Cato Foreign Policy Briefing No. 37 October 27, 1995

Foreign Policy Briefing

Holbrooke Horror:
The U.S. Peace Plan for Bosnia

by Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter is director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute.

Executive Summary

The terms of the emerging peace accord to end the war in Bosnia are a blueprint for disaster. Washington foolishly insists on maintaining the fiction of a united Bosnian state while accepting a de facto partition. Renewed fighting is highly probable when the Serb self-governing "entity" attempts to secede and merge with Serbia and the Muslim-dominated government tries to assert Bosnia's sovereignty. Indeed, a clash between Muslim and Croat forces is also possible, since any Muslim-Croat cooperation has been a matter of expediency. To enforce such an inherently unworkable settlement would be to recklessly put American treasure and lives at risk.

Since Bosnia is little more than a battleground for contending ethno-religious factions, and the United States has no vital interests there, Washington should let those factions work out their own destiny, however long it takes. Only a settlement forged by the parties to the conflict--an agreement that reflects battlefield realities and the balance of political and military forces--has any chance of achieving a durable peace.

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1995 The Cato Institute
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