Persistent Ambivalence

Gerard Toal and Carl T. Dahlman

in Bosnia Remade

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199730360
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895250 | DOI:
Persistent Ambivalence

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This chapter considers five moments in the development of ambivalent policies that responded to the Bosnian war, policies that are significant for they made it possible to think of reversing ethnic cleansing yet also made it very difficult to achieve. The focus is largely on the United States, which proved to be the most significant actor in ending the war. If there is one theme characterizing the complexity then it is persistent ambivalence, a policy outcome that was the result of conflicting understandings of the Bosnian war rather than a singular attitude characterized by uncertainty. Some leaders and institutional actors were passionate in their views on what the Bosnian war represented as a policy challenge; the problem was they disagreed. Some saw a quagmire, whereas others saw the necessity for robust intervention. When robust intervention became necessary, some wanted to simply end the war, whereas others saw the need to create conditions for building peace. A few saw the criminal motivations for the conflict, but most fell into the groupist frames of the perpetrators and media, conceiving it as an “ethnic war.” Most politicians wanted a quick solution. In accommodating conflicting discourse coalitions and navigating through limits created by domestic politics, the policy process produced ambivalence and a tolerance for contradictions.

Keywords: Bosnian war; international relations; ambivalence; ethnic cleansing; foreign policy

Chapter.  11839 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: European Union

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