Putting the "Balkan" in "Balkanization"

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 18, 2008 02:26pm | Post a Comment

Kosovar musicians (left) and independence-celebrations... with American Flags- nice touch (right)

If you're like me, you love a new country. Yesterday, Kosovo took the plunge. Of course, Serbia is predictably bitching and moaning, but haven't they gotten used to rejection, what with being successively dumped by Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia? And didn't Serbia ignite the Great War when they were trying to assert their independence? And didn't Serbia only include Kosovo because it invaded it in 1912? Let it go, Serbia. You are too possessive. You smother your mates and now you're alone and forsaken.

Of course, from looking at new countries, choosing independence seems like a pretty tough row to hoe. Look at some of the Earth's newest countries.

East Timor, approaching ten years of independence, is still plagued with violence, corruption, lack of economic development or infrastructure.


Eritrea, independent for 15 years, enjoys an uneasy peace with its neighbors Ethiopia and Yemen.

But Montenegro, approaching its second year of independence, seems to be doing a lot better, with pollution from tourists being the biggest issue. Whether achieving independence goes roughly or smoothly, there's a long waiting list. Check out the UNPO sight. There are currently 192 universally recognized sovereign states. A country like Taiwan isn't included in the list. They, like South Ossetia, Somaliland, Nothern Cyprus, Palestine, Nagorno-Karabakh, Sahrawi, Transnistria, Kurdistan, Abkhazia, may, for the most part, run their own business, but are recognized by few for various reasons.

Red shows distribution of Russians (W. Hollywood not shown). These Yakuts' lands are Russian, they just don't know it.

Of course Vladimir Putin is upset. What kind of precedent does this set? A good one, I say. One that champions self-determination achieved through non-violent means. I mean, if you look at a map of Russia it's basically one big boundary drawn around a bunch of people for whom the government in Moskva holds little relevance. I remember when all the former Soviet republics bailed, a radio reporter asked a guy in Kazakhstan how life was different now that the Soviet Union was gone. He was all, "The whuh? Never heard of 'em." What gave Russia the right to call most of Asia "Russia" anyway? Sticking some intellectuals out in far-flung work camps in the taiga is hardly asserting your state's authority.  Furthermore, I doubt Putin would be whining about self-determination if the Russkies were still under the yoke of the ruthless Mongol horde or threatened by the church-burning Krauts. No, Aleksandr Nevsky-- please don't free us, it sets a terrible precedent.

Aleksandr Nevsky, spokesmodel for self-determination

Putin has asked when argued with about this sort of thing, "Well, how would you like it if Alaska declared independence?" Sounds cool to me. I'm down. The plains and Rockies could form their own country too. Then Bush wouldn't be my president. An independent Midwest would give them a chance to assert their ignored cultural singularity with Garrison Keillor delivering state of the union addresses that would begin with, "It was a quiet year in The Middle West..." John Cougar could write their national anthem to quiet chuckles from the sweater-clad congress. I'm afraid the South must remain in the Union, though, because they probably won't create all the good music and literature if they're not subjugated to the remaining U.S.A.

The Middle West's (hypothetical) President Keillor

And, as far as the Kosovar music scene goes, there's already the following music festivals:

Rock për Rock, Polifest, Showfest, Videofest, Kush Këndon Lutet Dy Herë and the North City Jazz & Blues Festival.

The awkward incorporation of English words shows reveals a flattering Anglocentricism that's designed to court the West.

Good Luck!

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Relevant Tags

Unrecognized Nations (7), Kosovo (1), Unpo (11), Independence (1), Balkanization (1), Russia (4)