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Time to Reconsider Partition For Bosnia
European Institute ^ | 2/25/2011 | Ted Galen Carpenter

Posted on 02/25/2011 11:02:54 PM PST by bruinbirdman

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned the feuding ethnic factions in Bosnia and Herzegovina that if they did not resolve their differences, their country was in danger of missing its opportunity to join the European Union and NATO and become a vibrant part of the modern, democratic West. Unfortunately, there are few indications that her message will be heeded. The elections that took place shortly before Clinton’s visit once again confirmed that Bosnia is a fragile, artificial political entity with little prospect for improved viability. Most media accounts in the United States and Europe highlighted the victory of the supposed moderate candidate, Bakir Izetbegovic, son of Bosnia’s controversial first leader, for the Muslim seat on the country’s collective presidency. But that focus was misplaced for two reasons.

First, some caution is warranted about the extent of Izetbegovic’s moderation. He does seem less extreme than many other Muslim political figures (including Haris Silajdzic, the incumbent he defeated) in the Muslim-Croat subnational entity that makes up one half of Bosnia’s convoluted political structure. It remains unclear, though, just how much different Izetbegovic’s views are from those of his father, and some experts on the region remain skeptical.

Second, election results in the Serbian subnational entity, the Republika Srpska, and for the Serb seat on the collective presidency indicated that ethnic nationalists remain in control. The re-election of Milorad Dodik as president of the Republika Srpska is especially significant, since Dodik has stated repeatedly that the RS ought to be able to secede from Bosnia and form an independent state.

Consequently, even if Muslims and Croats might be in the mood for compromise, there is little evidence that the Serbs share that attitude.

The bottom line is that Bosnia seems no closer politically to being a viable country now than it was fifteen years ago when the U.S-brokered (and largely U.S.-imposed) Dayton accords ended the civil war that had cost more than 100,000 lives. Extinguishing that bloody conflict was no minor achievement, but it did not alter the reality that Bosnia and Herzegovina remained an unstable political amalgam of three mutually hostile ethnic groups. The country was politically dysfunctional from the moment it seceded from the disintegrating Yugoslav federation, and the Dayton Accords did not solve that problem.

The United States and its European allies used Dayton as the launching pad for the most ambitious nation-building mission since the rehabilitation of Germany and Japan following World War II. But continuous frustration has dogged the effort in Bosnia, and political paralysis has been the defining characteristic over the past fifteen years. To the extent that the country has functioned at all politically, it has been at the subnational level, that is, the Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation. The national government has remained weak to the point of impotence.

Indeed, most real political power has resided with the UN high representative, an official who has often ruled like a colonial governor. Over the years, high representatives have repeatedly disqualified candidates for elections, removed elected officials from office, and imposed various policies by decree.

The country’s economic development has not been much better. Although there are showcase projects (especially in the capital, Sarajevo), the overall economy has remained moribund. Bosnia’s unemployment rate is an astonishing 43 percent, and much of the economy consists of inputs from the international community—both in the form of direct foreign aid and the money that international officials in the country spend in the course of performing their duties. Absent those expenditures, Bosnia would scarcely have a functioning economy at all.

The extent of economic freedom also leaves much to be desired. Two respected annual surveys of global economic liberty (one by Canada’s Frazer Institute and the other by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal) underscore the dismal situation. The former study ranks Bosnia 110th, between Nigeria and Sri Lanka, while the latter places the country 111th, between the Philippines and Mozambique. Being in such dubious company is not a minor point, since there is a strong correlation between economic liberty and economic growth. Bosnia’s anemic standing on the former does not bode well for the latter in the future.

Fifteen years after Dayton, Bosnia still lacks a meaningful sense of national cohesion or even a national identity. If allowed to do so, the overwhelming majority of Serbs would probably vote to secede. Most Croats also would likely prefer to end their status as Bosnia’s smallest and least influential ethnic bloc and choose to merge their territory with neighboring Croatia. In other words, Bosnia is a country in which a majority of the population does not want the country to exist. That is a good operational definition of an unviable state.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Milorad Dodik described the creation of Bosnia as “a mistake.” Although Dodik is not the most admirable character, given his extreme nationalist views, he is correct on that point. It was a dubious approach for the United States and its NATO allies to insist that three mutually antagonistic ethnic groups stay together in a state that only one faction, the Muslims, regarded as legitimate—and did so only because, as the largest group, they were confident that they would control the government.

