Thursday, December 31, 2009

"In Harm's Way" by Martin Bell [22]


This brief conclusion to the book finds Bell realizing that he needs to leave Bosnia--not only is the war over, but he finds himself feeling genuine anger at the needless waste of it all. Needless, because the Western world could have and should have intervened much earlier to save thousands of lives and the chance for multiethnic Bosnia to survive. Bell believed that the international community bore some responsibility for the massive war crimes in Bosnia--unlike many observers, he never forgot that Srebrenica was a UN "safe area" nor does shy away from confronting the sad reality that in the end the Dutch UN contingent was concerned with nothing more than its own survival.

And so he left, and the book ends rather abruptly--but then again, even the second edition was published in 1995, while the peace was still new and untested. This is in many ways a raw book, informed by immediate reactions and fresh, direct impressions. Some of Bell's judgments could be fairly questioned, but it is crucial to note that he gets the big questions right. Precisely because this is not an impassioned work of partisan advocacy, "In Harm's Way" is ultimately a quite effective argument in favor of humanitarian intervention by the international community. It is also a thoughtful meditation on the role of the media in wartime and on the function of the mass media in the post-Cold War world. And it is many other things as well.

I highly recommend this book; it won't tell the average reader of this blog much about Bosnia that he or she doesn't already know, but Bell's point of view is worth knowing.


It is fitting to finish this book review just a few hours before I finish the first decade of the 21st Century. I would reflect at more length on the decade and on where Bosnia and the cause of humanitarian intervention and internationalism--but my wife informs me that it is time to get ready for our New Year's Eve outing! So I wish all my readers a happy 2010, and I look forward to continuing our ongoing dialogue in the new year. Best wishes to all.


Srebrenica Genocide said...

Kirk, long time no see. I wish you a Happy New Year 2010!

Srebrenica Genocide said...

Americans, Europeans, the United Nations - they all hoped Milosevic would finally solve the question of Muslims in Europe. They forced arms embargo on us and prevented us from defending ourselves. Serbs kept our cities under the siege and bombarded our civilians on a daily basis. Then, when our Army finally started advancing and recouping the lost territories, NATO threatened air strikes against our forces. Americans forced us to sign Dayton Peace Accords, which awarded the Serb side big chunks of our territory in Podrinje (eastern Bosnia), particularly municipalities where we formed majority (Srebrenica, Bratunac, Foca, Visegrad, Vlasenica, Zvornik......)

sarah correia said...

Kirk, Happy New Year for you and many more book reviews for us our readers!

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