Blogs: The Skeptics

Congress Needs to Take War Powers Back into Its Own Hands

An Old Nightmare Returns: The Balkans Simmer Again

The Skeptics

Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia have escalated over other issues in recent months. Kosovar authorities systematically impede commerce between Serbs in northern Kosovo and Serbia itself. In mid-January 2017, Serbia attempted to restart train service to the northern, predominantly Serbian, portion of its former province. Kosovar police and paramilitary units (as well as a civilian mob) forcibly prevented the first train, painted in Serbia’s national colors, from crossing the de facto border between Serbia and Kosovo. Furious Serbian leaders branded the move “an act of war,” and already worrisome tensions have spiked. Belgrade promptly suspended the diplomatic dialogue that the European Union had sponsored, with more than a little prodding directed at both capitals, since 2011. Matters had become so tense that even Senator John McCain, a long-time, vocal supporter of Kosovo independence, begged Kosovar officials to resume the dialogue with the Serbian government, contending that it was “the only way to a prosperous future.”

The United States and its NATO allies have consistently, sometimes blindly, backed the policy agenda of Kosovo and Albanian leaders. The 1999 military intervention to detach Kosovo from Serbia was only the most egregious example. NATO also has stood by passively in the years since that war as Kosovar mobs engaged in ethnic cleansing against Serbs and other remaining minorities, and Western authorities have done little as Christian religious sites—many with great historical importance—have been desecrated or obliterated. Washington and other Western capitals have pressed Macedonia’s government to make more and more political concessions to the country’s Albanian minority. Yet the demands of that faction keep escalating. The country’s prime minister has finally had enough and is firmly resisting those demands, despite continuing Western pressure for compromise.

Washington’s military intervention and subsequent political and diplomatic support for an independent Kosovo was unwise for multiple reasons. U.S. leaders may sincerely have believed that such a policy would bring peace and stability to the Balkans. If so, that expectation is proving horribly false. The drive for a Greater Albania is gaining new momentum, and that agenda creates major problems with multiple neighboring states. If the Balkans erupt into conflict again, which is now a serious possibility, the United States should avoid the temptation to meddle further. Washington especially should not repeat the folly of its previous policy and back the faction that is causing the most disruption.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in defense and foreign-policy studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of ten books, the editor of ten books, and the author of more than 650 articles on international affairs.

Image: Serbian detainees in 1999. Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

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America Shouldn't Back Away from Cuba

The Skeptics

Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia have escalated over other issues in recent months. Kosovar authorities systematically impede commerce between Serbs in northern Kosovo and Serbia itself. In mid-January 2017, Serbia attempted to restart train service to the northern, predominantly Serbian, portion of its former province. Kosovar police and paramilitary units (as well as a civilian mob) forcibly prevented the first train, painted in Serbia’s national colors, from crossing the de facto border between Serbia and Kosovo. Furious Serbian leaders branded the move “an act of war,” and already worrisome tensions have spiked. Belgrade promptly suspended the diplomatic dialogue that the European Union had sponsored, with more than a little prodding directed at both capitals, since 2011. Matters had become so tense that even Senator John McCain, a long-time, vocal supporter of Kosovo independence, begged Kosovar officials to resume the dialogue with the Serbian government, contending that it was “the only way to a prosperous future.”

The United States and its NATO allies have consistently, sometimes blindly, backed the policy agenda of Kosovo and Albanian leaders. The 1999 military intervention to detach Kosovo from Serbia was only the most egregious example. NATO also has stood by passively in the years since that war as Kosovar mobs engaged in ethnic cleansing against Serbs and other remaining minorities, and Western authorities have done little as Christian religious sites—many with great historical importance—have been desecrated or obliterated. Washington and other Western capitals have pressed Macedonia’s government to make more and more political concessions to the country’s Albanian minority. Yet the demands of that faction keep escalating. The country’s prime minister has finally had enough and is firmly resisting those demands, despite continuing Western pressure for compromise.

Washington’s military intervention and subsequent political and diplomatic support for an independent Kosovo was unwise for multiple reasons. U.S. leaders may sincerely have believed that such a policy would bring peace and stability to the Balkans. If so, that expectation is proving horribly false. The drive for a Greater Albania is gaining new momentum, and that agenda creates major problems with multiple neighboring states. If the Balkans erupt into conflict again, which is now a serious possibility, the United States should avoid the temptation to meddle further. Washington especially should not repeat the folly of its previous policy and back the faction that is causing the most disruption.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in defense and foreign-policy studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of ten books, the editor of ten books, and the author of more than 650 articles on international affairs.

