The Foreign Service Journal, October 2019

64 OCTOBER 2019 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL sectarian fears that lead to constant con- flict. But there is no normative body—no Organization for Security and Coopera- tion in Europe, no Association of South- east Asian Nations—to which Middle Eastern nations can refer or appeal. • And leaders matter. Milosevic and his sponsorship of ethnic nationalism had parallels in Iraq’s Nouri al-Maliki’s promotion of sectarian divisions and, later, in actions by Ukraine’s parliament to deny official status to the Russian language. When leaders teach that only some of the people belong there, they promote conflicts that can turn to war. American and European military and diplomatic engagement was decisive in bringing peace to the Balkans. For many reasons, the story in the Middle East and Ukraine has been quite different. The scale of the challenge is also entirely different—Iraq and Afghanistan are each far larger than the seven Balkan countries together. The total cost of U.S. operations in the Balkans was less than $30 billion, but on a local per capita basis, the United States spent about 10 times as much money, and deployed about 100 times more troops, in the Bal- kans than in Iraq and Afghanistan. Serwer concludes with an appeal for leadership in the Balkans, the Middle East and Ukraine that will adopt “prin- cipled commitments to move in the democratic and free-market direction” and “eschew ethno-sectarian appeals and partition.” Better leadership in the United States is also essential. President Donald Trump, Serwer writes, “disdains international norms and views the world as disordered, hostile and chaotic. That is a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Serwer offers no prediction here that better days lie ahead—only an assertion that, with clarity about objectives, better days are possible. Today, that seems optimism enough. n Harry Kopp is a frequent contributor to The Foreign Service Journal and a mem- ber of its editorial board. He is a friend and Foreign Service colleague of Daniel Serwer, whom he has known for more than 30 years.