How Bulgarian drug traffickers fund Islamic terrorists

Bulgaria, the EU’s newest member state, is fast becoming one of Brussels' main headaches.

Back in January, corruption accusations grew so rampant around the country’s road construction projects that the EU froze all related funding until further investigation.  

Then, less than a week after EU officials visited Sofia to warn against corruption and organized crime, a prominent businessman was shot twice in the head in the stairwell of his apartment building. Less than 24 hours later, a former mafioso turned novelist was also shot and killed while leaving a downtown café. Their deaths only add to the 150 or so mafia-style killings in Bulgaria since the fall of communism –- none of which have seen convictions.

Now, Bulgaria’s parliament has reported that its country’s problems extend far beyond the new EU border.  Bulgaria’s National Security Agency has found that Bulgarian drug traffickers, who do a sizable business sitting on the fault line between Europe and Southwest Asia, have close links to Arab drug traders who, in turn, fund Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.

I’m all for the EU accession of Western Balkan states –- if nothing else because there is presently no other viable alternative for an economically and politically stable future in the region. But it's because of the lack of an alternative that accession standards have slipped as far as they have.  And if the EU can’t hold Bulgaria on its commitment to anti-corruption standards, how will it ever manage the likes of Bosnia and Serbia?


Henry Kissinger reconsidered

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There are a lot of interesting tidbits in Elisabeth Bumiller and Larry Rohter's article about how various Republican foreign-policy realists are concerned that the dreaded neocons are winning the battle for John McCain's ear. McCain advisors Randy Scheunemann and Robert Kagan seem eager to downplay any such split, and they point to the fact that Henry Kissinger, a realist par excellence, is a close confidant of the Arizona senator.

I think Bumiller and Rohter missed a chance to point out something about Kissinger. When it comes to subjects such as great-power relations, Kissinger still sounds like his old realist self. He is critical of McCain's recent hard line on Russia, for instance. But on the key foreign-policy issue of the 2008 campaign, Iraq, Henry the K sounds a lot more like Max Boot than he does Brent Scowcroft. As Ron Suskind has reported, Kissinger has been a key voice urging the Bush administration to stay in Iraq for the long haul. He has also sounded extremely skeptical of engagement with Iran. In other words, this list does not really indicate that McCain is consulting a wide range of views:

So far, Mr. McCain has not established a formal foreign policy briefing process within his campaign. If he needs information or perspective on an issue, advisers say he picks up the phone and calls any number of people, among them Mr. Kissinger, Mr. Shultz or Senators Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut.