CHAPTER THREE: COMPARATIVE NATIONALISMS
INSIDE AND OUTSIDE INTERVENTION
This is the final section of Chapter Three. In it, Johnstone allows some of her most paranoid and peculiar fantasies to run free.
The previous section ended with the eventual downfall of Fikret Abdic and his rebel Muslim statelet in the Bihac pocket. From this unfortunate sideshow, Johnstone draws this conclusion:
"The story of Abdic illustrates the fact that the International Community rejected all forms of administrative division of Bosnia-Herzegovina--if worked out between local leaders themselves."
This is a "fact," then? Given that the preeminent "local leader in Bosnia"--Alija Izetbegovic, President of the internationally recognized government of the sovereign nation of Bosnia and Hercegovina--had no interest in carving up his country at all, this is a startling claim.
Her slim basis for this "fact" is the US-sponsored (some would say "bullied," which I honestly do not have a problem with) Muslim-Croat Federation. Johnstone rightly points out that it was a creation of the United States, participated in with no real enthusiasm by the Muslim SDA and rather cynically by the Croat HDZ. She points to the division of Mostar and the continued existence of the Croat statelet of Herce-Bosna as proof, as if anyone were disputing the point. More nuance, I suppose.
The next paragraph argues that the creation of the Federation strengthened the three nationalist parties. Which is laughable--there was a brutal war going on. A genocidal war. How much more polarized could things have become? Yet Johnstone insists that it was the US creation of the Muslim-Croat Federation which really entrenched the SDS, SDA, and HDZ in power.
There is almost a good point buried in this part of her book; one cause of the breakdown of peace in Bosnia was the unfortunate fact that political life in the republic became absolutely dominated by three explicitly ethnic, nationalist parties. These three parties became closely identified with their respective ethnic groups, blurring the distinction between their platforms and the actual interests of the peoples they allegedly represented. But Johnstone only brings up this point in order to heap scorn on any notion that the war in Bosnia was between civic and ethnic nationalism; by focusing on the composition of the leadership, she can avoid the real-world actions and rhetoric of the different parties.
Hopping from one bogus point to the next with no narrative or intellectual continuity, she claims that the Federation was reminiscent of the Ustashe Independent State of Croatia from World War II on the basis of absolutely nothing. She offers not the slightest wisp of flimsy evidence to base this claim on. The West, she goes on to claim, were deluded about the real nature of Bosnia and therefore easily duped into buying into the myth of an evil Milosevic bent on nationalist violence. And this, she finally claims, provided cover for the Islamic world to prop up Izetbegovic.
Even though she has already trod down this road before, I am still a little shocked that Johnstone has chosen to embrace and promote even this, the most outrageous of the Serbian nationalist claims. But she has, and she continues, to warn her credulous ideal reader about the Islamic menace behind Izetbegovic and the SDA.
But before she gets to that, she goes into more detail about the two kinds of intervention--inside and outside--there were in Bosnia, in her version of the story. We will examine those in the next post.