I’m still bewildered by the news coverage of the situation in Crimea and our politicians speaking confidently about the situation over there. Now it seems that the Crimeans (about as many as live in Pittsburgh, Denver, or Baltimore) will vote on whether or not they wish to secede from Ukraine (nytimes). If they do vote to secede, does American have a principled reaction ready or will we decide whom to support based on expediency or something else?
Let’s review where we’ve stood on issues of secession…
- 1776: British subjects in 13 colonies decided to secede from the British Empire. We were for it.
- 1830s: A majority of people in Texas wanted to secede from Mexico. We were for it.
- 1940-present: People in Taiwan wanted to secede from China. We were for it but lately our support has wavered.
- 1861: Southerners decided to secede from the U.S. We were against it.
- 1974: Some people in Northern Cyprus wanted to secede from Cyprus. We are against it (official State Department page).
- 1990s: Albanians in Kosovo wanted to secede from Serbia. We were for it.
- 2010s: A majority of people in South Sudan wanted to secede from Sudan. We were for it.
Are we decided to be for or against these secessions based on a single high principle, based on competing principles, or based on expediency and self-interest?