We have so little history in the US. The governing group is a newcomer -- largely white European groups only reach back to the 17th Century or so. This starting point excludes the earlier came-and-went earlier venturers like Brendan, Viking landings, and the indigenous (and later conquered) sustainers of old sustainable ways. Enter the exploitation era: For many, that is all we know.
So, too, with Montenegro. A crossroads for trade and invasion, cultural exchange, violence, shifting power structures. Exploiters came and went, but at least in Montenegro an identity survived that predated the invaders, I think, and drives for independence. Our own striving for independence was short, and against the immediate colonizer, Britain. Theirs has endured for centuries. More apt as a parallel to Montenegro is the striving for independence of our minority groups, long exploited and ongoing.
Montenegro, mountains, cliff roads.
So: We support NATO and Montenegro independence, but is it 'felt.' Doubtful. Foreign policy here has become fungible juggling. See https://www.nato.int/cps/su/natohq/topics_49736.htm. We insult them. See http://adage.com/article/media/balkan-media-pleased-trump-shove-montenegro-s-leader/309173/
Montenegro. Pending independence, then NATO. Visit this crossroads through the mountains, with the sea immediately below, and experience a different mindset. We began at the coast, then drove inland and up to Cetinje, the old capital in days of intrigue and powers with their embassies now shabby, but the town full of students, long-established families, and all so proud of their "beautiful city." With its heavy Russian hand.
1. I stayed at the old Russian hotel in Cetinje with my son at the time of Montenegro's vote to separate from Serbia. Tensions were high. Clusters of men at the hotel, heads turned; more clusters as we looked in the nearly empty dining room, looks our way, and finally a set of nods and we were shown to a room. We ate at what we thought was a student restaurant.
2. What's up? Can you tell us what the people think around here about the decision pending, for
independence? No. Waiters slowly shook heads and tilted toward more groups of men. Not comfortable. And we were watched.
3. Back at the hotel, I was tempted to look behind the big potted plants in the Russian hotel, and the clanking radiator in the room -- and did. But why bother. It's only us. Still, there was an atmosphere of fear, no freedom to discuss. The current trigger for this recollection is https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/montenegro-at-crossroads-toward-the-west-or-back-to-russia/2017/03/22/07b41706-0edf-11e7-aa57-2ca1b05c41b8_story.html.
4. Why the disregard. No, Mr. Trump, no nation is too small to be considered fungible, not worth every effort we can extend to nurture autonomy.
The work toward incorporation has been ongoing, see http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_49736.htm. The Senate has advanced the idea, see http://www.voanews.com/a/us-senate-committee-advances-montenegro-nato-bid-to-vote/3673118.html.
Keep it going over the finish line. And go there. Beautiful, excellent food, friendly people, when there are not the clusters of suits.
So, as a tourist with no family or other stake in this lovely country, I hope it will stay toward NATO and that the US will come to its senses in fostering freedom anywhere. Thanks.