Bosnia’s Predictable Demise

| Staff Columnist

Last week, Clinton stooge and Dayton Accords author Richard Holbrooke wrote an alarmist editorial that has slowly been gaining international media attention, wherein he expressed great concern over the continued existence of Bosnia. He offered a number of diplomatic remedies that might, according to him, prevent what seems like the otherwise inevitable collapse of another state in the Balkans. As was noted, the reason behind his article is that he regards the continued existence of modern Bosnia as essential. Rather than defend this position, this is an assertion he takes for granted, which ought not be the case. Truth be told, Bosnia has no historical legitimacy, is irrational in construct, and has been destined to fail from the start. While collapse of a state is rarely beneficial, especially in the powder keg of Europe, the way this situation is approached must be grounded in an appreciation for the region’s history and the present day realities, neither of which Holbrooke appears to firmly grasp.

Bosnia is not a nation of historic validity, but a disputed buffer region between the competing Serbian and Croatian nations, each of whom have legitimate claims to substantial portions of the land. Accordingly, it has been of a multi-ethnic character for centuries, and remains so today. However, this fuels substantial conflict in a region where multi-ethnic states have often proven themselves to be breeding grounds for violence and genocide, the overwhelming majority of which has always been directed against the Serbs. In a half-baked effort to pacify this battleground nation, the Dayton Accords created a federal system wherein there is a relatively weak national government, and two much stronger state governments. Republika Srpska hosts the nation’s sizable Serbian population, while the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina hosts the remaining Bosniak and Croat populations.

After many years of brutal warfare and chaos, both sides set national ambitions aside and worked together to rebuild. But, as seemed fairly obvious to any individual with a grasp of the true nature of the Balkans, this was short lived. Though we have not yet seen war, the rhetoric has become increasingly polarized. Those in the Federation have been pushing for drastic reforms that would shift all of the power into a strong central government, where they would make up the majority of the population and could thus run roughshod over the rights of the Serbian minority. In turn, this has inspired the highly moderate government of Republika Srpska to extend legitimacy to the idea of ending Bosnia, by way of becoming independent (or more reasonably merging with Serbia), should the need arise.

As the nation exists today, it is a tense union between two unlike factions with highly divergent agendas and interests. So why continue to prop it up? If the only justification is Balkans stability then the answer is not to add to the hasty patchwork keeping Bosnia as one nation, but to proactively develop and implement a more rational and permanent solution. That means separating Republika Srpska from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina immediately, merging the former with Serbia. But what to do with the latter? Allowing it to become independent as is would be dangerous, since quite naturally the Croats would seek reunion with the motherland, and inspire yet another bloody conflict. As it happens, the ethnic divisions are presently such that the Croatian-dominated portions could be given to Croatia without much issue, allowing the Bosniaks to have a new state of their own. Wedged between the powers of the region, it would be kept in check, and its ability to provide a breeding ground for jihad and Islamism would be reduced by threat of invasion from the concerned neighbor states (this will be elaborated on in a future column).

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