For the past century, Kosovo, the Balkan region of enormous historical, cultural and religious importance to the Serbian people, has been a Serbian province.
Although Kosovo has been largely autonomous during this period, the province’s political arrangement has infuriated a vast majority of the people of Kosovo, who, as ethnic Albanians, have little in common with Serbia’s Slavic majority.
With the support and approval of the United States, Kosovo declared its independence on Sunday, a move that could throw the Balkans into yet another state of instability.
Most observers and political analysts point to the recent re-election of Boris Tadic, the progressive, pro-Western presidential incumbent, as a sign Serbia and its population are eager to discard the radical nationalism that characterized the country during the 1990s and embrace economic growth and political reconciliation.
It is plausible to suggest, in the coming days, Boris Tadic’s liberal government, which has been lukewarm on the Kosovo people’s independence, could collapse due to public dissatisfaction with the government’s inability to retain Kosovo. With a power vacuum created, Tomislav Nikolic, an ultra-nationalist who narrowly lost to Tadic in the recent election, and his Serbian Radical Party would be primed to step into power. Nikolic, who has been in favor of sending Serbian military and police forces back into Kosovo, likely would order a military intervention in Kosovo, sparking yet another armed conflict in the Balkans.
This scary yet realistic scenario would be the direct result of the United States’ inexplicable decision to recognize an independent Kosovo. This policy emboldened the rebellious people from Kosovo, causing them to reject a number of fair and reasonable offers from the Serbian government that would have guaranteed Kosovo complete autonomy.
Aside from setting the stage for another Balkan conflict, the United States’ Kosovo policy has a number of other problematic ramifications.
For instance, by supporting the plight of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority, the United States is approving of self-determination. This approval compromises Serbia’s sovereignty, setting a dangerous precedent for the future and encouraging other disenfranchised peoples to follow the rebellious lead of the Albanian people of Kosovo.
Other countries with rebellious provinces or regions, such as Spain, Russia, China and Turkey, can’t be pleased with the United States’ support of self-determination and disregard for national sovereignty.
The United States’ Kosovo policy also serves to further alienate Serbia from the Western establishment, pushing the Balkan’s largest and most powerful country farther into Russia’s sphere of influence.
Russia and Serbia, connected by their Orthodox faiths, always have had a close alliance, and with the United States and Western Europe supporting Kosovo’s independence, Serbia is becoming more dependent than ever on the political and economic support of the Russians.
In no way would it be strategically or politically advantageous for the United States, whose relationship with Russia has become increasingly strained, to encourage a closer relationship between Russia and Serbia.
Finally, the recent election of Hashim Thaçi, the former political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, as the Prime Minister of Kosovo places the United States in a precarious position.
The KLA, which the United States’ government previously deemed a “terrorist organization,” received significant funding from al-Qaida in the past, making the United States’ current support of Kosovo’s Thaçi-led government morally questionable. At a time when the United States’ global reputation is less than stellar, do we really want to do further damage to our image by propping up a terrorist-led government?
The establishment of an independent Kosovo is not politically, strategically or economically advantageous to the United States.