Date of Award

6-2011

Degree Name

MA in History

Department

History

Advisor

Thomas Trice

Abstract

This thesis examines the role of international intervention in the area formerly known as Yugoslavia during its collapse in the first half of the 1990s (1991-1995). The Cold War had just ended, and the United Nations (UN), NATO, and the nations they represented were reevaluating their roles in a world without competition between two superpowers. The collapse of Yugoslavia and ensuing civil war presented these international bodies with an opportunity to intervene and show that they were ready to take charge in future conflicts in pursuing and achieving peace. However, what followed revealed them to be short-sighted and ill-prepared for this role as the conflict quickly escalated leading to genocide again taking place in Europe.

The country of Bosnia, which emerged as its own nation in the collapse of Yugoslavia, will receive special interest due to its place as the geographic and active center of most of the war and atrocities. The United States will also be examined in detail since it eventually played a key role in achieving peace with the Dayton Peace Accords.

The purpose of this study was to determine whether the intervention in Bosnia and former Yugoslavia was implemented well. After examining primary documents from the United States, the UN, NATO and other organizations, as well as secondary documents in the form of journal articles and books, it became clear that the intentions of these groups were good, but their abilities in achieving peace were not. Many leaders were highly influenced by prior experiences in either World War II or Vietnam which made it difficult for them to see this new conflict in a different light. Thus, it was only when key figures in leadership changed that the situation in Bosnia was turned around and peace became attainable. Unfortunately, this peace was only achieved after hundreds of thousands had died and millions had been displaced creating a difficult rebuilding and reunifying process for those that remained or returned following Dayton.

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