The United States and Southern Europe after the cold war

by Ian O. Lesser

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The United States has been a Mediterranean power, with varying presence and activism, for almost two hundred years. The sweeping strategic and political changes now occurring in Europe and the Middle East raise questions about the level and character of U.S. involvement in and around this region. The answers to these questions will be determined by the evolution of American perceptions about the Mediterranean as a whole, its regions, and what is possible in relation to U.S. strategic priorities elsewhere. This paper outlines some of the principal elements guiding U.S. perceptions of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean in the post-Cold War era and assesses some alternatives for U.S. policy in the region. The author concludes that the Mediterranean region will become increasingly important to Europe's security and, therefore, more important to the United States.

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