Why Albania Matters: The West May Again Pay for Its Dithering by Making Vast Expenditures for Humanitarian Aid Later
Abramowitz, Morton I., Newsweek
The West may again pay for its dithering by making vast expenditures for humanitarian aid later
FOR A TIME, IT looked as though Albania had become America's favorite Balkan country. The Pentagon quickly cozied up to the military once the country abandoned communism-but has now run away just as fast. Do we have an interest in trying to contain Albania's collapse?
Certainly. It's enough to remember the last time the question was raised in the Balkans. Unfortunately, that record is the recent history of Bosnia--rape, massacres and torture; huge expenditures and the prospect that the new order may fall apart if NATO doesn't put some muscle behind implementing the Dayton accords. Bosnia argues that the West needs to do better.
Sleepwalking in the Balkans is dangerous. Nobody wanted to look too closely at the important but fraudulent Albanian elections of last May. And the pyramid disaster blossomed quickly.
What we do now that the cold war is over, it appears, is hope there's a happy twist of fate and the problem goes away. The West watched the situation degenerate, sent people to talk and offered our usual rhetoric--but never really concerted our thinking and efforts. Once more, domestic politics undermined governments' ability to manage a crisis whose "strategic importance" isn't obvious.
The Albanian crisis could directly threaten regional stability. A refugee exodus will weigh heavily on Italy and Greece. More dangerous still, the flood of weapons could spill into Macedonia (where pyramid schemes also are popular) and Kosovo. …