Backtalk, December 18, 2007

Creating Crisis: Another War in the Balkans?

In past articles, Doug Bandow has pointed to the hypocrisy of the United States government in encouraging secession in the Balkans and elsewhere, despite its own history of launching a bloody war costing 630,000 lives in order to prevent secession within its own borders. But Mr. Bandow displays a similar inconsistency on the other side of the argument by criticizing the ethnic Albanians for seeking independence for Kosova.

Secession is based on the moral idea, articulated by Ludwig von Mises in 1919, that “no people and no part of a people shall be held against its will in a political association that it does not want.” Why does Mr. Bandow believe the state to be justified in denying the political liberty of those who would like to secede in the Balkans, but not in 19th-century America? His argument that the Albanians in Pristina are a motley bunch who are not ready for prime time sounds like the argument used to justify colonialism in the past. The people of Kosova are incapable of deciding their political associations for themselves, so the wise ones of Washington and Brussels “must tell Pristina no to independence.”

I don’t pretend to know whether independence is the best course for Kosova, and I wish the U.S. had never launched an air war against Serbia, thereby inserting itself into the debate, but it is not our place to be ordering anyone to say “no to independence.” It would be better to follow the wisdom of the author of the Declaration of Independence. In his 1801 First Inaugural Address, one of the first things Thomas Jefferson did was to support the right of secession. “If there be any among us who wish to dissolve the Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed, as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”

~ Rick Tucker, Bartlesville, Okla.

Britain’s Neo-Imperial Dreams in Afghanistan

The odd thing is that Britain has a role, but it refuses to play it! Given its size, its economic strength, and its democratic credentials, it is, by definition, a major player, if not THE major player, on the EU stage. Instead of that, it insists on humiliating itself by groveling at the feet of one of its own former colonies. The result is that it falls between the two stools. The U.S. treats it with contempt, and it exasperates its EU partners by being gratuitously obstructive and then has to jump on the moving train, only to find that all the best seats have been taken.

~ Michael Kenny

The Religion Called Americanism

And you, sir, have forgotten that Mr. Lincoln did not start the war that led him necessarily to see the need for conscription. You should not have stopped reading about Lincoln when you were still a callow 30.

~ D.L. Henson

David R. Henderson replies:

I haven’t forgotten that at all. But it takes two to tango. The South started the war; Lincoln didn’t need to continue it. And no, I haven’t stopped reading about him. At age 57, I still read about Lincoln.

On the Brink

Nebojsa Malic’s recent article prattles on about the upcoming “illegal” independence of Kosovo. Yet that independence will be declared by the UN Security Council. Ergo, it will be legal. At least, it will be legal to the extent that the Serbian occupation of Hungary’s Vojvodina is legal: that, too, was enabled by the UN Security Council. And Malic will (what’s the betting?) swear by the legality of the Serb occupation of the Vojvodina. Flap-mouth.

~ Sophie Johnson

Nebojsa Malic replies:

I normally don’t answer absurd or foolish comments, and this is both. But it gives me a chance to prove a point, so I’ll take it.

The whole reason we’ve had this charade called the “troika talks” and the KLA’s announcement they would declare independence come Dec. 10 is that the UN Security Council failed to push through the Ahtisaari independence plan earlier this year – and not just because of Russia’s veto threat, but because other members of the Council were opposed. So the UNSC will not declare or recognize the independence of Kosovo.

Secondly, Ms. Johnson is ignorant of history. The “occupation” she refers to is a fact of the 1918 dissolution of Austria-Hungary, and was recognized by Hungary in the 1919 Treaty of Trianon, one of the peace agreements that concluded the Great War. The UN was established in 1945, so obviously it had nothing to do with this treaty.

Now, if Hungarian nationalists wish to challenge Trianon, that is their prerogative. But why, then, don’t they make noises about the “lost” and “occupied” land in Slovakia, Romania, or Croatia – all of which were parts of Hungary under the Habsburgs? Singling out Serbia seems mighty selective to me.


My name is Luke Johnson and I’m staging a hunger strike via YouTube in Washington, D.C. I would really appreciate your help and support in this endeavor. Please view this video for more information surrounding the hunger strike.

I’ve had past YouTube success when I put my cell-phone number on the Internet and asked the whole world to call me. Here is a link with more information surrounding that experiment.

My biggest regret in life is not knowing how much my daily life was impacted by politics and world events until I was 26 years old. One big goal in doing this hunger strike is to try and help teens and young adults learn to educate themselves and take a stand for important causes. I want to inspire the younger generation to stand up and let their voices be heard. I believe it is they who can indeed change this world. …

~ Luke Johnson

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