Capsule Review

Bosnia’s Paralyzed Peace

In This Review

Bosnia’s Paralyzed Peace
Bosnia’s Paralyzed Peace
By Christopher Bennett
Oxford University Press, 2016, 416 pp. Purchase

Readers who think the Bosnian tragedy ended long ago and that the 1995 Dayton accords set the country on a path to peace and stability are in for a surprise. After retracing the Bosnian war, the hopes surrounding the agreement that ended it, and the two decades of increasingly fraught efforts to implement the accords, Bennett warns that, despite generous contributions from international organizations, Bosnia is not evolving “into a self-sustaining and stable democracy.” Instead, the country is “deteriorating at an accelerating pace.” Meanwhile, “a fatalistic cynicism appears to have taken root,” even as the international community stubbornly hopes that the lure of Bosnian integration into Europe will allow the center to hold. As Bennett makes clear in this tough-minded book, the Dayton settlement ended the violence but dealt more with its symptoms than its underlying causes, which still linger. The problem is that Bosnian elites—Croats, Serbs, and Bosniaks alike—continue to pursue the same narrow ethnonationalist agendas that sparked the war rather than encouraging the pursuit of larger national goals. Moving past this zero-sum stalemate will require what Bennett calls a new “logic of Bosnian politics,” and he lays out steps for achieving it. 

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