Image: Serbian detainees in 1999. Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

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Will the Russia Sanctions Bill Strip Trump of His Power?

The Skeptics

Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia have escalated over other issues in recent months. Kosovar authorities systematically impede commerce between Serbs in northern Kosovo and Serbia itself. In mid-January 2017, Serbia attempted to restart train service to the northern, predominantly Serbian, portion of its former province. Kosovar police and paramilitary units (as well as a civilian mob) forcibly prevented the first train, painted in Serbia’s national colors, from crossing the de facto border between Serbia and Kosovo. Furious Serbian leaders branded the move “an act of war,” and already worrisome tensions have spiked. Belgrade promptly suspended the diplomatic dialogue that the European Union had sponsored, with more than a little prodding directed at both capitals, since 2011. Matters had become so tense that even Senator John McCain, a long-time, vocal supporter of Kosovo independence, begged Kosovar officials to resume the dialogue with the Serbian government, contending that it was “the only way to a prosperous future.”

The United States and its NATO allies have consistently, sometimes blindly, backed the policy agenda of Kosovo and Albanian leaders. The 1999 military intervention to detach Kosovo from Serbia was only the most egregious example. NATO also has stood by passively in the years since that war as Kosovar mobs engaged in ethnic cleansing against Serbs and other remaining minorities, and Western authorities have done little as Christian religious sites—many with great historical importance—have been desecrated or obliterated. Washington and other Western capitals have pressed Macedonia’s government to make more and more political concessions to the country’s Albanian minority. Yet the demands of that faction keep escalating. The country’s prime minister has finally had enough and is firmly resisting those demands, despite continuing Western pressure for compromise.

Washington’s military intervention and subsequent political and diplomatic support for an independent Kosovo was unwise for multiple reasons. U.S. leaders may sincerely have believed that such a policy would bring peace and stability to the Balkans. If so, that expectation is proving horribly false. The drive for a Greater Albania is gaining new momentum, and that agenda creates major problems with multiple neighboring states. If the Balkans erupt into conflict again, which is now a serious possibility, the United States should avoid the temptation to meddle further. Washington especially should not repeat the folly of its previous policy and back the faction that is causing the most disruption.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in defense and foreign-policy studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of ten books, the editor of ten books, and the author of more than 650 articles on international affairs.

Image: Serbian detainees in 1999. Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

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Help Wanted: National Security and State Department Reporter

The Skeptics

Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia have escalated over other issues in recent months. Kosovar authorities systematically impede commerce between Serbs in northern Kosovo and Serbia itself. In mid-January 2017, Serbia attempted to restart train service to the northern, predominantly Serbian, portion of its former province. Kosovar police and paramilitary units (as well as a civilian mob) forcibly prevented the first train, painted in Serbia’s national colors, from crossing the de facto border between Serbia and Kosovo. Furious Serbian leaders branded the move “an act of war,” and already worrisome tensions have spiked. Belgrade promptly suspended the diplomatic dialogue that the European Union had sponsored, with more than a little prodding directed at both capitals, since 2011. Matters had become so tense that even Senator John McCain, a long-time, vocal supporter of Kosovo independence, begged Kosovar officials to resume the dialogue with the Serbian government, contending that it was “the only way to a prosperous future.”

The United States and its NATO allies have consistently, sometimes blindly, backed the policy agenda of Kosovo and Albanian leaders. The 1999 military intervention to detach Kosovo from Serbia was only the most egregious example. NATO also has stood by passively in the years since that war as Kosovar mobs engaged in ethnic cleansing against Serbs and other remaining minorities, and Western authorities have done little as Christian religious sites—many with great historical importance—have been desecrated or obliterated. Washington and other Western capitals have pressed Macedonia’s government to make more and more political concessions to the country’s Albanian minority. Yet the demands of that faction keep escalating. The country’s prime minister has finally had enough and is firmly resisting those demands, despite continuing Western pressure for compromise.

Washington’s military intervention and subsequent political and diplomatic support for an independent Kosovo was unwise for multiple reasons. U.S. leaders may sincerely have believed that such a policy would bring peace and stability to the Balkans. If so, that expectation is proving horribly false. The drive for a Greater Albania is gaining new momentum, and that agenda creates major problems with multiple neighboring states. If the Balkans erupt into conflict again, which is now a serious possibility, the United States should avoid the temptation to meddle further. Washington especially should not repeat the folly of its previous policy and back the faction that is causing the most disruption.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in defense and foreign-policy studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of ten books, the editor of ten books, and the author of more than 650 articles on international affairs.

Image: Serbian detainees in 1999. Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

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