The war in Bosnia has occasioned the first significant debate over
foreign policy of the post-Cold War period. It has thereby done what
the war against Iraq did not do. The short-lived debate that attended
armed intervention in the Persian Gulf resembled in most respects the
debate attending armed intervention in the last decade or so of the
Cold War. All that was missing was the Cold War itself, and thus the
risk of armed conflict with the Soviet Union. In Congress, an
interventionist Republican party was pitted against a
non-interventionist Democratic party. In the broader public debate,
those urging war against Iraq were those who had supported armed
intervention on earlier occasions, while those who opposed going to
war were those who had opposed resorting to force on these same
In the case of Bosnia, the identity of the participants has changed.
In Congress the debate over whether to pursue an interventionist
course has not followed party lines. The Democrats can no longer be
identified with an anti-interventionist position. The same is true of
a number of public figures who had once been reliably
anti-interventionist. Indeed, some of the most insistent criticism of
both the Bush and Clinton administrations for failing to give
military support to the Bosnian Muslims has come from those whose
anti-interventionist disposition had long been taken for granted.
Thus what Senator Joseph Biden has come to symbolize for the liberal
democrats in Congress, Anthony Lewis has come to symbolize for
liberal expression in the media.