The Ethics and Politics of Humanitarian Intervention

By Stanley Hoffmann; Robert C. Johansen et al. | Go to book overview

3
HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION IN THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

Stanley Hoffmann

T HE CASE OF Yugoslavia is an important one for students of intervention in general and humanitarian intervention in particular. It is one of those sad cases in international affairs where everything that can go wrong goes wrong. Just as doctors are said from time to time to be particularly enamored of beautiful diseases, so for political scientists this is, alas, an extremely informative case. It is a case of collective intervention, the very issue for which I was trying to find criteria in my first lecture -- collective intervention made possible by the disintegration of Yugoslavia. I will not go into a recital of the facts, which have been well covered elsewhere,1 but I will allude to some.

Throughout 1990 it became clear that the Yugoslav Federation was beginning to disintegrate; in particular, Slovenia and Croatia were taking steps toward secession and were warning that they would secede. Attempts at shoring up this crumbling federation did not get anywhere; it is not as if there had been no advance notice. Then, in the summer of 1991, the secession of Croatia and Slovenia

This essay is based on a lecture delivered in January 1995; it covers events prior to the NATO bombings that began late in August 1995 and led to the Dayton agreements that brought peace back -- for how long? -- to the former Yugoslavia. Ultimately, the use of force alone (by Croatia, encouraged by the United States, and by NATO) was able to compel the Bosnian Serbs to cease their aggression. Post-Dayton events show that the U.S. remains more worried by the risk of "mission creep" than by the possibility of either renewed violence or formal partition of Bosnia, and that neither Washington nor its allies have taken seriously the demands of international criminal justice.

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