It is tough to expect that the deep polarisation that has manifested within U.S. Society will have a substantial influence on Washinton’s foreign policy strategy in the second half of Jo Biden’s term. However, there is no doubt that activities and processes will develop in congress that will make it more difficult for the country’s foreign policy to function, and that shift the focus away from it
One of Biden’s key foreign policy priorities – support for Ukraine – could be reduced, though not revoked entirely, in the event that Russian forces advance or a stalemate is reached on the battlefield, but also in the event of a worsening of the economic crisis within the U.S., in a context that could lead the Republican majority in the House of Representatives to bring into question issues of responsibility and limitations on the continuation of aid to Kiev.
We can certainly also expect Biden to make a “pre-emptive strike” on Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, in the scope of which he will invest significant energy, both at home and abroad, in warning American society and the country’s allies on the international stage about the “threats” to their interests in the event that his predecessor returns to the White House. This is also evident in the Balkans, where 2024 is being increasingly cited and leading to speculation on deadlines for the finalising of the process prior to any possible return of Trump to power, which is a possibility that’s causing a certain sense of unease in Priština and Sarajevo.
Creating “fake urgency” for resolving the status of Kosovo brings neither stability nor long-term solutions. Pressure on Priština to abandon its unilateral moves could, on the other hand, strengthen Washington’s authority in the eyes of the Serbian people
It will be difficult for U.S. policy in the Balkans to change, because it continues to be burdened by old targets: the attempt to legitimise the NATO aggression of 1999 and legalise “Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence”, the support for Kosovo Albanians and Bosniaks of the “allies from the ‘90s”, and the region’s integration under the umbrella of the NATO alliance despite clear opposition to it among the Serbian people.
On the flip side, the misguided attempt to utilise the Ukraine crisis to pressurise Serbia didn’t yield results either on the issue of Kosovo or on the issue of Belgrade imposing sanctions against the Russian Federation. On the contrary, it caused only increased Euroscepticism and resistance to blackmail within Serbian public opinion. Creating “fake urgency” for resolving the status of Kosovo brings neither stability nor long-term solutions. Pressure on Priština to abandon its unilateral moves could, on the other hand, strengthen Washington’s authority in the eyes of the Serbian people.
The U.S. has a clear interest in ridding Serbia and the Balkans of Russian and Chinese influence. However, that mission is doomed to failure. Russian and Chinese interests aren’t only deeply embedded, but also compatible to a large extent with Serbian national interests, in terms of the preserving of Serbia’s territorial integrity, the preserving of the original Dayton Agreement, respect for military neutrality, energy security and infrastructure development. Respecting this fact would actually help the U.S. more effectively adjust its own policies and project its interests in the region.