Last night Obama said that Russian support of Serbia to block Kosovo independence would be “unacceptable,” which means that he finds the illegal partition of Serbia to be acceptable–see how that plays in Cleveland.  That means that he supports our government’s violation of international law in recognising Kosovo, and then went on to suggest that the countries that have recognised Kosovo have “certain obligations” to stop Kosovo from being invaded.  It’s true that he didn’t bluntly say that he would resist a Russian-backed invasion, but he implied as much.  So he endorsed the administration’s reckless recognition of Kosovo, where we have literally no national interest, and then compounded that error by saying that the recognition imposed obligations on us to defend the “sovereignty” of Kosovo.  Obama supports the violation of Serbian sovereignty and the U.N. Charter, and then thinks that we have obligations as part of “the international community” to stop another state from upholding that sovereignty.  Hegemonists have a very clear rule about state sovereignty: it is essential to international order when they want to make it count, and it is an archaic relic of the 17th century when it gets in their way.  Obama has learned this rule quite well already.   

Recognising separatist states, especially in Europe where our chief interest is stability, is how the Balkan Wars of the ’90s became international conflicts that drew in outside powers.  It is how the West could make the wars of Yugoslav succession into an occasion for isolating and humiliating the rump Yugoslavia and backing up the historic proxies of…Germany, bizarrely enough.  It is through the persistent mistaken belief that outside powers have some stake in the conflicts of the Balkans that great powers collide with one another and risk a more general war.