Cato Foreign Policy Briefing No. 42 August 15, 1996

Foreign Policy Briefing

The Domino Theory Reborn:
Clinton's Bosnia Intervention and the "Wider War" Thesis

by Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter is vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and the author of Beyond NATO: Staying Out of Europe's Wars.

Executive Summary

President Clinton's assertion that the U.S.-led NATO mission in Bosnia is essential to prevent a wider European war is erroneous. Two of the wider war scenarios--Serbia as a runaway expansionist power like Nazi Germany and the prospect that the Bosnian conflict could ignite a continental conflagration just as a Balkan incident sparked World War I--are so far-fetched that they should be dismissed out of hand.

The other two scenarios--that copycat aggressors elsewhere in Europe would be emboldened by a NATO failure in Bosnia and that a Bosnia-style war could erupt in the southern Balkans, especially in Kosovo and Macedonia--have greater validity. But the success or failure of the Bosnia mission will have little impact on such dangers. Conflicts in other parts of Europe arise from local conditions and historical factors, and the belligerents will continue to pursue their unique agendas. War in the southern Balkans would not be a matter of the Bosnian conflict's "spreading." The disputes over Kosovo and Macedonia involve different grievances and, largely, a different set of potential adversaries.

The wider war thesis is merely a refurbished domino theory. Not every armed conflict in Europe is destined to lead to a massive war that would affect important American security interests.


President Clinton repeatedly defended his decision to send American troops to Bosnia by insisting that if the United States and its NATO allies did not take steps to solidify the fragile peace in that country, they would risk the outbreak of a "wider war." Such a conflict would threaten overall European stability, which is deemed important to America's own security and well-being. Thus, in addition to any moral imperative to stop the carnage in Bosnia, the United States had no choice but to assume a leadership role to suppress the fighting, lest Europe descend into chaos for the third time this century.[1]

The president used that reasoning in a November 1995 letter to House Speaker Newt Gingrich shortly before the signing of the Dayton accord.

This Administration, and that of previous Democratic and Republican Presidents, have been firmly committed to the principle that the security and stability of Europe is of fundamental interest to the United States. The conflict in Bosnia is the most dangerous threat to European security since the end of World War II. If the negotiations fail and the war resumes, as it in all probability would, there is the very real risk that it could spread beyond Bosnia, and involve Europe's new democracies as well as our NATO allies. Twice this century, we paid a heavy price for turning our backs to conflict in Europe.[2]

Secretary of State Warren Christopher had made a similar argument earlier, contending, "Twice in this century we have had to send our soldiers to fight in wars that began in Central Europe."[3] On another occasion he insisted that unless the Dayton peace accord succeeded, the Bosnian conflict could someday involve "the rest of Europe." James Steinberg, director of policy planning at the State Department, was equally apocalyptic. "Without U.S. leadership in Bosnia, we would face the imminent danger of a widening war that could embroil our allies, undermine NATO's credibility, destabilize nearby democracies, and drive a wedge between the United States and Russia."[4]

The president and his advisers tend to be vague, how-ever, about how the bloodletting in Bosnia could lead to a wider European war. Proponents of the U.S.-led peace enforcement mission act as though that danger were self-evident, but a careful examination suggests that most of the wider war scenarios are implausible.

That conclusion has important implications beyond the administration's Bosnia policy, for the assumption that small conflicts will usually lead to larger ones is a crucial premise underlying Washington's global network of security commitments. A proactive U.S. policy (including a military presence) in such regions as Europe, East Asia, and the Persian Gulf is supposedly essential because it preserves stability and makes any armed disruption less likely.[5] Without that stabilizing U.S. role, the argument goes, there will be a proliferation of minor conflicts, any one of which may ignite a regional war that will entangle the United States. But if the wider war thesis is invalid with regard to Bosnia, serious questions ought to be raised about its validity elsewhere--indeed, about the intellectual foundation of America's overall security strategy.

