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Following the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1990, the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina
in 1992 has provided serious human tragedy in the Balkan region. This article investigates the
article of “Decision to Intervene: How the War in Bosnia Ended” from the author of Ivo
H.Daalder. The main research question of this article concerns why did United States finally
decide to intervene Bosnia and end the war in the summer of 1995. Hence, this article points
out how the international community such as the UN, the US, NATO and internal actors
finally agreed to end the war and create the Dayton agreement as well as why this decison
reached so late in 1995. Hence, this analysis will first explain and analyze the main arguments
and the key breaking points of the article. Secondly, it will assess the research gap of article
and its methodology. Finally, this paper will explain the theoretical framework of Daalder’s
article and then conclude with giving crucial suggestions to the Bosnia issue.
One of the main arguments of Daalder is that Clinton’s administration strategy of the day-today crisis management proved to be a great mistake during the Bosnian war. Hence, in order
to save and protect the US’s prestige in the world and to gain next elections, Clinton’s
administration decided to take more decisive and integrated strategy towards the Bosnian war.
According to the Daalder, the Srebrenica massacre and the human tragedy were the main
purposes of the alteration and the dramatic shift of the Clinton administration policy towards
Bosnia (Daalder, 2016). After this massacre, the US was decided to protect all safe regions of
Gorazde, Sarajevo, Tuzla and Bihac from the attacks of Bosnian Serbs. Another crucial point
is the disagreement between international actors concerning the lack of common consensus
for how to end the war. For example, when NATO started to protect the safe areas of Bosnia
with air strikes, this resulted in hostage keeping of peacekeepers in the region. In parallel, the
United Nations force would return to “traditional peacekeeping principles” which allowed
Bosnian Serbs to follow their brutal strategy of ethnic cleansing, murder and rape of women.
Therefore, this delay of decision making and the lack of common consensus for the
cooperation between EU countries and the US resulted in giving opportunity to Bosnian Serbs
for following their strategy.
After the Srebrenica massacre, the United States decided to completely leave the policy of
muddling through between the parties in Bosnia. Daalder argues that this strategy was created
because of many mistakes that the US pursed between 1992 and 1995. These mistakes consist
of insisting to bring Bosnian Serbs to the table through the mediation of the Serb President
Slobadan Milosevic which caused the increase of the bargaining power of Serb parties.
Another mistake concerns the refusal to have US troops in the field whereas the European
powers’ overprotection on their troops and their hesitations for preventing their troops
increased the possibility of being taken as hostage by Serb militaries. As final mistakes could
be the UN forces decision for following “traditional peacekeeping principles” and the US’s
decision for lifting the arms embargo in the Bosnia. Overall, US and EU countries’ day to day
crisis mechanism was the biggest mistake during the war. Another crucial point of Daadler is
that the US intervened to Bosnia in 1995 in order to safeguard both of the US and NATO’s
prestige and as well as the election process in the US.
Moreover, the US natioal team of foreign policy produced a strategy of combining force with
diplomacy which is a more effective and long term solution based on strategy. It was
significantly clear that all the US, the EU and contact group of countries and particularly
Britain, France, Germany and Russia were all aware that the only way to bring Bosnian Serbs
into the table was with military pressure. However, European countries insist to share the cost
of military burden with the United States on the ground with the participation of the US
military troops in the war. Daadler also highlights that Lake’s suggestion of removing the
United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) was crucial for the subsequent US
implementation of the military force against Bosnian Serbs. This suggestion was also
approved by Clinton Administration.