The Western powers might well have been wiser to have facilitated a partition of Bosnia when the civil war first broke out. It is time to revisit that option, as radical as such a step might seem.

Of course, decisions to partition political entities or dissolve states lacking the requisite cohesion are not panaceas. Some of those efforts prove successful, while others do not. Czechoslovakia’s “velvet divorce” and, for the most part, the dissolution of the Soviet Union are examples of the former. Britain’s move to partition India on the eve of that country’s independence, and the UN edict to partition Palestine are examples of the latter.

But trying to force unity on the populations of bitterly divided countries usually produces even worse results. The numerous civil wars based on racial, ethnic or religious differences that have plagued the international community over the decades confirm that point.

If a new policy is not adopted, Bosnia will, at best, be a perpetual international political and economic ward. It is certainly not a fit candidate for membership in the European Union anytime in the foreseeable future—unless the EU were, unwisely, to dilute its standards for membership. The European Union has enough headaches already with weak members, such as Greece and Portugal, that have serious economic woes, or like Cyprus, unresolved territorial issues. The last thing the European Union needs to do is to embrace an even weaker, more troubled candidate.

Worse, Bosnia is a political time bomb that might detonate at some point and cause another crisis in the Balkans. Western policy makers simply ignore reality when they insist that Bosnia continue to exist in its current incarnation. Washington and the EU powers should withdraw their objections to a partition of the country. In particular, if voters in the Republika Srpska choose to establish an independent state, or to merge with Serbia, the United States and its allies ought to respect that decision. They should even consider guiding the process to ensure that the dissolution of the country proceeds peacefully. Keeping a vegetative Bosnia on international life support does not serve any legitimate purpose.

Indeed, facilitating Bosnia’s peaceful downsizing offers a potential bonus—a tradeoff that could help resolve another festering problem in the Balkans, the status of Kosovo. Serbia’s leaders are still smarting from the decision by the United States and the leading EU powers to encourage and recognize Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence. Belgrade continues to insist that it will never recognize the independence of that breakaway entity, and more than half of the member states of the United Nations still decline to do so as well.

It would be politically difficult for any Serbian government to change that position, but there is the possible framework for a compromise solution. If the West offered Belgrade the prospect of gaining the Republika Srpska (as either an independent state of ethnic brethren or as part of an enlarged Serbia) in exchange for a willingness to accept Kosovo’s independence, it would be a tempting offer. That would be especially true if the Western powers sweetened the offer by agreeing to boundary adjustments regarding Kosovo, allowing the heavily Serbian enclave in the north to remain with Serbia.

There is, of course, no guarantee that Belgrade would endorse such a comprehensive package of territorial adjustments. But new policies on the part of the United States and the European Union are badly needed. That process must begin with respect to the issue of Bosnia. Leaving policy on autopilot, or vainly insisting that the discordant ethnic communities in that country (somehow) create a unified, effective, and cooperative national government—and a viable economy--is an increasingly discredited strategy. Some new thinking is long overdue, and all options, including partition, need to be on the table.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: balkans; bosnia; yugoslavia
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1 posted on 02/25/2011 11:02:57 PM PST by bruinbirdman
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To: bruinbirdman

Gee why not destroy the Serbs and be done? Let’s support jihadists Bosnians and cut our own throats.

2 posted on 02/25/2011 11:09:45 PM PST by Mmogamer (I refudiate the lamestream media, leftists and their prevaricutions.)
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To: bruinbirdman

If the U.S. is ever stabbed in the back, it will be a Serb that deserves to do it. We have treated these people like dirt. They help us during WW 2, we reward them with a sell out to the Eastern Bloc.....under the thumb of the Croat/Muslims that stabbed them in the back, that were considered WORSE than the Nazi SS. Then, we backstabbed them again by siding with the Muslims and Croats and bombing their civilian population, destroying their bridges, and then melding them into another nation that wants them both dead and gone.

3 posted on 02/25/2011 11:17:03 PM PST by runninglips (government debt = slavery of the masses)
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To: runninglips

A 2nd generation American Serb worked for me, set me straight. I was not paying attention to much news way back then. You’ve got it right. Clinton had us on the wrong side. It’s too, too bad. But if we get a good Congress and President, we could get back on the right path.

