19 February 2012

Kosovo: No New Demarcations

Serbia has never suggested its occupied province of Kosovo be partitioned between itself and an Albanian state. Despite this there has been, for years now, a stream of messages rejecting, warning against and condemning phantom aspirations for such a partition coming from officials and think-thanks in the West. This tiresome raising of alarm against partition seems nothing so much as an affected self-delusion aimed at creating the impression that structure of international law and treaty obligations that provide such an overpowering arguments for Serbia's position actually stand in her way.

Western officialdom wishes partition was the Serbian position, because were that the case it would have an overpowering counter-argument against it (that is now held by Serbia). For this reason it is inclined to pretend this is the "real" Serbian position hiding under a mask of protestations to the contrary. Once again the Empire's reality is not that which is real, but that which would best suit the Empire reality to be.

Additional reason for the affected self-delusion may be an attempt to goad Belgrade into coming out in favor of partition. By pretending the prospect of Serbia striving for partition is something it makes it uneasy it may be hoping the Serbs may come around to seeing it as an effective strategy to accomplish at least limited goals in Kosovo themselves. In reality for Serbia to drop the argument for the Kosovo as a whole would play into the hands of the Empire and make its intent not to return any part of Kosovo to Serbia's control far easier.

In addition to representing a foolish strategy to try to accomplish anything with, a push for partition of Kosovo by Serbia would mean colluding with the enemy toward an end that would see the rights of the great majority of those people from Kosovo who Serbia can claim to speak for be violated.

17 February 2012

On Syria

Three articles on Syria these days that should not be missed. First, Diana Johnstone's take at CounterPunch, the most interesting part of which reads:
"Last month, on this site Aisling Byrne called attention to results of a public opinion poll funded by no less than the Qatar Foundation, which cannot be suspected of working for the Assad regime, given the Qatar royal family’s lead position in favor of overthrowing that regime. The key finding was that “while most Arabs outside Syria feel the president should resign, attitudes in the country are different. Some 55% of Syrians want Assad to stay, motivated by fear of civil war – a specter that is not theoretical as it is for those who live outside Syria’s borders. What is less good news for the Assad regime is that the poll also found that half the Syrians who accept him staying in power believe he must usher in free elections in the near future.”"

"This indicates a very complex situation. Syrians want free elections, but they prefer to have Assad stay in power to organize them. This being the case, the Russian diplomatic efforts to try to urge the Assad regime to speed up its reforms appear to be roughly in harmony with Syrian public opinion."
For all the comical moral indignation of the United States and associated powers over Russia vetoing a proposed UNSC resolution condemning Assad it is Russian diplomatic efforts which are in rough harmony with the Syrian public opinion, which is to say with the desires of moderates and regular people who are stuck in the crossfire between the two warring camps and fear the consequences of chaos and further polarization. They aim to reach what a seems a  reasonable compromise that would deliver something to everyone but the fiercest partisans of government and opposition, and furthermore could offer a way out that is highly preferable to the likely alternative.

It remains to be seen if the two are really connected, but with the Syrian government announcing willingness to adopt a liberalizing constitution it may be the efforts of Moscow are already bearing first fruit.

USA's insistence this is an all-or-nothing affair, apparent from its egging on the insurrectionists and its refusal to accept anything less but for the Syrian regime to momentarily dismantle itself, meanwhile works to frustrate the possibility of compromise reform and to escalate violence that is already threatening to develop into a civil war.

12 February 2012

Western Press: A False Friend to Russia's People Power

What a difference 19 years or so makes. The coverage of the recent anti-government rallies in Moscow in the Western press has been extensive and hugely positive. News piece after news piece put the rally organizers' attendance estimate in the headline, remembered to point out that participants had braved extreme weather to attend, and humanized the protesters by reporting on their white ribbon symbol, their chants, placards, their demands and backgrounds. Many also generously labeled the protests "the largest since the collapse of the Soviet Union".

Compare this to the treatment by the Western media of Russia's other massive demonstrations since the collapse of the Soviet Union — the 1993 rallies in support of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation. When Boris Yeltsin initiated his presidential coup against the Supreme Soviet tens of thousands of citizens turned to streets in revolt. Yeltsin responded by ordering force, but protesters stood their ground. Instead in most places it was Yeltsin's police which gave ground. Before long a mass of fifty to one hundred thousand people enraged by attempted violent suppression was seemingly unstoppably conquering Moscow's streets, as initially combative police essentially hid. The protesters' fortunes changed, however, when they failed to overcome live fire to take over Ostankino state television center and when Yeltsin rallied the military to his side, and armor and special forces units joined the bloody crack down.

Western governments backed Yeltsin through the putsch to the hilt, and the Western press followed their lead. According to them Yeltsin throwing the last pretense of the rule of law to the wind to dissolve the parliament which the Constitution and the Constitutional Court were explicit he could not do and remain the president was a "bold gamble" against "obstructionist" legislature, a part of "his attempts to break Russia out of its history of authoritarian rule". To hear them tell it what happened next was essentially that "pro-Communist demonstrators" — an instantaneously disqualifying characterization, particularly in 1993 — went on a "rampage in Moscow" in support of "rebel legislators" engaged in an attempted "coup", which if successful would have resulted in "turning the clock back on Russia's uncertain march toward democracy".

Western anglophone media could not have been less charitable to the Moscow protesters. The most hostile reporters and columnists spoke of a "Moscow mob directed by Russian totalitarianism's last-gasp fanatics", of "the rag-tag Communist rabble supporting the parliament", of "Rutskoi's ragtag army of Communists, neo-Nazis and just plain hooligans dedicated to restoring the old Soviet Union", of an "unruly band of malcontents - ranging from anti-Semitic fascists and nationalists to fervent monarchists and hard-line Stalinists", or of "neo-fascists, Stalinists, priests, and Cossacks crying out in unison". Contempt for Russians who had turned to street demonstrations was palpable.