Reflections on Bosnia's "peace"

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Nov 14 07:00:13 MST 1999

Bosnia, NATO and the So-Called Dayton 'Peace Accords'

by Greg Elich & Geoff Berne

Impact Weekly

The Miami Valley's News & Entertainment Source

November 11-17, 1999

As celebration of the fourth anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords nears,
evidence mounts that that agreement that made Dayton a household name
around the world was not really a peace agreement at all. Rather to those
of us who have opposed America's recent involvement in Kosovo the Dayton
settlement has been seen as just another chapter in a war to take control
of Yugoslavia away from its Serbian majority and hand it to interests in
Western countries.

The Dayton accords spurred belief that when the U.S. and our NATO allies
intervened in Yugoslavia in 1995 and brought its warring parties to Dayton,
our purpose had been to bring peace to the region. But if so, why had the
U.S. pressured Bosnian Muslim President Izetbegovic to renounce the peace
plan that he'd signed in 1992 and declare his portion of Bosnia
independent? After all, the agreement reached in Dayton in 1995 was almost
identical in content to that earlier plan, and to another agreed to in 1993
among the Bosnian contestants themselves before the U.S. pressured
Izetbegovic to withdraw from those negotiations as well. Without American
interference, these earlier "accords" could have prevented war between
Croatian, Muslim, and Serbian factions from breaking out in the first place.

So what was the reason for the delay, that cost many thousands of lives and
many hundreds of thousands left homeless? The difference between the first
two plans and "Dayton" is that the latter was imposed on Bosnia from
abroad, resulting in that province of Yugoslavia being turned into a
Western protectorate with NATO in the role of overlord and occupier. For at
least a hundred years main international powers including Germans,
Italians, Turks, Austrians, and now Americans have eyed the Balkans. The
great mineral resources of northern Kosovo, for example, NATO's newest
protectorate, have always been coveted as one of the Balkans' prizes, worth
seeking militarily if necessary. NATO's is just the latest flag of
occupation to fly over the region.

Indeed, while the former Yugoslavian provinces of Slovenia and Croatia were
encouraged and helped by NATO to declare themselves fully independent
states, ever since the Dayton plan established the idea of a
NATO-administered partitioning in Bosnia it became acceptable for NATO's
powerful member nations such as the U.S., Britain, and Germany to not have
to wait for a province to become an independent state but just send their
troops into a part of Yugoslavian territory, such as Kosovo, and occupy it.
NATO has occupied Bosnia for four long years since Dayton, and no end is in
sight. It's hard to define an occupation that's lasted for four years as
"peace." Nor could the conditions that Dayton created in Bosnia connote
with the word "accord."

The Dayton Accord divides Bosnia into two entities, the Serb Republic and
the Muslim-Croatian Federation. NATO troops have taken away all
independence from the Serb part of Bosnia and turned it into a virtual
prison camp. In 1997, NATO seized every television and radio station in the
Serb Republic, creating a monitoring board to censor all news in Bosnia. On
April 14 this year the board ordered closure of Television Kanal S because
it did not carry Western news programs and had supported Sarajevo
University students in their protest against NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia.
In each election Western officials have removed candidates they did not
like, thus denying voters their full right to vote.

Prime Minister Milorad Dodik, who comes to Dayton as a guest of the
November Peace Accords celebration, occupies his office not because the
accords brought the Bosnians democracy, but just the opposite. The response
of the West to the victory of a candidate it opposed in the 1998 Bosnian
presidential election, Nikola Poplasen, was to issue a demand that Poplasen
appoint Dodik Prime Minister, a post he had held prior to the 1998 election
that NATO found so unacceptable. When President Poplasen refused NATO's
demand that he break off relations with Yugoslavia, the UN High
Commissioner in Bosnia simply removed Poplasen from office.

In this way, Mr. Dodik has represented the government of the Serb Republic
for eight solid months with no legal basis at all and for no other reason
than that the NATO overlords of Bosnia have chosen him as their man. Not
content with removing the legally elected president of the Serb Republic,
NATO recently demanded the removal of Poplasen from a leadership position
in his own party because he had voiced criticism of NATO policy. Failure to
do so, Western officials warned, would result in the banning of the party
from elections next spring, which is exactly what has happened. The Serbian
Radical Party was recently banned from elections.

Why are the U.S. and its friends in NATO so determined to maintain
dominance over Bosnia? New laws have been enacted by the High Commissioner
in Bosnia that ensure free access of Western investment in the country. The
Western-imposed Foreign Investment Law of March, 1998 has the advantage,
according to U.S. embassy documents, of "promoting foreign investment and
protecting foreign investors' rights" - thus opening up opportunities for
these investors to "utilize low-cost labor (the lowest in Central and
Eastern Europe)" while gaining important new markets.

If Dayton truly wants to be known for the idea of peaceful settlement of
national and political differences it should start by taking a cold, hard
look at the failure of those agreements bearing its name today to come
close to achieving this noble goal, and start raising some questions about
the whole idea of imposing "peace accords" on economically attractive
foreign countries through the barrel of a gun. Greg Elich returned in
August from a fact-finding trip to Yugoslavia and has been active in the
Committee for Peace in Yugoslavia in Columbus.

Geoff Berne has conducted peace activities under the name Butler County
Committee of One Against the NATO War.

Published in: Impact Weekly, "The Miami Valley's News & Entertainment
Source," Dayton, Ohio, Nov. 11-17, 1999

Louis Proyect
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