4 posted on 02/25/2011 11:31:28 PM PST by PieterCasparzen (Huguenot)
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To: bruinbirdman
Never going to happen, no matter how much water for Serbs this guy carries.

Three reasons why:
1. Srpska's today territory was with about 48% Bosniaks pre war, and Serbs were found to have committed genocide on Bosniaks.
2. If the Bosniaks are left alone, they'll become an Islamic emirate. No one wants that.
3. Croatia doesn't want Serbia on that long and hard to defend border. Bosnia will serve as a buffer. In fact Croatia threatened to wipe Srpska out if they declared independence (specifically forbidden by Dayton.)
Map for reference

4. As a bonus, no one is itching to have a strong Serbia, certainly not Germany, US, UK, Italy or France.

5 posted on 02/25/2011 11:39:15 PM PST by mewykwistmas
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To: bruinbirdman

“There is, of course, no guarantee that Belgrade would endorse such a comprehensive package of territorial adjustments. “

Ha! Serbia has been told: Kosovo or EU and if you choose Kosovo you get none. They chose EU of course but are trying to keep the North of Kosovo, getting Srpska would be 1000 times better for them, so who is he kidding.

6 posted on 02/25/2011 11:42:50 PM PST by mewykwistmas
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To: bruinbirdman

Is it any surprise that Clinton, the rest of the Democrats, and yellow journalism led us into that pointless adventure? I still remember leftists both here and in Europe beating their chests and shouting in mad delight that we had involved ourselves in a war (well, Bosnia and Kosovo) where we had no economic, strategic, or cultural interest. That was their talking point, and they were PROUD of it!

7 posted on 02/26/2011 12:31:52 AM PST by Chiltepe
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To: PieterCasparzen

The damage Clinton did in that conflice will never be undone, here’s how:

Firstly even if we did get a Pro-Serb President (which I would like to see), and did all these suggested-the other one, and far reaching policy that Clinton intiated was to make an ENEMY of Russia-Remember back then Russia was a ~free~ truely Democratic Republic, Yeltson was our ally, untill Clinton made him an enemy over Bosnia & Sebia (Yeltson even had a pro-American vice P.M. which is what Putin took over to gain power), If we hadn’t interfered would Putin have become their new President/P.M? would he be our ally, and not have turned against the WEST?

That my friends was Clinton’s worst political move (foreign policy wise), 2nd was treacherously selling military and other secrects to Chicom) in exchange for funding his re-election strategy!

8 posted on 02/26/2011 3:07:32 AM PST by JSDude1 (December 18, 2010 the Day the radical homosexual left declared WAR on the US Military.)
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To: PieterCasparzen
You’ve got it right. Clinton had us on the wrong side. It’s too, too bad. But if we get a good Congress and President, we could get back on the right path.

There's no way any Congress or any President would "get back on the right path" on this issue. The U.S./NATO policy in the Balkans is a non-partisan affair. I had the whole "neo-con" wing of the GOP picked as a bunch of frauds back in the late 1990s when they were clamoring publicly for the Clinton Administration to take military action against Serbia. These people are nothing but a bunch of big-government globalists who see the creation of weak quasi-states as an integral part of our foreign policy.

9 posted on 02/26/2011 5:39:51 AM PST by Alberta's Child ("If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested.")
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To: JSDude1
See my Post #9. This goes way beyond the Clinton administration. Many of the strongest supporters of an anti-Serbia U.S. policy ended up in key positions in the second Bush administration, too.
10 posted on 02/26/2011 5:41:31 AM PST by Alberta's Child ("If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested.")
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To: PieterCasparzen

My brother in law was born in Yugoslavia. He is a nice enough guy, and has fit into the family for over 25 years. He is a Croatian, and HATES Serbs. His family from that area were constantly calling and telling him of the atrocities committed by the Serbs, and of how the U.S./UN/NATO needed to come in a “fix” things. I too was ignorant, until I did a little online investigating. The copious amounts of documentation on WW 2 shocked me deeply. I asked my B.I.L. about some of it, and his vitriol also seemed out of place. Essentially, he made excuses for being Nazi out of the need to fight the Russians. He was born in ‘38, and his family actually was alive and active during the war. Any further personal inquiries by me will not happen though. The hatred for the Serb “race” is not different to that of the Muslims for the Jews.

