Saturday, February 23, 2008

Kosovar Independence and the Russian Reaction

by George Friedman

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia last Sunday. The United States and many, but not all, European countries recognized it. The Serbian government did not impose an economic blockade on — or take any military action against — Kosovo, although it declared the Albanian leadership of Kosovo traitors to Serbia. The Russians vehemently repeated their objection to an independent Kosovo but did not take any overt action. An informal summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was announced last week; it will take place in Moscow on Feb. 21. With Kosovo’s declaration, a river was crossed. We will now see if that river was the Rubicon.

Kosovo’s independence declaration is an important event for two main reasons. First, it potentially creates a precedent that could lead to redrawn borders in Europe and around the world. Second, it puts the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany in the position of challenging what Russia has defined as a fundamental national interest — and this at a time when the Russians have been seeking to assert their power and authority. Taken together, each of these makes this a geopolitically significant event.

Read the rest of Friedman's insightful article.

Paleoconservative Taki Theodoracopulos has weighed in, arguing that the formation of a Kosovar state represents an over-reaching of American influence. He also thinks that Western support for such a state also just makes plain bad sense:

"How can the State Department be so idiotic? Doesn’t anyone in Heaven’s name realize that Kosovo and Albania are the equivalent danger to European peace that Afghanistan and Pakistan are in the Far East? In order to gain brownie points with the towelheads of Saudi Arabia, America is allowing a Muslim belt to be created in the heart of the Balkans and Christian Europe. Islamic radicals, including supporters of bin Laden, are crawling all over Albania and Kosovo, not to mention the terrorist drug dealers who are infesting European capitals raising money for Islamic causes. It is these same bin Laden KLA members who helped Kosovo fight for independence from Serbia and who will now turn their guns against Christian Serb enclaves."

Read the rest of Taki's provocative article.

Saints Constantine and Helen

(The following biographical material was adapted from information found on the website of Saints Constantine and Helen Holy Theophany Orthodox Church in Colorado Springs.)

Constantine’s parents were Emperor Constantius Chlorus and the Empress Helena. Chlorus had other children by another wife, but from Helena he had only Constantine. After his coronation Constantine fought three great battles: one against Maxentius, a Roman tyrant; the second against the Scythians on the Danube, and the third against the Byzantines.

Before the battle with Maxentius, while Constantine was greatly concerned and in doubt about his success, a brilliant Cross appeared to him in the sky during the day, completely adorned with stars. Written on the Cross were these words: “In Hoc Signo Vinces" (i.e., "By this Sign Conquer”). Astonished, the emperor ordered a large cross to be forged similar to the one that appeared to him and that it be carried before the army. By the power of the Cross he achieved a glorious victory over the enemy who was superior in members. Maxentius was drowned in the Tiber river. Immediately after that, Constantine issued the famous Edict of Milan in the year 313 A.D. to halt the persecution of Christians.

Defeating the Byzantines, Constantine built a beautiful capital on the Bosphorus which from that time on was called Constantinople. Before that, however, Constantine succumbed to the dreaded disease of leprosy. As a cure, the pagan priests and physicians counseled him to bathe in the blood of slaughtered children. However, he rejected that. Then the Apostles Peter and Paul appeared to him and told him to seek out Bishop Sylvester who would cure him of the dreaded disease. The bishop instructed Constantine in the Christian Faith, baptized him, and the disease of leprosy vanished from the emperor’s body.

When discord broke out in the Church because of the mutinous heretic Arius, the emperor convened the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, 325. A.D., where the heresy was condemned and Orthodoxy confirmed. St. Helena, the pious mother of the emperor, was very zealous for the Faith of Christ. She visited Jerusalem, discovered the Honorable Cross of the Lord, built the Church of the Resurrection on Golgotha and many other churches throughout the Holy Land. This holy woman presented herself to the Lord in her eightieth year in 327 A.D. Emperor Constantine outlived his mother by ten years. He died in Nicomedia in his sixty-fifth year in 337 A.D. His body was interred in the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Constantinople.

Something else of interest to readers of this blog: Paul Bauer, a member of Holy Theophany Church, is the developer of the "Daily Bible Reading" available from Google Desktop Gadgets.