The Nov. 22 op-ed article by Steven Rattner and Michael B. G. Froman about achieving stability in the Balkans through prosperity overlooked three facts:
Gobs of money already have been spent. In Bosnia alone, according to the World Bank, four times more has been spent on reconstruction per capita than during the Marshall Plan. In a country of fewer than 4 million people, $5 billion is not chicken feed. The money hasn't been wasted, though; the economy is growing.
No conclusive evidence shows that substantial international investment brings stability. The European Union has poured at least $150 million into Mostar, for example, a town of 70,000. Yet the town's Muslims and Croats remain bitterly divided. By contrast, in Macedonia far less has been spent in relative terms, and the Albanian and Slavic communities have avoided war.
Until Serbia, the largest country in the former Yugoslavia, sees political change, the Balkan economies are likely to remain fragmented. As for the rest of the former Yugoslavia, as a recent study of Eastern European economies put it, the key factor in developing productive economies and good governments will be the control of vested interests.
Economic growth is a positive force in any region. But achieving it -- and bringing stability to the Balkans -- will require political leadership committed to the principles of economic democracy.