When Belgrade was the capital of Yugoslavia, the country was on the edge of viability as an independent, neutral military power. Under Josip Broz Tito’s leadership, it was even almost viable as a patron to other client states. Tito’s Yugoslavia was a key organizer of the Non-Aligned Movement and provided armaments to anti-colonial players like the Algerian National Liberation Front and the Ethiopian government in the 1950s. Now, Belgrade is just the capital of Serbia. Other former Yugoslav republics, like Croatia and Slovenia, have been fully militarily integrated into NATO, and others like Bosnia and Macedonia are well on their way. Montenegro and Kosovo used to be part of the Serbian Yugoslav Republic, but Montenegro seceded from Serbia and recently joined NATO, while Kosovo declared independence—still disputed by Serbia—and hosts U.S. military bases.
Some small countries owe their existence to the United States. The flip side of this coin is that the military might of the United States has ensured the fragmentation and isolation of otherwise would-be military powers. To fragment and neutralize potential independent military power, especially within its sphere of influence, is a strategy the United States has even pursued against Russia. U.S.-backed “color revolutions” in former Soviet republics successfully brought formerly Russian-aligned states into the American sphere of influence. Russia has sought to undermine this attempt to expand the American sphere via its own military actions in Georgia and Ukraine.
The Pax Romana was the period of relative peace in the Mediterranean. The region was dominated by the Roman Empire, whose unbeatable armies suppressed conflict within its territories and client states for nearly two centuries. Similarly, the current European peace is hardly the work of pan-European institutions like the European Union, but a key result of the Pax Americana.
Samo Burja is the founder of Bismarck Analysis, a political risk consulting firm. You can follow him on Twitter @SamoBurja.
Matt Ellison is a research associate at the Hoover Institution. He studied international politics at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown. You can follow him on Twitter @MGEllison. Image: Reuters