Peacemakers: American Leadership and the End of Genocide in the Balkans

In This Review

Peacemakers: American Leadership and the End of Genocide in the Balkans
By James W. Pardew
University Press of Kentucky, 2017
424 pp.

Pardew was at the center of the U.S. diplomatic intervention in the former Yugoslavia from the time of the 1995 Dayton peace accords, which ended the Bosnian war and the accompanying genocide, to Kosovo’s independence, in 2008. As a diplomat, he played a key role in rebuilding the Bosnian military after the war; in negotiating the Ohrid Agreement in 2001, which averted a civil war in Macedonia; and in the failed effort to avoid the 1998–99 Kosovo war. He provides a compelling, detailed account of the diplomatic give-and-take with wily Balkan leaders (none more so than Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic), debates among Western negotiators, and the crosscutting pressures from Brussels and Washington. His portrait of Richard Holbrooke, the controversial but skilled American diplomat, at work during the Dayton negotiations is particularly powerful. Pardew puts the reader in the room during his encounters with several major actors, including Milosevic, both in Holbrooke’s company and, later, alone. He acknowledges some of the shortcomings of Washington’s policies in the Balkans, but he makes a strong case that U.S. diplomacy ended the Bosnian genocide and prevented further bloodshed.

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