Specter 1: Serbia as Nazi Germany

The most improbable wider war scenario is that the Serbs will pose a serious expansionist threat unless the West not only suppresses the fighting in Bosnia but foils Serb aggression by preserving Bosnia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Even the most ardent interventionists seem uncomfortable arguing that Serbia is the modern strategic equivalent of Nazi Germany.[6] Such reticence is appropriate. The crisis in the 1930s involved one of the world's great powers--the one with the second largest economy and a large, well-trained military force--embarking on an expansionist binge. Even a Greater Serbia, on the other hand, would have a population approximately the size of Belgium's and an economy one-fifth that of Denmark--scarcely the foundation for becoming a serious expansionist power.[7]

Serb military forces are equally modest. Serbia (along with Montenegro, its tiny associate in what remains of the Yugoslav Federation) has a mere 126,500 active-duty troops (there are another 75,000 troops in the Bosnian Serb army) equipped for the most part with aging weapons.[8] Noticeably missing from Belgrade's inventory are any weapon systems (bombers, missiles, transport planes, and a blue-water navy) that would provide a credible force-projection capability. Serb forces would be unable to launch offensive operations even against midsized states in the immediate region, much less against the major industrial powers of Europe.

In the late 1930s Germany was capable of creating a massive disruption not only of the European but of the global system. Serbia is capable only of modestly strengthening its position at the expense of its ethnic rivals within the boundaries of the former Yugoslavia. Not only do the Serbs not have territorial ambitions outside those borders (another contrast to Nazi Germany's grandiose agenda), they lack the economic and military power to pursue broader ambitions. Equating Serb expansionism with the hegemonic threat posed by Nazi Germany would be a grotesque misapplication of history.

Specter 2: 1914 Redux

Another highly improbable, but more frequently mentioned, scenario is that the West risks a repetition of the events of 1914, with the major European countries being drawn into the Bosnian struggle, if NATO does not quell the fighting. Such fears are based on an oversimplified interpretation of history. In the years immediately preceding World War I, two increasingly antagonistic alliances confronted each other across the heart of Europe. Those rival alliances included all of Europe's great powers, and key members of both alliances had Balkan clients. Thus, there was always the potential that a Balkan conflict would escalate to a continent-wide war (as ultimately happened in 1914).

Those who contend that the Bosnian tragedy could replicate the events that led to World War I misconstrue the reasons why a Balkan quarrel detonated that war. Columnist Paul Greenberg noted ominously during the early months of the conflict in Bosnia, "If there is any doubt about the threat to world peace" posed by the fighting, "the dateline on many of these stories out of a dissolving Yugoslavia should be sufficient warning: SARAJEVO."[9] On the eve of dispatching American troops to Bosnia, President Clinton evoked the same emotional image in his weekly radio address, reminding listeners that it was a Bosnian conflict that ignited World War I. "We must not let this century close with gunfire ringing in Sarajevo."[10]

But Sarajevo has no mystical significance, nor does the Balkan peninsula as a whole have inherent strategic or geopolitical importance. A crisis in the Balkans led to World War I, not because of the region's intrinsic value (which was as minimal then as it is now), but because the major European powers linked their own vital interests to the ebb and flow of its petty conflicts. As the World Policy Institute's Benjamin Schwarz correctly observes, "The fuse for that war was lit in Sarajevo not because ethnic conflict existed in what is now Yugoslavia, but because great powers meddled in those conflicts."[11]

The situation today is considerably different. Europe is not cleft by rival alliances, nor are there the kind of rigid military mobilization schedules that led to the cascade of tragedy in 1914. Equally important, there is no inclination on the part of major European powers to push the fanatical agendas of Balkan clients. Although Britain, France, and Germany tilt in favor of the Croats and Muslims while Russia at least nominally supports the interests of its Serbian Eastern Orthodox coreligionists, all those countries have exhibited noticeable caution. None of them seems eager to become deeply involved in the Bosnian morass.

Specter 3: Copycat Aggressors

A third wider war scenario is that NATO's failure in Bosnia will spawn similar conflicts in other portions of Europe--and beyond. Other aggressors around the world are watching how the West responds to the Bosnian crisis, interventionists contend. The editors of the Wall Street Journal expressed that argument succinctly:

Bosnia is about more than Bosnia. Slobodan Milo-sevic is merely the irredentist of the moment. All over the world are pirates masquerading as national leaders, eager to invade and kill the people next to them under the guise of historic grievances. Saddam was the first post Cold War irredentist. China has been ceded Hong Kong: it wants the Spratlys. We know about Kim Il-Sung, Assad, Saddam (still), the bitter losers of the Russian empire, Aidid.[12]

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher has likewise argued that "would-be aggressors are waiting to see how we deal with the Serbs."[13]

