Sunday, October 09, 2005

Bosnia: a common police, but the struggle continues

Bosnia's Serbs have given in: Bosnia will get a common police. But the struggle continues. Next on the wishlist are a common central bank, a single president and much more.
The sad thing is that one of the basic principles of keeping peace is violated: keep your appointments. Just as it is not wise to change sensitive borders it is not wise to keep changing sensitive treaties. It creates distrust and its keeps people focussed on the conflict instead of on the things that they have in common. It is no coincidence that the ethnic seperation in Bosnia is only increasing - not decreasing. As the ICG reports: except for Tuzla in all cities one ethnic groups now constitutes over 90% of the population.

Colonial style
The European stability Initiative (ESI) wrote in 2003 a report "Travails Of The European Raj" in which it compared the role OHR in Sarajevo with the colonial administration in India. At that time the report got much approval, but nothing changed and now it is half forgotten. This is unfortunate because the similarities go even further as the report describes. One of the fates on colonial rule is that it ends up favouring one group above the other. It is unavoidable because without local support you cannot rule a colony (or Bosnia). A truely neutral position is impossible because it will sooner or later put off both sides. And so we see that the "peacekeepers" in Bosnia (and also in Kosovo) have ended up in a very partial position. It could have been largely avoided by giving them a very restricted mission, but this hasn't been done.

War crimes
This brings me to the warcrimes - the main excuse for the continuing intervention. Major warcrimes should be punished, but in this case the warcrimes have become a tool for one party to hammer the other. So instead of making peace acceptable it serves to keep the conflict alive. To avoid this I think we should apply the following rules:
- make a distinction between war criminals and passive accomplices. In a war situation people are under strong pressure to be "nationalist". People who went along in such situation (often they had no choice) and were passively involved in warcrimes shouldn't be classified as war criminals.
- an effort should be made for objective history writing. This should begin with the fraudulent referendum that gave Bosnia its independence (or even before that). By focussing on a few things like the Srebrenica massacre we are creating a fake history. This is not recognizable as the truth for many people. And by covering uip many things it gives other people a license to do them again.
If this seems a weird suggestion, please consider that it was how the South African truth commsision worked.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Opposition to US foreign policy "unites" EU

Maria Strömvik of the university of Lund (Sweden) has made a study of the European foreign policy. She investigated the effects of fights with the US, like recently about the Iraw war. On first sight this looked to have a very divisive effect as countries who supported the US fought with countries who opposed it. But - this policologist concludes - in the end it stimulated the EU countries to formulate a common security strategy.

This sound very nice but it reminds me of those politicians who spend half their lives in prison fighting some dictator. When they finally come to power they prove to be just as rude. The dictator was their only role model and now they are doomed to repeat his mistakes.

Similarly the European foreign policy is starting to look more and more like the American. Europe is so focussed on the US that it fails to see that it is giving up its own ideals and interests in the process.