Former U.S. Ambassador and Jonesboro native James Pardew will speak at his college alma mater, Arkansas State University on Feb. 5. Pardew was an integral player in the negotiations that ended the humanitarian crisis in the former Yugoslavia during the mid-1990s.
The presentation is based on his experiences in helping to restore peace in the Balkans. Those experiences are described in his book, “Peacemakers: American Leadership and the End of Genocide in the Balkans.”
Pardew, 73, was born in Memphis, but grew up in Jonesboro. He graduated from Nettleton High School, and graduated ASU with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1966. He was commissioned as a military intelligence officer. During his time at ASU, Pardew served as a senator in student government, and worked as co-editor of The Herald, the student-led campus newspaper. After college, he was involved in combat during the Vietnam War. He spent 27 years in the Army as an intelligence officer and he retired with the rank of colonel.
Wars in the former Yugoslavia erupted sporadically during the early 1990s, and were the worst on the continent since World War II. The situation spiraled out of control in July 1995 when Serbian troops under the command of General Ratko Mladic murdered 8,000 unarmed men and boys who had sought refuge at a UN safe-haven in Srebrenica, according to an segment from Pardew’s book. The U.S. launched diplomatic efforts after the slaughter, led by Pardew
Pardew writes about how Richard Holbrooke and the U.S. envoys who followed him helped to stop or prevent wars in Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo and Macedonia. Pardew describes the human drama of diplomacy and war, illuminating the motives, character, talents, and weaknesses of the national leaders involved.
The U.S. engagement in the region was a national security and humanitarian intervention of choice that reasserted U.S. leadership in Europe, he said. The success of U.S. policy involved aggressive diplomacy, selective use of military force and extensive multilateral cooperation. The U.S.-led intervention in the Balkans was the high point of America’s international influence and of U.S-Russian cooperation in the post-Soviet era.
Former President Bill Clinton gave Pardew the rank of ambassador in 1996, and the same year he was named an ASU Distinguished alumnus. Former President George W. Bush appointed him as ambassador to Bulgaria in 2002. Following his service as U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, Pardew was deputy assistant secretary general for operations on the NATO International staff. He has received the Department of State Distinguished Honor Award, the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service, and the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal.
His military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star and Air Medals.