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Ending International Occupation

To state the obvious, military/political occupations and international oversight of a country are never welcome to the people who are being occupied and/or overseen. For a while, they grin and bear it, sometimes recognizing the necessity of the loss of sovereignty that they are enduring. But their tolerance inevitably fades - and fast.

In Bucharest recently, I was discussing the oversight role of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in my country, Albania, with an expert from that body. He was surprised to learn that the number of OSCE employees in Albania is equal to that of the entire staff of the OSCE's Vienna headquarters.

The sheer scale of the OSCE's operations in Albania is not what troubles me. What is troubling is the seeming permanence of its mission. Indeed, who is to decide when the OSCE's mission in Albania is over?

The question is, of course, broader than that of the OSCE in Albania. With UN administrators still holding sway in Kosovo and Bosnia years after their savage wars ended, and with talk of a UN mission to replace the US occupation administration in Iraq, when should an international administration be terminated and oversight of a country returned to its citizens?