According to that thesis, a successful NATO effort to preserve Bosnia will deter others who might contemplate using military force to resolve political or territorial disputes. But that policy prescription rests on the dubious notion of deterrence by example. Such "indirect" deterrence is much more problematic than "direct" deterrence: confronting a specific expansionist power with a preponderance of force and a firm declaration that the force will be used if certain acts are committed. Benjamin Schwarz and Harvard University political scientist Christopher Layne question the validity of deterrence by example. "Unlike the chain reactions posited by physics, in the world of statecraft crises are usually discrete happenings--not tightly linked events. The outcome of events in potential hotspots like Nagorno-Karabakh, Moldova, the Baltics, Ukraine, Transylvania, and Slovakia will be decided by local conditions, not by what the United States does or does not do in the Balkans."[14]

Fareed Zakaria, managing editor of Foreign Affairs, makes a similar point about deterrence by example: "The theory has to explain an embarrassingly large problem. If a demonstration of American force in one country chills the blood of would-be aggressors in another, why did the Persian Gulf War not deter the Serbians, Azeris, Sudanese, Georgians, and Somalis?"[15]

In light of such a sobering record, those who contend that a successful NATO mission in Bosnia will prevent similar conflicts by deterring expansionist powers or factions elsewhere in the world have a difficult time making their case. Indeed, there is scant evidence that deterrence by example works reliably even against recalcitrant leaders in the same region. If the theory were true, Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega should have gone to great lengths to avoid provoking the United States, given Washington's long-standing record of using force against small nations in Central America and the Caribbean. The invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965 and the invasion of Grenada in 1983 served notice that it was dangerous to antagonize the United States. Nevertheless, for personal and domestic political reasons, Noriega continued a confrontational course right up to the moment when U.S. troops launched their assault in December 1989.

It is important to place the Bosnian struggle in the larger international context. The war in Bosnia is only one of more than 30 significant conflicts occurring throughout the world. A nearly universal feature of those struggles is that they involve local quarrels and grievances and often have deep, tangled historical roots. Just as the origins of such wars had nothing to do with Bosnian developments, the belligerents are not likely to alter their objectives on the basis of what happens in Bosnia. The notion that the Ossetian and Abkhazian separatists in Georgia will abandon their quest for independent states, or that Armenia will give up its claim to Nagorno-Karabakh, because the United States and its NATO allies refuse to countenance the breakup of Bosnia is naive.

Certainly, the expectation that NATO's intervention in Bosnia will somehow prevent Moscow from pressuring its smaller neighbors and trying to reestablish control of the near abroad--an argument occasionally made publicly and often made privately by supporters of the Bosnia operation--seems unduly optimistic. It is difficult to comprehend the logic of the Wall Street Journal's contention that "Bosnia is properly seen as a training run for how we react if, or when, Russia uses ethnic excuses to make a lunge at one of its neighbors--a Baltic port, for instance."[16]Unlike Serbia and the self-styled Bosnian Serb republic, Russia is a great power, albeit one currently experiencing economic and political turmoil. Most significant, Russia possesses thousands of nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them against targets in the United States and other NATO countries--a capability that the Serbs noticeably lack. The risks associated with a U.S.-led intervention in one of the Baltic republics would be exponentially greater than those entailed in the Bosnia mission. Russian leaders are just as aware of that fact as are Western leaders. Consequently, an implied threat that NATO would intervene to preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Baltic republics as it has done (at least officially) in Bosnia lacks credibility.[17] The notion that the Bosnia operation could in any way be a model for dealing with Russia's possible encroachment on the territory of its neighbors verges on the bizarre.

Specter 4: Balkan Dominoes

The administration's most substantive concern about a wider war centers on the danger that the Bosnian conflict could spread southward into Serbia's predominantly Albanian province of Kosovo and into neighboring Macedonia, eventually drawing in Greece, Turkey, and other regional powers on opposite sides.[18] In this case, the administration's argument has at least some validity. There is serious danger of a conflict in the southern Balkans. But the president and his supporters are wrong to assume that suppressing the fighting in Bosnia (even assuming the hopelessly convoluted Dayton accord can achieve that goal over the long term) will automatically prevent the outbreak of that war.

The situation in the southern Balkans is nuanced and complex. The danger is not simply that the fighting in Bosnia might "spread" southward--in a belated validation of the domino theory. The disputes surrounding Kosovo and Macedonia involve not only a different set of issues but largely a different set of potential adversaries.


