Comparative Politics Essay, Research Paper
Over the past decades there has been a major paradigm shift between the idealist and realist model of self-determination. Earlier on in this century, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson promoted national self-determination as a basic political principle.
Yet more recently, President Bill Clinton warned of the ills of unrestrained nationalism. Stating, Militant nationalism is on the rise….transforming the healthy pride of nations, tribes, religious, and ethnic groups into cancerous prejudice, eating away at states and
leaving their people addicted to the political pain-killers of violence and demagoguery. This statement most clearly portrays the United States recent impetus upon NATO to use persuasive military force in order to prevent the Yugoslavian government from cracking
down on ethnic Albania separatists in the renegade region of Kosovo.
In order to better understand the current crisis in Kosovo and NATO s threat to use military force against the Serbs, one must foremost delve into the organization of European powers, the United State s strategy urging NATO to act, and the long standing history between ethnic minorities in Kosovo, from a realist point of view.
At the background of this event, is the xenophobic feeling created by extreme Serbian nationalism towards the Albania separatists. With over five centuries of Ottoman Turk domination in the Balkan states, the Serbian peoples have always felt a sense of
nationalist unity against other ethnic groups. Which they hoped would one day overcome oppression and result in the formation of a unified Serbian government. But with the unification of Yugoslavia also came the negative attributes associated with exacerbated
nationalism. This being most clearly portrayed in the opening of past injuries inflected upon the Serbs by another ethnic group, the ethnic Albanians. Who can be most closely associated with the Muslim Ottoman Turk Empire, to whom they once belonged. By declaring themselves a separatists group in the Republic of Serbia, the Serbian
government had reason to put down their uprising, but its situation went too far as political tensions between the two provoked into uncontrolled violence. The Serbian s fervent nationalism coupled with the Albanian separatists movement towards an independently governed Kosovo, aligned with the Albanian government, made for a
reactionary environment that ultimately led to conflict in 1996 and continuing into much
The realist stance on the Kosovo situation is that conflict of different peoples within an existing state is inevitable because, nationalism is a scavenger that feeds upon the pre-existing sense of natiohood in and effort to destroy heterogeneity by squeezing diverse ethnic groups into the nation, by trying to surpress the cutlture of minority groups, or by driving the them out of the country. The Serbian government justifies their actions on the basis of this stance, claiming that injuries inflicted by another group are
remembered mythically as though the past were the present. A view which NATO sees as a threat to the other ethnic minorties of the Balkans, but since the Balkan states with the exception of Greece are not members of NATO, one questions the authority that NATO has in trying to protect the collective security of Europe, when its mission clearly states the military authorities of the sending State shall have the right to exercise within the receiving State all criminal and disciplinary jurisdiction conferred on them by the law of the sending State over all persons subject to the military law of that State.
The problem that arises from this situation is directly associated within NATO s nature of collective security, as well as that of the European Union. Seeing that the Balkan states have always proved to be an unstable political, economic, and social
enviornment throughout the course of the 20th century, the Kosovo agreement in October of 1998 was accurately described by Richard Holbrooke as an unprecented event, which lead some to believe whether the interaction of a non-NATO state with that of a
member state(the United States), was severly out of step with the rest of the world. And could also be seen as an attempt by the United States, through its own means, to establish a precedent for a new NATO that would deal with a variety of existing and future problems inside and outside Europe. That would mean an agreement would have to be reached with the other NATO member states to deal with conflicts both outside and within NATO member states.
This redefinig of NATO and its mission can be seen in the realist sense, as an attempt to make NATO an instrument of American world engagement as peacekeeper, peacemaker, and policeman. While at the same time limiting the status of other minor states and replacing that minority status with that of a greater American ideology that has its benefits and defecits throughout Europe. This power movement defies the basic principle behind the notion of realist collective security: that there is a constant movement towards the center to balance power and hence maintain security. By reducing the power status of minority states, the United States is ignoring the fundamentally shared interests of other states and how those states percieve a potential threat. As was the case when Russia and China, members of the U.N. Security council, said they would veto a resolution authorizing a NATO attack on Serbia.
On the international perspective, concern over the supression of Albanian seperatists in Kosovo is of great concern to the central European power as well as the Eastern European states who may pose the same threat in the future; given their current melange of ethnic identities. As well as questioning the authority of more distant yet
powerful members of NATO should have the same authority in matters that are closer to other member states. The result of the United State s actions brings certain questions to the forefront of international politics. Should the European allies who want a serparate European defense and security identity go along with their project? If so, would this European power bloc that offers the world an alternative economic and foreign policy to America s undermine NATO s authority and split Europe in half? The future of foreign intervention into a state s domestic affairs cannot be predicited.
What must be noted though is America s continued ignorance in attempting to operate a collective security organization; whose ultimate last word is based on American decision, defies the balance
of international powers and the structure of that very organization. If this were to continue into the future, the United State s attempt to globalize international relations, would in the realist sense, back fire, and America would be the victim of its own policies.