Bill Clinton and Reluctant Interventions into the Balkans
This chapter relates why an ethnically and religiously diverse Yugoslavia’s fragmentation into bloodshed grabbed international attention. The civil war pulled at the UN, NATO, European states, and Washington for resolution. Clinton pursued a detachment strategy, struggling to remain disengaged until near the end of his first term. When it endangered his reelection, he reluctantly worked through NATO to bomb Serbia to relent over Bosnia’s bid for independence. The next shoe fell when Kosovo erupted in violence against Serb rule. Again, Clinton relied on NATO and bombing rather than ground forces to resolve the conflict. Afterward, Clinton returned to disengagement when confronted with calls for action against Iraq and the terrorist al Qaeda network. He passed peacekeeping operations off to others in Sierra Leone and East Timor.