Additionally, the United Nations Protection force (UNPROFOR) was also taken into account
by the Clinton administration as an obstacle for the solution in Bosnia. The United Nations
force and its allied European powers’ indecisive attitudes and opposition both towards the air
strikes and lift of the arms embargo on Bosnia government undermined the right of self
defense from the Bosnian side. However, the US State and their defence departments need to
deploy a huge amount of US troops in order to overcome the problems which emerge from
the withdrawal of UNPROFOR forces from Bosnia. The endgame strategy was finally
reached with the leadership of Lake. Therefore, Daadler points that the end game strategy
should consist of three steps; First step is to remove UNPROFOR and replace it with NATO
and US force. Second step is to acknowledge that a diplomatic solution or an agreement can
not be build completely against the gains of Bosnian Serbs; and Third step is to pointing the
importance of utilizing military force against all the internal parties for achieving political
deal in Bosnia (Daalder, 2016). Thus, both Clinton and Lake have agreed that the status quo
in Bosnia is no longer acceptable and the US needs to alter the balance of power between the
Muslim-Croat federation and the Bosnian Serb entity. Therefore, the US and its forces will
implement high costs to both parties ıf they can not reach or reject the agreement. If the
federation side rejects the agreement then the US will impose “lift and leave” policy which
means the lift of the arms embargo and leaving the federation to its own fate. If the Bosnian
Serb entity rejects the agreement then it will confront the air strikes from NATO and US will
assist federation forces for protecting 51 percent of the Bosnian territory.
This endgame strategy with the leadership of the US actually provided the foundation of the
Dayton Agreement in Bosnia for to end the war. Daadler’s illustration of the Dayton
agreement was also significant for Bosnian war. Although this agreement recognizes the
sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia, it also allowed to divide the country into two
entities – the Bosnian Serb identity and the Muslim-Croat federation. However, this agreement
also allows entities to have special relationship with their neighbours such as with Serbia and
Crotia and it even allows them to have secession with a future referendum. Consequently, the
Dayton agreement is too much controversial in its nature thus it emphasizes and prioritizes the
importance of ethnic division and entity voting against the sovereignty and territorial integrity
of Bosnia.
Overall, Ivo.H.Daadler insists that the Clinton administration was decisive to convince its
European allies and Russia for this agreement. However, the US was also determined to
implement this agreement even if it is necessary to go with only its own forces. During 1995,
the US and NATO forces were successfull to alter the balance of power in favaor of the
Bosnian-Croatian federation. Another interesting point that Daadler provides was that
although US and EU learned many lessons from the Bosnia case, these lessons were not
effective in Kosovo due to the lack of willingness from the US on the way to end the conflict
in Kosovo and to impose any military and diplomatic pressure on the parties. Therefore, the
US’s strong vision and determination in Bosnia with Richard Hoolbroke’s extensive
mediation among parties are completely absent in the Kosovo case. Consequently, the US
policy in Kosovo will not be more than muddling through strategy in this regard.
Ivo.H.Daadler’s article is qualitative methodology with also giving examples from
international actors speeches on Bosnian war. Hence, it can be also considered to have a
discourse analysis. However, the article is generally more desciptive and based on the
author’s personal opinion. Hence, Daadler’s article is more based on the explanation and
interpretation of the Bosnian war from the author’s perspective. However, the author focuses
and observes the Bosnian war from a different perspective with different research question.
Mainly, his research questions concern firstly the Clinton Administration’s decision in August
1995 at long last to intervene decisively in Bosnia, secondly Why the summer of 1995 was
different. It is also considered to be a case study since the article focuses on a certain period of
time which is during the summer of 1995 and the details of the US policy making in this time
with the actions of Anthony Lake and Richard Hoolbroke. Daadler’s article is significanlty
well structured in terms of mentioning breaking points during 1995 such as the betrayal of the
Srebrenica massacre, the past mistakes of the US policy before 1995, the disagreements and
the lack of common consensus between European powers, the US on the deployment of
troops and considering the United Nations Protection force as an obstacle for solution.
Finally, the Dayton agreement was also mentioned and explained which is strongly associated
with the endgame strategy of US in 1995.
Daadler emphasizes and fills the research gap of why the United States finally took a
leadership role to end the war in Bosnia. According to Daadler, it also seeks to understand the
details of the Clinton administration’s policy-making process during the summer of 1995
which is less known. Generally, it is argued as many articles have written on the failure of US
and West countries to end the human tragedy in Bosnia. However, this article completely
focuses on the 1995 year and the US dramatic policy making especially after the Srebrenica
There are mainly two types of theoretical framework in Daadler’s article. The first one is
clearly obvious; namely, classical realism and neorealism. The Second one is constructivism
especially during the period of the US’s dramatic policy shift in Bosnia during the summer of
1995. I argue that this constructivism policy occurred due to the human tragedy of Srebrenica
massacre. The result of this massacre seriously affected the international community and the
US and resulted in a more decisive intervention into Bosnia. Classical realism is compatible in
the Bosnian situation and it is also clearly pointed by the author. For example, Lake’s
proposal for changing the status quo with military force in Bosnia is also approved by the
Clinton administration. Hence, Clinton administration clearly aimed to have balance of power
with supporting the federation side (Croat-Muslim) against Bosnian Serbs. As Daadler
demonstrates in his article that balance of power is the core aspect of the classical realism.