Tensions in Kosovo have been simmering for years. Albanian Kosovar political organizations conducted an "unofficial referendum" on the issue of independence in 1991 after the government in Belgrade had revoked the province's autonomous status and abolished its legislative assembly the previous year. Since then, the Albanian population has developed an increasingly elaborate political and administrative "parallel system"--in essence, a shadow government headed by "president" Ibrahim Rugova.[19] Only Albania has recognized Kosovo's independence, however, and Belgrade has never accorded the alleged results of the referendum the slightest legitimacy. The Milosevic government has recently shown some flexibility about restoring the province's political and cultural autonomy, but Belgrade vehemently refuses even to discuss the possibility of independence.[20] Conversely, the Kosovars insist that nothing short of independence will be acceptable, and the Albanian government supports that position.[21]

Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo is officially committed to securing Kosovo's independence by peaceful means, but more extreme and violence-prone elements are beginning to take action. A group calling itself the Kosovo Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for a rash of shootings and bomb attacks in the spring and summer of 1996. Those attacks were directed against Serb civilians as well as members of the Serb-dominated police force in Kosovo.

Given the mythic significance of Kosovo in Serb history, it is highly improbable that any Serbian government would (or could) voluntarily relinquish control of the province.[22] As historian Thomas Emmert observes, Kosovo--the core of the medieval Serbian kingdom and the scene of its devastating defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Turks in 1389, which ushered in nearly five centuries of Turkish domination--is considered holy land by Serbs. Emmert and other experts on the Balkans warn that Serbs throughout the region would passionately support Serbia's right to protect its "Jerusalem."[23] Given Serb intransigence and the Kosovars' increasingly violent bid for independence, the ingredients are all in place for an ugly collision.


The Serb-Albanian rivalry over Kosovo is relatively simple compared with the multiple sources of potential conflict involving Macedonia. Extreme nationalist Serbs, led by Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj, routinely refer to Macedonia as southern Serbia, and Belgrade's ongoing efforts to stifle secessionist forces in Kosovo, adjacent to Macedonia, could have spillover effects. Nevertheless, Serbia is not the only--or even the principal--menace to Macedonia's independence and security. Indeed, relations between Belgrade and Skopje appear to be improving--much to the chagrin of the Albanian government and Albanian activists in Macedonia.[24]

Even as Serbian-Macedonian relations appear to be improving, relations between Macedonia and several of its other neighbors are tense and confrontational.[25] Bulgaria, which earlier in this century went to war on three separate occasions to press its territorial claims to Macedonia, only grudgingly recognized the independence of the new republic and continues to insist that Macedonians are merely "western Bulgarians."

Greece has been incensed that the new state appropriated the name "Macedonia" and chose the 16-point "Vergina Sun" pattern--an ancient symbol of Hellenic culture--for its flag. Athens frets that Macedonia may have designs on the Greek province of the same name--a suspicion fanned by the rhetoric of a small but vocal "Greater Macedonia" movement in the new republic. For more than two years Greece refused to establish diplomatic relations with Macedonia and even imposed an economic embargo on its northern neighbor.[26]

An agreement brokered by the United States in September 1995 appears to have eased tensions at least temporarily. The government in Skopje agreed to remove the Vergina Sun from Macedonia's flag and to amend the constitution to remove passages that implied claims on Greek territory. In exchange, Athens agreed to recognize its neighbor as a sovereign state and to lift the trade embargo. Other troublesome issues, including Macedonia's name, have not been resolved, however, and animosity between the two capitals remains high.[27]

Albania's attitude is most worrisome of all. The government in Tirana shows signs of coveting Macedonia's heavily Albanian western provinces. (Maps circulated by a "Greater Albania" movement lay claim to most of Macedonia--as well as large chunks of Greek territory.)[28] Tirana has offered none-too-subtle encouragement to Albanian separatist political forces. When the leading Albanian party in Macedonia, the Party of Democratic Prosperity, split in February 1994, with the moderate members resigning, Albania's president, Sali Berisha, formed close ties with the new radical leadership. He has also responded favorably to statements by Albanian Macedonian leaders such as Mahi Nesimi that Albania "must aggressively support the interests of Albanians in Kosovo, Macedonia, and elsewhere in the region."[29] The Macedonian government contends that it has foiled at least one armed secessionist plot directed by Albania.[30]

