OPINION

Glaring errors in the Balkans

The end of the Kosovo crisis is being written in the most crude and illegal manner. Regardless of who was right or wrong 10 years ago, a country is being punished with amputation, while at the same time the Pandora’s box of Balkan border shifts has been reopened. I have long tried to understand why the US got involved in Kosovo. I spoke to many of the protagonists of the war and was unable to get a convincing answer. The Balkan region has no oil fields or rich ore deposits and has little geopolitical significance. One theory, perhaps the most convincing, is that the Kosovo war was the first time Washington was without a serious adversary and with a lot of clout. When there is no one to fear, you lose your geopolitical bearings. Fresh out of the Cold War and dizzy with the power you have, you end up wasting it in areas of little importance. In Kosovo, the US acted like a fully armed version of the Red Cross. It leveled the Serb army and ended a heinous humanitarian crisis. In the minds of some US officials, they thus also showed they cared about some Muslims. It was an antidote to the anti-American fever spreading across the Islamic world. America’s biggest mistake was entering the Balkans for no particular purpose and with no real plan. Washington was lured by the Albanian lobby in the US without knowing what lurked behind. The Americans entered the Balkans, ignored history, turned it upside down and are now rushing to tie up all the loose ends. What actually collapsed in Kosovo was the dream of an effective common European foreign policy. This may even have been the US’s real target. But now that the political geography of the Balkans is being redrawn, it remains to be seen how far Russia is prepared to go, whether Washington has an ulterior motive and whether Europe has since matured.