I initially wanted to post my take on Marcus Tanner's peculiar piece (insofar as it was surprisingly common-sense from someone who's spent years promoting the Official Truth) for The Independent, but it turned into a regular column, which can be found today at Antiwar.com.
Now that the Empire has come full circle, from Clinton's "humanitarian interventionism" through Bush's "war on terror" to Obama's "we're here because I say so," it may be time to look beyond the bogus labels of left and right, and realize that Antiwar.com has been among only a few organizations that has consistently opposed the Empire on principled grounds.
If you, too, oppose the perversion of true American values that is the Empire, if you are against murder, theft and enslavement, your choices at the ballot box are next to nonexistent. However, you can still vote with your wallet. I suggest you do so.
Tanner`s article is seriously flawed. It is a sign of a very depressing and grimm reality that a viewpoint as unbalanced as this one is stil much better than the accepted wisdom.
First of all it is not even factually correct. Far from "the Serbs pulling away from the centre", ever since the 1995 every reform has been towards centralisation with the Serbs surrendering more and more of their autonomy, without it in any way appeasing the EU and the Muslims who remain permanentely dissatisfied and permanently on the offensive pursuing the complete capitalation of the Serb Republic.
Furthermore his underlying lament is that of the most fanatical of the cruise missle liberals, refering to the fact that the US-imposed Dayton agreement provided for any sort of Serb autonomy at all "a problem" .
Even when the alternative - forcing the Serbs into an unconditional capitulation during the war itself would have probably meant prolonging (an already needlessly prolonged war) for a further year or so with hundreds of thousands additional Serbs driven from their homes. All in the service of securing an even more morally unjust "agreement" than the one forced upon Serbs at Dayton.
But most worryingly first of all for the Bosnians themselves Tanner`s message, the impossibility of there arising a centralised state in Bosnia is simply wrong. Yes indeed a fully centralised Bosnia would be a powder kegg, but it is a very realistic proposition. The trend for the last 15 years has been towards centralisation (this despite it being in direct contradiction to the settlement that ended the war) and I see absolutely nothing to make me think the trend is going to come to a halt.
Hero, you make valid points. I guess I've seen so much Serbophobia over the years that I simply tuned out what I was expected to hear, and focused on what came to me as a surprise. Because the gist of Tanner's argument was in fact, surprising. Yes, he's a cruise-missile liberal, but when one of them says "enough's enough" and pretty clearly points the finger at appeasement of Muslims as the problem, then it's worth dwelling on.
Centralization may be what the "international community" and the Muslims are pushing for, but their leverage is increasingly vanishing. Serbs and Croats have fought a war to prevent the creation of a centralized government; I don't believe they'll stand idly by while one is imposed on them, no matter how gradually or how sneakily. Cohabitation is possible, but only if there's a basic agreement that everyone has equal rights. So long as one community insists it has the sole claim to the entire country, that is obviously impossible.
Tanner is an interesting case in that, where most of his media compadres started out pro-Croat and then switched to the Muslims when Tudjman became too embarrassing to support, his strongest contacts have always been on the Croat side. So even though he accepts most of the official framework, he gets these flashes of lucidity. His criticism of the appalling Ashdown regime being a case in point.
I would suggest that Tanner might be reacting to the noises coming from the Bosnian Croats, who as you say are not happy with their enforced situation as junior partners in the Muslim-dominated Federation.
I have a feeling, and I'd be interested to know your view, that Dodik's push for reform of the Bosnian institutions seems to be picking up momentum. I know Croat politicians and commentators have been open to it, and even some elements of the SDA who want a functional Bosnian state. On the other hand, Silajdzic has been going ape on this issue, and so have the foreign journos and politicians who take their cue from Silajdzic, such as that man Ashdown. That would seem to indicate to me that, if Dodik is annoying those people, he must be doing something right.
I disagree with Dodik in many respects, but I support him when it comes to resisting the creeping centralization of the country. I can't say for certain whether he even has a plan to reform the country, or to what extent it may or may not be working.
The Croats are a mystery. They are fractious, undecided, unhappy but unsure what to do - and afraid, I think, to do anything openly. Ex-ambassador Montgomery advised them recently to get a spine and do something (i.e. ally with the Serbs to save themselves), but we heard nothing from him, or the Croats, afterwards. So something may be going on, but I honestly don't know what.
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