Radio Free Europe correspondent Ahto Lobjakas wrote after the ICJ decision that its greatest weakness:
" ... is that it allows treating Kosovo as a precedent set by a coalition of the willing. The particular coalition of the willing behind Kosovo may have right and morality on its side, but it's in the nature of all balances of power to be mutable, transitory." Arguing Kosovo is unique "is not a legal argument, but a political one. Like Kosovo's, Abkhazia's independence remains a function of outside backing -- though unlike Kosovo, Abkhazia could be said to have the 'wrong' friends."
Wrong equals Moscow. Right equals Washington.
Uniqueness was the U.N., British, French and U.S. diplomatic pitch: Kosovo was to be a "one off" event. The invasion of Kosovo by the Clinton administration was an invasion of conscience, intended to protect the vulnerable Albanian Kosovar minority.
In 1999, several nations facing separatist movements, including NATO member Spain, did not buy the "one off"; Basque and Catalan separatists confronted Madrid and claimed their own unique status.
In 2010, despite the ICJ ruling, how the Kosovo Precedent will affect the troubled world order remains unsettled.
Unfortunately, bitter political struggles in scores of nations around the world and -- very likely -- dirty little wars of independence (or secession) in the afflicted states will render the historical judgment, in blood.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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