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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $35.95

360 pp.
6.125" x 9.25"


Publication date:
November 2018

Imprint: OUP US

The Sit Room

In the Theater of War and Peace

David Scheffer

The Sit Room brings you inside the secretive Situation Room of the White House, the most important deliberative room in the world, during the early 1990s when the author was one of the policymakers who framed the Clinton Administration's policy towards the bloody Balkans War. Drawing upon newly declassified documents and his own notes, David Scheffer, who later became America's first Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, weaves the true story of how policy options were debated in the Sit Room among the highest national security officials. The road to a final peace deal in late 1995 came at the high price of the murderous siege of Sarajevo and ethnic cleansing of mostly Bosnian Muslims from their homes and towns, including the genocide of Srebrenica's men and teenage boys.

The Sit Room reveals the behind-the-scenes story about how American policy evolved - often futilely - to try to stop an intractable war and its shocking atrocities. Main actors in the Sit Room include: the assertive Ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright; the State Department's ace negotiator, Richard Holbrooke; the cerebral National Security Adviser, Tony Lake; the immigrant Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, John Shalikashvili; the bulldog Deputy National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger; and White House moralist, David Gergen. For almost three years, the Sit Room was littered with shattered proposals to end the war-until armed force backed up diplomacy to compel a fragile peace deal. The Sit Room reveals authentic policy-making at the highest levels, with a unique journey into the arena of war and peace where spirited debate guided America's foreign policy.

Readership : General non-fiction reading audience; policy advisors particularly in the US and Europe; university and high school classes in European and American history, international affairs, European affairs, diplomatic history, and international law.

Preface by Roger Cohen
Cast of Characters
Entities and Actions
1. Shattered Plans, 1993
2. Ethnic Cleansing Wins, 1994
3. To Stay or Not to Stay, January-June 1995
4. Finally, Diplomacy Backed by Force, July-August 1995
5. Forging Peace, September-December 1995

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

David Scheffer worked in the Deputies Committee of the National Security Council during the early 1990's when the Balkans War raged. He then became America's first Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues (1997-2001). A graduate of Harvard, Oxford, and Georgetown universities, he is the Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and is widely published in international law and politics. Ambassador Scheffer was one of Foreign Policy Magazine's "Top Global Thinkers of 2011," won the Berlin Prize in 2013, and received the Champion of Justice Award from the Center for Justice and Accountability in 2018.

Making Sense - Margot Northey and Joan McKibbin
National Security and Double Government - Michael J. Glennon
Foreign Affairs Federalism - Michael J. Glennon and Robert D. Sloane
Diplomacy in a Globalizing World - Pauline Kerr and Geoffrey Wiseman
Some Kind of Justice - Diane Orentlicher
The Milosevic Trial - Edited by Timothy William Waters
Bosnia's Paralyzed Peace - Christopher Bennett
United States Law and Policy on Transitional Justice - Zachary D. Kaufman
Inside the Clinton White House - Russell L. Riley

Special Features

  • A swift-moving narrative set over three years in the world's most important policy-making sanctum: the White House Situation Room.
  • A behind-the-scenes-look into how American policy evolved - often futilely - to try to stop an intractable war and its shocking atrocities.
  • Written by one of the nation's highest national security officials at the time and America's first Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues.
  • Uncovers the secret deliberations of the Clinton Administration as it grappled with the genocidal war in Bosnia.
  • Reveals authentic policy-making at the highest levels with a unique journey into the arena of war and peace where spirited debate guided America's foreign policy.
  • Explores how opposing NSA and White House views are managed within the policy process.
  • Provides insight into secret policy-making at the White House and National Security Council.
  • Features a Preface by award-winning New York Times international affairs and diplomacy columnist Roger Cohen.