"What Would Bismarck Do?"
Russia’s relationship to events in the Balkans in fact serves as a barometer of her strength. When Russia is weak, she has to stand by helplessly as her Balkan friends—Serbia heads the list—are defeated and she is humiliated. When she is strong, and when her government wants to look strong at home as well as abroad, she brooks no such treatment. More than once, events in the Balkans have led Russia to go to war.
At this point the ghost of 1914 rises, not as wisps of vapor but like Il Commendatore. Can Washington see it? Probably not. In the middle of the Clinton administration’s Balkan war, I asked an American four-star general who was in most of the key meetings, “Don’t our people know the history of this region?” He replied, “They know the history, but they don’t think it applies to them.” Nothing blinds like hubris.