12 January 2011

The Reign of Fools: Or is it?

Years ago Milorad Dodik, the president of the largest Bosnian Serb party, stated the only time he would ever root for the national team of Bosnia and Herzegovina is if it was playing against Turkey. This statement caused a certain amount of ruckus and is still occasionally referenced in tones of pretended disbelief over the preposterous man who will not support „his own state“. In saying this however, Dodik was echoing the sentiment shared by over one half of Bosnia's population. To the countries Serbs and Croats Bosnia and Herzegovina is what Austria-Hungary was to the Czechs or the Russian Empire was to the Poles, it commands none of their loyalties or sympathies.

The Serbs and the Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is to say the majority of the population, experience it as a state imposed onto themselves, as no more than naked coercion. The mere fact of its existence in its present borders means they prevented from uniting with their true countrymen the Serbs of Serbia and the Croats of Croatia – this alone is basis enough for their sentiment, although there is not a shortage of additional complaints.

It is naive to believe it is possible for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be socially engineered into a nation approaching anything the Empire claims it has in mind for it and that its populace will one day put the artificial state above their ethnic nation. Nations in the Balkans are not tied down to states. Nationality in the Balkans is not determined by ones citizenship but by ones ancestry, culture and self-identification. An establishment or a fall of one state or the other, a shift in a border that way or the other does not result in the people on the ground passing from one nation into the other. The self-identification and a sense of belonging to a certain people does not change merely because there is a new flag flying over the municipal building.

As the Balkans did not go for the civic nationalism of the Jacobins, but for the more sensible Herderian folkish nationalism, the idea of a civic state has no tradition in the region, no legitimacy and no sincere support. Even Yugoslavia did not ground itself in the civic nationalist principle but in the ethno-national principle as a union of ethnically related peoples. Western intervention could ensure there would be a state of Bosnia and Herzegovina in its present state borders, but there is no force capable of conjuring up a corresponding „multi-ethnic“, civic nation.

A "civic Bosnia“ amounts to a benign name for a project of a centralised state under the hegemony of its Muslim plurality to be brought about by Western threats. It is a project of the Muslim political leadership because it allows for the maximum control of the Bosnian Muslim state over what are to them Bosnian Muslim territories – which again equal the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina regardless of local demographics or private land ownership. Incidentally such a state would also represent the perfect vehicle for them to beat the Bosnian Croats and the Bosnian Serbs over the head with for their lack of state-patriotism, to taunt their supremacy over them, to make life unpleasant for them and to nudge them toward emigration.

The fundamental problem of Bosnia today is not inter-ethnic racism, but for which the „multi-ethnic“, civic utopia would otherwise be just around the corner, but the politics of hegemony, where one nationality denies the right of the two other nationalities to improve their lot in a way they themselves best see fit, and resents them for what it sees as them wanting to run away with its territory.

The political leaderships of the Croats and the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina is working towards goals which fall short of their wartime goals, but the goals of the Bosnian Muslims have not been moderated in the least. The maximalist demands are on the moral sphere backed by the argument that settling for less would serve to „legitimise a genocidal policy". In this way it becomes a moral imperative not to seek a compromise. Despite the self-righteous rhetoric, which builds upon wartime propaganda, the radical demands of the Bosnian Muslim parties are the consequence, not of moral indignation, but of foreign backing.

Since they intend that their goals be made reality through the actions of the Imperial overlords, there is nothing to be gained by making their demands more conservative. The chances that their goals can be attained are in no way affected by the question of how acceptable they are to the Serbs or the Croats. It is exactly because of the continued involvement and partisanship of the Westerners in Bosnia and Herzegovina that since the end of open hostilities the land has moved no closer to a real resolution.

Such a state as Bosnia is today can not outlive the withdrawal of Imperial influence from the region by a single day, but must fall apart as soon as Washington and Brussels back away from the region. The Balkanites have shown many times that in this part of the world the loyalty is to the ethnic nation, not the civil authority. If the civil authority positions itself against the nation, it is resisted and ultimately cast off. Jet Bosnia and Herzegovina makes no sign of desiring to make peace with the Serb and Croat peoples – relying instead on outside life support.

Compared to the lofty-sounding goals the Empire states it has in mind for Bosnia the reality is a wholesale failure. From this we can conclude that either they are extraordinarily incompetent or that their stated goals are not their only goals, but that they have other, additional or alternative goals.

It would hardly be the first power to have motives for its actions that are distinct from the motives it advertises. One aspect of its involvement that goes unadvertised is the support for its clients. Among all the baloney about unity, overcoming ethnic divisions, multi-ethnicism and so on one may even forget to recall that Washington has clients in the Bosnian Muslims. Naturally the point of a relationship like this for the sponsor is not to benefit the client, but to benefit itself. So what is it that the Empire receives from its full and unqualified support for the undivided and fully centralised Bosnia and Herzegovina?

First it guarantees the dysfunctionality it claims to combat, creating for itself the excuse to remain involved forever. By ensuring the continued bickering between the nationalities it makes it easier for itself to exercise control, and by bringing about a more centralised form of governance it makes its control more valuable. While no one will ever mistake the Empire for a geyser of wisdom, it can not be said its cogs do not turn with a certain low, instinct-driven cunning.

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