Louis Sell is a former Director of the Office of Russian and European Studies at the State Department and a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

The unfolding of the Balkan crisis quickly revealed itself as the product of one man's will. Slobodan Milosevic assumed the role of a champion of Serbian destiny and plunged his nation into an unprecedented and catastrophic confrontation with NATO. Throughout the days of bombardment and negotiation, the outcome of the conflict seemed clearly dependent on Milosevic's capacity for punishment; his ability to accept the reality of overwhelming force. So understanding the background and motivation of the embattled leader became essential for the West. Louis Sell describes those influences.