. Most of the Shqiptar collaborators with the nazi forces were theNazi forces were the so-called Kossovars, ethnic Shqiptars from the Kosmet of Serbia. The Nazi German-sponsored Albanian gendarmes, special police and para-military units were made up by Kossovars. The Kossovars were under the direct control of the Albanian Interior Minister Xhafer Deva.

89

blog 03.02.08 at 12:00 am

“Doug’s right – Kosova was already majority-Albanian in 1912, when it first came under the rule of the modern Serbian state.’

Do you have any citations? The citation I posted claims that Kosovo was majority Serbian up until WWII.

90

Nick 03.02.08 at 12:50 am

#17 seems aggressively ignorant. The answer to your question can be found in too many places to count. It really is incumbent upon one to try to become educated, isn’t it?

#85: maybe it means Nazi, but then again, it’s easy enough to discover that it doesn’t. Inconveniently, I suppose.

More generally: It could be impossible to know what the ethnic composition of Kosovo was (but I doubt it); the fact that you have to gravitate to the compromised nationalist extreme among Serbs (historians or ethnographers) to find the argument that Kosovo was majority Serbian before WW2 (or thus WW1) suggests that it was majority Albanian. That’s not science, of course.

91

Nick 03.02.08 at 12:55 am

#70: When Virginia was first settled by Europeans, Kosovo had likely been abandoned by Serbs for over a hundred years. The analogy doesn’t work.

92

Dr. Minorka 03.02.08 at 12:58 am

“Fadil Hoxha (Serbo-Croat: Fadil Hodža) (Đakovica, March 15, 1916 – April 23, 2001 in Priština) was a Yugoslav (Kosovo Albanian) politician.
He returned to Kosovo in 1941, where he worked as a teacher. In the same year he abandoned his post to become one of the founders of the communist partisan movement in Kosovo. Within a short time Hoxha rose in partisan ranks to become commander, leading battalions which had in their ranks primarily Kosovo Albanians and a number of Serbs who fought against Fascism and Nazism and the Italian and later German occupation of Kosovo.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fadil_Hoxha
He was defeated after 1980 by the mindless nationalist hatred of both sides.

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blog 03.02.08 at 12:59 am

“More generally: It could be impossible to know what the ethnic composition of Kosovo was (but I doubt it); the fact that you have to gravitate to the compromised nationalist extreme among Serbs (historians or ethnographers) to find the argument that Kosovo was majority Serbian before WW2 (or thus WW1) suggests that it was majority Albanian. That’s not science, of course.”

Well where are your citations and proofs? You think simple assertions are going to convince anyone? What are you a fricking seer or something? Where is your proof that those citations are from extreme nationalists?

94

blog 03.02.08 at 1:01 am

Anybody can go on the internet and see that only there is ample evidence that the Albanians supported the Nazis and commited genocide and ethnic cleansing agianst the Jews and Serbians. This is backed up by many Jewish websites as well.

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Dr. Minorka 03.02.08 at 1:02 am

“#70: When Virginia was first settled by Europeans, Kosovo had likely been abandoned by Serbs for over a hundred years.”
Abandoned?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosovo#Ottoman_Kosovo_.281455_to_1912.29

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Nick 03.02.08 at 1:28 am

#90: yes, I do. I’m not on the fringe here (and I don’t need to be a seer), those who say Kosovo was settled by Serbs till 1945 are. They can prove their point. Mine is not contentious.

#92: and? Wikipedia is a battle zone between the sides on these issues, and proves nothing.

97

Dr. Minorka 03.02.08 at 1:33 am

#93 Of course!:) Just ask Mr. blog.

98

blog 03.02.08 at 1:37 am

“90: yes, I do. I’m not on the fringe here (and I don’t need to be a seer), those who say Kosovo was settled by Serbs till 1945 are. They can prove their point. Mine is not contentious”

If you are not concerned with facts, then do explain what your agenda is. Are you some sort of paid propagandist?

99

blog 03.02.08 at 1:47 am

90: yes, I do. I’m not on the fringe here (and I don’t need to be a seer),

I guess we have to assume that #93 is omniscient then.

100

blog 03.02.08 at 1:58 am

I propose a new logical fallacy. It’s called Nick’s fallacy. Here’s how it works. I assert that I am not on the fringe. Therefore I am right no proof needed. That’s a neat trick isn’t it?