11 posted on 02/26/2011 10:06:05 AM PST by runninglips (government debt = slavery of the masses)
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To: Alberta's Child


It’s just very politically correct to oppose any supposed “strong man”; it’s an easy stance to take, whether one is Dem establishment or Repub establishment. The establishment has not yet returned to publicly acknowledging the Judeo-Christian roots of western civilization and the war that islam is waging on the west. Once they do, any western nation that resists will truthfully be understood as resisting an invasion.

Also, of course, Serbia has ties to Russia from back when Russia was a Christian empire. Since conservatives can get caught up in being anti-Soviet, it’s easy for them to dismiss Serbia out of hand as an enemy.

Instead, they should be focusing on the Christian aspect; Christians and conservatives should be actually helping Russia return to being a Christian nation.

12 posted on 02/26/2011 11:08:58 AM PST by PieterCasparzen (Huguenot)
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To: Bokababe

Partition ping.

13 posted on 02/27/2011 1:23:21 PM PST by wonders (If vegetarians eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat?)
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To: joan; Smartass; zagor-te-nej; Lion in Winter; Honorary Serb; jb6; Incorrigible; DTA; vooch; ...

14 posted on 02/27/2011 6:44:35 PM PST by Bokababe (Save Christian Kosovo!
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To: wonders

Thanks for the heads-up, wonders!

15 posted on 02/27/2011 6:47:13 PM PST by Bokababe (Save Christian Kosovo!
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To: wonders; Bokababe; eleni121

YES to dissolution of the fake state of “Bosnia”!!!!! See my tagline, which I’ve had for years!

A strong Orthodox Christian Serbia is good for America, good for Europe, and good for Russia!

16 posted on 02/27/2011 7:14:35 PM PST by Honorary Serb (Kosovo is Serbia! Free Srpska! Abolish ICTY!)
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To: Honorary Serb

The time is now to undo the wrongs and horrors perpetrated by NATO and its NWO/Third Way Socialist and Muslim allies.

Let freedom come back to the Balkans. Dissolve Soviet Bosnia.

17 posted on 02/27/2011 7:46:17 PM PST by eleni121 ("All Along the Watchtower" Book of Isaiah, Chapter 21, verses 5-9)
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To: mewykwistmas; Bokababe; Honorary Serb
You are way off the planet — in some zombie land of ideas. You seem to be basing your conjecture on a narrow historical sliver of “divide and conquer” — very anachronistic and obsolete. IN the long run it didn't work anyway ... far better to cut off the gangrenous part by isolating and treating the islamic infection than to “live” it.

Seeing what a mess that secular increasingly muslim Europe have made of things — all Christians including “Catholic” Croatians should all be rooting for a stronger Orthodox Srpska and Serbia.

18 posted on 02/28/2011 9:13:57 AM PST by eleni121 ("All Along the Watchtower" Book of Isaiah, Chapter 21, verses 5-9)
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To: JSDude1
>>>>If we hadn’t interfered would Putin have become their new President/P.M? <<<<<

Bingo. It was a classic case of "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory".

America won the Cold War. Russia was moribund and Russians dreamt of having an American dream one day. India and China were regional rivals. America ruled the world.

All this changed with U.S. attack on Serbia in March 1999. Russians were able to hear with their own ears and see with their own eyes American propaganda on sattellite channels. It was no different than what Communists told them what Americans are supposedly like. Half-drunk Ruskies woke up. American dream was no more. American reality kicked in. Putin rode on that wave. Without American attack on Serbia, his chances were zilch.

During the bombing of Serbia, India went nuclear, just to show that her trust to American fairy tales is no more.

And China have had it enough when her embassy was bombed.

That moment was defining moment of the history of 21 century, the beginning of decline of American supremacy.

Neocon scammers planned Siberian wealth in American pockets within a decade. It turned out that Siberian wealth remained in Russian pockets and American wealth ended in Chinese pockets, also within a decade.

According to her own account, Hitlery persuaded Bent One to bomb Serbia.

Victory has many fathers but defeat is an orphan. This defeat has it's mother.

19 posted on 02/28/2011 9:48:55 AM PST by DTA
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To: mewykwistmas

Another history revisionist troll on a Balkan thread.

20 posted on 02/28/2011 9:55:39 AM PST by montyspython
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