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Kosovo’s Independence and Its Discontents

[Editor's note: Earlier today, a mass anti-American and anti-Kosovar protest broke out in Belgrade. Protesters set fire to the US embassy.] Remember when Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol (there they are again) condemned the majority party in Congress for not … Read More

By / February 21, 2008

[Editor's note: Earlier today, a mass anti-American and anti-Kosovar protest broke out in Belgrade. Protesters set fire to the US embassy.]

Remember when Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol (there they are again) condemned the majority party in Congress for not supporting the President’s war? Remember when Zbigniew Brzezinski and John McCain both agreed about the utility and necessity of American military intervention on behalf of a Muslim population to protect (and, yes, liberate) them from a murderous tyrant? Yes, who could forget those halcyon days: the Clinton administration’s adventure in the Balkans. You forgot? Well, here’s Richard Holbrooke (more on him later) to refresh your memory about what’s been going on since the United States’ last military “Victory.”

Now recall a few weeks ago when President Bush described the current state of the union. During the “foreign policy” segment he warned how, given our extensive involvement in Iraq, the United States is in an awkward and painful position regarding the status of certain ethnic groups and their right to create their own nation-states. For instance, he talked about the irony of the US helping Turkey attack the Kurds (our allies in Iraq). And he also mentioned the fact that Russia’s attempt to reassert itself as a great power presents a troublesome predicament for the current (and next) administration.

Oh, wait. He didn’t talk about any of that.

Nonetheless, reality still refuses to bend to the president's will. This week, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. Thousands of Albanians celebrated in Pristina.

Is this an opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief, applaud the birth of a nation-state, and watch an oppressed minority manifest its right to self-determination? Is it okay to be a neoliberal (or, for that matter, neoconservative) again? No.

While these developments seem nice and The Economist plays it cute with a graph that shows the national football team rankings for small, budding countries, this is the Balkans.

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