The U.S. intervened successfully in the Balkans twice, not once

Friday, March 18, 2011; 7:00 PM

In their March 12 news story on possible military support for Libyan rebels ["Obama joins E.U. in cautious support for Libyan rebels"], Scott Wilson and Edward Cody made the remarkable statement that President Bill Clinton was criticized for waiting "too long to intervene in the Balkans, doing so only during the late-chapter conflict in Kosovo."

What about the U.S.-led NATO bombing campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina in August and September 1995, which turned the tide of battle against the Bosnian Serbs and brought them to the negotiating table at Dayton, ultimately ending a bloody 31/2-year war? Earlier, Clinton had wisely refused to commit U.S. forces to the ill-conceived U.N. peacekeeping force, whose highly restrictive rules of engagement and ponderous U.N.-run chain of command guaranteed mission failure and resulted in the frequent taking of blue-helmeted peacekeepers as hostages.

The two U.S. interventions in the Balkans in the 1990s, both in execution and results, stand as success stories, especially if contrasted with the record to date in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mike Haltzel, Alexandria

The writer was Democratic staff director for European affairs on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1994 to 2005.

Post a Comment

Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

© 2011 The Washington Post Company