The elements bearing on the prospects for a political settlement in Bosnia-Herzegovina came together in 1995 in a way that made peace possible. These included a forceful US lead in the negotiations, a protracted NATO air campaign, a shift in the local balance of power adverse to the Bosnian Serbs, expulsion of the Serbian population from Krajina, and a readiness of Serbian President Milosevic to negotiate a settlement on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs. These elements were not present in 1992-94 when two earlier mediation efforts collapsed before peace plans that had a measure of acceptance from the parties to the conflict could be put into effect. The particular internal features of the three plans and the distinctions between them did not cause two of them to fail and one to succeed. To conclude that the 1992-93 plans would have had a chance of succeeding if the United States or the Europeans had used military force to support them is probably not wrong but it misses an important point. There are moments in a dynamic situation when external inputs produce maximum effects while at other times the cost of intervention to achieve a given result is likely to be higher. In catastrophe theory, the condition when external input produces maximum effect within the system is called metastability. The author urges that in analyzing negotiating situations the notion of ripeness take into account the concept of metastability.