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There is this astounding comment in this Slate article [by Eric Posner] about the United States in Kosovo:

By contrast, the United States’ illegal military intervention in Serbia, a Russian client state, enabled Kosovo to break away and form a state with the support of the United States and more than 100 other countries.

Wow is all I can say!  And this article, which argues that Russia won the battle of Crimea but will eventually lose the war in that the nation will be further isolated in the world community, says more:

As for the principles of international law, Putin put it well last week:

We are often told our actions are illegitimate, but when I ask, “Do you think everything you do is legitimate?” they say “yes”. Then, I have to recall the actions of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, where they either acted without any UN sanctions or completely distorted the content of such resolutions, as was the case with Libya.

Putin is wrong about Afghanistan (a case of self-defense later ratified by the Security Council), but he is right about Iraq and Libya, and he could have added Grenada, Panama, and Kosovo as well—all wars that the United States started in violation of international law.* Other countries did not try to sanction the United States for these violations because those sanctions would have hurt them more than us. And now these countries are in the same position with respect to Russia. (Emphasis added)

This is astounding.  Outside of antiwar.con and Lew Rockwell, it is hard to find someone who will say Kosovo was bad policy and potentially in violation of international law.  I voted once (and went to meet) Ambassador Alan Keyes in 2000 primarily because he did have the courage to say Kosovo was bad policy.  And I disagree about Grenada – we were fighting international communism at that time and intervention was necessary.

I also contend that sanctions against individual persons by Congress or the President are potentially a unconstitutional bill of attainder and thus cannot be done unless a court finds a legal violation.  I wish one of the Russians sanctioned would go to court here in the United States and let’s find out.  Can the President stigmatize a person and seize his property on his word that he did something wrong?  The President and Congress have tremendous foreign policy powers.  But punish a person for alleged wrongdoing without a court judgment and a defense available?  I contend not.  It’s a bill of attainder.

And it was bad policy.  It was a deliberate attack on a nation that did not attack us nor was in danger of doing so.

But Slate has two more interesting articles:  Crimea as Putin’s revenge for Kosovo and hypocrisy about self-determination by the West!

As a great man once said to boos in both 2008 and 2012, when you do something like the 1953 overthrow of a government in Iran or Kosovo, there is blowback.  Sometimes it takes years for it to appear.  That is the thesis of this second Slate article.  Here is a useful comment:

This time Putin mentioned Kosovo. Indeed, in his speech to parliament on Tuesday, he made it very clear that by annexing Crimea he had avenged Russia for what had happened with Kosovo.

“It was our Western partners who created the precedent; they did it themselves, with their own hands, as it were, in a situation that was totally analogous to the Crimean situation, by recognizing Kosovo’s secession from Serbia as legitimate,” said Putin. And then, as he cited American statements on Kosovo, he got more and more worked up until he said, “They wrote it themselves. They spread this all over the world. They screwed everybody—and now they are outraged!” (The Kremlin’s official translators, who are forever civilizing the Russian president’s speech, translated this sentence as “They wrote this, disseminated it all over the world, had everyone agree, and now they are outraged!” The expression Putin used, however, was “vsekh nagnuli,” street slang for having had nonconsensual anal sex with everybody, rather than for having everybody agree.)

That is how blowback works.  This time innocent people got hurt; the Crimeans who did not want to be part of Russia get to be:  Wait for it!  Part of Russia!

This writer [Masha Gessen] actually argued that a overthrow of Milosevic would have been more effective than the bombing campaign and he may well be right.  (Of course forcible overthrow of a foreign government is almost always bad policy as well and should not be done absent a clear national interest.)  We had no business bombing Yugoslavia over Kosovo.

In the third article, by Joshua Keating, the evidence shows that both sides (West and Russia) have used the doctrine of self-determination as it sees fit to support it’s national interest.

At the blog Opinio Juris, Robert McCorquodale, professor of international law and human rights at the University of Nottingham, attempts to parse the legality of the situation, arguing that whether or not a declaration of independence or merging is valid in international law is determined both “by the actions of the state within whose borders the people live; and the responses of the international community.”

By these standards, he argues that while Crimea is well within its rights to hold an independence referendum, Russia had no legal right to intervene on Ukrainian territory given that there was no evidence that Ukraine was oppressing the region by force.

I am not an international law expert but I agree with Professor McCorquodale.  Russia was wrong to invade but the Crimeans should, just like the voters in Venice or Scotland, have the right to decide their own fate.

So how do you who supported the Serbian bombing like your blowback?  Fried or poached over toast?  The Serbians still await that apology.

That great man was on the ballot in every state.  But people were scared away from voting for Ron Paul.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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