Kosovo: Appeasement Revisited?

JERUSALEM: Nagging tensions along the Yugoslav-Albanian border have dramatically focused attention on the dangers of a major international conflagration arising from the continuing crisis in Kosovo. They also prove once more - if added proof is needed - the short-sightedness and woeful inadequacy of today’s international system in its ability to contain conflicts and intervene in a timely fashion. In the kind of ethnic conflicts stirred by the disintegration of communism, the world seems to prefer to react after the blood has begun to flow. In Kosovo, such passivity means that preventive diplomacy is failing once again.

The reason for this is, in a way, simple: world leaders and statesmen react only to acute crises and have terrible difficulty in mobilizing their own attention - and in trying to galvanize popular support in their own countries - when a crisis is "only" dormant and not yet violent. This is the pattern of all the post-1991 crisis in the former Yugoslavia. Had there been an immediate threat of intervention after the Serbian shelling of Dubrovnik or the siege of Vukovar, then the later massacres and ethnic cleansings, the shameful siege of Sarajevo, the brutalities in Mostar and the mass murders in Srebrenica could have been avoided.

Yet the lesson of those failures has not been learned. The Dayton Accords that delivered today’s uneasy "peace" to Bosnia Hercegovina became a possibility - and an imperative for President Clinton -- only when his own prestige, and the role of the United States itself in world politics, appeared to be in jeopardy.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in

  1. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

    The Brexit Surrender

    European Union leaders meeting in Brussels have given the go-ahead to talks with Britain on post-Brexit trade relations. But, as European Council President Donald Tusk has said, the most difficult challenge – forging a workable deal that secures broad political support on both sides – still lies ahead.

  2. The Great US Tax Debate

    ROBERT J. BARRO vs. JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS on the impact of the GOP tax  overhaul.

    • Congressional Republicans are finalizing a tax-reform package that will reshape the business environment by lowering the corporate-tax rate and overhauling deductions. 

    • But will the plan's far-reaching changes provide the boost to investment and growth that its backers promise?

    ROBERT J. BARRO | How US Corporate Tax Reform Will Boost Growth

    JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS | Robert Barro's Tax Reform Advocacy: A Response

  3. Murdoch's Last Stand?

    Rupert Murdoch’s sale of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets to Disney for $66 billion may mark the end of the media mogul’s career, which will long be remembered for its corrosive effect on democratic discourse on both sides of the Atlantic. 

    From enabling the rise of Donald Trump to hacking the telephone of a murdered British schoolgirl, Murdoch’s media empire has staked its success on stoking populist rage.

  4. Bank of England Leon Neal/Getty Images

    The Dangerous Delusion of Price Stability

    Since the hyperinflation of the 1970s, which central banks were right to combat by whatever means necessary, maintaining positive but low inflation has become a monetary-policy obsession. But, because the world economy has changed dramatically since then, central bankers have started to miss the monetary-policy forest for the trees.

  5. Harvard’s Jeffrey Frankel Measures the GOP’s Tax Plan

    Jeffrey Frankel, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a former member of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, outlines the five criteria he uses to judge the efficacy of tax reform efforts. And in his view, the US Republicans’ most recent offering fails miserably.

  6. A box containing viles of human embryonic Stem Cell cultures Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

    The Holy Grail of Genetic Engineering

    CRISPR-Cas – a gene-editing technique that is far more precise and efficient than any that has come before it – is poised to change the world. But ensuring that those changes are positive – helping to fight tumors and mosquito-borne illnesses, for example – will require scientists to apply the utmost caution.

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now