BY SAEED NAQVI

A high profile event extended over a period of time, like the one that goes under the short hand “Arab Spring”, shelters so many other episodes with a global potential, happening even as I write. Take the arrest and possible deportation to the International Court at the Hague of Ratkin Mladic, responsible for the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, when the Bosnian war was coming to a close.

Like Osama bin Laden, Mladic was clearly helped in escaping arrest so far.  Pressure on Belgrade to deliver him for justice was immense because non compliance was blocking Serbia’s entry into EU. This is not a simple matter. Serbia’s EU entry will open other sensitive issues – Turkey’s entry for instance. This, Europe will resist, although it may find itself deflated on the issue because Turkish desire for an economically depleted Europe is now somewhat tepid.

But Belgrade, having delivered Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadic and Mladic to the Hague, has a strong political case for entry. Also, Belgrade has swallowed the bitter pill in acquiescing in Kosovo’s independence from Serbia.  In the capital of Kosovo, Pristina is the monument to the battle of Kosovo, where, in 1389, the Serbs gave stiff resistance to Turkish troops, blocking their advance into Europe.  Some of Serbia’s most sacred monasteries and shrines are in Kosovo. That is why Turkey’s instant recognition of Kosovo was so galling for Serbia.

This is precisely the reason why Orthodox Christian nations like Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria have not recognized Kosovo. Spain’s non recognition is for another reason: Madrid feels secessionism in the Basque region would derive strength from the recognition of Kosovo.

Some such reason was behind New Delhi’s polite “no” to the US request. Interestingly, Saudi Arabia, the arch Muslim country, was disinterested in the emergence of a Muslim entity.  The Saudi resistance to the idea is the one that determines its many foreign policy moves.  The Saudis will never accept a principle of secession which can be applied to their Shia dominated Eastern Province where all of their oil is located.

It is for this reason that the Saudis are a major force behind the project of eliminating Qadaffi from Libya, by death, because his survival leaves a Libya partitioned into an oil rich eastern half and the rest. Considering that borders have already been altered in Sudan leaves the Saudis uncomfortable.

Their anxieties on their score approach paranoia both, in Iraq and Yemen. Iraq is de-facto Kurdish, Sunni and Shia regions and Yemen is clearly headed towards a north-south partition.

The end of the cold war world engaged western intellectuals in shaping a new world order. While Francis Fukiyama and Samuel Huntington concerned themselves with the “End of History” and “Clash of Civilizations” respectively there were others, like Morton Halperin, who studied Self Determination and US Intervention.

Halperin and his colleague in the Clinton Administration, David Scheffer and scholar Patricia Small in 1992 wrote a book: “Self determination in the New World Order“. The book justifies US intervention in support of self determination.

Halperin became director policy planning under Madeleine Albright as Secretary of State. Halperin invited former editor of foreign policy and professor of international relations at Princeton, Richard Ullman, to set up a group of scholars at the state department to study a “History of Kosovo” to spin a theory for a “Just War.”

This background is useful for a study of ethics in the current Libyan operations.

In her book, “The Mighty and the Almighty,” Albright refers to Mark Twain’s harrowing War Prayer. “Even to pray for victory in war is tantamount to asking that horrors be visited upon the innocent of the opposite side.”

She anguishes over Milosevic, his three wars against Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and his “final solution” for the Albanians of Kosovo. She spells out her dilemma: “since Kosovo was part of Serbia, Milosevic’s crimes could not be characterized as international aggression. No member of NATO was under attack, so the Alliance could not claim the right of self defence. Serbia had not threatened to invade another country so there was no rationale for preemptive strike.”

Albright concluded that there were those “vulnerable other” to be defended. NATO’s presence in Europe gave her the means.

Bush years were, of course, guided by more crude principles. But consider military action against Qadaffi’s Libya keeping Albright’s perspective in mind.

For good or bad, Qaddafi’s is a secular regime which the group in Benghazi may not be. Britain and France, not the US, have rushed to recognize the group in Benghazi whose Salafist Links are known.

The UN resolution was to impose a no-fly zone to protect the people of Libya. Instead western intervention has resulted in the death of Qaddafi’s son and three grandchildren in addition to hundreds of innocent Libyans.

How does this monstrous outcome square with UNSG resolution 1973 or, in an earlier regime in Washington, with Albright’s sober deliberations?

(Saeed Naqvi is senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)