The collapse of the Eastern Bloc at the end of the 1980s prompted a period of re-alignment and change in world politics.
Although Russia was temporarily reduced to political and economic chaos, it was allowed to retain its seat on the UN Security Council. But President Yeltsin was consumed by the man domestic problems he faced. China was also undergoing a transformation from a socialist planned economy to a socialist capitalist economy.
The United States thus found itself the world’s supreme superpower and soon saw the opportunity to create “a new world order”.
It was potentially a time for a ‘peace dividend’ to mark the end of the Cold War era. But in US government circles it soon came to be seen as a window of opportunity to bring about change in what were perceived to be the world’s greatest trouble spots.
Countries such as Libya, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria had been long-running problems for the USA. In the early 1990s, for the first time in a long time, the possibility of genuine and beneficial change seemed real.
Yugoslavia was different. Initially it was Europe that took charge of efforts to contain the nationalism that had been growing in the Yugoslav republics. But from an early stage the so-called “neocons”, who were advocating a more hawkish foreign policy, began to see Yugoslavia as part of their plans. Europe and the USA were soon pursuing different policies to Yugoslavia, though this was not formally acknowledged for several years after conflicts broke out in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia.