Monday, May 16, 2005

The Slippery Slope of Police "Reform"

For some time now, the Imperial overlords of Bosnia have been trying to bypass the Dayton Peace Agreement and the constitutional order it established in the torn-up quasi-country. Every single "reform" since 1996 has been in the direction of centralization. The most recent push to reform Bosnia's police force is no exception.

According to a proposal drawn up by international commissars, Bosnia ought to be reorganized into nine regional police districts, ultimately responsible to the central government. And though everyone from the EU to viceroy Ashdown claims that this would not in any way threaten the existing entities, that is simply not the case. Writing in the Banja Luka magazine Patriot (issue 168, 9 May 2005) - a publication generally favoring the EU and the Empire - commentator Slobodan Vaskovic says:
"Serb Republic politicians will no doubt be singled out as prime culprits for the evident failure of this important reform, as they almost unanimously oppose the internationals' intentions to erase not just the entity police ministries, but the entity borders as well. The intent is to continue this process of erasure through further reforms that would become necessary after this one, since police regions would no longer match the judicial districts. After that, the road to abolishing both entities and regionalizing Bosnia-Herzegovina would be both wide open and inevitable; the restructuring of police and the judiciary would have to be accompanied by a radical reform of the administration as well."

Vaskovic mentions a crucial detail: There are now 12 existing police administrations (11 in the Federation, one in the Republic); under the new plan, there would be 10. While a reduction in bureaucracy is a welcome thing on principle, this is hardly a reduction worth all the trouble. Much like the "administrative rationalization" proposals to abolish the Republic but not the ten times more complex Federation, this "reform" is a centralization push disguised as cutting bureaucracy.

All the ethnic, religious and historical animosities between Bosnia's communities are but manifestations of a simple clash of two principles - centralized state vs. ethnic autonomy. The deal in Dayton found a way to end the war by creating a common context for the two existing entities, the Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat Federation ("Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina"). Serb leaders thought this protected ethnic autonomy. Apparently, Muslim leaders saw it as a way of achieving centralization through subterfuge rather than the force of arms, as Croats have discovered to their detriment. The behavior of Imperial viceroys and various agencies and NGOs engaged in the country also supports the Muslim position. If Serbs or Croats object, they are beaten over the head with "war crimes" or "corruption" charges, and blamed for "Bosnia's failure" to move closer to the EU.

Though ethnic autonomy is not exactly libertarian, it does at least offer potential for re-establishing a free society - unlike the centralized state, which is its most bitter enemy. Attempts to centralize Bosnia against the wishes of the majority of its population can only lead to more conflict in a land that desperately needs not EU and NATO membership, not Imperial occupation, not more politics, but peace.

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