"Aza Beast": Attacking the Roots of War

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"Aza Beast": Attacking the Roots of War

By Colum Murphy
Pandora/Smisao, 2004
445 pp. $25.00
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As a UN official in Bosnia, Murphy carried out his mission with distinction, but his analysis of, and intense feelings about, the Bosnian war put him at odds with the UN, with its strict impartiality between the Serbs and their victims from 1991 to 1995. This memoir is valuable both as a portrait of a deeply moral man in an awful situation and as an account of the sufferings of the Bosnians, the skillful maneuvers of Slobodan Milosevic, and the machinations of UN officials sympathetic to the Serbs. He concludes that "it is hard not to be hard on the performance of the international community in Bosnia." Humanitarianism without a political design is insufficient, and "the political leadership of the international community ... was deeply flawed"-doing nothing to prevent the slaughter at Srebrenica, which Murphy describes with eloquent indignation. Murphy's sense of right and wrong, his distaste for "realist" justifications of inaction, and his concern for the victims of the beast of war give this volume its glow and its emotional power.