May 05, 2017

The Necessary Empire

By Robert D. Kaplan

Elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany this year have brought much drama to the old Carolingian core, where Charlemagne founded his empire in the ninth century. This has always been the richest and most strongly institutionalized part of Europe. But should the European Union continue to weaken, the most profound repercussions will be felt farther east and south.

There, along the fault line of the Austrian Hapsburg and Ottoman Turkish empires, former Communist countries lack the sturdy middle-class base of core Europe, and in many cases are still distracted by ethnic and territorial disputes 25 years after the siege of Sarajevo. They depend on pro-European Union governments as never before.

Here in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, a country squeezed between Central Europe and the Balkans, officials and experts talk about a so-called phantom frontier that still exercises people’s imagination. This is the “Antemurale Christianitatis,” the “Bulwark of Christianity,” proclaimed in 1519 by Pope Leo X, in a reference to the Roman Catholic Slavs considered the front line against the Ottoman Empire. Croatia was the first line of defense against the Muslim Sultanate, and Slovenia the second. “When Yugoslavia collapsed, it was assumed that none of this earlier history was important,” one official said to me recently. “But a quarter-century after the disintegration of Tito’s Yugoslavia, we find that we are back to late-medieval and early-modern history.”

Read the full article in The New York Times.

  • Podcast
    • October 23, 2020
    Why Turkey Matters to the United States and Europe, with Soner Cagaptay

    Soner Cagaptay joins Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss the future of Turkish politics and democracy, Turkey’s role in the NATO alliance, and why the U.S. shoul...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend & Soner Cagaptay

  • Reports
    • October 20, 2020
    Charting a Transatlantic Course to Address China

    Working together to collectively strengthen the United States’ and Europe’s ability to compete with China provides an opportunity for a reinvigorated partnership....

    By Julianne Smith, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Carisa Nietsche & Ellison Laskowski

  • Podcast
    • October 16, 2020
    European Outlooks on the Transatlantic Relationship, with Jana Puglierin

    Jana Puglierin joins Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss how Europeans are thinking about the United States and a future transatlantic relationship. Puglierin is...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend & Jana Puglierin

  • Commentary
    • The Washington Post
    • October 13, 2020
    No, Trump has not been ‘tough’ on Russia

    The simple fact is that even harsh-looking sanctions have little impact when there’s zero political will to enforce them....

    By Edward Fishman , James Lamond & Max Bergmann

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia