For over a hundred years the Balkans have been a fertile land for armed conflict. I bring this up because after those hundred years the region is no closer to a peaceful co-existence.
In the beginning of the 20th century there were wars after wars in the Balkans…..
1912–13, two short wars, fought for the possession of the European territories of the Ottoman Empire. The outbreak of the Italo-Turkish War for the possession of Tripoli (1911) encouraged the Balkan states to increase their territory at Turkish expense. Serbia and Bulgaria accordingly concluded (1912), with the aid of Russian secret diplomacy, a treaty of alliance. In a secret annex, the treaty provided for joint military action and the division of prospective conquests. The outbreak of the war (Oct., 1912), in which Greece and Montenegro joined the original allies, was followed by the speedy expulsion of the Turks from all of European Turkey, except the Constantinople area. After the conclusion of hostilities Serbia showed intentions of annexing a large part of Albania, in order to gain an outlet on the Adriatic, but this step toward aGreater Serbiawas opposed by Austria-Hungary and Italy and by the Albanians, who had proclaimed their independence. Conferences of the ambassadors of the Great Powers at London created (1913) an independent Albania of fair size, thus cutting Serbia off from the sea. Dissatisfied with these terms, Serbia demanded of Bulgaria a greater share of Macedonia. Bulgaria thereupon attacked (June, 1913) Serbia, only to be attacked by Romania, Greece, and Turkey. As a result of this Second Balkan War, Bulgaria lost territory to all her enemies by the Treaty of Bucharest (Aug., 1913). The Balkan Wars prepared the way for World War I by satisfying some of the aspirations of Serbia and thereby giving a great impetus to the Serbian desire to annex parts of Austria-Hungary by alarming Austria and stiffening Austrian resolution to crush Serbia and by giving causes of dissatisfaction to Bulgaria and Turkey.
For a more in-delth look at the history of the region…….
In the 1990’s war returned to the Balkans after a quarter century of relative calm under the leadership of Tito……better known as the Yugoslav Wars…..if became to a conflict of ethnic cleansing that involved almost all the region…..and of course the US had to weigh in on the conflict…..
In the early 1990s, the Balkan country of Yugoslavia fell apart in a series of wars which saw ethnic cleansing and genocide return to Europe. The driving force was not age old ethnic tensions (as the Serb side liked to proclaim), but distinctly modern nationalisms, fanned by the media and driven by politicians. The crux was that as Yugoslavia collapsed, majority ethnicities pushed for independence, and these nationalist governments ignored their minorities, if not actively persecuted them, e.g. forcing them out of jobs.
As propaganda made these minorities paranoid, they were armed, and stirred into actions which degenerated into a bloody set of wars. While the situation was rarely as clear as Serb vs Croat vs Muslim – many small civil wars erupted over decades of rivalry – key patterns exist.
I bring up all this history because the war drums are beating yet again….
There are many differences between the Balkans and the Middle East, but they have two things in common. Both regions are former pieces of the Ottoman Empire that have not found stability since that empire receded in the late 19th century. Both also have been objects of serial intrusion by outsiders who impose their interests and then flounder as their policies fail and hegemonies decline.
The Balkan region – a fluid concept with changing “membership” over the past two centuries – continues to struggle to orient itself in the wake of the collapse of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. The shards of that country are going in different directions. Slovenia and Croatia have acceded to the European Union (EU) and now give casual advice to EU and U.S. officials on how to stem the West’s serial failures in the region.
AS the conflict fires heat up the US will once again insert itself into the fray under guise of the NATO charter.