unlike some countries created through international conferences,
at least had some history of being an entity the kingdom
or principality of Bosnia-Herzegovina during the days of the Austro-Hungarian
empire with boundaries similar to its current boundaries.
Zagreb was a cultivated, refined city when Washington, DC was swampland.
It was incorporated into Yugoslavia, the artificial, inherently
unstable country created by diplomatic fiat after World War I and
virtually guaranteed to be broken apart later.
the death of communism and the beginning of the breakup of Yugoslavia,
Bosnia devolved into civil war among Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Muslims
and Bosnian Croats, ended by NATO bombing and the threat of more.
The Dayton Accords forced on the country by the bombers created
something resembling a de facto partition along ethnic lines, and
since the three ethnicities are approximately equal in numbers,
that might be the arrangement that offers the closest thing to a
realistic hope of stability three ethnic enclaves with a
weak central government that mostly leaves them alone.
for members of the international nation-building brigade, leaving
people alone and weak central governments don't compute. They saw
Bosnia as an opportunity to create, through judicious use of state
power and appropriate civil-rights laws, a model multiethnic state
simply dripping with tolerance and mutual respect.
way to do that, in modern statist theology, is not to let people
to work out living arrangements (as people in Bosnia had done for
decades until politicians stirred up simmering ethnic resentments
while maneuvering for advantage in the wake of Yugoslavia breaking
apart) but to extirpate reactionary attitudes, re-educate people
into the joys of multiethnic harmony and force people to face their
prejudices and get rid of them. That way the new society would be
the product of the nation-builders and their abstract theories rather
than something that grew from the bottom up. International bureaucrats
and diplomats are nothing if not top-downers.
the builders faced, however, was a situation in which most of the
active expression of political and/or social attitudes and opinions
tended to be along ethnic or what might be viewed as nationalist
lines. There was diversity among the media, but it was the wrong
kind of diversity all kinds of people expressing views and
attitudes the international bureaucrats just knew were reactionary,
backward and not constructive at all. Worst of all, many of those
media expressed doubts can you believe it? about the
supreme wisdom and desirability of the agreement cobbled together
at Dayton and the guardians of righteousness sent out by the international
community to enforce them.
the process of taming the media and introducing the kind of diversity
the nation-builders wanted (as opposed to what the people who would
have to live in the nation might prefer) began. This wasn't sold
as censorship, of course, but as increasing pluralism.
conduct of international officials, however," Ted Carpenter explains,
"suggests that media pluralism is a synonym for media enthusiasm
for the Dayton Accords and the objective of a united, multiethnic
Bosnian state." So the international bureaucrats created a Media
Experts Commission to develop politically-correct standards for
Bosnia's media end then enforce them. Independent journalists
were chastised for using the "rhetorical jargon of war" when they
referred to the "Bosnian Serb entity" rather than the Bosnian nation
as a whole.
outlets that resisted these enlightened standards were first pressured
into compliance and in some cases physically shut down, with military
force. Media that would parrot the internationalist line were created
and/or subsidized. The media monitors either didn't notice or didn't
care that such media were mostly despised by the population (of
all ethnicities) as mouthpieces for the occupying powers.
subversion of media freedom in the name of media diversity
a cruel caricature of Western ideals was mirrored in the
international bureaucrats approach to political expression and electoral
processes. Dr. Carpenter details how the international bureaucrats
disqualified candidates of whom they disapproved, subsidized candidates
they wanted to win, changed the rules to make it more difficult
for parties of which they disapproved to qualify for electoral participation.
harassing and disqualifying candidates they dislike is not the only
method international authorities have used to attempt to manipulate
election results," writes Dr. Carpenter. Indeed, skewing the voter
registration lists has been an even more pervasive tactic." Allowing
people to vote either from their current residence or from their
prewar residences "amounted to the creation of 'rotten boroughs,'
since most of the refugees had little prospect of ever returning
to their prewar homes." The ploy "is seen by many in Bosnia as a
cynical ploy by the West to dilute the power of the nationalist
result of all this international meddling let's be kind and
assume it is to some extent well-intentioned is to create
a sham democracy with sham freedoms, all tightly controlled by an
authoritarian band of nation-building mercenaries. "What is occurring
in Bosnia today," writes Dr. Carpenter, "is not the evolution of
a democratic system but the ugly face of new-style colonialism.
The officials who implement this new, multilateral colonialism may
have better motives than their predecessors in the now dead European
colonial empires that once dominated Asia and Africa, but their
charges do not enjoy more meaningful political rights."
worse, the model evolving in Bosnia is being applied in Kosovo and
is likely to be the model used after future interventions create
future dependencies destabilized more than they were originally
by intervention and management.
should face the question: Do we want to show, by example, that when
the United States and the West talk about media freedom we really
mean media suppression and censorship? When we speak of the virtues
of democracy and civil society, do we want to make it clear that
what we mean is democracy that comes out the way autocratic authorities
imposed from the outside prefer?
not, we need to rethink our foreign policy down to the roots.
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