World Affairs on a Sunday Night

Take Connecticut.

Then, shave off about 1,000 square miles and about a million and a half people.

Next, take the median per capita income and cut away about $46,000 or so, leaving only around $2,000/year left to live on. Don’t forget to destroy the economy.

Lastly, fly it to the Balkans and give it a history of misery, war and constant ethnic strife.

Congratulations! You’ve got Kosovo, the world’s newest (mostly) independent nation.

The flag of the newly independent Kosovo. Note the similarity
to both the Bosnian and European Union flags

The other newly minted nation in the area, Montenegro, is actually the size of Connecticut, but with only about 1/7th the population. It begs the question: how do places that are so small manage to become fully-fledged members of the international community? How do they survive and thrive?

In Kosovo and Montenegro’s cases, it looks like they’re pinning their hopes on joining the European Union. So on one level, ethnic groups are demanding independence from larger, multi-ethnic states. But on another, many of these same statelets are banging on Europe’s door to get the benefits that only a massive, continent-wide economy can offer. Forces of disintegration are working on the old national and political levels, but forces of integration are at work on a regional and economic level. It’s pretty fascinating.

The EU, an indecisive body if ever there was one, is still unsure of how to respond. Some members support Kosovo’s independence. Others fear it’ll set a dangerous precedent. I’m pretty sure we aren’t going to see the Republic of Scotland anytime soon, but I can understand their concerns.

Kosovo, by the way, is one of the places in the world where the people love America today. NATO was instrumental in assuring that Kosovo could split from Serbia relatively peacefully, and no one has forgotten that it was mostly our planes that bombed Belgrade in 1998.

I wish Kosovo and all its people the best.


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