Joining the prime minister's commemoration of a date which will certainly be long remembered in national history, but trying at the same time to enrich the dramatic collective experience in a timely fashion with as objective an assessment as possible, one of the local institutes approached me with a request to write an article for the thematic anthology "The NATO Aggression and Neighboring Countries". I immediately reacted to the working title with which the editor provided me, which was "The politics and contribution of BH to the aggression against FRY" as being inadequate, but the license to reformulate it also presented a problem. Bosnia-Hercegovina (BH) is, namely, de jure one of the neighboring countries of FRY and has been for approximately ten years or so, since the former central Yugoslav republic was internationally recognized as a sovereign country, that is, since Serbia and Montenegro decided to remain alone in a common country as the third Yugoslavia. And the foreign policy of BH even after Dayton remained above the entity competencies, that is, within the jurisdiction of the common ministry in Sarajevo. Despite this, it would be totally inappropriate to discuss a unitary state policy by Bosnia-Hercegovina with respect to the NATO aggression against FRY, because in fact there were possibly three, but certainly at least two absolutely diametrically opposed policies.
One, Serb or of the Republic of Srpska (RS), was unreserved solidarity with compatriots in "the motherland" [matica]. Regardless of the fact that differences existed even among the official entity political structures, they were no greater than the differences among parliamentary parties in Serbia regarding when, how and how much to yield to the much stronger aggressor. The RS president [Nikola Poplasen] was even falsely accused of preparing to mobilize the army and allegedly was dismissed as a preventative measure, while the more cautious prime minister [Milorad Dodik] publicly condemned the aggression and sent humanitarian aid in the direction of Raca [border crossing with Serbia] which again, for well-known reasons, was not accepted. This was, of course, considerably below the level of the patriotic mood of the people, which was not articulated by the engagement of volunteer divisions only because the aggression from the air never matured into an infantry operation, despite the fact that up in the air was a constant, real possibility that NATO planes on their way to FR Yugoslavia would begin to eject a part of their load above the Republic of Srpska...
Therefore, one could talk about "The politics and contribution of BH to the aggression against FRY" only from the perspective of its two percent larger Bosniak-Croatian segment or even from the perspective of its fifteen percent smaller, Muslim segment. Analyses of local commentators of Sarajevo, primarily official, papers, demonstrate that all reactions were derivations from the equation: "BH was a victim of FRY aggression; thereafter, FRY became a victim of NATO aggression; aggression against the aggressor represents the true measure of international justice". The construction "that the war in BH was not a civil war but an act of aggression on the part of Serbia" which had began to sound unconvincing even to Bosniaks was thus indirectly realized. And the revanchist national enthusiasm was rationalized by CNN's shocking reports of columns of Albanian refugees who were brothers by faith to boot.
Parallel to this more emotional and psychological reaction by the national base to the bombing of Serbia, the rational political support of the NATO aggression, which emanated from the Bosniak political superstructure, was based on Izetbegovic's well-known equation: "A democratic Croatia and a weak Serbia create opportunities for Bosnia". Not dwelling this time around on the analysis of the end results of this position on the part of the Bosniak leader, according to which it appears that neither a democratic Serbia, nor a differently composed Serbia, nor some smaller Serbia is desirable to the Bosniak leader, but only a weak Serbia, it is interesting to note how this fundamental position breaks down into concrete expectations on the part of Sarajevo as a result of the bombing of the neighboring country.
First of all, there was an assessment that the temporary withdrawal of the Serbian army and police from Kosovo would lead to a moral and political erosion in self-confidence among Serbs in RS, which the Bosniak leader would use pushing for the unitarization of BH. Second, there were unconcealed hopes that the dismemberment of the defeated FRY might lead to her confederalization. This confederalization of FR Yugoslavia would allow Ugljanin's Sandzak inhabited by Bosniaks to append to the motherland as early as tomorrow. Third, that across a Bosniak Sandzak and a Muslim Kosovo and western Macedonia "a green transversal" would reach all the way to Ankara, to the Near East and the Far Orient, which would make him a significant political figure in a powerful conference of Islamic countries based in an exposed Western Islamic outpost.
Offering the good services of NATO, from the use of Sarajevo airport to the formation of multiethnic Bosnian forces for support of ground invasion against the neighbors, Izetbegovic played deaf before public warnings of certain opposition Bosniak politicians that a neutral position would be more productive for both the internal and external affairs of BH. That is, that his militant behavior might cause the inclusion of the Bosniaks in a war in FRY or even a spreading of the war to BH, and that the possible legalization of the separatist politics of the KLA might produce a symmetrical legalization of separation of RS from BH. Luckily (at least for now), the Bosniaks were not drawn into the NATO aggression against Serbia nor did the war spread to Bosnia, nor did Thaci get international support for the secession of Kosovo.
However, thanks to Izetbegovic's politics during the aggression a significant Albanian refugee corps has taken up permanent residence in the Federation, well-received on the basis of a common Islamic faith, while the resident Muslim-Bosniak corps was evicted by the Albanians from Kosovo on the basis of their different nationality. At the same time, Izetbegovic's support for the disintegration of FRY in support of the confederalization of relations between Serbia and Montenegro has territorially divided his compatriots in Sandzak, disintegrated them along party lines and politically marginalized them. What is worse, a dearth of wise restraint and a plethora of naive enthusiasm for the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia, from whose catastrophic humanitarian and political effects even its key players are distancing themselves today, have distanced Izetbegovic even more from the neighbors in the state next door and from true neighbors with the same national front yard. And that, especially according to the tradition of his people, has never been considered a wise move in the long run.