Pandora's Box Reopened: Ethnic Conflict in Europe and Its Implications

  • December 01, 1994
  • Dr William T Johnsen

The resurgence of ethnic animosities in Europe has substantial consequences for the United States, which has a vital interest in maintaining peace and stability in Europe. Because ethnic conflict potentially represents a significant threat to those national objectives, a strong likelihood exists that the United States will continue to be involved in efforts to prevent or resolve ethnically motivated violence. The purpose of this study is to help prepare soldiers, policymakers, and statesmen for future U.S. involvement in ethnic conflict in Europe. The study offers a brief explanation of the strategic significance of ethnic conflict in Europe. It next provides a primer on ethnicity, and then acquaints policymakers with the historical and proximate sources of ethnic conflict in Europe. The report next identifies and analyzes the spectrum, patterns, and special characteristics of ethnic conflict. The difficulties inherent in crafting policy options, to include strategic objectives and political and military concepts, are then addressed. The study next assesses the implications of ethnic conflict in Europe for the U.S. Army. Brief recommendations for policymakers and their advisors close the report. While this report focuses on Europe, it bears noting that many of the insights and recommendations apply to ethnic conflict in other regions of the world.