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43 2 LEARNING FROM BOSNIA AND KOSOVO the nato interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s were highly significant for the alliance. They serve both as key indicators of the changing nature of the global security environment in which nato was operating—one characterized by intrastate and ethnic conflict—and catalysts in the transformation of the alliance itself. This chapter examines those interventions, their perceived and actual success, and considers how the operations contributed to nato’s durability. The argument outlined in this chapter is that there were both liberal and realist drivers of nato’s involvement in the conflicts; nato was responding to grave concerns over abuses of human rights and democratic values, and was also driven to intervene by concerns over the implications of the conflicts for regional stability . In this respect nato took action because of a convergence of its members interests and values. Despite intra-alliance divisions over the conflicts and despite the many political and operational problems associated with them, nato was also the institution that was best placed to intervene and had a decisive impact in bringing the conflicts to an end. Neither the eu nor the un had the strategic capacity or political will to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table and nato stepped into the breach left by the security limitations of these other institutions. In this sense, nato was a better fit to the needs of its members in dealing with these conflicts. Moreover, the evolution of the Clinton administration ’s thinking on security during the early to mid-1990s formed the basis of this more active role for nato. Somalia had demonstrated to the administration the dangers of straying too far from the national interest. Yet, as the humanitarian situation in both Bosnia and Kosovo worsened, it became clear that continued inaction would have serious consequences for international security and for the administration ’s claim to leadership in Europe and on the world stage. In these circumstances Clinton plotted a course that was neither unilateralist, where the us would go it alone, nor multilateralist, where American 44 ◆ nato’s durability in a post–cold war world policy would be diluted by working through an organization like the un. In fact the un, constrained as it was by divisions between the permanent five in the Security Council, could not perform the necessary security role. nato was an alliance of democratic nations, which looked to the us for leadership, and which the us was forced to turn to in dealing with these events. theusandinternationalresponsetothebosnianconflict The former Yugoslavia was, essentially, an artificial construct. The country had been pieced together at the end of World War i, bringing the Serbian, Croation, and Slovenian peoples into one kingdom. The Cold War, coupled with the authoritarian rule of Josip Broz Tito, had imposed an artificial unity that would begin to unravel after his death in 1980. The role of the central government and its relationship with the six constituent republics—Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, Croatia, and Macedonia—began to be questioned, and a destabilizing economic nationalism emerged. In January 1990, under pressure from ethnic nationalists, the Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, agreed to abolish the one party system in the country. In practice, however, Milosevic continued to use his influence to block Croatian and Slovenian initiatives within the Congress toward greater autonomy for their regions, and this accelerated the splintering of the country—Slovenia and Croatia formally declared their independence in 1991, signaling the end of the Federal government and the beginning of a period of intense violence. Initially, as far as the international community was concerned, there was a great deal of talk, very little action, and some early mistakes that may have exacerbated the problems in the country. The Bush administration was largely focused elsewhere—in dealing with the first Gulf War, as discussed in the preceding chapter, and in helping the Soviet Union’s transition to democracy. The emerging conflict in Bosnia was seen as intractable—a result of “ancient hatreds” with which it was impossible to deal. This “hands-off” attitude was best summed up by President Bush’s Secretary of State, James Baker, who bluntly stated that it was “up to the people of Yugoslavia” to resolve the emerging conflict,1 and suggested that the American government didn’t “have a dog in that fight.”2 Despite the incoming president, Bill Clinton, making the conflict a central focus of his pronouncements on foreign policy, and even calling during...


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