“SO THERE’S DYSFUNCTION in Washington and too many empty offices on the upper floors of the State Department. And yet here in this corner of the former Yugoslavia that has known more than its share of conflict, corruption, and ethnic upheaval, a merry band of Americans work on the assumption they can spread American values — values like rule of law and free press and open courts.

Sure, what better place to further the case for American values than here, the fake news capital of the world. It’s a story their own mainstream journalists find amusement in retelling. How a bunch of unemployed young wiseguys in the tiny town of Veles peddled fake news to gullible Americans during the 2016 election and made a decent profit off the Google ads they generated.

But Macedonia is more than a punch line. It is a strategic partner in a region where the United States needs its friends. It longs for NATO membership, and its young people embrace American culture — music, Burger King, and English — as their own. (Boston Globe)