Home USA News How the US broke Kosovo and what that means for Ukraine – POLITICO

How the US broke Kosovo and what that means for Ukraine – POLITICO

How the US broke Kosovo and what that means for Ukraine – POLITICO

Not that it really mattered. Like a parade of other prominent Americans who have blown through the country over the past quarter century, Bush wasn’t in town to learn about Kosovo. He was here to make money as part of a group led by retired United States Gen. Wesley K. Clark looking to invest in the country’s energy sector.

Over the years, Kosovo — a postage stamp-sized Balkan country that Washington and its NATO allies wrenched out of Serbia in 1999 to halt an unfolding genocide against the ethnic-Albanian population — has seen its share of American fortune hunters. 

The highway Bush’s entourage used en route to Pristina from North Macedonia that day, for example, was built by a consortium led by U.S. construction giant Bechtel at a cost of more than €700 million. But like other big, American-led infrastructure projects in countries where Washington has gone in with guns blazing, the 65-kilometer stretch of road was plagued by cost overruns and corruption. Last month, the Kosovar minister who oversaw the deal was sentenced to three years in prison for paying more than €50 million too much for the road.

A giant board in Pristina celebrates Kosovo’s independence in 2008 | Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images

Despite the whiff of scandal, there’s no question that Kosovo has been a good bet for many of the American businesses active here. Whether Kosovo itself has really benefited is a more complicated question, one that both Washington and Ukraine would do well to consider as Kyiv tries to convince Americans to remain engaged in the country, including by helping with the mammoth task of rebuilding infrastructure destroyed by Russia.

American help is seen as crucial not just while the fighting rages, but also in its aftermath — whatever shape that takes. Yet Ukraine should also be clear about the strings that are attached. In every conflict the U.S. has engaged in in recent decades, from Iraq to Afghanistan, to little Kosovo, the clean-up crew has been led by America Inc. Over time, though, political will in Washington to remain engaged in foreign countries typically fades once big business has squeezed what it can out of America’s presence.

As the second anniversary of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s all-out invasion approaches, American support is hanging by a thread, with Congress divided over whether to send more military aid.


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