Chapter 28: "Let Us Be Pragmatic" Cleaning up the Maps July-August 1995In order for the United States and its allies to achieve the peace deal they wanted and which they believed their clients could live with, the map of Bosnia needed to be "cleaned up" quite a bit. The three eastern enclaves of Srebrenica, Zepa, and Gorazde were an obstacle to this end, as was the fact that the Bosnian Serb regime still controlled much of Bosnia, and their allies in the Croatian Krajina still controlled a third of Croatia. Event during the summer of 1995 would change all that in grim fashion.
While this chapter is quite lengthy, I will not give a detailed synopsis of it because frankly if you don't know the essential outlines of what happened at Srebrenica in July of 1995, you most likely either aren't reading this blog or you have no interest in truly understanding what my mission in maintaining it is. As you might guess from the title of this chapter, the authors focus mainly on the sobering reality that the fall of Srebrenica and Zepa, if not exactly "planned" by the Bosnian government and the United States, were certainly events which proved beneficial to larger strategic goals.
The authors also understand that Washington and the international community were equally cynical in their dealings with Tudjman when Croatian forces unleashed "Operation Storm" which was clearly a creature of NATO planning and covert (and theoretically illegal) arms acquisition. The collapse of the Krajina Serbs statelet was sudden and total, as it had become little more than a corrupt paramilitary state led by craven bullies (Martic and Babic) who also turned out to be cowards who fled immediately, having done nothing of substance to prepare for the return of war. They left their people at the mercy of a well-armed and vengeful Croatian war machine, who helpfully publicized escape routes for terrified Serbs, although all too often they found that those routes, while open, weren't safe. They were exposed to abuse and attack from Croatian forces and civilians alike; and those who stayed behind--mostly those too elderly to flee--death and torture was their fate. Although the number of atrocities and deaths pales next to the numbers inflicted by the Serb nationalists, they were still part of a systematic plan which resulted in the largest single mass expulsion of people of the entire war. Within a few days, centuires of continuous Serb society in the Krajina had been completely eliminated.
Milosevic was silent through all that, even as he had pretended to be completely uninvolved in the Srebrenica operation (this book was written before later revelations of the involvement by the "Scorpions" and other Serb units had come to light). The protector of all Serbs, who had done so much to stir up and encourage the Serbs of Croatia and Bosnia to take up arms, was now throwing them all aside.
The Croats were able to get away with this because they were obligated by their American sponsors to cooperate with the Bosnian government to take the war to the Serbs. They did so, and the Bosnian Army Fifth Corps took advantage of the altered balance of power to launch a successful attack out of the Bihac pocket. The collapse of the Bosnian Serb frontlines was about to happen.