Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict" from Greenhaven Press [7]

Chapter 4: Should Nations Intervene in Ethnic Conflicts? [continued]

There are four essays in the 'pro' section ("Nations Should Intervene in the Balkans"). The first essay, "NATO Should Intervene in the Balkans", by Paul C. Warnke, gets it right; NATO has the ability to intervene and should do so, by taking firm military measures to force the aggressors to stop. The third essay, "The United States and NATO Should Intervene in Kosovo" by Bujar Bukoshi, also hits the mark, and I give the editors some credit for including this essay in 1994, a half decade before the Kosovo War when most casual Western observers didn't understand the connection. Had the author's words been heeded, the KLA might never have come into being and Kosova might not be saddled with the baggage that organization brought with it. The fourth essay, "Limited Military Intervention in Bosnia May Be Necessary" by John Roach might seem timid and halfhearted, but it is worth noting that the author was the archbishop of Minneapolis and was speaking in agreement with the official Vatican line. His argument is that intervention in Bosnia would have met the "just war" criteria the Church believes in, and that is actually a very strong argument in favor of intervention.

However, the second essay is problematic. Entitled "Use Military Force to Partition Bosnia", the authors John J. Mearsheimer and Robert A. Pape take an approach that was depressingly familiar at the time--they accept the logic of Serb nationalism while deploring its tactics. Their sympathies are with the Muslim plurality, but their solution is simply to dismember Bosnia as the Serb nationalists wanted to, only on different terms. Their plan would have "awarded" the Muslims 35% of Bosnia, and the Serbs 45%. This, the reader is assured, is perfectly reasonable.

In a short section entitled "Interest in Partition", the authors actually admit that this option is exactly what the Serb nationalists want, only with territorial concessions, while opining that "a multiethnic Bosnia must now have little appeal" for Muslims, after admitting that they have steadfastly argued in favor of a multiethnic state.

What is more remarkable is that while their plan would have restored easten Bosnia to Muslim control--an area which was mostly Muslim-majority prior to ethnic cleansing--it would give the Bihac region--another area of overwhelmingly Muslim majority--to the Serbs, and force the Muslims there to move to the Muslim ministate in the east. With friends like these, the Muslims of Bosnia did not need enemies.

The rest of this essay is concerned with the military and logistical details of this plan. To be fair to the authors, they do acknowledge the moral shortcomings of this plan. They also acknowledge that the rump Bosnian Muslim state would be much weaker than its neighbors, particularly Serbia, and they argue that in order for this plan to be viable NATO must take this vulnerable state under its wings. They also do not engage in false equivalencies, and it is clear that their sympathies are with the Muslims and that their plan is guided by political realities (i.e, what Western countries are willing to actually do). I don't want to smear them unfairly.

Perhaps this article, then, can best serve as an example of how the inaction of the West had made such a morally reprehensible policy proposal--using Western force to complete the work of third-rate Balkan fascists--into a reasonably argued least-worst scenario.

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