Another point for classical realims is that it emphasizes on self-interest and on state power
maximization due to human nature ambitions. This is also the case in Bosnia especially for
Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats. Both Serbs and Croats had the intention and aim to divide,
conquer and share Bosnia among each other. Especially, geography and military powers are
crucial factors in the Bosnian war, thus during the negotiation in the Dayton agreement, every
region and land were discussed highly extensively for gaining one piece of land and for more
power. Hence, balance of power, maximizing state’s interests and human nature are all
comptaible aspects in the Bosnian war. Another aspect of classical realism is to point
revisionist states and status quo states. For example, both the United States and Bosnian Serbs
are considered to be revisionist states which desire to alter the balance of power. However,
both Bosnian Croats and Bosnian muslims prefer to have more status quo state in the region.
Neorealism is also convenient in the situation of Bosnia. This is explained because the
Bosnian war proved that the international system is highly anarchical and structural
constraints are proved to be highly effective during the war. For example, United Nations
Protection force failure and other West European countries hesitations or overprotection for
their troops caused to have massacre in Srebrenica. Hence, the lack of clear international
cooperation and solidarity against Bosnian Serbs was a significant structural constraint in this
regard. Due to this anarchical order, the US with its hegemonic role actually intervened into
Bosnia and clearly ended the war because of its determination and power in the system.
Hence, the US created stability in Bosnia which is also compatible with the Hegemonic
Stability Theory. This is exactly what happened in the Bosnian war with US’s hegemonic role
persuasition, coercion and diplomacy. Hence, the US actually deployed “preponderance of
power” towards all internal actors in the Bosnia.
Finally, constructivism is also compatible in the Bosnian war. For example, until the
Srebrenica massacre in 1995, Bosnia faced serious structural constraints such as receiving
help from European countries, the lack of international cooperation among military force in
the United Nations, the lack of political willingness from the US which allowed Bosnian
Serbs to pursue their brutal strategy. Constructivism challenges neorealism’s understanding
that anarchical nature derives from international politics and at state level. However,
constructivism challenges this understanding with the idea that structural constraints actually
are not given in nature but they are the results of construction through social practice. This is
also the case for United States because the US gained significant lessons during the Bosnian
war until the Srebrenica massacre. Hence, norms, ethics and identity are the major factors in
constructivism. After the human tragedy in Srebrenica, the US with its past lessons and
experiences constructed a new decision making policy in Bosnia. This new construction of
reality actually ended the war in Bosnia. Therefore, constructivism insists that it is not the
inevitable consequences of human nature, structural constraints or states that determine reality
rather people construct these realities with their experiences from social and historical gains.
Consequently, this article analyzed the research paper of Ivo H.Daalder “Decision to
Intervene: How the War in Bosnia Ended”. In this respect, the research paper posed the
research question of “Why did United States finally decide to intervene Bosnia and end the
war in the summer of 1995?” The main argument of the author is that the US intervened into
Bosnia in order to end the war due to the human tragedy in Srebrenica massacre. The Clinton
administration, the European governments, NATO and UNPROFOR in overall gained
significant experience to end the war in Bosnia. However, the US’s coercion, persuasion and
diplomacy with decisive reforms and particularly the removal of UNPROFOR to end the war
in the summer of 1995 was significantly effective in Bosnia. The Dayton agreement was a
success in terms of ending the human tragedy and war in Bosnia. Moreover, this constituion
has significant flaws and controversies. Although it supports the soverignty and territorial
integrity of Bosnia, it separates Bosnia into two entites and ten seperate cantons in its
territory. Overall, although the Bosnian war has ended, its heavy consequences especially on
the social and economic life turned to be disastrous for the Bosnian people who nowadays
have to live and struggle for the conflicts that Dayton agreement created

This article is written by Senad Sevdik

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