War in the Balkans, 1991-2002

  • August 01, 2003
  • Dr R Craig Nation

The author writes a comprehensive history of the Balkan wars which were provoked by the collapse of the Yugoslav Federation in 1991. These wars, and the instability that they have provoked, became preoccupations for international security management through the 1990s. After an initial phase of distancing and hesitation, Balkan conflict drew the United States and its most important European allies into an open-ended commitment to peace enforcement, conflict management, and peace-building in the region, importantly supported by the U.S. Army. These efforts are still underway, and significant tensions and potential flashpoints remain in place within former Yugoslavia and the entire Southeastern European area. The lessons learned from the new Balkan wars, and the successes and failures of U.S. and international engagement, will be a significant foundation for future efforts to manage intractable regional conflict. The Balkan conflict of the 1990s, as a case study in state failure and medium intensity warfare, international conflict management and intervention, and U.S. military engagement, provides an excellent framework for asking basic questions about the dynamic of international security at the dawn of a new millennium. War in the Balkans, 1991-2002 is intended to provide a foundation for addressing such questions by surveying events in both contemporary and larger historical perspectives and posing preliminary conclusions concerning their larger meaning. There will, regretfully, be other situations comparable in broad outline to the violent decline and fall of socialist Yugoslavia. The policies of the international community in the Yugoslav imbroglio have been criticized widely as ineffective. However, in the end, after years of futility, the conflict could be contained only by a significant international military intervention spearheaded by the United States, and a long-term, multilateral commitment to post-conflict peace-building.