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BALKAN ODYSSEY by David Owen

BALKAN ODYSSEY

By David Owen

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-15-100221-5
Publisher: Harcourt

 The British coauthor of the failed Vance-Owen peace plan for the former Yugoslavia provides a personal and opinionated chronicle of his endeavors to reach a peace, laying primary blame on the Americans for pursuing a policy of ``power without responsibility.'' Lord Owen, a seasoned and maverick politician, had faced many challenges in his career prior to accepting Cyrus Vance's request in 1992 to cochair peace negotiations for the former Yugoslavia. Indeed, he was known for taking on insurmountable tasks. What some referred to as ``Mission Impossible''--negotiating a Balkan peace- -was for Owen an irresistible challenge. It also becomes clear that this was an unusual odyssey, both humbling and infuriating, in which Owen was confronted with a ``physical callousness of action'' as well as a ``callousness of mind.'' Balkan Odyssey provides an insider's view and a painstakingly detailed picture of the two men's exhausting dealings with Balkan leaders and other parties. The account rarely departs from the conflict's diplomatic side and will not satisfy those looking for a discussion of the ground war or human suffering. Instead it charts the various stages of negotiations, with individual chapters on the Vance-Owen Peace Plan (which would have divided Bosnia-Herzegovina into ten provinces), the EU Action Plan, and the Contact Group. Despite the Vance-Owen Peace Plan's failure, Owen is convinced that it remains the fairest and best solution possible, and that ``delay has meant a progressively worse peace for the Muslims.'' Among Owen's controversial opinions is his view that the US should not have pushed for recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina without the prior presence of a UN Prevention Force, and he insists that ``there are no Chamberlains or Daladiers depicted in this book''--self-defense against cries of appeasement leveled at him. Essential reading for historians and serious students of both the Balkan crisis and diplomacy in the postCold War world. (Author tour)