Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Another Declaration of Independence

Europe got its newest nation earlier this week. No, the existence of the People's Republic has not finally been recognised by the UN. Rather Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, ending nearly ten years under the jurisdiction of the UN. The declaration of independence has been backed by most EU countries and the US, while Cyprus, Slovakia and Romania join the Russians in opposing it.

But let's hold on a minute. The US supporting the independence of a predominantly Muslim country from a Christian one? Can this happen in the post 9/11 world? Of course it can; as I pointed out previously, US policy is not anti-Islamic but depends on the situation and the interests in the region the US has. I will not be holding my breath for an Osama Bin Laden video praising the US roll in Kosovo's independence, neither will I be expecting idiots from MPAC to give the US and NATO any credit. It kind of blows there "US is the enemy of Islam" empty rhetoric out of the water".

Kosovo's independence does raise interesting questions however. In the words of one Serbian, how can someone kick you out of your own house?. Should an immigrant community, once settled, be allowed to declare independence from its host community? There is precedent for this of course; Jewish immigration to the Holy Land led to the creation of Israel after the Second World War. It could be argued that America and Australia were among modern nation states founded in a similar way, although these waves of immigration took place without the permission of the natives at the time. How far do we go back? Did the Anglo-Saxons wrong to carve out England over the centuries from the culture of the Celtic Brits? What about before them? And in future, will we see Britain pockmarked by pockets of a new Islamic nation, operating under Sharia Law with the blessing of the Archbishop of Canterbury?

These questions are difficult. I believe immigration is generally a good thing, allowing cultures and ideas to fuse and flourish. I think the problem lies with the concept of the modern nation state, which is all too often based on the restrictive notions of the ethnicity and culture of a certain population (not always the majority) rather than protection of the rights and freedoms of the individual, whose efforts often make a country what it is.

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