Vital Signs

The End of the Balkan Interlude?

Unlike the 1990’s, when the turmoil from the breakup of Yugoslavia dominated the security agenda of the United States and her NATO allies, subsequent years have been relatively quiet.  The civil war in Bosnia has not flared up since the conclusion of the Dayton Accords in late 1995.  Albania, which teetered on the brink of civil war in the mid-1990’s, has not seen a repetition of that instability following the temporary introduction of a stabilization force led by Greece and Italy.  The Kosovo controversy culminated in NATO’s intense bombing of Serbia in 1999, a campaign designed to compel Belgrade to relinquish control over the province to an international occupation.  Instability in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in late 2000 and early 2001, which threatened to become another Balkan crisis, soon subsided.  Slobodan Milosevic’s fall from power in October 2000 led to the emergence of a democratic Serbia and the gradual erosion of that country’s status as the pariah of Europe.

The reduction in turbulence has been greeted with relief in Washington.  That is understandable, because the United States has had far more pressing security matters on her agenda since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  The last thing U.S. policymakers wanted to deal with, given the requirements of the war against radical Islamic terrorism and the debacle of the Iraq...

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