Relations between the Eastern Orthodox Slavic majority and the Muslim Albanian minority (officially 22 percent of the population, 40 percent according to the Albanians) in Macedonia are already frigid and appear to be growing more so.[31]Macedonian journalist Iso Rusi states that since the ethnically polarized elections of October 1994, "politics in Macedonia has begun to resemble those in Croatia and in Bosnia Herzegovina from 1990 to 1992."[32] An especially ugly incident occurred in February 1995 when Macedonian authorities forcibly blocked ethnic Albanians from opening an Albanian-language university in the city of Tetovo--ultimately bulldozing the building the founders had chosen.[33]

It is symptomatic of the multiple sources of threats to Macedonia that so many parties were rumored to have been responsible for the October 3, 1995, car bomb attack that left President Kiro Gligorov seriously wounded. Although suspicion initially fell on the disgruntled Albanian minority in Macedonia, other parties have also become prominent suspects. Those parties include strident Macedonian nationalists (who consider Gligorov "soft" on both Albania and Greece) as well as the Serbian, Greek, Albanian, and Bulgarian intelligence services.[34] Indeed, the Bulgarian regime has gradually emerged as the prime suspect, and Macedonian authorities have sought to question several Bulgarian nationals in connection with the incident. Although responsibility for the assassination plot has yet to be established, one European diplomat familiar with the Balkans described the attack as "very professional" and stated that the bombers almost certainly had been trained outside Macedonia.[35]

Ironically, Washington's obsession with containing Serb power by creating an "arc of alliances" among Serbia's neighbors may increase rather than reduce the danger of war in the southern Balkans.[36] There are indications, for example, that the extensive political, military, and intelligence agency ties between the United States and Albania as part of Washington's anti-Serb strategy may be inadvertently encouraging Tirana to pursue its goal of a Greater Albania.[37] Macedonia (along with Kosovo) is likely to be high on Albania's expansionist agenda.

The success or failure of the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia is not likely to have a decisive impact on the extraordinarily complex situation in the southern Balkans. Kosovo is a political volcano that could erupt at any time. Macedonia was a battleground before (most notably in the Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913) and may become one again, regardless of what happens in Bosnia. Unfortunately, the United States would probably be involved from the beginning in any fighting that occurred in the southern Balkans. There are 550 American troops in Macedonia as part of a UN peacekeeping contingent, and Washington has repeatedly warned Belgrade that the United States will not tolerate the use of force against the restless Kosovars.

Washington's Overreaction

Clinton has asserted that Bosnia lies "at the heart of Europe" and that failure to implement the Dayton peace accord would create the risk that the fighting could spark "the kind of conflict that has drawn Americans into two European wars in this century."[38] His alarmist rhetoric is unwarranted. Bosnia is not Europe's heart; it is a small, newly minted country with little importance outside its immediate region, the perennially unstable Balkan peninsula.

From the standpoint of American interests, what matters in Europe is the conduct of the handful of major powers. As long as those states remain at peace with one another, and no menacing would-be hegemonic power emerges, there is no credible danger to America's security. Events involving minor countries such as Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia may create annoyances, but they do not disrupt the European balance of power or the overall stability of the Continent. In an unusually candid moment, Britain's ambassador to the United States, John Kerr, admitted that "the war in Bosnia could rumble on for years without directly impinging on the security of Western Europe."[39]

U.S. policymakers must learn to distinguish between parochial squabbles and serious security threats. The belief that it is impossible to tolerate any episode of instability in Europe because it will sooner or later automatically draw in the United States is fallacious. Yet the administration's policy embodies the historical analysis made by national security adviser Anthony Lake. According to Lake, "If there is one thing this century teaches us, it is that America cannot ignore conflicts in Europe."[40] Lake and other administration officials miss the crucial point that both of the armed conflicts in which the United States ultimately intervened were wars involving all of Europe's great powers. Such serious disruptions of the international system had the potential to place important American security interests at risk.

Not every conflict that has erupted in Europe, or is likely do to so in the future, necessarily has wider strategic implications. There is no validity to the notion that limited struggles, especially those involving small powers in a peripheral region such as the Balkans, are destined to escalate to continent-wide conflagrations that will drag in the United States. Yet that is the logic underlying not only the U.S.-led mission in Bosnia but also the drive to enlarge NATO. Proponents of enlargement insist that it is necessary to bring the nations of Central and Eastern Europe into the alliance to dampen disputes in those regions and prevent a repetition of the instability that led to the two world wars.

