The Corner

Holbrooke’s Bequest

The elections in Kosovo came and went yesterday, even as the death of Richard C. Holbrooke — whose work led to the polling — was being announced by the Obama administration. It’s the first election in the territory since Pristina declared unilateral independence from Serbia (I wrote about it for NRO here) following a vote in which 45 percent of the population took part. Now the place is run by a thug, so the election turnout was much higher — 95 percent!

It’s a miracle! As an amazed Doris Pack, one of the EU’s observers, told the BBC, “I don’t think that it is possible. Yes, in Russia before, or East Germany before, or even in China. But I think not in a country like Kosovo where we tried to install democratic structures.”

But as we all know from Russia before and East Germany before and North Korea now, 95 percent is still at least six percentage points shy of the buoyant effect corruption is capable of bringing to the democratic process. Where votes mean nothing, everybody votes.

Pack is already shrugging her way out of the province along with the rest of the EU’s wise monkeys, as Deutsche Welle reports. So Hakim Thaci’s parade will roll along, cementing yet another layer of criminality in a volatile part of the world. Richard Holbrooke was no doubt a nice man, much beloved by friends and family and admired by many, as this New York Times obituary shows. We will have to wait a bit longer to see if his work in Serbia and Kosovo will be as celebrated in the Balkans as it is already in Manhattan and Washington.

Denis BoylesDennis Boyles is a writer, editor, former university lecturer, and the author/editor of several books of poetry, travel, history, criticism, and practical advice, including Superior, Nebraska (2008), Design Poetics (1975), ...


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