Balkan Strategic Studies
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February 26, 2004
Deception? Or Self-Deception Over Bosnia and the Balkan Terrorism Threat?
Analysis and Opinion. By Gregory R. Copley, Editor, GIS. The adage about Nero fiddling while Rome burned is becoming an apt metaphor for the persistent manner in which a range of officials from a number of countries have persisted in denying the existence or a radical terrorist and insurgency threat in Bosnia, southern Serbia, Albania and Macedonia while that threat grows in capability, hardens in intent and moves into action. Of particular concern is the linkage of this threat to the Summer 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. But there is also, tied to this refusal to view the current threat, a refusal to admit that past policies may have been flawed.
These denials and refusals come in the form of lies — major lies — by officials, including officials up to ambassador rank in the US State Department, and by such people as the High Representative for Bosnia & Herzegovina. These officials use threats and blackmail, and abusing authority granted to them by their governments and the international community in order to remove or intimidate those who disagree with them.
Significantly, all of this is going on “below the radar”. It has yet to reach the level of a public outcry in the US or European media; it has not forced its way to the top of the agendas of the President of the United States, or the European Union leadership. What does it entail?
Firstly, a significant number of officials of the US Department of State remain in posts in the Balkans, assigned to them by the former Clinton Administration. These officials prosecuted the Clinton policy in the Balkans: the policy which used an array of false claims to instigate a war which violated both US law and international law in many respects. As a result, it behooves these officials to ensure that nothing is done which questions the legitimacy of the myths and lies which were used during that period. Indeed, it is vital to these officials that nothing be done which could disturb their careers or their professional legacies.
It is now at the point where the “old hands” even believe many of the lies they have perpetuated about the wars in Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia. They cite some of the media reporting at the time, forgetting that these reports relied on the lies — some of them damned lies — which they and their colleagues issued at the time. They have created a mythology based on shibboleths, and they now not only recite it, but believe it.
In intelligence, this is called “drinking your own bathwater”.
In this deception or self-deception, they see it as vital that they continue to punish many innocent people who know the truth of what happened, and to uphold many of those who are now known, absolutely and without question, to have been all the time engaged with terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and the Iranian Government, and with narco-trafficking.
To now question the terrorist supporters and narco-traffickers with whom they have shown more than a decade of allegiance — and to admit that they do indeed now present a threat to Bosnian stability, European stability and to the safety of the Olympic Games — would be to open up a Pandora’s Box in which the radicals and narco-traffickers could and would expose their links with these officials. So these officials dishonor their government and stand by and watch threats mount, all the time seeing the innocents of the war continue to be punished, rather than admit fault.
Secondly, in the case of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Bosnia & Herzegovina, there is grave bias to the point of criminal distortion of reality, for the same reason. To admit that the US and some EU members were wrong in supporting the radical Islamists under the late Bosnian leader Alija Izetbegovic and his SDA party, would be exposing the whole basis for the imposed Dayton Accords of 1995 to question.
As a result, although the Bosnian Serbs — now deprived of much of the lands they owned and farmed for centuries and herded into an enclave state known as Republic Srpska — have thoroughly abided by the Dayton Accords, and have created a prosperous, harmonious and tolerant society, the OHR and a rump element of the US State Dept. is determined to destroy it. They would rather see a radicalized Islamist terrorist state — not a moderate and tolerant, democratic Muslim state, which the Dayton Accords envisaged — swallow up the Bosnian Serbs’ remaining land, and have the embarrassing sight of the Serbs removed. Embarrassing because the continued existence (and particularly the success) of the Bosnian Serbs only serves to remind these officials that they had deliberately aided the terrorists and the “ethnic cleansers”.
As a result, there is a deliberate policy among these officials to lie, and lie profoundly and without hesitation, about the history of the war. In particular, they lie about the so-called “Srebrenica massacre”, and refuse to even discuss internationally-undertaken forensic evidence, preferring to steamroller arguments by citing disproved claims and ensuring that at no stage will evidence of a concrete nature be allowed to surface. The OHR and the US Embassy in Sarajevo have attempted to bully and suppress, as well, the officials and reporting of the Republica Srpska’s liaison bureau with the International Criminal Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
Officials of the OHR — including the Deputy HR, US Ambassador Donald Hays — and US State Dept. officials in Bosnia and Serbia-Montenegro have made it clear, repeatedly, to people on the ground in their host countries that they expect the US Bush Administration to be removed at the next US Presidential elections in November 2004. At that point, they have indicated, former Clinton Administration officials, such as former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke (responsible for much of the prosecution of the Clinton war in Bosnia and against Serbia) would return to positions of power. Hays even introduced Holbrooke in late 2003 in Bosnia as “the next US Secretary of State”.
So it is clear that these officials do not speak for the US Bush Administration, even though they draw on its weight to bully and intimidate. They work against the US; they work against the success of the Dayton Accords. They actively work to illegally overturn those Accords and to see Republica Srpska removed from the map. And by continuing to protect the terrorist supporters in Bosnia, they actively assist in the narco-trafficking which is part of the terrorism phenomenon, and they will share great responsibility should all of this result in a major terrorist action against the Athens Olympics.
It is significant that, despite the arrogant statements of Bosnia High Representative Paddy Ashdown to the effect that there is no al-Qaida or terrorist presence in Bosnia, the Greek Government — obviously reluctant to admit a threat to the Olympics for fear of deterring would-be visitors to the Games — has begun to take urgent steps to acknowledge and deal with the terrorist threat emanating from Bosnia and Kosovo, and the related territories controlled by the Islamists and narco-traffickers in Albania, southern Serbia (outside the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija) and Macedonia.
Why, then, does the US Government and the EU continue to tolerate adamant positions by people such as Ashdown and Hays, denying the threat and covering up the links of the past between the terrorists and narco-traffickers and the Clinton Administration, and attempting to destroy the Dayton Accords in the process?
Admittedly, the State Department’s “no threat” scenario has enabled the US Defense Department to withdraw peacekeeping forces from Kosovo and Bosnia, to meet urgent needs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps that is one reason the policy of deceit by anti-Bush State Dept. officials has been tolerated by the Pentagon and White House.
But it is a house of cards, a game approaching its dénouement.