Monday, November 22, 2004

A Hyman by Any Other Name . . .

Hyman’s latest "Point" seems trivial (something Hyman himself acknowledges)—dealing with U.S. recognition of a name change for Macedonia. But whether he intends to or not, Hyman’s commentary serves as a stinging indictment of Bush foreign policy. As he notes at the very end of his commentary, the U.S. decision to refer to “The Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia” as simply “Macedonia” is likely a reward for that country’s participation in the “Coalition of the Willing.” What he doesn’t mention is that the country most troubled by this move, Greece, is not only no a member of the “coalition,” but actively opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and has seen many large demonstrations against the war.

Our European allies have remained neutral on the issue and are unlikely to follow the U.S. lead in this matter. They recognize Greece, a member of NATO, as an important ally. They also recognize that the name change will likely have consequences that go beyond simply diplomatic protocol—and might include repeal of legal protections for ethnic Albanians living in FYROM. From their perspective (as well as any rational observer’s), the U.S. action seems like a needless thumb in the eye of an ally and yet another example of making foreign policy decisions out of petty spite and personal emotion rather than level-headed contemplation.

But that probably doesn’t matter that much. After all, the Balkans are such a stable area of the world that there’s really no need to be concerned about possible consequences of short-sighted policy decisions, right?

And that’s The Counterpoint.


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