Bosnia Remade: Ethnic Cleansing and Its Reversal

By Gerard Toal; Carl T. Dahlman | Go to book overview

5
Persistent Ambivalence

On the evening of the 22 May 1992, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker spoke to reporters assembled outside Number 10 Downing Street after a meeting with British prime minister John Major and Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd.1 The war in Bosnia was over a month old, and stories of its violence, brutality, and horror filled the newspapers of the world. That very day the New York Times carried its first extensive report on the “ethnic purification” of Zvornik by Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent John Burns.2 For weeks, international diplomats struggled to respond to the violence and make sense of the war. Since the outbreak of fighting in Yugoslavia the United States had publicly deferred to the European Community on how best to restore peace to the region. While these efforts appeared to have yielded results in Croatia, the Bosnian violence was another matter. Baker’s statement reflected growing frustration within the Bush administration at the failure of existing diplomatic efforts by the Europeans and the United Nations: “We hope and believe that there can be some coordinated action by others in the civilized world, and that others, like ourselves, will be unwilling to sit back and watch what is really a humanitarian nightmare.”3

The description of the systematic destruction of Bosnia’s multiethnic common life by the JNA and Serb militias as a “humanitarian nightmare” was not accidental. Its centrali ty to how Baker approached Bosnia-Herzegovina became evident in his memoirs where it serves as the title of the only chapter on the Bosnian war. In it, he notes that the description was a deliberate speech act on his part, a “turning up of the rhetoric” by “[s]tating publicly for the first

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Bosnia Remade: Ethnic Cleansing and Its Reversal
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents xv
  • Figures xvii
  • Tables xix
  • Abbreviations xxi
  • Introduction - Ethnic Cleansing and Return as Geopolitics 3
  • 1 - Yugoslavia’s Violent Dissolution 20
  • 2 - A Distinctive Geopolitical Space 46
  • 3 - Polarization and Poison 83
  • 4 - Ethnic Cleansing 112
  • 5 - Persistent Ambivalence 142
  • 6 - Early Battles over Returns 167
  • 7 - Building Capacity 194
  • 8 - Rule of Law 228
  • 9 - Localized Geopolitical Struggles 256
  • 10 - Did Ethnic Cleansing Succeed? 293
  • List of Interviews 321
  • Appendix 327
  • Notes 337
  • References 411
  • Author Index 441
  • Subject Index 446
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