The UN deadline for negotiations between Serbs and Kosovars expired today. Writing for the Washington Post (Nov. 23), Richard Holbrooke predicted this failure and expressed his pessimism regarding the Balkans' future:
The United States and most of the European Union (led by Britain, France and Germany) will recognize Kosovo quickly. Russia and its allies will not. Kosovo's eight-year run as the biggest-ever U.N. project will end with great tension and a threat of violence that could spread to Bosnia.
A bit "hidden" in brackets within a paragraph full of praise for Clinton's Balkan's achieve and criticism for Bush's neglect of the region, Holbrooke opines:
(However, the State Department did not prevent Rumsfeld from prematurely turning the NATO command in Bosnia over to a weak E.U. Force, a terrible mistake.)
I have a lot of respect for Dick Holbrooke, who negotiated the Dayton Accords and wrote the terrific book "To End a War" (Amazon.com, Amazon.de). The book was so well written, it reads like a good thriller. But: Is Holbrooke right about that "terrible mistake"? Is the EU force still to weak or can the EU manage to send in sufficient reinforcements, as promised?
In 1991, soon after the start of the Yugoslav civil war, Luxembourg's foreign minister Jacques Poos thought that Europe could stop the fighting on its own and famously declared: "This is the hour of Europe." I wonder how much has changed in the last decade and a half?
Given the little European support for Iraq and Afghanistan, quite a number of Americans have said that the United States should not come to the rescue of the West Europeans the next time they (we) get into trouble.
Will the Bush administration indeed stay out of this issue, if -- or rather: when -- the s*** hits the fan? I doubt it, because President Bush has been pretty vocal regarding Kosovo independence and expressed concern about Russian sphere's of influence.