Bosnian Muslim Views of National Security
Francine Friedman and Robin Alison Remington
On September 12, 1995, NATO completed 3,200 bombing sorties in Bosnia and Herzegovina -- a territory less than one third the size of Missouri with a population less than greater Boston. These air strikes were undertaken to force Bosnian Serb commander, General Ratko Mladic, to obey NATO defined rules of engagement in the war of secession 1 that had savaged this once peaceful multinational republic of the former Yugoslavia for three and one-half years. Sarajevo rejoiced. The Muslim population of this besieged city took comfort in the roar of NATO bombers overhead, perceiving those bombers as defenders of their security. So did the Muslim led Bosnian government.
NATO officials insisted that the bombing was not a matter of taking sides in the war. However, the Bosnian Muslims may have perceived the airstrikes as form of assurance that their security would be guaranteed -- the price that NATO and the United States had to pay for Bosnian government acceptance of the September 8, American sponsored two-in-one Bosnia peace plan that recognized an autonomous Republika Srpska side by side with the 1994 Croat-Muslim federation. 2 That agreement gives both halves of the ethnically divided Bosnia and Herzegovina the right to establish "parallel special relationships" with neighboring Croatia and Serbia. 3 For the commander of the Bosnian forces, Rasim Delic, NATO bombing was considered an element of power that had dramatically improved his military position vis a vis the Bosnian Serbs on any future battlefield. In this sense, NATO became de facto airpower at the disposal of Bosnian Muslim military objectives.
This chapter investigates the evolving Bosnian Muslim perception of self