Saturday, December 26, 2009

"In Harm's Way" by Martin Bell [21]

Chapter 23: Fainthearts Confounded

The final chapter of the book finds Bell observing and commenting on the endgame of the Bosnian war. Bell was called away from the field to provide his expertise in studio back home in Britain, where he confronted the difficulties of trying to distill the war and its denouement in short soundbites for a public which was suddenly paying attention again.

As for the war--Bell recognized the key to why the war came to a sudden end; as he reiterates over and over in this book, force works. A muscular use of force by NATO forced the Serbs to the negotiating table, and a determined show of arms by IFOR immediately following the Dayton treaty ensured that both sides kept the peace and respected the peacekeepers. There would be no more ceasefire violations, no more terrorist kidnappings of hapless UN personnel to act as human shields.

Even though it was disturbingly clear that all Dayton had accomplished was essentially to force the Bosnian Serbs to accept their own plan for de facto ethnic partition (albeit with far less territory than they would have liked), the main lesson Bell learned was this--it could have been done sooner, meaning that more lives could have been saved, less injustice would have been enshrined at Dayton, and something of the old multiethnic Bosnia might have been saved.

A lot of trouble, death, and destruction could have been avoided, and our Western values much less betrayed, had the world known in advance what Bell saw in hindsight.

3 comments:

Shaina said...

What book is next on your list?

Kirk Johnson said...

Shaina, I'm not sure. I have two books from the library I intend to skim over but not review completely. I'll probably deal with those in the first couple weeks of the new year, and hopefully by then I'll know.

Owen said...

Thanks a lot for that overview of Bell's journey.