Since World War II, the United States’ main foreign policy concern had been stopping Communism’s growth. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, that threat was gone. The focus turned to environmental concerns, terrorism, and humanitarian service.
- Yugoslavia, formerly a Communist country, began to break into small states in the 1990s. A variety of cultures and ethnic groups lived within these states and they did not get along. When Croatia (one of the regions) announced its independence, Serbians living there declared war. Slobodan Milosevic, the president of Yugoslavia, sent Serb troops into Bosnia and Croatia. These troops attempted to wipe out entire groups of people (genocide), much like Adolf Hitler did during World War II. In 1997, Serbs launched attacks against Albanian Muslims and others in Kosovo. Thousands of Albanians fled on foot and lived in refugee camps. NATO bombed Belgrade and sent 50,000 men to keep peace in the area. Milosevic was forced out of power by September.
- Widespread famine, drought, and civil war brought misery to the people of Somalia, in Africa. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush sent U.S. troops to join a United Nations relief mission there with the goal of preventing warring groups from stealing food from Somalians. These clans resented the intrusion and on October 3, 1993, 18 U.S soldiers were killed in a battle against them. Many Americans were angry and President Clinton ordered our troops to leave Somalia.
- Islamic groups in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia resented America’s support of Israel. They also hated the West’s culture and wealth and disliked its influence on their countries. In January, 1993, six people were killed when a car bomb exploded in the World Trade Center garage. Truck bomb attacks at embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed 250 people in 1998. Terrorists bombed a navy ship off the coast of Yemen in 2000. Intelligence experts traced the attacks to Osama bin Laden.
- During the late 1980s and 1990s, Americans became more aware of the damage industrialization was causing the environment. Scientists presented information about global warming. Since the U.S. was a leading industrial nation, it was also a leading polluter. Congress passed stricter laws to keep the air, water, and land clean. People began to resent these strict and expensive laws, especially since developing nations weren’t required to make changes. Disagreements about how to solve environmental problems were common.
- Genocide: the murder of entire groups of people, generally based on their ethnic, religious, or racial background.
- Industrial: relating to industry, factories, and production
- Humanitarian: caring for human needs
Questions and Answers
Question: Were the people in Yugoslavia able to resolve their problems?
Answer: Eastern Europe has been a complicated place for hundreds of years. Each small state has its own culture, ethnic groups, and traditions. Each group feels an intense loyalty and nationalism for its own people. Additionally, these areas were under Communist rule for many years so developing a more democratic government in which people can work, worship, and live as they choose takes time. Problems do still flare up occasionally.