Blue Helmets and Black Markets: The Business of Survival in the Siege of Sarajevo

In This Review

Blue Helmets and Black Markets: The Business of Survival in the Siege of Sarajevo

By Peter Andreas
Cornell University Press, 2008
240 pp. $25.00
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Andreas does not deny the suffering or the heroism of those caught in the three-and-half-year siege of Sarajevo, or the deadly earnestness of those who maintained it. But he wants to make this savage tale whole by exposing corruption's part in exploiting and sustaining the violence. For all the understandable attention focused on intrastate war since the end of the Cold War, its political economy has been one of its least-explored aspects. Andreas, with prose as lean as his analysis is rich, corrects this by demonstrating how thoroughly all become implicated, including the "good guys" -- the nongovernmental organizations, UN peacekeepers, even the news correspondents. He avoids moral judgments and focuses instead on the two-sided aspects of this sort of war: the illicit commerce between the warring parties, the profiteering by politicians struggling to save a community, the indulgences of outside agencies sent to help the victims. He finishes by sketching the corruption that persists in political establishments that follow war and then by briefly comparing Sarajevo with other cities under wartime siege -- Leningrad, Srebrenica, Grozny, and Fallujah, each variations on an all-too-human theme.