Academic journal article Military Review

Liberating Kosovo: Coercive Diplomacy and U.S. Intervention

Academic journal article Military Review

Liberating Kosovo: Coercive Diplomacy and U.S. Intervention

Article excerpt


Coercive Diplomacy and U.S. Intervention

David Phillips, The MIT Press, 2012

Cambridge, MA, 234 pages, $27.00

DAVID PHILLIPS HAS produced a great diplomatic history about the U.S. intervention in the Balkans and the subsequent independence of Kosovo. He captured unique political insights from his interviews and personal experience as a humanitarian deeply involved in the crisis. Like Dean Acheson and George Kennan in earlier times, he evaluates a State Department leadership that expanded its mission in Europe with renewed activism.

Richard Holbrooke becomes a heroic figure in this book as he wrestles with Slobodan Milosevic during a series of intense negotiations. Phillips details Kosovo Albanian difficulties with the peaceful leadership of Ibrahim Rugova and the ascendance of violence through the Kosovo Liberation Army. Too often, the United States rewarded the Kosovo Albanians after they behaved badly and used intimidation tactics on Kosovo Serbs. The author is sympathetic to the plight of the Kosovo Albanians but honest about their deficiencies, which has not endeared him to Kosovo leadership since independence.

The book's strength is its depth of understanding concerning the interplay between U.S. government officials and the Albanians, including their Diaspora. Congressman Eliot Engel and Senator Robert Dole figure prominently as they help develop support for a new U.S. approach against European misgivings.

The book's weakness is an absence of discussion about how, despite Secretary William Cohen's misgivings, the Defense Department leadership reluctantly interacted with the State Department on coercive diplomacy. It was a difficult relationship as Secretary Madeleine Albright and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke advocated the use of military force to bring Milosevic to the bargaining table. …

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