U.S. Policy in the Balkans: From Containment to Strategic Reingagement

by F. Stephen Larrabee


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During the Cold War, U.S. strategic attention in Europe focused on the Central Front. Southern Europe and the Balkans were considered of secondary importance. The end of the Cold War changed both the character and the focus of U.S. strategic concerns. Today's major challenges to U.S. interests in Europe reside in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean. Bosnia remains a major preoccupation. Additionally, Kosovo and Macedonia are potential flashpoints: a crisis in either could spill over into the Southern Balkans, drawing in Greece and Turkey, and thereby engaging broader U.S. interests. The Dayton Accord signals a resurgence of U.S. engagement in the Balkans. However, Washington and its European allies must focus on two areas that were left out of the Dayton Accord--Kosovo and Macedonia. Without a resolution of tensions in those areas, there can be no lasting stability in the Balkans.

Originally published in: Crises in the Balkans: Views from the Participants, Westview Press, 1997, pp. 275-295.

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