Section I: History
For years, the Balkan region of Eastern Europe has experienced times of turbulence and confusion, sprouting from the years post World War II. Eastern Europe, the Balkan Peninsula especially, has experienced years of civil and ethnic disruption making the region one of the greatest challenges to U.S foreign affairs. In November of 1992, the United States engaged militarily in the ongoing crisis in the Balkans (U.S Policy in the Balkans). Regions that have been under close U.S observation are Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, in which peacekeeping forces such as the SFOR, KFOR and other NATO peacekeeping organizations have helped towards the aid to the conflict in the region. The 1990’s especially were a time of reform of government, in which three presidential administrations worked towards preserving the peace of the region, and putting a stop to the ongoing air raids and attacks in Bosnia and Kosovo. 1 2
One of the first administrations to take action in the Balkan region was George H.W. Bush’s administration. The Bush administration had decided not to become militarily involved in Balkan conflicts (War in Bosnia). Alongside with help from the UN, efforts to maintain and cease bloodshed in the area failed. Although the administration hoped to avoid violence and see Europe take charge in the matter, the efforts were all unsuccessful, in that the region would face as series of wars in the years to follow. The American people knew very well about the Vietnam War, and they feared that if they decided to take action, the result would be confusion and a series of complications. Unlike the Bush administration, the Clinton administration is well known for its attempts in “securing a peaceful, stable, free Europe” (Washington post).
When President Clinton entered the presidency in 1993, the conflict in the Balkan region had reached a boiling point. President Clinton soon followed with taking action on an international scale, in which he set up a “NATO response plan”, which soon afterwards took action due to a Serbian attack. After the Clinton administration persuaded NATO to begin the bombing on Bosnian Serbs, the force of the attack and efforts of Richard Holbrooke (the assistant secretary of state of European affairs) soon brought the three main groups involved in the conflict, “Croats, Serbs, and Bosnian Muslims to the bargaining table”(Miller Center). Once agreements were made, the Dayton Peace Accords was issued that ended the conflict in the region. Americans soon moved into the region to ensure a cease-fire and to ensure the settlement that had been made. NATO and the Clinton administration soon after began a campaign to heavily bomb the Serbian government in 1999. The bombing soon resulted in the Serbian withdrawal from the region. Clinton held strong in war torn Kosovo, along with other European nations, in which they all worked towards preserving the peace. 3
When George W. Bush soon took the presidency in 2001, attention towards the Balkans decreased, as the U.S faced threats from the Middle East and the notorious Al- Qeada organization. Just as in his father’s administration, Bush favored the idea of allowing Europe to keep the peace in the Balkans, and not so much the U.S. However, at the time, government officials still believed in the idea that Europe should take the leadership role “militarily, financially, and politically” (U.S and Europe Burden Sharing in Balkans).
Section II. Current Policy
During George W. Bush’s presidency, attention towards the Balkan’s decreased, as the nation focused heavily on Middle East relations. Moving forward into the Obama administration, the U.S. still holds a similar policy towards the region just as was followed during president’s Bush’s administration. President Barack Obama still faces the same pressing issues that were faced under the Bush administration, such as relations towards Afghanistan,...
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