Opinion: Misguided Words in the Balkans from the New York Times

HRH Crown Prince Alexander (hrhcpalex@btinternet.com)
Fri, 26 Dec 1997 11:35:32 -0000

Opinion: Misguided Words in the Balkans


LYNCHBURG, Va. -- President Clinton's message to the Bosnian people this
week was simple: we brought you peace, and now it is up to you to do
something with it. Take your destiny in your own hands! A beautiful
message, indeed, but so American -- and, therefore, not of much use in

Wrong, Mr. Clinton. Peace is not now up to the Bosnian people -- or to
any other people in the region -- because it was never their choice to wage
war to begin with.

There are several rules that Mr. Clinton, and the leaders of every other
country in the United Nations, should keep in mind when dealing with the
Balkans. First, the key to peace is to be found not in Bosnia, but in
Serbia and Croatia. Second, the nature of power in these states is that of
the "demokratura" -- an authoritarian leadership legitimized by democratic
elections. This is the rule in the Yugoslavia of Slobodan Milosevic and the
Croatia of Franjo Tudjman -- and is nearly true of President Alija
Izetbegovic's Bosnia. Third, the same leaders who started the war will
stick to it as long as they can. War is good for them. It helps them stay
in power and allows them to avoid confronting real issues like corruption,
the collapse of the economy and unemployment. Therefore, they don't have
any real interest in peace. They can promise peace, or even sign peace
agreements, but in reality they will work against everything they promised
or signed.

Finally, the fourth rule is: "The world has the memory of a fish," as the
Albanian proverb goes. Tomorrow, the United States will turn its attention
to some other country -- Iraq, perhaps, or China -- and the Balkan leaders
will continue to do exactly what they want.

I do not blame Mr. Clinton. How could he or his advisers know all this?
They come out of a strong democratic tradition where words like "it is up
to you now" mean something. In the Balkans, Communism is not yet dead, and
the idea that the people can take their destiny in their own hands means

The solution to the Bosnian problem is at the very top, the same place
where the problem originated.

Still, I like that the Americans are staying in Bosnia for the time
being. At least this means another year of peace, if nothing more. But I
know that is not the solution. So must Mr. Clinton.

Slavenka Drakulic, a visiting professor at Randolph-Macon Woman's
College, is the author of "Cafe Europa: Life After Communism."

Wednesday, December 24, 1997