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A Stable Peace in Europe: Can the Continent Put War Behind It?

James E. Goodby

The wars in the Balkans have made it starkly clear: nearly a decade after the end of the Cold War, Europe is only conditionally at peace; a deep chasm divides Russia and the West. The settlement in Yugoslavia will not alter this situation.

The United States and her NATO allies have decided in the case of Kosovo that internal ethnic conflicts may be defined as threats to international peace and security, justifying military intervention. This is a major innovation in European statecraft.The Helsinki Final Act of 1975 opened the door to sanctions against a state that denies human rights to its own citizens.The new precedent expands the scope of these sanctions dramatically. But it fits with a view in the West that wars between nation-states in Europe have become almost inconceivable, that intra-state conflicts are the principal threat. In a New York Times article on May 23, President Clinton argued that instability in the Balkans, fueled by a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing, was the greatest remaining threat to a Europe that is peaceful, undivided, and free.

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