The Lesser Evil: The Best Way Out of the Balkans

Unless the United States wants to occupy the Balkans for decades to come, it will have to contemplate withdrawal under imperfect and unappealing circumstances.

Issue: Summer 2001

Peace in Bosnia and Kosovo, such as it is, has rested these past several years on an uneasy conspiracy to prop up, but never openly discuss, a set of irreconcilable contradictions. Inhabitants and intervenors have conspired to live with political practices that contradict constitutional principles, and to prolong foreign occupation while genuflecting to the aims of democracy and self-determination. The American foreign policy elite on both sides of the political spectrum has been complicit. Clintonites promoted the conspiracy in order to do something like the right thing without overstepping the seeming bounds of domestic support. The new Bush team disapproves of entanglement in peacekeeping, but it wants to maintain American primacy on the world stage--a contradiction of its own that blocks a graceful exit.

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