Europe's new jihadist statelet?
After Sunday's Kosovar independence declaration comes President Bush's stamp of approval for a Republic of Kosovo and the nod of the four major European Union powers: France, Germany, Britain and Italy. In all likelihood, the result will be Europe's 46th legally sovereign government, with a population that is 90 percent Muslim. What is far less clear is whether a weak, perpetually dependent Kosovar statelet — and make no mistake, this will be a toothless, weak and impoverished state — is in the United States' best interest.
The answer is no. Lawlessness and terrorism are likely to fester inside Kosovo — which is rife with organized criminal gangs and plagued by corruption. Slavic resentments emanating from neighboring Serbia and Russian revanchism are a certainty. Much as the Bush administration and European governments favor independence, it creates new problems where old ones lay dormant,
There is really only one potentially positive result from an independent Kosovo: some measure of self-determination for a long-oppressed people. But at this time it is questionable whether independence is the right way to achieve this. Given the territory's recent history, it is difficult to imagine independence occurring without serious jeopardy to U.S. and European interests, at least in the short term.
Of course, the long-term reason to wonder about Kosovar independence is the U.S. troop commitment there. Independence actually means perpetual dependence on NATO and other foreign forces, which will likely continue for decades. As of the fall, about 1,500 U.S. service members were deployed there. Presently, the 2,000-strong E.U. contingent shows a commitment to Kosovo's security well into the future. But at a moment when reciprocity of security commitments among NATO partners in Afghanistan is nowhere to be seen, and U.S. forces are overstretched in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, no one should bet on Europe's will to persevere a decade hence. And yet, independence creates the conditions for the United States to be called upon to stave off chaos in the event that some future roster of European leaders go "Afghan" on Kosovo.
1) Europe's new jihadist statelet?