The Strange Debate Over Bosnia
The carnage in Bosnia, and especially the atrocities committed against Muslims there by local Serbs, aided and abetted by the government of Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade—the “ethnic cleansing,” the concentration camps, the shelling of civilians—have opened a new chapter in the American foreign-policy debate. The issue, generically, is a familiar one: whether the United States should use force to oppose aggression far from home. Many of the questions are also familiar. Are our own national interests at stake? Will a modest application of American arms do the job or only lead us into a quagmire? Should we turn to regional or international organizations rather than take the initiative ourselves? Can or should America be the “world’s policeman”?
What is not in the least familiar, however, is the alignment of views on this particular event. The conservative camp, which was united in support of forceful prosecution of the cold war, and which, with a few exceptions, pretty solidly backed the Gulf war, is now split down the middle on American action in Bosnia. But more remarkably, liberals, whose hallmark for twenty years has been aversion to U.S. assertiveness or interventionism abroad, have spoken up overwhelmingly in favor of taking American military action against Serbia.
About the Author
Joshua Muravchik, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is working on a book about Arab and Muslim democrats.