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Bombs for Peace

Bombs for Peace: NATO's Humanitarian War on Yugoslavia

George Szamuely
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  • Book Info
    Bombs for Peace
    Book Description:

    In the late 1990s NATO dropped bombs and supported armed insurgencies in Yugoslavia while insisting that its motives were purely humanitarian and that its only goal was peace. However, George Szamuely argues that NATO interventions actually prolonged conflicts, heightened enmity, increased casualties, and fueled demands for more interventions.Eschewing the one-sided approach adopted by previous works on the Yugoslavian crisis, Szamuely offers a broad overview of the conflict, its role in the rise of NATO's authority, and its influence on Western policy on the Balkans. His timely, judicious, and accessible study sheds new light on the roots of the contemporary doctrine of humanitarian intervention.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1967-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

    (pp. 13-42)

    On March 19, 2011, Great Britain, France and the United States began bombing Libya. The action had become necessary, the nato powers claimed, because Libya was on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. The government of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi was about to crush armed rebel forces based in the town of Benghazi and heavy casualties were expected. As justification, the Western powers cited u.n. Security Council Resolution 1973. Adopted a few hours before the start of the bombing, the resolution called on u.n. member states “to take all necessary measures … to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat...

    (pp. 43-124)

    The disastrous consequences of the West’s intervention in Yugoslavia stemmed from its willful misunderstanding of the nature of the country’s crisis.

    The wars in Yugoslavia were triggered by the insistence of first, Croatia and Slovenia, then Bosnia, then Kosovo to seek independence without bothering to go through the formality of negotiating the terms of their exit. Since there was no way that six-nation, six-republic Yugoslavia could break up without war, and therefore without the atrocities that are inseparable from war, responsibility for the subsequent humanitarian crises rested with those who insisted on secession at all costs, and those who, willfully...

  3. 2 IN SEARCH OF THE GOOD WAR Bosnia: April 1992 to May 1993
    (pp. 125-190)

    As expected, war broke out in Bosnia immediately following recognition. In fact, violence had already broken out a month earlier, on March 1, when Muslim gunmen opened fire on a Serb wedding party being held in a Muslim section of Sarajevo.

    Having urged Izetbegović to seek independence even though there was not the slightest possibility that Bosnia could survive as an independent state, the Europeans and Americans now left him to fend for himself. Having made their bizarre decisions – granting statehood here, refusing statehood there, conjuring nations out of thin air while making others disappear – having provoked certain...

  4. 3 PEACEMAKING V. HUMANITARIANISM Bosnia and Croatia: June 1993 to December 1995
    (pp. 191-274)

    In June 1993, the icfy-sponsored negotiations were chugging along at a not terribly brisk pace. The Vance-Owen plan had been consigned to the history books; its replacement was the so-called Owen-Stoltenberg plan. (Stoltenberg took over from Vance as co-chairman of the icfy after the signing in Athens.) However, Owen and Stoltenberg were only the go-betweens; the real initiators of the plan were Serbia and Croatia.

    The plan, first drafted in June 1993, appeared to be something of a return to the aborted Cutileiro plan. Owen himself referred to it as the “union of three republics” plan. Out went the policy...

  5. 4 HUMANITARIANISM FULFILLED Bosnia’s Unsafe Areas
    (pp. 275-328)

    On April 17, 1993, the u.n. Security Council declared the town of Srebrenica a “safe area.” According to the u.n. resolution implementing this decision, the town and its surroundings were to “be free from any armed attack or any other hostile act.” The Security Council took this action without consulting the co-chairmen of the icfy who were at that moment seeking to persuade the warring parties to accept the Vance-Owen plan. Less than three weeks later, on May 6, the Security Council extended the “safe area” concept to an additional five towns: Sarajevo, Tuzla, Bihać, Goražde, and Žepa.

    Quite what...

    (pp. 329-380)

    Following the signing of the Dayton Accords, the United States returned to the stance it had adopted at the start of the Yugoslavia conflict. Milošević was the source of evil in the Balkans. There could be no peace until he was gone. This was an extraordinary turnaround. The Americans were well aware that it was Milošević, more than any other leader, who ensured agreement at Dayton. During the signing ceremony in Paris, Clinton himself had told Milošević, “I know this agreement would not have been possible without you. Whatever our differences in the past, you made Dayton possible.”¹ Clinton also...

    (pp. 381-444)

    The nato – or u.s. – strategy (it was hard to distinguish the two) was the military equivalent of the current practice of u.s. capitalism: privatizing the gains and socializing the losses. The kla, which was not a party to the Milošević-Holbrooke agreement, got a free pass. No matter what it did, it suffered no adverse consequences. Others, however, were not so fortunate. Nato focused its rage exclusively at the Serbs who, it fumed, were violating the Milošević-Holbrooke agreement. Nato ignored the obvious point that the Serbs could scarcely remain indifferent to growing kla violence.

    Nato justified its unbalanced approach...

    (pp. 445-504)

    The conflict in Kosovo “threatens our national interests,” Clinton explained on March 19. “If it continues, it will push refugees across borders and draw in neighboring countries. It will undermine the credibility of nato on which stability in Europe and our own credibility depend. It will likely reignite the historical animosities, including those that could embrace Albania, Macedonia, Greece, even Turkey.”

    Here, then, was the standard heady u.s. brew: a combination of wildly implausible scenarios, suggestions of falling dominoes, and chilling warnings about loss of “credibility.” It wasn’t the credibility of the mammoth nato military machine that was in danger:...

  9. CONCLUSIONS Ensuring Success by Lowering Standards
    (pp. 505-532)

    “Nato’s success in Kosovo will be the biggest deterrent to tyrants the world over and the biggest rallying call for democracy,” Blair said in a speech at Sofia University on May 17, 1999. “That is why, whatever it takes, we must succeed and the policy of brutal savagery that is ethnic cleansing must fail and be seen to fail.”

    Tyrants the world over didn’t get Blair’s memo. A little more than two years later, the United States was attacked by radical Islamists. A month after that, the United States and its allies, in revenge, invaded Afghanistan. Less than 18 months...