Our readers write: whither Kosova?
Our March issue featured the story "Phantom Republics: Kosovo's Independence Reverberates Across Eurasia," by Rene Wadlow, a reprint from Toward Freedom. Wrote Wadlow: "The self-proclamation of independence by Kosovo may be the last act in the division of former Yugoslavia, or it may be one step in a new chain of territorial adjustments. There are calls in Republika Srpska, the Serb unit of the Bosnia-Herzegovina federation, for its integration into Serbia... There is also the impact of the example of Kosovo on the other phantom republics born of the break up of the Soviet Union: Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Transnistria in Moldova—and, if not completely crushed, Chechenya in Russia." Our March Exit Poll was: "Do you support independence for Kosova? If your answer is 'no,' please tell us how you feel about Palestine, East Timor, Western Sahara, Northern Ireland, the Basque Country and Puerto Rico. If your answer is 'yes,' please tell us how you feel about Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria." We received the following responses:
From Brian Sherman, in Atlanta:
Kosovo: I have to read more: so far I've read progressives who support and progressives who don't
East Timor: I have to find out why isn't E Timor considered same country as W Timor, but certainly I feel they should be independent of Indonesia
Western Sahara: yes
Northern Ireland: yes or union with Ireland if they choose
Basque country: yes, but please use their self-identified name which is something like Euskadi
Puerto Rico: yes
South Ossetia: probably yes, but I would like to know more
Transnistria: I don't know where this is -- another place in the Caucasus?
There are many other countries whose nation-statehood (independence) I support. There would probably be a few hundred if I knew enough about all the situations in the world.
Here are some whose independence I support in addition to those on your list
Kurdistan, East Turkestan (aka Uighurstan), Catalunya, Pashtunistan, Kashmir, Buratyia, western Papua (the half of the island still occupied by Indonesia), Tibet, Biafra.
and other parts of Siberia, and also of the several countries occupied by Indonesia, and by India.
I also support independence for various indigenous groups trying to recover lands from an occupier.
I was in Barcelona on June 18, 2006 when they voted for devolution. I met some activists who view Catalunya as occupied territory since the 1710s and I support Catalunyan independence. They gave me a poster with the flags of twenty-two countries which they see as comrades in the struggle to end occupations and for independence. These included Scotland, Cymru (or something like it, the self-designation for what we know as "Wales"), Sardinia and Corsica.
The local newspaper was running a series on parallel situations, presumably places where there are independence movements. These included, among others, Lombardy, a canton in Switzerland--I think it may have been Lucerne--and Bavaria.
World War 4 Report replies: Thanks for taking the time to respond. We are frustrated that "progressives" who have strong fully-formed opinions about Palestine, East Timor and the rest, equivocate about Kosova, saying things like they have to "read more." Well, by all means, we encourage you to read. But we submit that "progressives" who oppose Kosova's independence (like Ed Herman and the International Action Center) really aren't ("progressive," that is). "Progressives" do not believe there can be amicable disagreement on whether the Palestinians are entitled to self-determination, and we'd love to know why the same does not hold for the Kosovars. Because the US exploited their oppression for its own imperial aims, they aren't entitled to self-determination? That's pretty absurd.
Transnistria is the Russian enclave in Moldova which has been effectively independent since the fall of the USSR, and ultimately seeks union with Russia (without actually bordering it).
East Timor was a Portuguese colony while West Timor was controlled by the Dutch and then (after 1949) Indonesia. So the East Timorese are Catholic and speak Portuguese as well as the indigenous tongue Tetun. When Portugal finally pulled out in 1975, East Timor was illegally annexed by Indonesia.
Yes, Euskadi and Cymru. Very good.
From Marko Attila Hoare in London:
I support Kosova's independence.
I have discussed whether or not Kosova is equivalent to Abkhazia, South Ossetia or Transnistria extensively:
World War 4 Report replies: Well, gee thanks, Dr. Hoare. I don't suppose you would deign to tell us in 100 words or so why you think Kosova is or (as we suspect) is not equivalent to Abkhazia, South Ossetia or Transnistria?
From JG, New York City:
Do you support independence for Kosova?
Yes. I support independence for everybody except the Jim Crow south. Hadn't heard of the other conflicts but the internet knows all so: Transnistria is effectively autonomous within Moldovia. Abkhazia seems to have rejoined Russia, South Ossetia also wants out of Georgia. Set them all free and give them NATO membership. That'd piss Putin off.
Curious about the various independence movements in China - besides Tibet which is still basically Tibet.
World War 4 Report replies: Well, the ethno-chauvinism that reigns in the Balkans and Caucasus is arguably not all that different from the Jim Crow south. There is certainly effective segregation in Kosova—arguably, the only thing the Albanians and Serbs agree on is that they don't want to live together.
Abkhazia and South Ossetia are enclaves that broke away from Georgia with Russian encouragement—Moscow seeking to reduce a former part of its empire which is now seen as too close to the West. It is precisely because Georgia has established preliminary contacts with NATO that Russia is encouraging the Abkhaz to break away. One bit of irony is that the Abkhaz are Muslim. So Russia is encouraging Muslim separatists in Georgia even while fighting Muslim separatists in Chechnya. Just as the US is supporting Muslim separatists in Kosova while opposing them in Abkhazia...
The most significant separatist movement in the People's Republic of China other than Tibet is that of the Uighurs in Xinkiang (which they call Uighurstan or East Turkestan). The Great Powers seem united in their opposition to Uighur independence, which is, at least, a refreshing consistency...