101

seth edenbaum 03.02.08 at 2:03 am

#88 “When Virginia was first settled by Europeans, Kosovo had likely been abandoned by Serbs for over a hundred years. The analogy doesn’t work.”

The relation of Kosovo to Serbia is closer to Virginia and the US than to India and the Raj. That was my point. It holds.

#72 “If you’re going to go back to the Middle Ages to justify Serbia’s possession of Kosova, then you might as well call for southern Spain to be given back to the Arabs.”

Well there goes any argument for Israel.
I should have said this before but I didn’t think fast enough,

102

Nick 03.02.08 at 2:16 am

I am concerned with facts. You have none for your position that Kosovo was majority Serbian in 1945. I just propose not to waste my time proving the obvious. I’m not playing a debate game with you. What to you is a logical fallacy is to me an acceptance of the obvious. If you’ve got something reasonable that demonstrates that Kosovo was majority Serbian in 1945, do tell. (And I don’t think I like you either!)

103

blog 03.02.08 at 2:19 am

I have the citation fronm Avromov above. What do you have? Oh yeah, you have your super duper, supernatural all-seeing mental powers that let you divinely intuit facts.

104

Nick 03.02.08 at 2:21 am

Historical analogies are not really necessary, even to order our thoughts in this case. There’s nothing terribly complicated about Kosovo’s history vis-a-vis Serbia.

105

Nick 03.02.08 at 2:24 am

What exactly is an “Avromov”? Or is it Avramov? That’s not a cite. Give me the cite, I’ll see what I think of it. As a scholar, not a seer. Are you going to be ok?

106

Nick 03.02.08 at 2:26 am

Are you talking about Smilja Avramov? That helps. Wow.

107

blog 03.02.08 at 2:32 am

OK, what proof do you have and what are your objections to Avramov? A sneer is a proof?

108

blog 03.02.08 at 2:34 am

109

blog 03.02.08 at 2:36 am

And another link:

http://www.didyouknow.cd/story/kosovo.htm

If nick offers nothing in reply he is a crackpot and a crank.

110

blog 03.02.08 at 2:49 am

Nick is offering all kinds of novel argumentations here. The argumetation by sneer, the argumentation by omniscience, the argumentation by shrug. And he claims to be a scholar!

111

blog 03.02.08 at 3:12 am

Here is a link that says that the serbs comprised 61% of the population in 1929:

http://www.truthinmedia.org/truthinmedia/Bulletins/tim98-6-5.html

112

blog 03.02.08 at 3:17 am

By 1961 the Serbs still comprised one third of the Kosovo population:

During these decades of postwar political changes, the population of Kosovo was also changing in important ways. In 1961 Serbs still made up about one-third of the province, but by 1971 they comprised only one-fourth. By 1989 Serbs made up about 9% of Kosovo’s population. Serbs tended to blame this population shift on Albanian efforts, abetted by Communist party policy, to drive them out. Most outside observers assert that while relations between the groups were often less than civil, most Serbs left Kosovo, which was the poorest part of the former Yugoslavia, in search of better jobs and educational opportunities. The Albanian community there also had a birth rate much higher than the Serbs’.

113

blog 03.02.08 at 3:20 am

nick the sneerer will contest the last so here is the lnk;

http://www.cotf.edu/earthinfo/balkans/kosovo/KVtopic4.html

114

Nick 03.02.08 at 3:31 am

Can’t argue with the link in 109, the quote from which doesn’t support your argument. The other links are from encyclopedia style websites; one is overt Serbian propaganda. I don’t see numbers in them in any case. Smilja Avramov acted as an arm of Serbian state propaganda in the 1980s/1990s. Her ties with the Milosevic regime were degrading (for her) and call into doubt all of her work, some of which sadly suffers that general fate in spite of its value. Stating the obvious, though, seems to be necessary: statistics cited by or generated by anything that smacks of an official Serbian govt. source, or the Serbian orthodox church, or most of Serbian intellectual and cultural elite must be doubted on its face. You should start now.

115

Nick 03.02.08 at 3:32 am

And pour yourself a drink. You need one.

116

blog 03.02.08 at 3:36 am

So what, for goodness sake, supports your argument? One third to 9 in 28 years, yet there is no possibilty it went from 50 to one third in the years from before the war to 1961, when, as even you cannot dispute the Serbians were ethnically cleansed and suffered genocide from the Albanians alied with the Nazis. And still you offer nothing in return. You are a crackpot.

