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How Macedonia Could Push NATO into a War

August 25, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

When Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked Donald Trump last month
why he should send his son to die defending Montenegro,
NATO’s newest member, the president seemed to repudiate his
own administration’s policy. He indicated that Americans
shouldn’t be willing to sacrifice their lives for such a
trivial ally. Furthermore, he warned that Montenegro “has very
aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations,
you’re in World War III.” As Cato Institute senior
fellow
Doug Bandow
pointed out, Trump’s comment was odd on two
counts. First, the Senate approved the admission of Montenegro on
his watch in March 2017. If he thought that latest episode of
adding a useless microstate to the Alliance was unwise, he could
have withdrawn the treaty from consideration before the Senate
vote. Second, as Bandow notes archly, that while “it is
theoretically possible that the vast, aggressive, powerful
Montenegrin legions might launch themselves towards Moscow,”
it isn’t too likely, because Montenegrin leaders “do
not appear to have entirely lost their minds.”

Indeed, the scenario that a small Balkan NATO partner might
trigger a war that entangles the United States is unlikely to
entail a direct provocation of Russia. That reality has made it
easy for Trump’s critics , here and abroad, to mock his comment about Montenegro triggering a world
war. A far greater risk is that the tripwire would be a conflict in
which an alliance member became embroiled with one of its regional
neighbors. Montenegro actually is less of a danger in that respect
than NATO’s latest invitee, Macedonia. Montenegro seems on
relatively good terms with neighboring states, although it has been
involved in an extended border dispute with Kosovo that was
resolved just recently when the Kosovo parliament passed
bitterly resisted legislation approving a settlement of the
controversy.

Macedonia’s tenuous
relationships with its neighbor states make it a liability for the
alliance.

Macedonia is on much worse terms with Kosovo and that
country’s ethnic brethren in Albania. Officials and the
populations of both countries have long pursued a “Greater
Albania” agenda that lays claim to swaths of territory in
Serbia, Montenegro, and especially Macedonia. The NATO-assisted
severing of Kosovo from Serbia in 1999 was the first major triumph
for that agenda, and Greater Albanian expansionists wasted no time
in trying to follow up on their victory. Within months, portions of
Macedonia in which ethnic Albanians constituted a majority (or in
some cases, just a plurality) of the population sought to destabilize that country, demanding extensive
autonomy for those provinces. Both the United States and its NATO
allies put intense pressure …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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