The Western Balkans were supposed to be a solved problem. The United States has mostly watched from afar in recent years, thinking that the Europeans had these matters mostly in hand. US diplomats have played crucial roles in key moments; yet, the region continued to slide down the US political agenda. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
The risk of renewed violence and political instability is growing in the Balkans. The decade of progress in postconflict reconciliation and economic recovery after the U.S.-led interventions of the 1990s has stalled and has now, in some areas, even gone into reverse. The international agreements that brought peace to the region, based on the principle that preexisting borders should not be moved to accommodate ethnic differences, are fraying and could unravel with unwelcome consequences for the United States. These could include radicalization of Balkan Muslims, increased Russian troublemaking on the borders of or even inside the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—for example, in Albania, Croatia, or Montenegro—and a new refugee crisis for European allies. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Russian aggression in Ukraine and military exercises at the borders of the Baltic states, as well as a string of information and cyber operations, have raised fears among Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania about their security. Due to their shared borders with Russia, the Baltic states are the NATO members most exposed to Russia’s threats. As small countries with little strategic depth and limited human and economic resources, they are increasingly adopting a “total defense” approach to national security, which includes enabling civilians to be able to protect themselves and to also support their nation’s professional armed forces in case of a conflict. U.S. and NATO forces therefore also need to plan for effective engagement with local civilians as they prepare their forces for deployment to the Baltic states in times of crisis. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
This report assesses trends in armed conflict, the incidence of which has declined in recent decades. Key political, economic, and strategic factors, including the deterrent effect of the U.S. military, suggest this decline is likely to continue. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
As part of a larger study on the future of the post-World War II liberal international order, RAND researchers analyze the health of the existing order and offer implications for future U.S. policy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
This report provides summary statistical data on the trends in Western and Eastern Europe. It focuses on START and IHS Jane’s data, but also includes data from other sources – including the one useful current official source on terrorism in the world that presents declassified official data. This is the annual report on terrorism which is issued by Europol and the EU.
If one looks at the START data on the total for Western and Eastern Europe, which includes Russia, the impact of terrorism peaks in the 1970s. It rises again in 1991, driven by terrorist attacks in the Balkans, Palestinian violence, and terrorism in the FSU and Russia. It then peaks for a third time in 2014-2015, driven by both violent Islamist extremism and terrorist activity in the Ukraine. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
As European policymakers and advocates increasingly express interest in developing managed, legal alternatives to the dangerous, unauthorized journeys many refugees undertake when searching for protection, there is a pressing need to inform the debate with reliable and comprehensive data—both on how protection seekers currently enter Europe and how new pathways are likely to be used.
Yet as this report explains, it is “nearly impossible” at present to obtain a clear picture of how protection seekers enter Europe and what legal channels are available to them. Still, while incomplete, data from EURODAC, Eurostat, Frontex, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and national databases, suggest several important trends. [Note: contains copyrighted material].