117

Nick 03.02.08 at 3:50 am

Yugoslav census date from 1921 shows the Muslim (75%) population in the majority; by language, two-thirds were Albanian. In the late 1930s, a Yugoslav survey showed similar numbers. The Albanian fascists of yours could, I suppose, have created such wonderful living conditions in Kosovo that Serbs chose to move there, thus bumping their numbers up to 50 percent. Official data show the percentage of Albanians remaining relatively constant in the high 60’s through 1961. Mind you, this was a period of tight Serbian control of the region. Thereafter, the Albanian numbers rose — precipitously, as you note. I am not a crackpot. You, though, are apparently a sucker for Serbian propaganda.

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blog 03.02.08 at 3:52 am

Ok, then post the link to this so called census data. Or is this something only you are privy to?

119

Nick 03.02.08 at 3:53 am

And I’m doing this off the top of my pointy little head.

120

Nick 03.02.08 at 3:54 am

115: No. I’m tired. Of you and of this.

121

blog 03.02.08 at 4:00 am

So you are lying then?

122

Nick 03.02.08 at 4:02 am

Educate yourself! Of course I’m not lying. Why would I lie? Just accept what I offer you, which is not revelation but a simple series of facts. Move on.

123

blog 03.02.08 at 4:08 am

No, you are a liar. The wikipedia says that 100,000 to 200,000 Serbians were ethnically cleanesed from Kosovo during WWII. It then goes on to say there were only 93,000 Serbians in the whole province in 1929!

124

blog 03.02.08 at 4:10 am

Yet in 1961 all of a sudden there is again a thirty percent Serbian population in Kosovo!

125

Nick 03.02.08 at 4:36 am

Well, what do you know!

126

blog 03.02.08 at 4:37 am

Well, what do you know, nick is a liar. Or is tyhere some other census?

127

Nick 03.02.08 at 4:46 am

OK, I’ll lead you by the nose. The numbers for the wartime losses — typically very hard to pin down, especially in southeastern Europe — come from a recent secondary school textbook that has been criticized inside Serbia and out for its nationalism and its questionable factual foundation. One of its authors I know well, another not so well. Just go with the census figures, and then you don’t have to account for the obvious wartime losses exaggeration. Why is this so difficult?

128

qb 03.02.08 at 4:48 am

maybe you guys should get a chat program or something.

129

blog 03.02.08 at 4:48 am

Why is it so difficult to show which is the lie in Wikipedia. Tthe losses part or the census part?

130

blog 03.02.08 at 4:50 am

As for your typical sneering nonsense about the losses it is all over the internet. It is diffuicult to pin down, yet you have no trouble pontificating about it.

131

Nick 03.02.08 at 4:51 am

The losses — how slow are you? Christ. And why does it always have to be a lie? qb: scroll bar. I’m on a mission from this guy’s kindergarten teacher.

132

Nick 03.02.08 at 4:53 am

“difficult to pin down” was just another way of saying we should take care when considering wartime numbers, who offers them, and why they might be out of whack with other numbers. As were the Wikipedia numbers. The fact that “it is all over the internet” should really give you pause, you know. Look at yourself. You’re falling for all the simpleton tricks.

133

blog 03.02.08 at 4:54 am

So what were the loses then, o wise omniscient, superhero with all your superpowers of marvelous intuition.

134

blog 03.02.08 at 4:54 am

Which is the lie, crackpot. The census or the loses?

135

Nick 03.02.08 at 4:55 am

How do I know, young grasshopper. But we can be sure they were lower than the census figure for 1939, right? Right!

And now you can sleep tonight.

136

Nick 03.02.08 at 4:57 am

132 was an answer to 130. 128 was an answer to 131. You also need to learn to read, oh simpleton.

137

blog 03.02.08 at 4:57 am

You don’t know you ignoramus crackpot? Yet you are a sniveling arrogant prophet.

138

Nick 03.02.08 at 4:58 am

You’re funny.

139

blog 03.02.08 at 4:59 am

A new wondrous argumentation. The argumentation from ignorance. What a wonderful philosopher we have in Nick.

140

Nick 03.02.08 at 5:02 am

I think you have lost sight of the original issue. Don’t let my problematic personality get in the way of you accepting the obvious, which is that Serbs were not the majority in Kosovo before World War II. Probably not after, oh, the mid-sixteenth century, Mr. Crnojevic notwithstanding.

