Thom Shanker is Assistant Washington Editor of the New York Times.

There may have been missed signals on the part of the American political establishment during the early years of Balkan conflict. A predisposition to think of the region as marginal to American interests in the early 1990s may have meant less attention to unrest in the region by national leaders. At the same time, the chaotic Russian adjustment to reduced world power and the demands of a capitalist society may also have been ill appreciated by the West. Journalist Thom Shanker, who witnessed these events, provides this analysis.