During the 90 years, the fact that politics in the Balkans marked the epicenter for American diplomacy was internationally evident. The democratic changes as well as the various ethnic conflicts that followed the dissolution of Yugoslavia formed the basis of the American military presence in the area. Although, compared to Bush, Clinton may appear less interventionist, it was the Democratic President who gave the go-ahead for American participation in any conflict in the area.
The military presence itself in the Balkans, still relevant today, reveals not only the interest, but also the desire for concrete commitment of the US foreign and security policy for that area.
Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are the two historical examples of this dynamism. Now you want for a strategic shift of interests, or for a more global involvement - Middle Eastern would say someone - of American diplomacy, the last two Bush administrations have remained quite indifferent to recent developments in the Balkans. Except for the self-declared Kosovar independence, the US embassy "no longer gives directives", as an old Balkan joke would say.
However, this did not make the Balkan chancelleries reticent in expressing assessments of Obama's advent of the White House. The future entry of these countries into NATO, as well as the US military presence itself (in Kosovo and Macedonia) made the various diplomacies of that part of Europe very sensitive to overseas election campaigns. Although it is presumable that the area will no longer be on top of US immediate interests, no one foresees a rapid American disengagement. Indeed, there are those who even hypothesize that in the peninsula next to Italy there is a new frontier of confrontation - for now political fiction - between Moscow and Washington.
However, the immediate perception is that of the emergence of multilateral policies around the area: and this is precisely what the most Europeans hope for from Obama. Precisely on this line, which favors a multilateral approach involving Europe and engaging it more, the official statements of the two White House candidates were practically the same. Both supported the consolidation of Kosmet independence and to the same extent called for greater stability in Bosnia. For his part, involved in these two areas, the Serbian government sees Obama as an opportunity to improve relations with Washington.
The Albanian component in the area (Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia) is traditionally indifferent about the choice of one candidate or the other of the two great American parties. And indeed, if the Democrats (Clinton) have implemented the 1999 Kosovo intervention, the Republicans (Bush) have recognized its independence. For this reason the majority of the Albanians in the Balkans would support any American foreign policy, provided that it is not a disengagement.
In itself, the US government has recently become the major sponsor for the Euro-Atlantic integration of all the Western Balkan countries (Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia), assisting their respective national policies towards Brussels. Perhaps the only point in regional issues where Obama could make a difference compared to the Republicans is the ten-year diatribe between Athens and Skopje on the historical-cultural heritage of the name "Macedonia". Obama, following a trend of his party, has in the past supported the Greek position, while the Republicans have shown themselves particularly sensitive to the Macedonian position. This is not, in any case, the terrain for colossal imbalances.
In short, American foreign policy has strategic constants that far exceed the electoral deadlines. However, the current global situation does not allow the US to concentrate on the Balkans; in this sense neither a man nor a party can change the decided course. The only point on which we can focus our attention is the choice Obama is about to make about his staff of advisors. We can also try to evaluate the importance of this factor, especially through the comparison with the men chosen by Bush.
As far as the diplomatic entourage is concerned, the name of Madeleine Albright stands out, ex-Secretary of State at the time of Clinton as well as author of the most famous philippics that favored the American escalation in the Balkans (Bosnia 1995, Kosovo 1999). Even more interesting is the papal figure for the State Department. Although the name of Hillary Clinton is in vogue lately, it is rumored that Richard Holbrooke, the American negotiator of excellence during all the post-Yugoslavian crises, will be appointed to hold this office. In addition, other names with a Balkan "background" - gen. Wesley Clark, commander-in-chief of NATO forces during the Kosovo crisis - would come to approach the next Obama administration.
The latter will certainly be largely changed, as in general the countries of the peninsula themselves have changed. Many of the American fortunes on the ground are due to various factors that are no longer current, such as the weakness of Eltsinian Russia or the economies of these countries, which were then bankrupt. However, with men of this kind, little inclined to play the part of the "doves" - and their past bears witness to this - a clearer and more dynamic orientation of the Americans in the Balkan peninsula cannot be excluded. Before Moscow concludes the return of these countries to "their own area of influence" - remember the statement about Bulgaria just a few weeks ago - Americans will be less inclined to let their increased influence in the area, gained over the years, escape '90.
Source: Crooked Wood
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