Iraq's neighbours must have a stake in its future"
by Derek Chollet
November 21, 2005
From Bosnia, 10 Years On: A U.S. Commitment Can Work"
by Roger Cohen
New York Times
November 20, 2005
| Washington, D.C., November 21, 2005
- Every work of history is not just a statement about the past, but
a reflection of the era -- if not the precise year -- during which
it was written. This is certainly the case with the now-declassified
1997 U.S. State Department study
of the American effort to end the Bosnian war, the original version
of which is now available.
On November 21, 1995, the world witnessed an event that for years
many believed impossible: on a secluded, wind-swept U.S. Air Force
Base in Dayton, Ohio, the leaders of Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia
agreed to end a war. The signing of the Dayton Peace Accords concluded
one of the most challenging diplomatic undertakings the United States
had pursued since the end of the Cold War -- eighteen weeks of whirlwind
shuttle diplomacy, followed by twenty-one intensive days of negotiations
in Dayton. The agreement brought peace to a troubled corner of Europe,
and established an ambitious blueprint to build a new Bosnia --
an effort that the international community remains deeply engaged
Dayton also capped a dramatic reversal not only of U.S. policy,
but of the credibility of American leadership of the Atlantic Alliance
in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War. For three years, the
American approach toward the Bosnia problem had been one of disengagement,
hoping that the Europeans -- who had high hopes for their fledgling
political union -- would take the lead to solve the problem. Yet
Europe's response proved feckless, and the United States proved
no better. More than any other foreign policy issue, the problem
of Bosnia's defined -- and plagued -- the early years of Bill Clinton's
presidency. Despite some significant successes during his first
term -- such as the Middle East peace process, the 1994 Framework
Agreement with North Korea, the passage of NAFTA -- Clinton's early
years were in many ways defined by the inability to bring peace
Dayton's core accomplishment is that it ended a war and gave hope
to millions who have suffered immense hardship. But it did more
than that. Dayton brought to an end one of the most difficult periods
in the history of U.S.-European relations, helping to define a new
role for NATO and restore confidence in American leadership after
a period during which it been cast into doubt.
This achievement mattered for America's global standing; it mattered
for President Bill Clinton's Administration and the President's
leadership. John Harris, a leading historian of the Clinton presidency
and author of the recent book The Survivor: Bill Clinton in
the White House, explains that Clinton "emerged from the
fall of 1995 as a vastly more self-confident and commanding leader."
In less than six months during 1995, he had taken charge of the
Transatlantic Alliance, pushed NATO to use overwhelming military
force, risked America's prestige on a bold diplomatic gamble, and
placed 20,000 American military men and women on the ground in a
dangerous environment. That the President and his Administration
ran such risks successfully gave them confidence going forward.
Richard Holbrooke, Dayton's architect, recalls that after Dayton,
"American foreign policy seemed more assertive, more muscular…
Washington was now praised for its firm leadership -- or even chided
by some Europeans for too much leadership."
It was in this context that in early 1996 the U.S. State Department
launched a unique historical effort to capture the record of this
achievement. In conversations with Thomas Donilon (then Secretary
of State Warren Christopher's Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary
of State for Public Affairs) and William J. Burns (then the Executive
Secretary of the Department), Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public
Affairs Bennett Freeman began to put together the initiative. In
his capacity overseeing the State Department's Office of the Historian
as well as serving as Chief Speechwriter for Secretary Christopher,
Freeman worked with that office and the Bureau of European Affairs
to assemble a team to begin collecting documents and conduct interviews
with all the key American participants in the Dayton process. The
interviews were no less important than the documents themselves,
in order to capture the fresh recollections of those participants
in an unusual almost "real-time" historical exercise.
They worked with the full cooperation and authority of the Secretary
of State. After the initial research effort was underway and an
archive of these materials had been created, Freeman then asked
Derek Chollet to draft the study based on this research, which he
completed in the spring of 1997.
There were two core goals of the creation of this archive and the
writing of the study: first, to collect the documents and create
an oral history of this fast-moving negotiating process for the
benefit of future historians and to supplement the State Department's
Foreign Relations of the United States series; and second,
to use the study to outline the bureaucratic and diplomatic mechanics
of this complex negotiation, so that the lessons of the "Dayton
model" could be studied and applied by future diplomats and
policymakers as they worked to tackle similar problems (a fuller
explanation can be found in the foreword to the original study).
It has also proved invaluable to the many American diplomats who
have been responsible for implementing the Dayton Accords or shaping
U.S. policy toward Balkans generally.
Declassified in 2003, the original study is now
available to scholars. And it is our hope that in the
near future, as many of the documents on which much of this study
is based -- which are contained and organized in the special archive
-- are released as possible. Their release will prove valuable to
other scholars of this period as well as those interested in the
making of American foreign policy -- especially when it concerns
the process behind difficult diplomatic negotiations.
It is important to point out that at the time this historical initiative
began, no one knew whether the Dayton peace plan would succeed.
Twenty-thousand American troops were on the ground in Bosnia as
part of a 60,000-strong NATO force. At the time, American diplomats
were hopeful -- and proud that they had achieved a diplomatic success
-- but few dared imagine that their efforts would prove to be as
successful as they have been ten years later. Despite the fears
by many that implementing Dayton would be a quagmire, not a single
American soldier has been killed by hostile fire. And while Bosnia
still has a way to go to fulfill Dayton's vision of a single, multi-ethic,
tolerant state with a functional government, the war is over.
Road to Dayton
Diplomacy and the Bosnia Peace Process, May-December 1995
U.S. Department of State, Dayton History Project, May 1997
Note: The following documents are in PDF format.
You will need to download and install the free Adobe
Acrobat Reader to view.
page, Foreward, Table of Contents, Acknowledgements and Maps
1 - The Summer Crisis: June-July 1995
2 - Through the Window of Opportunity: The Endgame Strategy
3 - Tragedy as Turning Point: The First Shuttle, Mt. Igman,
and Operation Deliberate Force
4 - The Road to Geneva: The Patriarch Letter and NATO Bombing
5 - Force and Diplomacy: NATO Bombing Ends, The Western Offensive
6 - The New York Agreement, Negotiating a Cease-fire, and Approaching
7 - Preparing for Proximity Talks
8 - Opening Talks and Clearing Away the Underbrush: Dayton,
9 - Endgame: Dayton, November 11-21
- Implementation Begins
Note on Sources