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Note: By posting this Dr. Kissinger's text we do not want to leave an impression that we are supporting in any shape or form Dr. Kissinger's role during Vietnam war. The only thing we are saying is that broad spectrum of people in the West are aware of the basic facts concerning Balkans. People involved in the decision process, like Dr. Kissinger, always know the facts.

Without permission, for fair use only: 

America in the Eye of a Hurricane 

By Henry Kissinger 

Los Angeles Times Syndicate 
Sunday, September 8 1996 
Excerpts from page C07 
The Washington Post
(Taken without permission - for fair use only) 

By the end of the year, we shall be facing a moment of truth in Bosnia: It no longer will be possible to gloss over the incompatibility between the military and political provisions of the Dayton Accords, which brought about the cease-fire. 

There are pressures to use NATO (and American) troops to enforce the political provisions, and there is a presidential commitment to withdraw our troops by Dec. 29. The looming crisis has four components: 

The political provisions of the Dayton Accords require free elections, a unified Bosnia-Herzegovina, free movement within Bosnia and the right of refugees to return to their homes. None of these goals is achievable without the massive use of force. 

At the same time, by establishing cease-fire lines patrolled by NATO, the military provisions of the agreement have the practical consequence of protecting ethnic enclaves and therefore are an obstacle to the proclaimed goal of unification. 

Normally, elections presuppose the existence of a country. In Bosnia, elections are projected to create a country from among three deeply hostile ethnic groups. Not surprisingly, each of those groups is manipulating the electoral process, not to encourage pluralism but to unify itself for a showdown with the hated neighbor. 

Amid this turmoil, the president's stated policy remains that U.S. troops will be withdrawn by Dec. 29. The other NATO nations have declared that they will follow suit. 

If these contradictions are not remedied before the scheduled American withdrawal, Bosnia is likely to blow up again. 

Twenty thousand American soldiers find themselves at the center of this looming crisis. At the moment, things seem calm because we are in the eye of the hurricane, but as the various deadlines approach, the success of the U.S. military deployment -- and the of our forces -- will depend on answers to these questions: What is to be the ultimate balance between our military and political objectives? The role of our forces in bringing about a political settlement? What, indeed, are we trying to accomplish? 

Bosnia policy has reached this impasse because of a tendency to pursue immediate goals without assessing their long-range consequences. 

In 1991 the Bush administration aborted a plan nearly agreed on between the Bosnian ethnic groups that would have created a loose confederation amounting to partition. The reason for quashing the plan was the fear that de facto partition of Bosnia might become a model for the breakup of the Soviet Union, endangering Gorbachev's reforms. 

In 1993 the new Clinton administration rejected a similar plan devised by former secretary of state Cyrus Vance and former British foreign secretary David Owen... this decision triggered a new ... round of ethnic cleansing -- ...by all the parties. 

In 1994 the Clinton administration, in order to get around the U.N. arms embargo it did not wish to challenge, encouraged the covert sending of arms from Iran to Bosnia. The result was that fundamentalist and terrorist Iran now has a foothold in Europe. 

In this manner our policy drifted toward supporting a unified Bosnian state -- a commitment all the more remarkable because, until it was created in 1992, Bosnia had never been an independent state. Though Bosnian nationalists claim that a flourishing state around Sarajevo existed in the 12th and 13th centuries, it surely did not have its present-day ethnic mix. And it is the ethnic -- or, rather, the religious -- conflict (since ethnically there are few differences) that has made the search for political unity so intractable and so bloody. 

For at least 500 years, Bosnia has been a province at the frontier among the Muslim, Catholic and Serbian Orthodox religions, and between the Austrian and Turkish empires. None of its three religious groups -- the Serb, Croat and Muslim -- has ever accepted domination by one of the others. Occasionally obliged to yield to superior outside forces -- Turkish, Austrian or Communist -- they have never submitted to each other. 

NATO's recognition in 1992 of an independent sovereign state of Bosnia called into being a civil war, not a country. The three ethnic groups whose rivalries had broken up Yugoslavia fought each other in the much smaller Bosnia with the savagery characteristic of Balkan wars, ... in effect, there are no innocent parties in Bosnia. 

Given that past, a multiethnic state runs counter to the principle of self-determination -- a defining cause of America's foreign policy since the days of Woodrow Wilson. It will be achieved only if imposed by massive force, not at the ballot box. 

The Dayton agreement continues the pattern of short-term fixes that produce vast long-term consequences. Its pursuit of a multiethnic Bosnia has driven us to bring about (or, more accurately, to impose) the so-called Bosnian Federation, which is a shotgun marriage of Croats and Muslims. Together with its Serbian counterpart, the Bosnian Federation is to constitute one of the two components of united Bosnia-Herzegovina. 