Unless a more nuanced and sophisticated analysis is undertaken, America risks making unwise and unsustainable security commitments based on an updated domino theory. Events in East Asia during the 1970s and 1980s badly undermined that theory.[41] Despite numerous dire predictions that if South Vietnam fell to the communists a Red political tide would inexorably engulf all of East Asia, nothing of the sort happened. North Vietnam's victory was followed by communist takeovers only in neighboring Cambodia and Laos--two small countries whose geostrategic and economic significance was minuscule. Instead of succumbing to despair and communist domination, the other nations of East Asia went on to achieve dramatic economic progress and political reform.

Events in Central America during the 1980s demolished what little credibility the domino theory had left. Again, predictions that the Marxist revolution in Nicaragua would be followed by a wave of communist victories throughout the region proved unfounded. For a time it appeared that El Salvador might succumb, but elsewhere radical leftists mounted only tepid insurgencies, and ultimately the Sandinistas themselves were eased out of power.

The lesson of both incidents for the current situation in the Balkans is that conflicts (or ideological movements) do not automatically spread without limit. There is a serious possibility that fighting could erupt in Kosovo or Macedonia, and there is some danger that one or more neighboring states might choose to intervene. Yet even that development would not necessarily mean a general conflagration in the Balkans, much less a continent-wide war. Greece and Turkey, for example, would have powerful reasons to conclude that the costs and risks of intervention, especially the danger of a full-scale Greco-Turkish war, would vastly outweigh any prospective benefits. (Moreover, a war between Greece and Turkey is far more likely to erupt because of Cyprus or the territorial disputes involving dozens of islands in the Aegean than because of a conflict in Kosovo or Macedonia.) Russia and the West European powers would have even greater reasons to avoid becoming entangled in a Balkan war. And it is only the possibility of the involvement of Europe's great powers, not such midsized states as Turkey and Greece, that would make a Balkan conflict a matter of more than parochial concern.

The domino theory was nonsense when applied to Southeast Asia in the 1950s and 1960s; it was nonsense when applied to Central America in the 1980s; and it is nonsense when applied to Europe in the 1990s. The wider war thesis may be good political propaganda, but it is bad history and dreadful strategy.


1. Clinton and other proponents of the NATO peace enforcement mission have also frequently emphasized moral considerations as a justification for intervention. For a critique of the "moral imperative" argument, see Ted Galen Carpenter, "First Moral Obligation Owed to Our Own Citizens," Boston Globe, December 3, 1995.

2. White House Press Office, Letter from President Clinton to Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, November 13, 1995, p. 1.

3. Warren Christopher, "Send Troops to Bosnia," USA Today, October 18, 1995, p. 13.

4. James Steinberg, "Foreign Policy Myopia," Washington Times, January 19, 1996, p. A19.

5. For an application of that reasoning to East Asia, see U.S. Department of Defense, United States Security Strategy for the East Asia-Pacific Region (Washington: U.S. Department of Defense, February 1995).

6. See, for example, George Soros, "Bosnia," Soros Foundation, New York, August 1993, p. 6.

7. For a discussion of the inapplicability of the 1930s model to the situation in the former Yugoslavia, see Ted Galen Carpenter, "The Balkan Crisis and the Faulty 1930s Analogy," Mediterranean Quarterly 5 (Fall 1994): 17-29.

8. International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance, 1995-1996 (London: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 80, 95-96.

9. Paul Greenberg, "Where They Never Learn," Washington Times, June 3, 1992, p. G3.

10. Quoted in Ann Devroy, "Clinton Lobbies for Troops," Washington Post, November 26, 1995, p. A33.

11. Benjamin Schwarz, "Leave the Little Wars Alone," Los Angeles Times, June 8, 1992, p. B5.

12. "More Than Bosnia," editorial, Wall Street Journal, April 28, 1994, p. A12.

