State-building and stability
Four books of great importance to friends of Bosnia appear in English this autumn, three advertised in this issue of Bosnia Report (pp. 25 and 60) and all associated with our Institute. Ivan Lovrenoviƒ’s marvellous Bosnia - a cultural history shows the fatuity and ignorance of any attempt to force the many-faceted but integral cultural heritage of Bosnia-Herzegovina, stretching back to pre-historic times, into the straitjacket of separate ‘national’ traditions of far more recent date. The War in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina 1991-1995, edited by Branka Magaš and Ivo ðaniƒ, represents a unique analysis of the war as a direct emanation of the policies pursued by Miloševiƒ and Tupman in their efforts to create enlarged and ethnically pure states at Bosnia’s expense. Norman Cigar’s latest work, Vojislav Koštunica and Serbia’s Future, demonstrates how the ‘Greater Serbia’ project remains a major threat to stability in south-eastern Europe and to the democratization of Serbia itself and its neighbours. Finally, a major work by Brendan Simms (trustee of The Bosnian Institute) - Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia, published by Allen Lane, The Penguin Press - explores in devastating detail an unprincipled, misguided policy and, above all, a shameful danse macabre of complicit politicians, officials, ad hoc academic and media ‘experts’, church leaders, and others.
Now that Britain is once again plunged into a debate over the virtues of military intervention abroad, we see how this focuses afresh overwhelmingly upon instruments rather than goals. As in the Bosnian case, few voices are well informed, or advance convincing, concrete proposals for a stable and democratic future regional order. These four books are concerned, implicitly or explicitly, with just such issues in relation to the former Yugoslav region; they thus provide potential lessons for other parts of the world in which Britain remains engaged. Removing obstacles to Bosnia’s integrity, hence to its social, economic and political regeneration, and lifting Kosova and Montenegro out of their constitutional limbo, would provide excellent proof that Western states can be trusted with support for democracy outside their own borders.