Bosnia and the West: A Study in Failure

Bosnia and the West: A Study in Failure

Mini Teaser: The Western world's reaction to the destruction of Bosnia has been a triumph of diplomacy. A triumph, that is, of diplomacy over foreign policy.

by Author(s): Noel Malcolm

The desire not to set precedents for other parts of the ex-communist
world was the main force behind the determination of Europe and
America to keep the Yugoslav federal state together in June 1991.
They feared the sudden break-up of the Soviet Union--which, two
months after they had failed to keep Yugoslavia together, suddenly
broke up anyway. Since that moment, the argument about precedent
setting has ceased to be a justification for Western policy and has
become a condemnation of it. The message sent by Western governments
to radical nationalists in the Baltic states, Central Europe, the
Caucasus, and the Russian Federation itself is that war, mass
expulsions and/or the de facto alteration of borders by force will,
in the end, be accepted by the outside world. One might go further
and say that the message to a Baltic state such as Estonia is that if
a Zhirinovsky government were one day to arrange for puppet forces to
take over half the Estonian territory, the most decisive reaction of
the Western world would be to slap an arms embargo on the Estonian
government. The point here is not that such events in the future
would not indeed present serious problems and dilemmas to
policymakers in the West; it is simply that the precedent set in
Bosnia makes such a scenario a more attractive choice for a future
radical regime in Moscow.

Relations with the present regime in Russia have been a dominan

Essay Types: Essay