"When Saddam Hussein forcibly annexed Iraq's "19th province" in 1990 - part of the former Ottoman province of Basra that had evolved under British guidance into the state of Kuwait - the world cried foul. Western countries noisily insisted that the sovereign integrity of the emirate's territory and borders was guaranteed by the UN charter.
Egged on by Margaret Thatcher, the then US president, George Bush Snr, drew his famous "line in the sand", setting in train the first Gulf war. The consequences are still being played out in Iraq today.
Less than 18 years later, these same self-appointed guardians of the international order are on the brink of turning their own argument on its head - by underwriting Kosovo's forcible secession from Serbia."
writes Simon Tisdall in The Guardian. Tisdall is right: the US and EU’s contempt for international law regarding Kosovo is shameful. But Sunday’s declaration of independence by Kosovo could have been avoided had Serbia done the one thing that the US and EU feared: made it quite clear that if the province was illegally taken from them, they would use force to reclaim it.
Instead, the Serbs have allowed themselves to be bullied into renouncing the threat of using force by countries that are only too quick to threaten force themselves, in pursuit of THEIR interests.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying that I favour a war in the Balkans over Kosovo- far from it.
But in life, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you can negotiate. And you need to negotiate from a position of strength and not weakness. Had Serbia made it quite clear that it would use force to defend its national sovereignty (as every country is entitled to do under international law)- and that the action would be backed by Russia, then the US and EU would not have risked the prospect of a major war in the Balkans. The threat of force would have been enough and Kosovo would have stayed part of Serbia. But in renouncing it, as Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic (above) feels obliged to do every time he talks about Kosovo, The Serbs, in the words of the late Aneurin Bevan, have gone naked to the negotiating table.