141

blog 03.02.08 at 5:04 am

Yeah, we just have to accept the words of a liar and fraud, who won’t back his arguments with any evidence.

142

blog 03.02.08 at 5:05 am

“Probably not after, oh, the mid-sixteenth century, Mr. Crnojevic notwithstanding.”

So now we have the argumentation from probability. Not evidence, or facts. Nick is a fount of novel idiocies.

143

blog 03.02.08 at 5:13 am

BTW, nick lost sight of the original thread because his campaign to demonize the Serbs got derailed.

144

Marko Attila Hoare 03.02.08 at 6:29 am

#98

“The relation of Kosovo to Serbia is closer to Virginia and the US than to India and the Raj. That was my point. It holds.”

No, it doesn’t:

1) The population of Virginia is predominantly American. The population of Kosova is not predominantly Serbian. Kosova is ethnically distinct from Serbia; Virginia is not ethnically distinct from the US.

2) Kosova was conquered forcibly by Serbia in 1912, against the wishes of the ethnic-Albanian majority. Virginia entered the US voluntarily.

3) Virginia is an integral part of the US. Kosova was not an integral part of Serbia.

The Virginia-Kosova parallel would only work if Native Americans still constituted a majority in Virginia today, and had continuously sought self-rule since they were conquered by the US.

Alternatively, if Serbia had succeeded in wiping out the Kosova Albanians the way the white Virginians had wiped out their Native Americans, then the two cases would perhaps be analogous.

145

blog 03.02.08 at 6:47 am

2) Kosova was conquered forcibly by Serbia in 1912, against the wishes of the ethnic-Albanian majority. Virginia entered the US voluntarily.

Another know-it-all pedant with no evidnece to back him up. I posted links to 69% in 29, 50% before WWII, and 30% in 61 and all these simpering, sniveling quacks can come up with is a fraudulent link to Wikipedia.

146

Nick 03.02.08 at 6:49 am

Now you’ve done it. Marko Hoare is way smarter than I am, and that’s a fact. And your numbers do not bear on his argument. And you did not post a link saying Kosovo was 69% Serb in 1929.

147

blog 03.02.08 at 6:53 am

Yes, I did you crackpot. It is upthread. And no evidence bears on what argument precisely?

148

claudia 03.02.08 at 7:04 am

Wow, that got silly.

– “Blog”: you can just google “1921 Yugoslav census”. There are multiple links to it online.

The 1921 Yugoslav census listed 439,010 inhabitants in the province, of which 75% were Muslim (329,502) and 66% spoke Albanian as a native language (288,907). The two figures are different because not all Muslims were Albanian (some were Bosniaks and Turks) and not all Albanians were Muslim (a few were Catholic), but still: it’s pretty clear who was in the majority.

The 1931 census painted a similar picture, although the number of Albanian native speakers had dropped to about 62% because of the Yugoslav government’s efforts to move Serb settlers in and encourage Albanians to emigrate (to Turkey, oddly enough, not Albania).

As for Albanians moving in after WWII, there’s very little evidence for this. Albanians in the Balkans have been one of the more settled populations, not prone to large-scale migrations unless driven out. Why “hundreds of thousands” would cross the rather high mountains between Albania and Kosovo in a few years after WWII has never been explained.

But I’m getting an “immune to facts” vibe from you, “blog”, so this will probably be my last contribution here.

Doug M.

149

blog 03.02.08 at 7:09 am

Yeah it’s your last because you are a liar. I searched those terms and came up with the wikipedia which does not link to any primary documents.

150

blog 03.02.08 at 7:14 am

Moreover over 1.2 million Serbians were killed during WWII. Are you saying that none of these came from Kososvo? Since that is where the Albanian Nazis were headquartered, a good percentage must have come from Kosovo.

151

magistra 03.02.08 at 7:58 am

No-one may have put the primary documents of the Yugoslav 1921 census online, but there are sites which include these figures, such as Project Rastko. I am not an expert on the field, but this article was a) written by an academic studying demographics and b) appearing on a site which is promoting Serb culture within a multi-ethnic framework (and thus is less likely to be applying nationalist bias of any kind).

152

Chris Bertram 03.02.08 at 8:39 am

OK, I’m going to close the thread. “Blog”, please don’t bother coming back to comment here, ever.

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