As Crisis Brews in the Balkans, the West Looks On

Media Coverage | August 30, 2017

This article originally appeared on Stratfor's Worldview.

In the first six months of U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, five foreign policy challenges have dominated the national and international spotlight. China's expanding economic and military role, Russia's tenuous relations with Europe and the Middle East, ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Syria, threats stemming from North Korea and Venezuela, and Europe's future amid rising populist movements in the United Kingdom and France have taken center stage among the world's policymakers.

Through it all, it has been easy to forget that, not so long ago, much of the world's attention was fixed on the Balkans. As war raged on Europe's doorstep, many feared the resulting instability would ignite a wider conflict. The horrific fighting and lives sacrificed, particularly in Bosnia (from 1992 to 1995) and Kosovo (in 1999), eroded decades of achievement across the region. And the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics — a symbol of world peace and collaboration — seemed like a distant memory.

Today, the wars that brought an end to Yugoslavia are also fading from view. The last major act of violence in the area — the burning of the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade in 2008, an event I recall vividly having served as the American ambassador at the time — happened almost a decade ago. In the years since, the challenges of the Balkans have slipped from the front pages, as well as from the minds of most leaders with a stake in the region.

Read the full commentary here.