Virtual War


249 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-14-100034-1
DDC 949.7103




Reviewed by Danial Duda

Danial Duda is an information services librarian in the Queen Elizabeth
II Library, Memorial University of Newfoundland.


The author brings a personal touch to this book about the war in Kosovo:
his father was a diplomat in the former Yugoslavia. Ignatieff uses the
example of Kosovo in this book to explain how the face of war has
changed in the past decade. War has become “virtual” as NATO forces
(especially the United States) follow the strategy of minimizing
casualties while inflicting maximum damage on the enemy.

The bombing of Belgrade in 1999, intended to stop the Serbian attack on
Kosovo, was not successful until the electric power infrastructure was
targeted, knocking out the power supply needed to run the war effort and
damaging the country’s service infrastructure (hospitals, schools,
water supply, etc.). Whereas NATO did not suffer a single casualty
during the 78-day bombing of Belgrade, thousands of Kosovars were killed
by Serbian units and millions were uprooted from their homes and forced
to flee to other regions. The people the bombing was supposed to
protect, then, suffered the most. NATO ground units were the obvious
means to stop the ethnic cleansing, but politics would not allow their

Americans, Canadians, and Europeans have not suffered from any military
action since the Second World War. Virtual war, Ignatieff argues, has
fostered among civilians of the major powers a sense of security—the
book was written before 9/11—that could prove dangerous in the future.
This well-written book is a must for public and academic libraries.


Ignatieff, Michael., “Virtual War,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 19, 2024,