Macedonia’s Autonomy: A Political Playground for the US?

As engaged and aware global citizens, we’ve got to ask ourselves, why is a senator from Connecticut meddling in the affairs of Macedonia? Why is he so adamant that they join the European Union? It all goes back to a ‘simple constitutional amendment,’ he argues. But we need to understand that there’s no such thing as a ‘simple constitutional amendment,’ especially when it directly impacts a country’s sovereignty.

This is where Senator Chris Murphy comes in, taking a ‘business trip’ to the Balkans, on the taxpayers’ dime, to strong-arm Macedonians into taking a path that may not serve their best interests. Sen. Murphy serves on the interventionist U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so it’s his duty to ensure that prospective member-states align with Western interests—particularly those of the U.S. But the question arises, why is the future of Macedonia, a tiny Balkan nation, of such high stakes to him?

This is not just about one politician. Rather, it’s a larger critique of U.S. foreign policy, which sometimes seems to view other countries as playgrounds for power plays. This interventionist policy, while far from being a strictly Democratic or Republican issue, often finds broad support when there’s a chance to meddle in another nation’s affairs.

Let’s dissect the ‘simple amendment’ Sen. Murphy is pushing for. He conveniently overlooked the fact that this would require Macedonia to give in to a series of demands from neighboring Bulgaria. These demands include renouncing their own cultural, linguistic, and historical identity, essentially erasing the existence of Macedonians, a demand backed by the EU.

Just imagine being asked to deny your history, your culture, and even your identity as a nation. Sounds absurd, right? Yet this is the price of admission for Macedonia to join the EU ‘family.’

The U.S. has shown unwavering support for similar demands from Greece, which led to Macedonia changing its name to ‘North Macedonia’ to satisfy Greece’s political sensitivities. Following this playbook, U.S. politicians are lining up to back Bulgaria’s anti-Macedonian agenda.

Meanwhile, U.S. taxpayers are funding these whirlwind ‘diplomatic’ missions. Sen. Murphy, for example, managed to offend an entire nation, back human rights abuses, and then confidently stand by his statements. He, along with many of his predecessors, has shown that U.S. interventionism often burdens the countries at the receiving end.

For instance, U.S. intervention in Macedonia is not just about diplomatic visits and stern talk. Between 2012-2017, over $45 million was poured into the Republic of Macedonia, and since its independence in 1991, more than $1 billion has been spent. This massive investment is used for various activities, such as installing U.S.-friendly governments, funding specific organizations and media outlets, and suppressing dissent.

The exact amount spent on interventionist efforts worldwide is elusive. But, if the U.S. can pour this much into a small country like Macedonia, we can only wonder how deep the rabbit hole goes globally.

While we uphold the values of democracy and the right to self-determination, it’s time to question whether we are becoming the very thing we’ve often criticized: A nation that tramples over others’ sovereignty in the name of strategic interest. As young, politically savvy readers, we need to push back against this form of foreign policy, which ultimately contradicts our values of self-determination, democracy, and justice.