Book Review: KOSOVO CROSSING – American Ideals meet reality on the Balkan Battlefields, by David Fromkin

Review:   The aftermath of the conflict in Kosovo poses a major challenge to the United States as the world’s preeminent power. Leading NATO into the first war of its fifty-year existence, America sought to carve out a new role both for the alliance and for itself in establishing a new and more moral world order. Yet like the other crises of the 1990s — in Iraq, Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, and Rwanda — this war has revealed the limits of America’s power to shape the world and, especially, its power to impose its values on others. When NATO’s eleven-week air campaign was suspended, the conflict moved into a new and dangerous phase, for these issues persist in a fast-moving context of war and peace. In Kosovo Crossing, bestselling author David Fromkin, whose works on global history and American foreign policy have won wide acclaim, turns his attention to the sobering implications of the clash between American ideals and Balkan realities. His incisive analysis reveals the uses and the limits of military power in the world today and the new paths that American leaders must explore to advance American values. To a great extent, he argues, both sides in this Balkan conflict have been dealing with the aftermath of the First World War: Yugoslavia was carved out of the remains of the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires (with no resolution of the ethnic strife among its peoples); and America in the 1990s has adopted as its unofficial creed the ideals of Woodrow Wilson, who preached a new world order based on humanitarian principles. Fromkin traces the impact of this history on current decision making in Belgrade and Washington, and points us toward a new understanding of where we go from here. Kosovo Crossing eloquently describes the role the Balkan war has played in the larger drama of American power abroad and the effect its emerging outcome will have on our future. In the tradition of A Peace to End All Peace, Fromkin’s magisterial history of the making of the Middle East, this book offers the necessary perspective to understand the political and military quandaries facing the United States on the threshold of a new century.

Editorial Reviews Review

From Publishers Weekly

It is to be noted that this book dates from 1999, just after the ‘liberation’ of Kosovo, before its independence.

See also:       Glimpses into the life of a global nomad part eight (Kosovo)

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