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Collision Course: NATO, Russia, and Kosovo [Hardcover]

John Norris
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 30, 2005 0275987531 978-0275987534

If Europe, Russia, and international bodies such as the U.N. and NATO end up playing a more prominent role in IraQ&Apos;s immediate future, all parties, including the United States, would do well to revisit the lessons learned during the U.S.-led war in Kosovo in 1999. As a confrontation over Kosovo's final push for independence looms, this book offers seminal insight into the negotiations that took place between the United States and Russia in an effort to set the terms for ending the conflict. This study in brinksmanship and deception is an essential background for anyone trying to understand Russia's uneasy relations with the West.

America's relationship with Russia has become increasingly important as Washington has engaged Moscow as a critical, but often prickly, ally in the war on terror. From smoky late-night sessions at dachas outside of Moscow to meetings in the White House Situation Room, Norris captures the feel of a war that repeatedly threatened to spin out of control. He offers a vivid portrait of some of the larger-than-life characters involved in the conflict, including U.S. president Bill Clinton, General Wesley Clark, Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, and Russian president Boris Yeltsin. New information includes backstage efforts to open a direct negotiating channel between Milosevic and Washington at the height of the conflict. The book reaches a dramatic crescendo against the backdrop of the war's final days, when Russia unleashed a secret plan to push its forces into Kosovo, ahead of NATO peacekeepers.

Editorial Reviews


"Norris judges the diplomacy as largely successful, but offers cautionary notes about the fragility of alliances with Europe and the challenges of engaging Russia."


Reference & Research Book News

"[A]n important and exciting story told with verve and a lot of detail by the author….The debate will continue, and this interesting, well-researched book is a valuable addition to it."


International Affairs

"[E]xamines the multilateral diplomacy surrounding the Kosovo war. Author John Norris was communications director for U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, the lead diplomat for the United States on the crisis, and his book provides a highly readable, blow-by-blow history of the diplomacy that sought to resolve the conflict. As presented by Norriss book, the Kosovo conflict suggests that aggressive multilateral diplomacy, coupled with the use of limited force, can perhaps solve such disputes, or at least prevent the worst outcomes for them."


The Washington Diplomat

"[N]o one has pulled the war's tale together quite as Norris has--teaching even those who had central roles, such as the Finnish president, Martti Ahtisaari, things they id not know. Becuase NATO allies also often did not agree, and even the U.S. commander in Europe fought with the U.S. secretary of defense, it makes for a saga as tempestuous as it was crucial."


Foreign Affairs

"^ICollision Course: NATO, Russia, and Kosovo^R tells the story of the real diplomacy behind the Kosova crisis….[n]o one has told this important story in more detail or uncovered so many points at which things went disastrously wrong."


Times Literary Supplement (London)

"Norris, now with the International Crisis Group, was Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott's communications director during the Clinton Administration. His book recounts the immediate genesis and outcome of the 1999 Kosovo crisis. The author has the advantage of an insider's experience….Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and practitioners."



"As communications director for U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, the lead American negotiator during the war, John Norris had a ringside seat for the diplomacy that ultimately produced a settlement. The story is a dramatic one, and Norris tells it well, drawing the reader into the web of relationships within and between the countries involved….Norris is particularly good at conveying just how grueling diplomacy can be. The number of flights that Talbott and his team took to Europe and Moscow, resulting in a marathon series of exhausting negotiations, is extraordinary….[e]ven readers familiar with the general contours of the Kosovo war will learn a great deal from an extraordinary tale-one that is told extraordinarily well."


Political Science Quarterly


"John Norris has succeeded in capturing the hectic space and special atmosphere of Kosovo negotiations in a remarkable manner. His book contains much new material even to the participant in the negotiation process."


Martti Ahtisaari, European Union Special Envoy to Kosovo


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (March 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275987531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275987534
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,089,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Jacob
This book is essentially a manifesto for neo-liberal interventionism. It makes little attempt at objectivity. The leaders of the Slavic world can do nothing correctly, except as they agree to Western dictums. The book itself is quite valuable, if not necessarily for the reasons the author and publisher think: it documents the inevitable failure of a country (e.g., empire) trying to impose outside values upon traditional and regional communities.

In many ways the book summarizes the lead-up to the war, the nature of the Allied coalition, and the political consequences throughout and following the war. This review will largely avoid those issues as they are thoroughly covered elsewhere. Rather, the reviewing will focus on insights from Norris' experiences and thoughts resulting from those insights.

The book begins on a painful note. The author of the foreword, Strobe Talbott, is acting like a Clintonian cheerleader. He is guilty of using "loaded language" and bias. (I point that out because it is taboo for official and/or scholarly documents to engage in self-congratulations.) His particular argument asks, quite rightly, what should be the conditions for empire, I mean, intervention. He notes that military force should only be used when diplomatic means are exhausted, that it guarantees safety to both the "victims" of the aggression and the regular citizenry, and that it ensures stability in the region. Talbott claims it gloriously met all of those goals.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent on Diplomacy, Weak on Cultural Background March 8, 2007
This is a great book for students of diplomacy. It's enjoyable to read and gives the reader a first hand perspective of how negotiations unfolded between the US & Russia.

One word of caution: if you are looking for a historical and cultural perspective on why the war broke out in the first place this book is not for you. Nor does it go into the nuances of nation building that we're now dealing with in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A diplomatic roller-coaster ride January 4, 2006
I've read a lot of books on American diplomacy and this is one of the best. Norris tells the story of how the US engineered the end of the Kosovo war 7 years ago, bringing the Russians and Europeans along to end Slobodan Milosevic's violent repression. It's rare for a book on diplomacy to be a page-turner, but this is one. Written with crispness and flair, it brings the personalities and events of this drama to life, taking readers from tense meetings inside the Oval Office, to the bombing runs of NATO planes, to showdowns inside the Kremlin. From the perspective of today -- when many around the world are questioning America's role in world -- it offers many valuable lessons about the importance of American diplomacy and strong leadership. It is also about a foreign policy triumph. With the final status of Kosovo again in the news, this book is a vital resource for anyone who wants to understand the stakes there. But most important, it will be a fun read for anyone who is just interested in a compelling, well-told story.
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