Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation" by Silber and Little [11]


This section takes up the bulk of the remaining text; indeed, it makes up over a third of the book in total. By this point in the narrative, it is clear that the war which was brought to Bosnia was driven by forces outside the republic; by the time the fighting broke out, whatever chances there had been to avert it had long since been squandered by the republic's political leadership.

Chapter 15: Before the Deluge July 1990-March 1992

This chapter essentially catches the reader "up to speed" on events in Bosnia while first Slovenia and then Croatia were engulfed by radical nationalism, paramilitary intimidation, and finally full-fledged war.

Much of the chapter is taken up with the political developments in Bosnia after multiparty elections were held; as in the other republics, nationalist parties easily dominated the election returns--a situation only exacerbated by the republic's constitution, which dictated that representation was by nation, not individuals. The chapter also discusses Muslim intellectual, SDA leader, and eventual Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, who turned out to be a mostly ineffectual leader who did little more than provide ammunition for his nationalist opponents such as Radovan Karadzic. Izetbegovic was more "Islamic" than most of his people; this would create drawbacks for the Bosnian Muslims and precious few benefits.

It was obvious almost from the start that the Serb leadership in the SDS had no interest in a unified independent Bosnia; the Croat leadership in the HDZ made a tactical alliance with the Muslims but it was purely a temporary marriage of convenience; the Croats were in no position to take on either of the larger groups politically but at least the nationalist Croats of Herzegovina had a longer-term goal of union with Croatia proper. While the Serbs quietly armed and radicalized their civilian population, Izetbegovic stumbled closer and closer towards a war he made no significant preparations for. It is true that his hands were largely tied, and that his options were few and mostly dictated by others; but his failure to recognize what was coming and to make better preparations would soon cost his government, his about-to-be-independent state, and the Muslims of Bosnia dearly.

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