In reality, the Croat and Muslim parts of the so-called federation are to all practical purposes administered separately, fly their own flags and, despite reluctant bows to our pressure, maintain their own armies. In the city of Mostar, Croats and Muslims live on the opposite sides of a river bisecting the town; they enter each other's part of town only at physical risk. And comparable hatreds dominate relations between the Serbian part of Bosnia and the so-called federation. What is proved by trying to bring about a multiethnic state in these conditions? 

Not surprisingly, the projected Bosnian elections are turning into a travesty. Reports from each ethnic area are unanimous concerning massive pressures and intimidation by the respective governing authorities. Each group suppresses dissent and seeks to use the elections to solidify its ethnic base for the ultimate showdown with the hated rivals. In the meantime, the Clinton administration is impaled upon the horns of a self-inflicted dilemma: It supports the Bosnian election as a means of withdrawing our troops, while that withdrawal is being prevented by the electoral process itself, because troops will be needed to police both the election and its outcome. 

Why should NATO or American forces be asked to risk their lives on behalf of such objectives? Two arguments have been advanced on behalf of insisting on a multiethnic state: that Bosnia is the functional equivalent of Czechoslovakia, and therefore failure to restore its original status amounts to another Munich. The second proposition is the reverse of the first: that a multiethnic state in Bosnia is necessary not so much to punish aggression as to prevent it. If Bosnia is permitted to disintegrate, it is alleged that other successor states of Yugoslavia -- especially Macedonia -- will follow, tempting neighboring Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria to intervene in another series of Balkan wars. 

With respect to the analogy with Czechoslovakia, no unified state or multiethnic government has ever existed in Bosnia. The military challenge is not the product of the Serbs' aspiration to world domination but of the refusal of one ethnic group to submit to another. ... 

With extensive ethnic cleansing, only the most insignificant remnants of other groups are left in each area. To force these now ethnically homogeneous regions into a common entity guarantees another round of ethnic cleansing in order to reverse the consequences of the last round. Without the presence of NATO and American troops for an indefinite period, this will be unachievable. And based on historical experience, it would surely involve continuing casualties. 

As for Macedonia, I doubt that what happens in Bosnia now will set a precedent for what Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey decide with respect to their traditional battleground. The Macedonian problem is much more of an international than an ethnic conflict; it can be constrained best by the parties' own assessment of the balance of power among them and by the pressures NATO can bring on its member states, Greece and Turkey. American willingness to maintain international order will surely be undermined by a doctrine that all Balkan wars must be ended by U.S. military intervention. 

The Clinton administration correctly regards achieving the cease-fire in Bosnia as a major success; maintaining it by policing the cease-fire lines for a time is compatible with our interests and values. The present time limit is too short -- though American troops cannot be expected to patrol these ethnic dividing lines indefinitely. To go further is to mire ourselves in the bog of Balkan internal politics. This would produce an endless crisis that, like Somalia and Vietnam, would in the end erode our willingness to sustain international responsibilities. 

The present electoral travesty in Bosnia therefore should be abandoned. The only sensible electoral process and one most compatible with America's historic commitment to self-determination would be a plebiscite in each ethnic region on the simple choice between a multiethnic Bosnia and some form of partition. If a majority in each region favored a unified Bosnia, the current electoral process could be restarted. Pending the outcome of such a plebiscite, U.S. and NATO forces should be confined to their present mission of policing the cease-fire. 

Ironically, were a unified Bosnia ever to come about, it might well provide a platform for Serbs and Croats to partition the Muslim part between themselves (which is how, in fact, the crisis began). 

Realistically, a separate Muslim entity may be the best achievable outcome. It would be the solution most compatible with the principle of self-determination and most conducive to long-term stability. The other ethnic groups should have the same option or join their mother countries. 

Since the Muslim entity will be weaker than its neighbors and given the historic hatreds, it should be given some form of NATO guarantee -- provided the Muslim state can be stripped of its Iranian connection. Once ethnic dividing lines are given international status, the cease-fire will be much easier to enforce, and some of the incentives to resume military operations will diminish. 

The desire to avoid a foreign policy debate in the middle of an election campaign is understandable. But the penalty for continued evasion is stark. We must not drift into participation in a civil war in Bosnia in order to tranquilize domestic debate for a few weeks. 

The writer, a former secretary of state, is president of Kissinger Associates, an international consulting firm that has clients with business interests in many countries abroad. 

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