The impact of analogical reasoning on US foreign policy towards Kosovo

Hehir, Aidan (2006) The impact of analogical reasoning on US foreign policy towards Kosovo. Journal of Peace Research, 43 (1). pp. 67-81. ISSN 0022-3433

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NATO's military intervention in Kosovo, the southernmost province of Yugoslavia, in March 1999, was legitimized as the last resort to alleviate the suffering of the Kosovo Albanians. Diplomatic initiatives at Rambouillet, France, had earlier failed to broker an agreement between the Yugoslav authorities and the Kosovar Albanians, leading NATO to assert a moral imperative to intervene. Critics of the intervention maintain that the negotiations were a charade designed to facilitate the execution of a military operation. This article suggests that the failure to reach agreement was a direct consequence of the analogical reasoning employed by the chief US negotiators at the time, Madeleine Albright and Richard Holbrooke. It is difficult to identify what exactly Slobodan Miloevic's military advisers said during this period without undertaking exhaustive research into Yugoslav military correspondence during the period or conducting interviews with the people themselves, many of whom, such as Miloevic and Dragoljub Ojdani, are standing trial, or have been tried, at The Hague. The main focus of this article, therefore, is on the analogical reasoning employed by US diplomats. The analogical lens, through which the events in Kosovo were viewed, steered the negotiations down a necessarily confrontational channel, which made it impossible to achieve an agreement. The use of analogical reasoning in international diplomacy is not unique to Kosovo, and this article will argue that future, and ongoing, analysis of US interventions, and foreign policy in general, must take account of the role played by analogical reasoning. Rather than searching for imperial motives behind US foreign policy, observers and academics should initially examine the suitability of the analogies employed by US policymakers and the extent to which they dictate action. Using Kosovo as a case study, this article will outline both the dangers inherent in the over-reliance on analogical reasoning in foreign policy situations and the need to understand the role played by analogies when formulating an accurate analysis of US foreign policy. Copyright 2006 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Online ISSN 1460-3578
Subjects: University of Westminster > Social Sciences and Humanities
Depositing User: Miss Nina Watts
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2007
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2009 10:34

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