STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ The war in Bosnia was prolonged by differences between the United States and Europe and could have been prevented altogether by outside intervention in 1991, a former top official said Thursday.

The Americans ``messed up concepts ... misinterpreted things and shamelessly claimed credit for deeds done by others,'' said Carl Bildt, the former top international official in Bosnia. He summarized arguments made in his new book, ``Uppdrag Fred,'' or ``Mission Peace,'' during an address at the Foreign Affairs Institute.

The book details Bildt's tenure as the international community's top civilian official in Bosnia. He left the job in June to return to Swedish politics.

The war, which left 250,000 dead or missing, ended with the signing of the Dayton peace accords in 1995.

In his remarks, Bildt said American and European inadequacies combined to create paralysis over the war.

``Europe had the ambition but, unfortunately, precious little aside from that,'' Bildt said. ``With NATO it was the other way around _ NATO had the military capabilities but no ambition to use them.''

``NATO, or in reality the United States, was as paralyzed as the European Union, politically,'' he added.

``If the international community had intervened militarily following the shelling of the cities of Vukovar and Dubrovnik (in Croatia), condemned Serb violence and acted to promote internal agreements in Croatia as well as Bosnia before full independence had been declared, then the conflict could have been averted or limited'', he said.