Friday, April 08, 2011

"Bosnia and Beyond" by Jeanne Haskin [4]

Chapter 7

The role of international aid and humanitarian campaigns; the establishment of safe areas; different peace plans and the creeping institutionalization and acceptance of ethnic partition among the Western powers; the Croat-Muslim war; atrocities carried out by Muslim forces; "lift and strike"; criticism of the inactivity and passivity of the international community by Western observers in and outside of Bosnia.

Haskin passes along this quote from Lewis MacKenzie: "Now obviously the critics will say this rewards force and sets a bad example. I can only say to them, read your history. Force has been rewarded since the first caveman picked up a club. occupied his neighbor's cave, and ran off with his wife." She got this quote from Norman Cigar's "Genocide in Bosnia." She provides no comment; hopefully that is because she believes the stupidity (what sort of "history" has MacKenzie read?) and amoralism of his comment requires no explication. Unfortunately, after reading her book I am not at all certain that Haskin has a firm enough hand on the rudder.
Despite the fact that the book purports to "[show] how Western plans for the liberalization of the country resulted in ethnic polarization and the election of ethno-nationalist leaders", it is largely a mediocre and flaccid work of historiography; little more than a "this side vs. that side" summation of other people's work, with occasional--and not very convincing--editorial asides.

Chapter 8

The war ends, finally--and in this chapter, pretty quickly--11 pages to cover the Markale Massacre, the Srebrenica genocide (she calls it a "slaughter" but given how superficial her knowledge seems to be it is not surprising that the April 2004 ruling that it was a genocide had not yet registered wtih ther), Operation Storm, the intervention of NATO, and Dayton. Haskin veers dangerously close to justifying the Serb attack on Srebrenica as being of "military necessity" but at least she doesn't accept the rationales for how that attack was carried out or for the genocide which subsequently took place. She mostly rejects Sremac on the subject--but then again, why quote her at length (as she does yet again) in the first place?

This account is so perfunctory it simply isn't worth the time it would take to analyze what little substance is here.

Conclusion of Part 1

This five-page summary of what Haskin claims to have shown in the first eight chapters. As I hope to have sufficiently expressed already, I remain unconvinced, to put it mildly. Haskin sees parts of the whole, but she began by uncritically accepting the notion that Yugoslavia was broken up "by Western manipulation of the Yugoslav economy"; and that subsequent events were stage-managed by Western powers in order to achieve an end result which benefitted Western financial interests. This, in spite of the fact that even the back cover preview of the book admits that "no formal plan has surfaced to show that the whole thing was engineered to provide a base fo US/NATO troops"; I have no problem with speculative writing, except that in this case she seems to be forcing 'evidence' to fit an ideologically motivated thesis. It never occurs to her than Western inaction might have been a product of a lack of domestic political support, for example.

All in all, a very flimsy case for a very dubious thesis, made with a hodgepodge of hardly-esoteric secondary sources. I won't be reviewing Part 2 in such detail; I will summarize it briefly in my next post.

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