Dayton Reexamined

The story of how the Americans packed their bags and made Milosevic believe that they were getting ready to leave Dayton is classic. This was the triumph of American will, and guile.

The “Dayton” narrative is powerful but inaccurate and misleading. It has never accorded with what I actually experienced at Dayton during the first ten days of the talks, when I negotiated with German diplomat Michael Steiner the first agreement reached there. Now forgotten, it strengthened the predominantly Bosniak/Croat Federation, which at the time was winning the war in Bosnia. During my stay in Dayton, Holbrooke spent most of his time cajoling the Serbs into freeing an American journalist (David Rohde) who had gotten himself caught in Pale. He talked far more to Slobodan Milosevic than to anyone else and was clearly charmed. Captivated might be more accurate.

I’ve only thereafter come to realize how the “Dayton” narrative is leadi...

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