The Kosovo exception

With Kosovo’s declaration of independence this week, one wonders whether it is wise to establish a breakaway Islamic state over in the corner of Europe that lit the match for World War I. Several European states that have declined to recognize Kosovo’s independence are obviously concerned about the threat represented by the Kosovo precedent. In her statement regarding the American decision to recognize Kosovo, Condoleezza Rice emphasized that Kosovo represents an exception to the rule:

The unusual combination of factors found in the Kosovo situation — including the context of Yugoslavia’s breakup, the history of ethnic cleansing and crimes against civilians in Kosovo, and the extended period of UN administration — are not found elsewhere and therefore make Kosovo a special case. Kosovo cannot be seen as a precedent for any other situation in the world today.

She also celebrates Kosovo’s purported embrace of “multi-ethnicity as a fundamental principle of good governance.” Madam Secretary, how is that principle working out in the Palestinian state that you are struggling to midwife? By contrast, in any event, Melanie Phillips argues that setting up Kosovo as an independent state is “a rotten decsion.”
In a telephone briefing with reporters, Nicholas Burns expands on State’s thinking. Among other things, Burns emphasizes Kosovo’s overwhelmingly Islamic character:

[F]irst of all, Kosovo is going to be a vastly majority Muslim state, given the fact that 92 to 94 percent of their population is Muslim. And we think it is a very positive step that this Muslim state, Muslim majority state, has been created today. It

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