Madam Secretary of State – the Balkans


By Georgy Gounev
January 24, 2008

What could be easily predicted on the eve of the beginning of Mrs Clinton’s service in her capacity of diplomat number one of the United States is the fact that the Balkans won’t be in the focus of her attention. Obviously, according to her, everything in the Balkans is in order, and true to the principle “if something isn’t broken don’t try to fix it”, the dynamic Madam Secretary won’t pay attention to the area unless something dramatic happen, ( as  a new massacre, for instance).  The only context, within which such important and volatile area as the Balkans has been mentioned during Mrs Clinton’s unsuccessful bid for the Presidency of the United States, was the fairy tale involving her heroism when she bravely crossed an airfield while unidentified bullets were raining around her. It was a lie, of course, but the bulk of the American media ignored it. The unusually kind reporters accepted Mrs Clinton’s explanation that she “misspoke” while describing the above mentioned episode. With the exception of Mrs Clinton and her illustrious husband however, the rest of the world would assume that if you say that you were under fire while as a matter of fact no one was shooting at you, such statement can’t be qualified in any other way but as a lie.

It would represent some interest to try to take a look at the image of the Balkans that exists in the mind of the future American Secretary of State. To start with, it has been the area where her husband while enjoying her full support, heroically saved from a brutal ethnic cleansing the Albanian majority of the Kosovo province. He was the one who created the necessary pre-conditions that made possible the emergence of the new independent state of Kosovo. Due to the activities of President Clinton, again fully supported by his wife, the United States were successful in proving to the Muslim world that the Americans are able to protect a Muslim community from the ethnic cleansing exercised by the armed and police forces of a Christian state.

There are though, some important dimensions of the Balkan situation missing from Mrs Clinton’s list of American achievements. From political point of view, the actions of the Clinton administration against Serbia violated one of the most important principles regarded as an absolutely necessary condition for the preservation of the peace on the continent- the inviolability of the borders established at the end of WWII.

From strategic point of view the lack of reciprocity in Washington’s actions with regard to the ethnic conflict in Kosovo created the impression among the Christian population of the Balkans that the entire might of the United States is behind the Albanian community and the American actions were directed not just against the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, but, rather, against Serbia and the Serbians. This fact contributed immensely for the expansion of the anti- Americanism throughout the Balkans.

From a moral prospective this feeling has been reinforced by the way Serbia was virtually bombed out of an area that historically, culturally and emotionally always has occupied a particularly important place in the heart of the Serbian people. It was the place where one of the most important battles has been fought by a Christian force against the ferocious assault of the Turkish invaders- a fact completely ignored, or much more probably, never learned by Mrs Clinton.

In all fairness, it is true that the actions of Clinton administration have made America popular with the Albanian people and the Albanian communities of Kosovo and Macedonia. At the same time, there could be a little doubt that Albania and Kosovo are the only Muslim populated areas where the United States is a popular country. No Muslim statesman or leader outside the Balkans has expressed gratitude for the American protection of the fellow Muslims.

The other side of the coin is that regardless of everything done by America for Albania and the Albanians, neither Kosovo is able to function as a democratic and economically viable state, nor the Americans have managed to find some effective way to suppress the drug producing and drug trafficking activities of the Albanian Mafia.

The very first statement of Mrs Clinton made even before the formal confirmation of her new position was to call Afghanistan a” narco state”. Well, so is Kosovo, and so is Albania. In addition to that, an even more important than drugs threat by the name of Radical Islam is advancing throughout the Balkans.

This is only a part of the complex Balkan situation the new American Secretary of State most probably will try to ignore. It remains to be seen for how long…

Email Dr. Gounev at “georgygounev@yahoo.com”

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