13. Margaret Thatcher, "Stop the Serbs. Now. For Good," New York Times, May 4, 1994, p. A23.

14. Christopher Layne and Benjamin Schwarz, "American Hegemony--Without an Enemy," Foreign Policy 92 (Fall 1993): 16.

15. Fareed Zakaria, "Bosnia Explodes Three Myths," New York Times, September 26, 1993, p. E15.

16. "Bosnia and the Republicans," editorial, Wall Street Journal, November 29, 1995, p. A14. That was not merely an isolated, ill-considered comment. Two weeks later the Journal again tried to establish a connection between the success or failure of the Bosnia mission and Russia's relations with its neighbors, contending that "the Serbs are testing a formula for the post-cold war world. If it succeeds, we can anticipate its application elsewhere--Russian intervention, perhaps, on behalf of a Russian ethnic minority in Latvia." "Bad Choices on Bosnia," editorial, Wall Street Journal, December 12, 1995, p. A20.

17. For a discussion of the risks and difficulties of mounting a Western defense of the Baltic states, see Stanley Kober, "NATO Expansion and the Danger of a Second Cold War," Cato Institute Foreign Policy Briefing no. 38, January 3, 1996, pp. 13-14.

18. See the comments of Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott in Martin Sieff, "Talbott Warns of Blood Bath if Balkan Peace Fails to Hold," Washington Times, November 2, 1995, p. A10.

19. Tom Hundley, "Serbian Rule Disputed in Kosovo," Washington Post, March 29, 1995, p. A26. For an early but still relevant assessment of the potential for serious trouble in Kosovo, see Steven Woehrel, "Kosovo: The Next Post-Yugoslav Crisis?" Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, November 16, 1992.

20. "Milosevic Hints at Restitution of Autonomy for Restless Albanian Province," Agence France Presse (electronic version), July 9, 1996; Dan De Luce, "Troubled Kosovo Haunts Serbian President," Reuters World Service (electronic version), July 1, 1996; and "Yugoslav PM Wants Talks with Kosovo Albanians," Reuters World Service (electronic version), July 9, 1996.

21. "Minister Says Kosovo Should Not Be Considered Part of Serbia," Albanian Radio, Tirana, June 15, 1996, British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts

EE/D2640/B, June 16, 1996; and "Albania Says Kosovo Situation Could Explode," Reuters World Service (electronic version), July 7, 1996.

22. For contrasting perspectives on the background to the current troubles in Kosovo, see Alex N. Dragnich, "The Future of Kosovo," Chronicles, April 1995, pp. 14-17; and Sabrina P. Ramet, "The Albanians of Kosovo: The Potential for Destabilization," Brown Journal of World Affairs 3 (Winter-Spring 1996) 353-70.

23. Thomas Emmert, "Why Serbia Will Fight for 'Holy' Kosovo," Washington Post, June 13, 1993, p. C1; and Theo Sommer, "A Balkan Intifada? Increasing Unrest among Albanians in Serbia-Controlled Kosovo." Die Zeit, February 9, 1996, World Press Review (electronic version), May 1996.

24. "Progovernment Party Says Yugoslav Agreement Harms Albanians," British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts EE/D2585/A, April 12, 1996; and Gareth Jones, "Kosovo Unrest Causes Alarm in Macedonia," Reuters World Service (electronic version), May 16, 1996.

25. For discussions of the long-standing regional rivalries involving Macedonian territory, see Robert D. Kaplan, Balkan Ghosts: A Journey through History (New York: St. Martin's, 1993), pp. 49-70; Evangelos Kofos, Nationalism and Communism in Macedonia (New Rochelle, N.Y.: Aristide D. Caratzas, 1993); Douglas Dakin, The Greek Struggle in Macedonia, 1897-1913 (Thessaloniki, Greece: Institute for Balkan Studies, 1993); and The Other Balkan Wars (Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1993).

26. For a discussion of Greek policy, see Nikolaos Zahariadis, "Nationalism and Small-State Foreign Policy: The Greek Response to the Macedonian Issue," Political Science Quarterly 109 (Fall 1994): 647-67. A good summary of the Greek government's official position on Macedonia is "Macedonia: More Than a Difference over a Name," Secretariat General for Press and Information, Athens, April 1994, pp. 1-16.

27. Christopher S. Wren, "Greece to Lift Embargo against Macedonia if It Scraps Its Flag," New York Times, September 14, 1995, p. A11.

28. Christopher Hitchens, "Minority Report," Nation, July 3, 1995, p. 7.

29. Quoted in Edward Mortimer, "Southern Discomfort," Financial Times, March 3, 1994, p. 13. For a discussion of the concerns of Western governments about the Berisha regime's objective of a Greater Albania, see Yigal Chazan, "Tempering the Dream of a 'Greater Albania,'" Christian Science Monitor, July 20, 1994, p. 7.

