Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Freezer is Breaking

9/11 put the Balkans from the front burner of American foreign policy to the back burner.  Iraq then put the Balkans into the freezer, if you don't mind the analogy, as most of Washington (and Brussels) focused elsewhere.  Occasionally attention returned to Kosovo (rarely back to Bosnia) with NATO relenting and supporting Kosovo's independence in 2008.  Over the past several months, Serbs have been blocking roads and setting up checkpoints, a challenge not only to the government of Kosovo, such as it is, but also to the UN and NATO. 

So, we have another bit of escalation yesterday with Serb protestors injuring a number of NATO troops.  This may not get much attention since NATO also fired upon a Pakistani border post or two from Afghanistan.  Still, just because the top level policy-makers are largely ignoring a problem does not mean the problem will go away.  So, Kosovo is demanding attention again.  I doubt it will get much as there are so many other problems--Pakistan, Iran, Euro, etc. 

It does seem clear, at least to me, that NATO plans to shrink the force in Kosovo further are also going to have to be put on ice.  This is not the time to reduce the number of troops, even if the instability is largely concentrated in and near Mitrovica.  But budget cutting pressures may lead to what is quite suboptimal for regional stability.

No comments: