September 10, 2015

CNAS Press Note: The European Migrant Crisis and the Reassertion of Classical Geography

By Robert D. Kaplan

Washington, September 10 – In light of the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe, Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Senior Fellow Robert D. Kaplan has written a new Press Note, “The European Migrant Crisis and the Reassertion of Classical Geography.”

The full press note is below:

Classical geography is reasserting itself in Europe. Throughout much of history, the term “ Greater Europe” constituted the entire Mediterranean world, including North Africa, Asia Minor, and sometimes even the Levant, with the Balkans a historic zone of migration. Europe's southern border was never the Mediterranean, but the Sahara Desert. This reality was obscured in recent decades because of the existence of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere, which kept tens of millions of their subjects locked up inside their borders.

But as those regimes have unraveled due to war and invasion, these tens of millions have been free to migrate to the nearest part of the world whose political and economic conditions are appealing. Therefore, this refugee crisis will not go away, even as it will dip off the front pages.

Migrants from the Greater Mediterranean world and its shadow regions will change the face of Europe over time. European institutions will have to adapt or encounter destabilizing social tensions. For while presently some of the countries have shown compassion and generosity towards the refugees, the continuing economic crisis on the continent, as well the inevitable acts of crime and terrorism with which the media remains obsessed, ensures that that welcome mat will wear thin.

Kaplan is available for interviews on the crisis. To arrange an interview, please contact Neal Urwitz at, or call 202-457-9409.


  • Robert D. Kaplan

    Adjunct Senior Fellow

    Robert D. Kaplan is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, originally joining the Center in March 2008. He is the bestselling author of eighteen b...