[Opinion] : Good news, finally, but unlikely to last

Daniel Serwer - Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies


By Daniel Serwer,  @DanielSerwer , 

Washington, 21 April 2024, / – Bits of good news all around. The US House of Representatives, after months of allowing a small number of dissenting Republicans to block vital expanded aid to Ukraine (as well as infusions for Israel and Taiwan), has now approved it. Israel has retaliated against Iran for last weekend’s massive barrage of missiles and drones. It managed to do so without provoking any further escalation. And on a much lesser scale of geopolitics, the Council of Europe appears to be readying itself to admit Kosovo as a member.

Better late than never

All of this is good news, even if much delayed.

The Congress should never have allowed its Russophile right-wingers to put Ukraine’s existence at risk. It is appalling that someone could become Speaker who required months of cajoling to recognize the importance of getting more assistance to Kyiv. Last year’s Russian dominance in the war of attrition has done real damage, not only to Ukrainian morale.

We can hope that the US will now send Ukraine everything it needs. The aim should be not only to resist Russian advances but also to roll back Moscow’s recent gains and the threat they now poses to Kharkiv. Ukrainian F-16s should arrive this summer. A big Ukrainian push with the right weapons could force Russian retreats in Donbas, the south, and even Crimea.

Israel needs to do more

Israel has been rampaging in Gaza as if it had nothing to fear. The Iranian attack, though a failure, is hopefully a reminder to Jerusalem that self-restraint and diplomacy can be virtues, not weaknesses. The Israelis need now to resuscitate the talks with Hamas and reach an agreement, however unsatisfactory, for the release of at least the civilian hostages.

They also need to get rid of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has repeatedly endangered Israeli security. His encouragement of US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, his financial and political support for Hamas, his opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state, and the deplorable intelligence and military failures of October 7 qualify him as the worst Israeli prime minister, not just the longest-serving.

Serbia‘s spite is shameful

The Council of Europe has dawdled far too long in approving Kosovo for membership. It is far more qualified than its principal opponent, Serbia. And allowing Kosovo in will give Serbs who live there a new and potentially fruitful avenue to pursue complaints, through the European Court of Human Rights.

The spitefulness of Belgrade’s opposition, which directly contradicts an agreement the European Union claims Serbia adhered to in February 2023, may be expected, but it is still deplorable. Kosovo is demonstrably better qualified for CoE membership than Serbia.

Can we hope for more?

Good news is particularly welcome when it is a harbinger of more. Some may hope that the voting in Congress augurs a less polarized political atmosphere in which moderate Democrats and Republicans can cooperate to neutralize the nutty MAGAites. But I see little hope of that. Speaker Johnson will now face an effort to remove him. If he wins, the MAGAites will be embittered and he will be more cautious in the future. If he loses, we could face a truly dire situation, as then he would have to be replaced with an even more convinced MAGAite.

In the Middle East, Netanyahu still seems firmly in power. Though his margin in the Knesset is narrow, his allies stand no chance of remaining in power if he falls. He himself could end up in prison on corruption charges. Netanyahu is not going to be easy to displace. Let’s hope the civilians in Rafah won’t pay the price of keeping him in the prime ministry.

In the Balkans, Belgrade may lose the battle to keep Pristina out of the Council of Europe. But that is a minor skirmish in Kosovo’s effort to gain full international recognition. There is no sign of progress on UN membership. EU membership is far off. NATO will have to be the next major battle. Fortunately that excludes Serbia from having a veto or even a vote. But Hungary and now Slovakia will more than likely be prepared to do Belgrade’s dirty work.

A long road ahead

Those of us looking for a Ukrainian military victory, a Palestinian state that will live in peace with Israel, and UN membership for Kosovo still have a long wait ahead. But every step in the right direction today is one that doesn’t have to be taken tomorrow.


Daniel Serwer is a Professor of the Practice of Conflict Management as well as director of the Conflict Management and American Foreign Policy Programs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.         

This opinion was first published at website.                     

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of .

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