By PETER ERLINDER
August 15, 2008
In April 1999, just after the United States and NATO launched their air war to punish Yugoslavia for sending troops into Kosovo, its independence-minded province, the Star Tribune published my op-ed piece under the headline "NATO action unwisely undercuts U.N."
The article warned that the well-established principles of national sovereignty, upon which the U.N. Charter and international law are based, were too important to be set aside when it suits powerful nations, no matter how well-intended. All powerful nations can protect their own sovereignty; it is smaller, weaker nations that need its protection. The article warned that U.S. and NATO aggression against Yugoslavia established a precedent that "regional super-powers" could (and would) use to invade their neighbors, notwithstanding the U.N. system.
Russia's response to Georgia's invasion of its own independence-minded province, South Ossetia, shows that Russia learned the lesson taught by the U.S./NATO precedent in Yugoslavia.