My recent article in the American Conservative: magazine:
March 24, 2008 Issue
Copyright © 2007 The American Conservative
The Guns of April
The choices are intervene or intervene.
by Leon Hadar
April 18, 2009
Pundits warned that the Middle East would present the newly elected president with his first international crisis. Iraqi Shi’ite leader Muqtada al-Sadr could revive his forces’ attacks on U.S. troops. The Iranians might try to test the new occupant of the White House. More violence between Israelis and Palestinians could force the president to “do something.” And then there was the prospect of a devastating terrorist attack on the U.S. itself.
But as usual, the conventional wisdom was wrong. The leading Middle Eastern players decided to wait for the 44th president to make the first move on their regional chessboard.
Instead, the international crisis confronting the new resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue emanated from another part of the former Ottoman Empire, the Balkans. The emergency began when Samedin Xhezairi, a member of a shadowy Albanian terrorist group, Allah’s Army, aka Hezbollah in Kosovo, blew himself up and killed Javier Solana, the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union, on April 16 in Pristina.
Solana was about to conclude a series of negotiations that would have led to an agreement between Serbia and leaders of the state of Kosovo whereby the northern part of the Kosovo—where the majority Serb population lives in relative isolation from Kosovo’s Albanian-dominated institutions—would become an autonomous region under joint control of the Kosovo European Republic, Serbia, and the EU. The talks were sponsored by the U.S., the EU, Russia, and the UN.
Albanian and Serbian nationalists opposed the compromise, and Solana was able to win the agreement of Belgrade and Pristina only after committing Brussels to a process that would allow both Serbia and the KER to join the EU in ten years. Following Solana’s assassination, Serbia and its patron, Russia, withdrew from the negotiations.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Moscow television on April 17 that the “specter of Albanian terrorism is threatening the lives of our Serbian brethren.” He said that if the KER took steps to extend its sovereignty in the Serb areas in northern Kosovo, his government would have “no choice” but to deploy Russian troops to protect the Serbs. The KER countered that this constituted an “act of war,” insisting on its right to control northern Kosovo and calling on the U.S. and EU to provide military assistance in “confronting Russian state-sponsored terrorism.”Read more
And from TAC Blog:
Maliki’s Tet Offensive
Posted on April 11th, 2008 by Leon Hadar
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” Parallels between war in Mesopotamia and the one in Southeast Asia have been drawn by critics of the war (examples: here, here and here). Even President Bush seemed to have accepted the comparison (in arguing against an Iraq pullout) as have the majority of Americans. I personally agree that one could have opposed both wars from a realist perspective. And although I can empathize with the U.S. decisionmakers who assumed that opposing North Vietnam was in the national interest in the context of the Cold War (The North Vietnamese were allied with the communists in Moscow and Beijing), the decision to oust Saddam Hussein (an enemy of both Al Qaeda and Iran) and invade Iraq didn’t make any sense based on post-9/11 strategic considerations. In any case, I think that Stanley Karnow made a good point when he drew attention to the failure of this U.S. administration to apply the “lessons of Vietnam” in Iraq:Read more
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