Will the US withdraw from the Balkans?

From what I understand, President-Elect Bush has expressed his disapproval of US involvement in peacekeeping (or peacemaking, depending on your perspective) missions around the world. A common theme in his election campaign was that the purpose of the military was to defend American soil, not get involved in conflicts elsewhere. (Since the US military is oversized for this role, I don’t know how he reconciles this with his desire to increase the military’s size and power)

When he becomes President, will US troops be pulled out of Bosnia and Kosovo?

Would this be a good thing or a bad thing?

My thoughts on this are that he will not pull the troops out, since that carries the strong possibility that the wars in those areas would start up again, which would be a major blunder and embarrassment for him.

What do you think, and what is your reasoning?

I don’t think that this was a theme he expressed at all, much less advocated. I believe that his position is that the US military’s role is to protect the US’s vital national interests, and he does not define the Balkans as a vital national interest. I disagree with him, but hey.

As for withdrawing from the Balkans, I don’t see it happening. I think everyone will agree that the continued strength and viability of NATO is a vital national interest, and I think Bush will come to realize how much importance our European allies place on US involvement in the Balkans. As he comes to that realization, and realizes the damage a unilateral US withdrawal will do to the alliance, he will change course.
My best guess is that there will be a face-saving compromise for Bush, in which some U.S. troops are withdrawn, to be replaced by some more European troops.


How about the following scenario as the possible reason why the US and other NATO countries ventured into the Balkans at the first place. And we won’t pull our troops out of there because of our “national interest”.

1- Look at the map of the area. Locate Azarbayejan – where the the latest and greatest oil reserves have recently been discovered. All big western oil companies are pouring billions of dollars there to get their share of goodies.

2- How are you going to get that oil, in the most economic way to the West? Tankering it through already crowded Bosphorus is expensive and a potential environmental disaster.

3- Through distruction of Balkans, we can now come up with a Marshall Plan to boost the economies of those countries. How about building a pipeline through the Balkans to get the Azarbayejan oil to the West?

4- Obviously, we need to keep our troops there permanently to protect the pipelines, just as we keep our mighty naval forces in the Persian Gulf to protect the safe passage of the oil tankers.

Ever wondered why the oil companies do not pay for the bodyguard of their assets? Why should they, as long as you and I as taxpayers chip in $300 billion per year in defense budget to protect the oil company’s assets.

Just to clarify, it is not the US but NATO which has troops in the Balkans. To withdraw the US component of the NATO peacekeeping force, Bush would have to persuade NATO to withdraw (diplomatically difficult), withdraw the US troops unilaterally (diplomatically bad) or withdraw the US from NATO (strategically and politically bad).

If US troops did withdraw, I don’t think it would be a particular problem. The European members of NATO would continue to keep a military presence there and it would almost certainly close the argument on whether or not there should be an EU Rapid Reaction Force, independent of NATO (in favour of the “yes” camp).

I think SuaSponte’s prediction is plausible: he will withdraw some US trops to please the domestic isolationists and leave a few to please the US’s NATO partners; thereby pleasing nobody. That said, I think we can assume that the Balkans policy of a man who thinks Slovakia and Slovenia are the same country might not be entirely predictable.