Only two nation building models are currently in play. The first, invented by the United States is where disparate geographical regions with divergent interests peacefully band together to advance the common good. The same result can be also achieved by brute force. The second is where equally disparate regions once joined in a common nation state secede and separate;again either peacefully or by force of arms and civil war.
In either case nation building is constrained by physical reality and factors that are seldom in dispute. The resulting nation states must address the ethnic and religious makeup of their populations and the geographic and economic realities of their location in order to exist and remain viable.
Garibaldi, Mazzini and Cavour fought for the unification of Italy irredentagrafting mismatched areas such as Sicily and Sardiniaonto an otherwise homogeneous body politic, nation building by force of arms. Prince von Metternich’s dream of German unification came into being with the Princes of the various German states proclaimingWilhelm of Prussia the Emperor of the German Empire in Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors at the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, nation building by peaceful means. The European Union initially established in 1993 is an ongoing and expanding experiment.
In contrast twelve independent republics came into being on December 26, 1991 with a simple stroke of a pen, a signed declaration, without a shot being fired, dissolving the old USSR,followed closely by two more, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the result of Czechoslovakia’s peaceful “Velvet Divorce” in 1993. Not so for the newly independent republics of ex-Yugoslavia:Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia et al. They were created by a bloody ethnic civil war and a peace put in place by brute force.
Grafted onto these two conflicting theories is international law that mandates territorial integrity: governments must abstain from promoting secession and border changes in other nation state. To do so is an act of aggression, of war, but as always, it matters whose particular ox is being gored by whom that justifies a violation of this supposedly inviolable principle of international law.
During the so called Croatia’s War for Independence [1992-1995] the United States with the tacit consent of NATO financed and supported Operation Storm [“Oluja”]. Using a surrogate, the CIA and Pentagon controlled and funded Professional Resources Incorporated, the United States provided military advisors, training, planning, intelligence including satellite capabilities and ultimately arms to successfully support secession. That intervention was later deemed a “joint criminal enterprise” and prosecuted as such by theInternational CriminalTribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Kosovo was an integral part of Serbia until Tito started gerrymandering Yugoslavia’s internal borders in 1945 making it an autonomous region of the Republic of Serbia. By 1998 ethnic and economic demographics changed Kosovo from a Serbdominated region to one predominantly Albanian, but still an integral part of the Serbia with significant economic, religious and cultural ties and resources. This shift in demographics brought ethnic conflict and violence to Kosovo.
Without United Nations Security Council authorization NATO, with the United States taking the lead, waged war bombing what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia [Serbia & Montenegro] between March and June, 1999 invoking the right to “ensure humanitarian relief for the people of Kosovo” providing a fig leaf exemption to the law on territorial integrity. The end result was the nascent Kosovo Republic which still awaits full international recognition. Kosovo is a prime example of nation building by secession using foreign force of arms in contravention to the rule of territorial integrity, a state of affairs aided and abetted by the United States.
Humanitarian intervention is now the accepted norm for violations of territorial integrity relying on the broad language of Article 73 [b] of the United Nations Charter “…to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspiration of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstance of each territory and its peoples and their varying stages of advancement”.
Which brings us to the present crisis in the Ukraine and Russia’s military intervention in the Crimean Peninsula, a crisis which is continuing.
Ukraine, a former republic of the USSR now independent, hasethnic and economic dichotomies.Western Ukraine is economically aligned with Europe and populated by Ukrainians, a distinct East Slavic ethnic group. Eastern Ukraine is populated by Russian speaking Slavs who are economically dependent on neighboring Russia. In the southeast is the Crimean Peninsula which, like the Kosovo Republic, is home to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea which is distinct and apart from the rest of the Ukraine. It is home to the Russian warm water naval fleet at Sevastopol and has other important military installations. It has been traditionally controlled, notwithstanding independence, by the Russian military.
For months Ukraine has been torn by civil strife pitting the Western half that supports a trade agreement with the European Union against the East that opposes it. President Victor Yanukovych refused to sign the agreement precipitating a revolution or a coup d’état which toppled the government. Yanukovich sought Russia’s help to restore order and his presidency. Vladimir Putin was happy to oblige and send Russian troops to the Crimea.
Secretary of State John Kerry has long defended the right of Americans to be stupid and has proven it once again by saying, with a straight face and appropriate gravitas,“You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests” adding that “[t]his is an act of aggression that is completed trumped up in terms of its pretext” [emphasis supplied],this coming from the mouth of a former United States senator who had voted for war in Iraq, a war presupposed on non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
DeyanRankoBrashich, an attorney and Op Ed columnist writes from New York and is a contributing writer. A collection of essays “Letters from America” was published in June, 2013, while a collection of Op Ed columns “Contrary Views” will be published in May, 2014. His contact and blog “Contrary Views” is at www.deyanbrashich.com.