Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Damn Those Wikileaks

This cable indicates that I am wrong.  One of the central points of my work (and previous blog posts) has been that countries are not inhibited by their own vulnerabilities to ethnic conflict from supporting it elsewhere.  I was outraged that the media had not read my first book when they tried to explain the recognition politics around Kosovo's independence.  Spain, notably, did not recognize Kosovo's independence, and the cable leaked suggests that it was indeed its concern about the precedent set might encourage Spain's own secessionists.
As both the GOS and the PP predicted privately to
post, Kosovo's independence has prompted numerous provocative
statements by nationalist parties in the Basque Country and

PP has maintained staunch unity in
its position against Kosovo's independence. PP founder and
elder statesman Manuel Fraga said February 19 that Spain must
not support Kosovo because one could "draw the same
conclusions about Spain in (the Basque town of) Galdakano or
in a Catalan town. Spain cannot accept that any group
whatsoever can declare itself independent with all the
complications this has implied" in the Balkans.
Of course, as I have maintained, people will read into an event whatever they want.  Separatists in Spain would, of course, be encouraged by Kosovo independence.  But the key point is that these groups existed before the recognition and the recognition would not really change things in Spain.

Ah, but wait: the problem was not so much separatists in Spain but the timing:
Sancho told the DCM that it was politically
impossible for the GOS to support Kosovo's unilateral
declaration of independence in the middle of a hotly
contested campaign, and to have expected otherwise was not
Indeed, the funny thing about this cable is that it mentions Spanish support of UN resolutions, arguing that UNSR 1244 does not endorse a unilateral declaration of independence for Kosovo, and Spanish folks then mention withdrawal from Iraq as part of being in accord with the UN.  More importantly, the Spanish participation in KFOR suggests some contradictions, as the US diplomat notes:
the GOS is caught in a logical trap -
how to reconcile their continuing military and civilian
presence in Kosovo with their refusal to recognize Kosovo's
right to independence.
So, perhaps Spain refrained from recognition because of its vulnerability.  Does this falsify my argument?  Maybe, but the vulnerability argument faces some serious challenges from reality as well: plenty of countries vulnerable to secession supported Kosovo's independence, and not just the US (with Alaskan separatism), but the UK, France, Italy, Albania, Canada, Croatia, Belgium, Latvia, Afghanistan, Macedonia, and Somalia (?).

Of course, I am probably just suffering from confirmation bias.

No comments: