October 10, 2002
to The Past
the Bosnian Vote
of the Bosnian general elections should be official by now,
though it was already obvious on Tuesday that ethnic
parties triumphed convincingly. Though agency reports
over the past several days have made
a great deal of that outcome, as usual they refused to
let facts get in the way of a good story. Much was made of
rather unimportant details, while the truly significant developments
were either ignored or misrepresented. Well, what else is
the past two years, ethnic parties were kept down by the Imperial
Viceroy, not the ballot box. Leaders of the ethnic Croat HDZ
were banned from holding public office, and a bank close to
the party was raided
and forced to shut down. The Serb SDS had won the last
election, but chose to take a back seat in a coalition government
with a leftist Democratic Prosperity Party, after threats
from Washington that the party would be banned outright. Only
the Muslim SDA, led from behind the scenes by Alija Izetbegovic,
was in outright opposition, but even that was somewhat deceptive.
The Social-democrats (SDP) could only rule with the support
of SDAís splinter wing, Haris
Silajdzicís Party for Bosnia, whose program differences
with the SDA are nearly nonexistent. The SDP thus found itself
at the mercy of Izetbegovicís dark horse, with Silajdzic blocking
all meaningful reform while blaming the SDP for failing its
while the HDZ rebounded and the SDS increased its influence,
the SDA jumped back on the top of the Muslim political heap,
while the Social-democrats were soundly defeated. Another
loser, after a fashion, was Silajdzic. Though he will remain
allied with the government, he was unable to parlay his insider
advantage into a senior partner position. Once
again, as before, he will be Izetbegovicís lackey.
most agency reports have focused on the HDZ and SDS
victories, neglecting this restoration of ancien regime
among the Bosnian Muslims. One explanation for this can be
found in last
weekís AP report, which referred to the SDA as "centrist"
and Silajdzicís party as "moderate," even as it
acknowledged both were dominated by Muslims. Since there are
no Muslim nationalists, by definition, they canít have achieved
a surprising comeback.
at the Altars
second October surprise was the unprecedented low
turnout at the polls, somewhere around 55 percent. On
some visceral level, most Bosnians refused to worship
at the altar of democracy because they understood the
predatory nature of their rulers. Between incompetent or evil
politicians, and the Imperial viceroy who made the real choices,
they knew their vote would
not have made a difference. Unfortunately, they most likely
abstained out of despair and resignation than out of real
protest. As it happens so often, the winners will interpret
their silence as approval, not acrimony, and the civic religion
the glum pronouncements of Imperial media, Viceroy Ashdown
was oddly upbeat about the election. He characterized the
vote as a "cry
for help" from Bosnians tired of corrupt politicians,
even as they elected and restored some of the most corrupt
kleptocrats ever. He then endorsed
the ludicrous notion that the SDA was not really nationalist,
saying it "had done the most to move to a center moderate
wait and see. I would judge these people on what they do in
the future. Justice and jobs will be the acid test for the
future government," quoted the AP. There is a saying
in Bosnia that the wolf may change his fur, but never his
nature. Ignoring folk wisdom can be perilous. But perhaps
Ashdown isnít really ignoring it at all?
plea to his subjects a month ago, to "give us a mandate
for reform," was assumed to be support for "reformers,"
but that really depended on Ashdown's definition of the term.
How about the "centrist" SDA, or the "moderate"
Party for Bosnia? If he and his masters actually desired a
nationalist victory, that would explain the odd pronoun usage
("us" and "we") in the September statement.
With the nationalists in office, Bosnians will now see Ashdown
and the Empire as their saviors, as opposed to a necessary
things now begin to make more sense. There is a direct correlation
between ethnic quotas in public service and the power of ethnic
politics. Thanks to the quotas, the ethnic parties won the
election of 1990. Their power slipped when quotas were relaxed
a few years after the war. This spring, the quotas
were imposed again, as part of a constitutional reform
aiming to protect the "rights" of all Bosnians.
It was one of the last acts by the departing Viceroy Petritsch,
seen as an important reform. As the elections have shown,
it was important indeed.
there is the uncomfortable truth that ethnic parties are much
easier to control. They can be subjected to blackmail and
pressure over their wartime conduct, the literal skeletons
from their closets dragged out whenever the Empire finds it
convenient. SDP had few such skeletons, and its leader, Zlatko
Lagumdzija, had the temerity to treat Bosniaís occupiers as
equals, not masters.
political landscape now looks eerily similar to that of 1990,
when ethnic parties dominated the republic and ran their power
struggles straight into the inferno of civil war. The partiesí
presentation has changed since, but their goals have not.
The SDS and HDZ still believe in identity politics as the
way to power. The SDA and its splinter-puppet continue to
publicly advocate a "citizen state" (counting on
Muslim numerical superiority), while privately encouraging
militant expressions of Muslim identity.
Bosnia has now come back to 1990. The result of quotas and
ethnic politics then were: war, destruction, massive loss
of life and property, and a comprehensive loss of liberty.
What their results will be now is anybodyís guess. And while
it may seem they canít be any worse, thatís just more wishful
a larger perspective, it should be obvious by now that the
Empire does not mean well to the people of Bosnia, and it
never did. To Empireís leaders, the "Balkans savages"
change, a tool for promoting global power and influence,
nothing more. They promise prosperity through platitudes about
European integration, but the EU super-state is
already there. They promise American values, but the only
ones that seem to be taking root are the "values"
currently destroying the American Republic: identity politics,
kleptocracy, and violence.
subconsciously, many Bosnians seem to have learned the lessons
of recent history, as evidenced by the mass abstention from
voting. But the large number of émigrés to the
West seems to indicate they have not grasped the depravity
of Empire just yet. Until they learn that lesson as well,
history will have a tendency to repeat itself.
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