Editor’s Page

Editor’s Page

A little over a year ago, at a briefing at NATO headquarters in Brussels, I heard an American colonel, in quick succession, acclaim the organization’s new dialogue with ex-Warsaw Pact generals, argue for the continuation of NATO funding despite the end of the cold war, and, finally, explain why the organization should not intervene in Bosnia. Tito’s defense strategy, he said, rested on expectation of a Soviet invasion; every nook and cranny of Yugoslavia had been turned into an arms depot so that a guerrilla war could be sustained for some two years without foreign help.

A weighty point, one that, combined with the long history of Balkan ethnic conflict and an American’s memory of Vietnam, ought to temper advocacy of engagement there. Still I queried, perhaps displaying military naiveté or a hapless gut sympathy for minorities left to slaughter, how can it be that after billions of dollars and decades of NATO preparations for apocalyptic battle, prowess vanishes entirely when it comes to genocide? Surely NATO planned for contingencies—

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