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Op-Ed: The U.S. Kosovo Policy Needs Change
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: GEORGIA ECONOMOU
February 15, 2008—No. 11 (202) 785-8430

Op-Ed: The U.S. Kosovo Policy Needs Change

Washington, DC—The following Op-Ed appeared in the National Herald, 2-9-08 page 11.

U.S. Kosovo Policy Needs Change

By Gene Rossides

February 5, 2008

The U.S. policy towards Kosovo is in urgent need of reassessment in the interests of the U.S. In November 2007 Doug Bandow, the Robert A. Taft Fellow at the American Conservative Defense Alliance and former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and Senior Fellow at the CATO Institute, at an AHI noon forum called for a change in U.S. policy towards Kosovo.

Reassessment…long overdue

Now we have three leading U.S. international affairs experts and members of the foreign policy establishment, John Bolton, Lawrence Eagleburger and Peter Rodman, state in a recent Op-Ed article in the Washington Times, (1-31-08; page A 14; col.1)

that “A reassessment of America’s Kosovo policy is long overdue.”

John Bolton is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; Lawrence Eagleburger is a former U.S. Secretary of State; and Peter Rodman is a former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. All three are currently active in foreign policy matters. Bolton and Rodman are conservatives; Eagleburger was a career diplomat. They state:

“Attempting to impose a settlement in Serbia would be a direct challenge to the Russian Federation which opposes any Kosovo settlement not accepted by Belgrade.

We believe an imposed settlement of the Kosovo question and seeking to partition Serbia’s sovereign territory without its consent is not in the interest of the United States. The blithe assumption of American policy—that the mere passage of nine years of relative quiet would be enough to lull Serbia and Russia into reversing their positions on a conflict that goes back centuries has proven to be naïve in the extreme.

We believe U.S. policy on Kosovo must be re-examined without delay, and we urge the Bush administration to make it clear that pending the results of such

re-examination it would withhold recognition of a Kosovo independence declaration and discourage Albanians from taking that step.”

The Bolton, Eagleburger and Rodman article points out certain significant facts, for example, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, “which reaffirms Serbian sovereignty in Kosovo while providing for the province’s ‘substantial autonomy.’”

Further, they state: “Even if Kosovo declared itself an independent state it would be a dysfunctional one and a ward of the international community for the indefinite future. Corruption and organized crime are rampant. The economy, aside from international largesse and criminal activities, is nonviable. Law enforcement, integrity of the courts, protection of persons and property, and other prerequisites for statehood are proactively nonexistent.”

The authors point out that viable and lasting settlements of difficult issues “should result from negotiation and compromise. Such an outcome has been undermined by a U.S. promise to the Kosovo Albanians that their demands will be satisfied if they remain adamant and no agreement is reached with Belgrade. Such a promise cannot be justified by the claim, often heard from proponents of independence, that the Albanians’ ‘patience’ is running out, so independence must be granted without delay. This is nothing less than appeasing a threat of violence.”

U.S. and Russia

Of special interest are the authors’ comments on U.S. actions and Russia:

“Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the current policy is the dismissive attitude displayed toward Russia’s objections. Whatever disagreements the United States may have with Moscow on other issues, and there are many, the United States should not prompt an unnecessary crisis in U.S.- Russia relations. There are urgent matters regarding which the United States must work with Russia, including Iran’s nuclear intentions and North Korea’s nuclear capability. Such cooperation would be undercut by American action to neutralize Moscow’s legitimate concerns regarding Kosovo.

If the U.S. moves forward with recognizing Kosovo, Moscow’s passivity cannot be taken for granted. It may have been one thing in 1999 for the United States and NATO to take action against Yugoslavia over the objections of a weak Russia.

Today, it would be unwise to dismiss Russia’s willingness and ability to assist Serbia. On an issue of minor importance to the United States, is this a useful expenditure of significant political capital with Russia?” (Emphasis added.)

I concur with these comments about Russia and go further. Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. should have done much more to develop its relationships with Russia. We should have recognized during the Clinton administration and the current Bush administration that Russia is central to the United States’ international interests. We should be seeking a “special relationship” with Russia and eliminate the special relationship with Britain, a second level nation, who has undermined U.S. efforts to develop a strong, mutually beneficial U.S.- Russia relationship. Russia and China are the most important countries in the world for U.S. interests, and Britain is down the ladder.

Under Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, Greece has dramatically increased its relations with Russia, economically and culturally. The Russia—Greece agreement regarding the Burgas—Alexandroupolis oil and gas pipeline and Russia’s plan for pipelines under the Black Sea to carry oil and gas to Bulgaria and then through Greece to Italy, represent a major increase in Greece-Russia relations.

Greece—the key for U.S.

Greece is the strategic, economic and political key for the U.S. in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, not Turkey. And Greece’s role as a bridge to Russia can be important to U.S. interests, particularly when the U.S. stops taking Greece for granted and recognizes Greece’s importance to the U.S. and its reliability as an ally.

Doug Bandow made another key point in his remarks, namely, that our friends should speak up when they believe American policies are wrong. He was specifically referring to Greece, among other nations, and urged Greece to strongly voice its views regarding Kosovo and other issues.

Call and write to President Bush and Secretary of State Rice and urge them in the interests of the U.S. to reassess U.S.—Kosovo policy and oppose independence for Kosovo and support U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244.

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For additional information, please contact Nick Larigakis at (202) 785-8430 or [email protected]. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.