In This Review

Getting to Dayton: The Making of America's Bosnia Policy
Getting to Dayton: The Making of America's Bosnia Policy
By Ivo H. Daalder
Brookings Institution Press, 2000, 204 pp

The year of decision in Bosnia was 1995. First the Bosnian Serbs made the bid for victory that culminated with the July massacres in the Srebrenica and Zepa "safe havens" supposedly protected by the United Nations. Then the Bosnian Serbs were defeated by successful Croatian and Bosnian-Muslim offensives, which were helped by the air strikes of the now-roused NATO alliance. Daalder takes on the Washington policy story, relying on secondary sources and interviews with officials (who are named in the preface but not in the citations). His analysis of the horrendous phase up to Srebrenica's collapse is disjointed and incomplete, but the narrative becomes more tightly written and better argued as it tackles the post-Srebrenica phase, from mid-July to September, leading up to Dayton. In this account, National Security Adviser Anthony Lake is the hero who -- helped by fellow staffer Alexander Vershbow -- beat back the passive options of the State and Defense departments to craft a more robust approach for their frustrated president. Daalder contends that Richard Holbrooke "played no part in the development of the policy" but acknowledges that Lake did reluctantly allow Holbrooke to implement the new strategy -- a job Holbrooke performed with great skill.