Polarization and Poison
The ethnic cleansing of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s space was preceded by a concerted political effort to destabilize the republic and preclude the possibility that SRBH could become an independent state. Bosnia’s independence was not seriously anticipated as a possibility until it became apparent that the federal structure of the second Yugoslavia would not survive. Bosnia, after all, had never been an independent state in the modern era. Yet, a little over two years after the collapse of the 14th Extraordinary Congress of the Yugoslav Communist parties, the republic reconstituted in 1943 held a referendum under legal guidance from the European Union’s Badinter Commission on the question of independence. Though boycotted by most Bosnian Serbs whose primary source of news was Milošević-controlled media, the majority of Bosnian voters chose independence over remaining in a Serb-dominated federal Yugoslavia. The declaration of independence that followed triggered the outbreak of war as the JNA in coordination with paramilitary forces, organized by the Serbian Ministry of the Interior and Serb nationalist parties, began implementing plans to seize Bosnian administrative structures and ethnically cleanse territories through violence and terror. The seized territories were to constitute the basis for an exclusively Serb statelet in Bosnia that would remain within a Serbian-dominated Yugoslavia.
This chapter investigates how Bosnia became a politically divided polity in the years preceding the war and how certain vectors of conflict worked together to make the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian towns and villages not only