The American Interestrnhy Srdja TrifkovicrnA Balkans Policy for thernNew AdministrationrnAmerican policies in the Balkans overrnthe past decade ha’e come to embody allrnthat is wrong with the fundamental assumptionsrnof the decisionmakers inrnWashington. A thorough revision ofrnthose policies would be an important steprntoward a more pragmatic American strategy-rnin world affairs based on the nationalrninterest.rnThis is no longer an isolated view, hicrcasingrnnumbers of foreign-policy specialistsrnand public-affairs analysts thinkrnriiat recent changes in Yugoslavia presentrnthe United States with an opportunib,’ tornrcisc its approach. The Rockford Instituterntook the initiati-e to assemble themrnand to allow them to air their opinions,rnaware diat, in the absence of specific alternahxernproposals, the outgoing nahonal-rnsecurit}- team’s prejudices and bureaucraticrninertia mav spill over to the newrnadministration. The result was a conferencernheld on November 14, 2000. Besidesrnour own host team, the panel includedrnexperts from the World Bank, [hernCato hishtute, the Heritage Foundahon,rnDcloitte & Touchc, the Free CongressrnFoundation, and senior policv analystsrnand adisors from both the U.S. Senaternand the House of Representatives.rnThe oerall consensus of the panelistsrnand participants was that the UnitedrnStates’ failure to act prompdy in adophngrnan ccnhanded approach to the Balkansrnnia- cause a serious rift with the F.uropeansrnand reduce American leadershiprnto a marginal role. To aoid future harmrnto its interests in the Balkans and elsewhere,rnthe next administration shouldrnnot base police on personalities. The pre-rnious polic’ toward Serbia — based on thernpersonalih’ of one man, Slobodan Milosernic —should not be replaced with thernunrcalishc notion that his removal willrnsoke all regional problems.rnA pragmatic foreign polie’ demands arnreassessment of U.S. relations with Yugoskniarnbased on regional stability andrndexelopment and on the promotion ofrnAmerican commercial interests. Therndcparhirc from office of those responsil)rnle for tlie Clinton adnunistration’srnfailures —notably Madeleine Albright,rnRichard Holbrooke, and President Clintonrnhimself—should greatly improve thernprospects for this reassessment.rnThe new foreign-policy team in Washingtonrnshould give up the ongoing, openended,rnand ultimately futile “nationbuilding”rnmission in Kosovo. It shouldrncritically reexamine “humanitarian intervention”rnas both a concept and a policy,rnand recognize that it is counterproductivernto challenge the notion of nationalrnsovereignt)’ in the absence of a viable alternative.rnAny support for the idea of anrnindependent Kosovo will further impairrnregional stabilit}’ and damage Americanrnrelations with our allies who are opposedrnto independence. The parties shouldrnwork out a settlement for themselves, andrnthe United States may offer its good officesrnin mediating negotiations —thisrntime in the role of a genuinely honest brokerrnacting in concert with its European alliesrnin facilitating a solution, rather thanrntrying to dictate one, as the Clinton administrationrnwas inclined to do.rnThe United States should cease all effortsrnto coerce the new government inrnBelgrade into siuTcndering persons indictedrnby The Hague Tribunal. Such effortsrnmay result in more dangerous precedents,rnwhich —contrary to the Americanrninterest—are helping to establish a standingrnInternational Criminal Court (ICC),rnfor which The Flaguc Tribunal for Yugoslaviarnand its counterpart for Rwandarnare precursors. This point was reinforcedrnby Yugoslavia’s President Vojislav Kostunica,rnwhose videotaped message to thernconference contained a pointed warningrnagainst international jurisdictions:rnWe know enough about the worldrnto know tiiat international politicsrncan distort the idea of justice. Letrnnic assure you: Anti-Serbianism isrnas common a prejudice in the Balkansrnas is anti-Americanism on thernworld stage. The essential case forrnjustice, the need for it, is simplyrntills: that the human heart craves it.rnWe accept that tiic judicial processrnshould be an integral part of eventualrnreconciliation. But tiic instrunientalizationrnof judicial retaliationrncan only post]3onc effectixe reconciliationrnand make it more difficult.rnIf there is to be a supranational alternative,rnit could only be a worldrntribunal to which all members ofrnthe United Nations submit their jurisdictionrnand their sovereignty’. Irnam not suggesting that the creationrnof such a body is desirable, letrnalone inevitable; I am simply statingrna fact.rnThe panelists agreed that one solutionrnwould be to repatriate the tribunal’s functionsrnto the Yugoslav successor states, includingrnSerbia and Montenegro. In particular,rnthe United States should regardrnas sufficient steps taken by the new authoritiesrnin Belgrade to hold their citizensrncriminally responsible for violations ofrndomestic law. A supranational authorityrnas a substitute for national sovereignty isrnunacceptable in principle and imenforceablernin practice.rnThe conference concluded by recognizingrnthat it is both possible and desirablernto improve relations between thernUnited States and Yugoslavia and to developrnthem on the basis of mutual respect,rnfriendship, and common interest.rnThe Milosevic regime was one obstaclernto the development of such relations; thernideology of hegemonist intervcntionismrntiiat still prevails in America’s foreign-policyrnestablishment is another. It is contraryrnto the authentic tradition of thernAmerican republic, to its true interests,rnand to the will of the American people.rnBy revising its approach to Yugoslaviarnand developing truly evenhanded policiesrnthat will be free from ideological andrnspecial-interest pressures, the new administrationrnwill act in the true Americanrninterest, as well as in the interest of peace,rnstabilit)’, and prosperit)’ in the Balkans.rnBy standing firm on the key issues thatrnaffect Serbia’s national interest, and especiallyrnby safeguarding its sovereignh’ visa-rnvis The Hague Tribunal and its territorialrnintegrit}’ with regard to Kosovo, thernKostunica government can also help promoternnew policies in Washington.rnThrough this conference, the RockfordrnInstitute has made a modest contributionrntoward ending the imperial mindsetrnthat dominates America’s publicrndiscourse. crnFEBRUARY 2001/41rnrnrn