The sit room: In the theater of war and peace

David J Scheffer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The Sit Room brings you into 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 toward the bloody Balkans War. With newly declassified documents and his own notes to draw upon, 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 Situation 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. The book relates the inside story about how American policy evolved—often futilely—to try to stop an intractable war and shocking atrocities. Main actors in the Situation Room include the Ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, the State Department’s ace negotiator Richard Holbrooke, National Security Adviser Tony Lake, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili, Deputy National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, and White House moralist David Gergen. For three years the Situation Room table was littered with shattered proposals to end the war until armed force backed up diplomacy to compel a fragile peace deal. The book reveals authentic policymaking at the highest levels with a unique journey into the arena of war and peace where spirited debate guided America’s foreign policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages326
ISBN (Electronic)9780190860639
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Alija Izetbegović
  • Atrocity crimes
  • Bosnia
  • Ethnic cleansing
  • Madeleine Albright
  • Radovan Karadžić
  • Ratko Mladić
  • Richard Holbrooke
  • Slobodan Milošević
  • Tony Lake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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