MEMORANDUM TO: OPINION LEADERS
FROM: GARY SCHMITT
SUBJECT: Consolidating Democracy in Europe
I want to draw your attention to the following op-ed ("Europe's Last Hard Cases") in today's Washington Post by Deputy Editorial Editor Jackson Diehl. As the title of the piece suggests, consolidating the democratic peace in places like Moldova or Ukraine is hardly a sure thing. Yet, as Bruce Jackson, PNAC director and president of the Project on Transitional Democracies, is quoted as saying: often these states see "themselves as part of Europe, and allies of the United States. Not all of them will necessarily make it - but we will be judged by how many of them" do.
In this connection, two distinct but related problems present themselves. The first is that the U.S. is so busy with other pressing security matters that it will not give sufficient attention to this effort. For example, as Diehl notes, virtually lost in the wake of visits by other foreign dignitaries and headlines from Iraq was the recent visit of new Serbian prime minister Zoran Zivkovic -- a democrat and reformer -- who seems serious about turning Serbia into an ally of Washington. The question is, will Washington care enough to provide the right set of carrots and sticks to make that a possibility. Which brings us to the second issue: maintaining U.S. leadership on these matters. There is little prospect that Europe alone will be able to bring sufficient power to bear and credibility to press forward. Given the many serious and urgent problems the U.S. faces today, one can understand how easy it would be to put consolidating the democratic peace in Europe on the back burner. However, as the one state with truly global interests and responsibilities, the U.S. would be making a serious mistake if, for lack of attention, it allowed countries like Ukraine, Georgia and Serbia to slip, in Diehl's words, into a nether world of "unstable buffer states, home to drug and arms traffickers, terrorist groups and presidents-for-life."
Last Hard Cases
Almost lost among the foreign favor-seekers who crowded Washington last month was the leader of a nation the United States went to war against just four years ago. For most of the 1990s U.S. policymakers were preoccupied with containing Serbia -- the main component of a country then called Yugoslavia and recently renamed Serbia and Montenegro. Now its new prime minister, Zoran Zivkovic, is but one of the heads of government seeking to forge a "strategic alliance" with the Bush administration -- and as a teaser, he's offering to send the army crushed by U.S. air power to support American soldiers in Iraq.
It's not an easy sell, despite the need for troops. Zivkovic is a democrat and a reformer, but by his own account his country is still plagued by economic dysfunction and criminal gangs, including some linked to extreme nationalists and criminals of the last decade's wars. One of the worst, Ratko Mladic, is believed by prosecutors at a Balkan war crimes tribunal in the Hague still to be at large in the country. Zivkovic's predecessor was assassinated by the gangsters, and it's not clear that the army has reformed very much since it fought the wars of the Balkans.
Yet here was Zivkovic, meeting with Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice and outlining a strategy for his country that is pinned on integration with the central institutions of the West -- the European Union and NATO, the alliance whose first shooting war was waged in 1999 to drive the Serbian army out of Kosovo. As a first step, Serbia is hoping for an invitation to the Partnership for Peace, NATO's program for friends and prospective members. "Serbia is looking for an ally in the United States, and in return Serbia can offer to be a reliable partner in the Balkans," the prime minister said at a meeting at The Post. To prove he means it, he told Rice that Serbia would contribute 1,000 troops to any U.S. mission -- including Afghanistan or Iraq.
It would be easy enough to dismiss the proposed partnership -- yet Zivkovic represents not just his historically troublesome corner of Europe but a much larger piece of unfinished business for the West. Though NATO and the EU have undertaken big expansions since the fall of the Berlin Wall, they have yet to cope with a dozen countries and some 170 million people who consider themselves European. They range from bits and pieces of the former Yugoslavia and the former hermit state Albania in the Balkans, to former Soviet possessions such as Armenia and Georgia in the Caucasus, to the newly independent states that lie between Central Europe and Russia -- from giant Ukraine and impoverished Moldova to Belarus, the continent's last dictatorship.
The easy part of reconstructing Europe after the Cold War was expanding the West to include countries such as the Czech Republic and Poland, which had Western traditions and a history of democracy. States such as Romania and Bulgaria have since been nursed toward free-market capitalism and democracy by the promise of membership in the transatlantic alliance. But what to do with Ukraine, a country the size of France with a population of 50 million, which teeters between democracy and autocracy, as well as between alignment with Moscow and with Washington? Or Turkey, a country that forms Europe's border with the Arab Middle East and belongs to NATO but not the EU? Or, indeed, Serbia, the most frequent starting point for European wars in the past 100 years?
"Where this part of Europe finds itself five years from now is where we will be for the next 50 years," predicts Bruce Jackson, a well-connected former Pentagon official and advocate of NATO expansion, who has made it his mission to call attention to Europe's last hard cases. The alternatives are stark in their range -- countries such as Serbia and Ukraine could be coaxed into becoming democracies, U.S. military allies and part of a federal Europe; they could fall under the suzerainty of a resurgent Russian empire; they could drift along as unstable buffer states, home to drug and arms traffickers, terrorist groups and presidents-for-life.
Jackson, who recently founded the Project on Transitional Democracies, has been trying to persuade policymakers in Washington and Brussels to aim for the first alternative, even if it means tutoring some unsavory characters -- or in Europe's case, subsidizing more poor farmers. "These are the last victims of communism, fascism and nationalism," Jackson says. "They imagine themselves part of Europe, and allies of the United States. Not all of them will necessarily make it -- but we will be judged by how many of them we can save."
His strategy meets resistance in Paris and parts of Brussels, which would prefer to keep Turkey out of the EU and exclude Ukraine and the Caucasus from the West altogether. But it seems to be gaining traction in the Bush administration, which is pushing hard for Turkey's EU membership and accepted Ukraine's offer of troops for Iraq despite the problematic record of President Leonid Kuchma.
Zivkovic, too, got a warm reception from Rice and Powell. As for his troop offer -- officials say they are thinking about it.