30. Andrew Borowiec, "Macedonia Says It Has Thwarted a Military Plot from Albania," Washington Times, November 11, 1993, p. A15.

31. A census conducted by the Macedonian government in the summer of 1994 appears to have exacerbated rather than resolved the numbers dispute. Albanian leaders insist that the count was fraudulent, and even Western diplomats believe that the Albanians make up at least 30 percent of the population. Roger Cohen, "Macedonian Census Just Inflames the Disputes," New York Times, July 17, 1995, p. A8.

32. Iso Rusi, "Avoiding Another Balkan Wildfire," New York Times, March 4, 1995, p. A19. See also Kerin Hope, "Ethnic Divisions Deepen in Macedonia," Financial Times, February 27, 1995, p. 4.

33. Thomas Lippman, "U.S. Fears Macedonia Flash Point," Washington Post, March 19, 1995; and Dusan Stojanovic, "Ethnic Hatred Awaits Spark Outside Bosnia," Washington Times, April 2, 1995, p. A8.

34. Raymond Bonner, "Macedonia Names Fill-In for Wounded Leader," New York Times, October 5, 1995, p. A14.

35. Quoted in ibid.

36. For discussions of the growing U.S. and NATO ties with Hungary, Croatia, Albania, and Macedonia--and the clear anti-Serb focus of those ties--see Amos Perlmutter, "Contours of a New Euro-Security Plan," Washington Times, January 8, 1996, p. A15; and Ted Galen Carpenter and Amos Perlmutter, "Strategy Creep: Up to Our Knees in the Balkans and Advancing," National Interest 44 (Summer 1996): 53-59. The arc of alliances concept was outlined by then assistant secretary of state Richard Holbrooke in December 1995. See John Pomfret, "U.S. Builds Arc of Alliances to Contain Serbia's Power," Washington Post, December 19, 1995, p. A1.

37. Mortimer. For discussions of Washington's military and intelligence ties with Albania, see "Gjader Military Airport May Become a Base for CIA Spy Planes," Koha Jone (Albania) February 3, 1994, p. 2, Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Daily Report--Eastern Europe 94-032, February 16, 1994, pp. 2-3; and John Pomfret and David B. Ottaway, "U.S., Albania Form 'the Weirdest Relationship,'" Washington Post, November 20, 1995, p. A1.

Washington's reflexive support for Berisha has become an embarrassment in light of his increasingly authoritarian rule. The latest indication of his contempt for democracy was the massive fraud that accompanied the May parliamentary elections. Marianne Sullivan, "Albania's Flawed Poll Ends in Landslide," Financial Times, June 4, 1996, p. 3; "Albanian Police Crack Down on Election Protestors," Washington Post, May 29, 1996, p. A15; Jane Perlez, "Albania's Reformer Turns Autocrat," New York Times, June 1, 1996, p. A5; Kevin Donne, "New Friends Recoil As Albania's Mask Slips," Financial Times, May 31, 1996, p. 2; and Thomas Carothers, "In Albania, One for the Thugs," Washington Post, June 6, 1996, p. A29.

38. Opening statement by President Clinton at a press conference, Washington, D.C., October 31, 1995, U.S. Department of State Dispatch, November 6, 1995, p. 807.

39. Quoted in Stephen Chapman, "Will Bosnia Save NATO--Or Destroy It?" Chicago Tribune, November 23, 1995, p. A27.

40. Anthony Lake, "Bosnia: America's Interests and America's Role," Remarks at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, April 7, 1994, p. 1.

41. For discussions of the domino theory and its defects, see Ted Galen Carpenter, A Search for Enemies: America's Alliances after the Cold War (Washington: Cato Institute, 1992), pp. 171-72, 178-79; and Layne and Schwarz, pp. 16-17.

Published by the Cato Institute, Cato Foreign Policy Briefing is a regular series evaluating government policies and offering proposals for reform. Nothing in Cato Foreign Policy Briefing should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Cato Institute or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before Congress.

Contact the Cato Institute for reprint permission. Printed copies of Cato Foreign Policy Briefing are $2.00 each ($1.00 each for five or more). To order, or for a complete listing of available studies, write the Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001-5403. (202) 842-0200 FAX (202) 842-3490 E-mail

1996 The Cato Institute
Please send comments to webmaster