SKOPJE, Macedonia — As unpleasant as it may be for Europe to hear, the stabilization of the Balkans during its painful transition in the 1990s was made possible by the United States. Although America initially stayed out of the conflicts that followed the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the fighting ultimately stopped only after President Bill Clinton summoned the warring parties to Dayton in 1995. When Kosovo started looking like the next chapter in the region’s bloody history, it was again the U.S. that took decisive action, with Europe happy to support Washington’s lead. And finally, the U.S. made the final call […]

SOFIA, Bulgaria — The gas is back on in Sofia, but Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev is still feeling the political chill. Increasingly out of favour in Brussels and frozen out by fair weather friends in Moscow, Stanishev’s government also faced the wrath — and hurled bricks — of street protestors in recent weeks. It was an inauspicious start to a year featuring elections that could be crucial in reinvigorating the country’s reform process and restoring relations with its European partners. Bulgaria’s big freeze came to an end on Jan. 20, when gas flows from Russia via Ukraine — cut […]

European-Based Missile Defense

Nicolas Gros-Verheyde cites two prominent EU diplomats (here and here) to the effect that the Obama administration has pulled the plug on European-based missile defense, even if it will languish away quietly to deny the Russians a victory lap. That was before the Iranian launch of a satellite, however, that could theoretically put Israel and Europe in range of its missiles. Of course, Iran has everything to gain from keeping the wedge between the U.S. and Russia firmly in place. So the timing of the launch isn’t surprising. The intelligent response would be to invite Russia into the European missile […]

Globalization and its Discontents

Switzerland is hardly a bellweather for Europe. But as the only non-EU country of Western Europe, it has a certain liberty of action that could offer insights into how voters with a real choice might react to the implications of the coming economic slump. So I’ll be watching the outcome of this referendum (via the IHT) — regarding the renewal of Siwtzerland’s freedom of movement treaties with the EU member states — pretty closely. The sticking point for the Swiss right is the comparative economic level of the EU’s two newest members, Romania and Bulgaria. That resonates with something I […]

Can Obama Take No for an Answer?

In his WPR feature article from last November, A Grand Strategy Agenda for the Next President, Thomas PM Barnett defined President Obama’s challenge as leaving enough space between the security demands America makes of targeted nations and the “safe harbor” security guarantees it is willing to grant them so as to create the room for diplomatic maneuvering. Under the Bush administration, the lack of wiggle room between the two amounted to a demand for capitulation, and created standoffs everywhere. The Bush administration’s response was a campaign of diplomatic and economic isolation (Syria and Iran), or else confrontation (Russia) with similar […]

Obama and the Two Germanies

Der Spiegel reports on an internal split within Germany’s governing coalition regarding how to engage with President Obama, with Chancellor Angela Merkel adopting a wait-and-see attitude and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier more eager to please. Apparently, for their part, Obama and Sec. of State Hillary Clinton set a new tone in their respective introductory conversations with their German counterparts, with the most marked difference from the Bush administration being that Obama and Clinton actually paused after speaking to hear what their interlocuters had to say. According to the Spiegel article, Steinmeier has already drawn up a list of Iranian banks […]

Global Troop Shortage

One of the reasons a significant number of American and British roadblocks to EU defense have been cleared in recent years is that, quite simply, there are more crisis zones than troops to go around. And since an EU defense force is more palatable, politically speaking, than a French force in both Africa and Lebanon, the peacekeeping missions deployed to Chad and Lebanon came under the EU flag. But the story behind those deployments wasn’t only about who didn’t oppose them. It had a lot to do with who supported them as well. Ireland’s participation in Chad was notable because […]

Strategic Posture Review: Russia

Russia has experienced a remarkable resurgence in recent years. Despite its strategic resurgence, however, the country’s new status rests on shaky foundations that will limit Moscow’s capacity, and perhaps ambitions, to become a peer competitor of the United States. Richard Weitz examines the country’s recent history, foreign and military policy, and national strategy in the first WPR Strategic Posture Review. The Russian Federation has experienced a remarkable resurgence in recent years. Following a decade spent managing the collapse of the Soviet Union while watching its global influence decline, Russia has once again become a world power. With the use of […]

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