Genocide in Bosnia: The Policy of "Ethnic Cleansing"

By Norman Cigar | Go to book overview

10. Stopping Genocide

Could More Have Been Done?

Whatever the international community's policy toward Bosnia-Herzegovina and whatever measures of success it used, it failed to prevent genocide. More decisive action may have been taken earlier by the international community to prevent or halt this tragedy. Working-level officials in many countries were disappointed with their government's inaction. In the United States, for example, an unprecedented five Department of State officers resigned over this issue, citing their frustration with the reluctance to formulate an effective American response in a timely manner.1


Making the Worst of a Bad Situation

Part of the delay in intervening may have been because international policy makers also sought to achieve two other objectives aside from stopping genocide, namely, the implementation of humanitarian relief and containment of the conflict to prevent its spread to the rest of the Balkans.

Although the three objectives were parallel and perhaps mutually supporting, they sometimes came into competition. Policy makers did not always assign the prevention or halt of genocide as their first priority. In a March 10, 1994 speech, for example, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry noted that "our first emphasis is on actions that can prevent the war from spreading, since this is where our most profound national security

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