"Toothless," "supine," "craven," and "spineless" are among the favored adjectives in this analysis of the world's response to the wars of Yugoslavia, a collection of eight essays that arose out of a Council on Foreign Relations study group. A measured introduction by Ullman and a lucid philosophical assessment of sovereignty and self-determination by Jean Manas give way to fire-breathing denunciations of Western diplomacy by most of the other contributors. The essays are of high quality but leave this reviewer dissatisfied. The threat and use of force were certainly necessary elements in the West's diplomacy, but employing force on behalf of achievable political aims was also crucial. The authors generally treat the idea of partition with the same derision they bestow on the fecklessness of the U.N. Protection Force. A more persuasive view is that partition ought to have formed a central part of diplomacy from the outset. Instead, unrealistic political objectives (the achievement of an independent, multicultural Bosnia) were paired, incongruously, with an apolitical humanitarianism that made hostages of peacekeepers.
Get the latest book reviews delivered to your inbox.