Mediterranean Security

New Perspectives and Implications for U.S. Policy

by Ian O. Lesser


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This report explores the changing strategic environment in southern Europe and the Mediterranean, its effects on the countries of NATO's Southern Region — Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, and Turkey — and the implications for U.S. policy and strategy. The Southern Region faces significant security and security-related challenges beyond the Cold War. The "threat from the south" is not simply or even primarily a military one — many of Europe's security-related concerns, including the problems of migration and political friction between Islam and the West, are felt most keenly in southern Europe. New regional arrangements reflect a pattern of activism across the Southern Region relevant to U.S. interests and policy. NATO's southern allies are increasingly willing to contribute to NATO and European rapid response initiatives for contingencies on the European periphery. Foreign and security policies across the region — except for Turkey — are increasingly framed in European terms. But the Southern Region countries share a post-Cold War interest in the U.S. presence as an instrument of regional deterrence and political reassurance.

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