A Viceroy Departs

The Tyrant of Bosnia Goes Home

After over three years of holding near-absolute power, the tenure of Jeremy "Paddy" Ashdown as the Imperial viceroy of Bosnia-Herzegovina is coming to an end. He told the press he intended to be home for Christmas. Unfortunately, the Empire is staying; Ashdown’s successor will be appointed within days.

Paeans to the "Iron Fist"

In preparation for his departure, Ashdown gave two interviews. One was to Nicholas Wood, and ran in the International Herald Tribune on Friday under the headline, "Absolute authority in Bosnia coming to end?" It was reprinted in the New York Times the following day, and titled more bluntly: "Can an Iron Fist Put Power in Bosnia’s Hands?"

Wood’s article offers a glimpse into the psyche of baronet Norton-sub-Hamdon, who compares the administration of peace in Bosnia to the occupation of Germany and Japan after 1945. He openly admits the desire to "forge a more centralized state out of what remains a fragmented country," and his disdain for the Dayton Peace Agreement that – at least in principle – warded against precisely such an endeavor.

Ashdown’s proscriptions against Bosnian Serb politicians Wood presents as the cause for their subsequent cooperation with the Hague Inquisition, a textbook case of post hoc fallacy. Then again, the whole notion of an absolute ruler promoting "democracy" ought to be absurd on its face. While Ashdown himself says that while "it would appear at first sight to be outrageous, undemocratic, and inconsistent with the modern democratic age," he dismisses this argument with two words: "Not really." And Wood leaves it at that.

Invoking Hitler

A far more informative interview, however, appeared on Nov. 1 in The Guardian, courtesy of old Balkans propagandist Ed Vulliamy. Co-author of the "Bosnia concentration camps" story and an outspoken "advocacy journalist," Vulliamy basks in the reflected glory of Ashdown, who was one of the first politicians taken in by his propaganda coup.

For the viceroy, too, intervention in Bosnia was a "moral imperative" of the New World Order. To Vulliamy’s plaintive observation that "purges are not complete," he replies that sometimes one has to be practical; however, he proudly explains how "we" (presumably the so-called international community) successfully "invented a new human right" of refugee return and successfully established the "expectation of retributive justice." And Ashdown is more than happy to repeat a proven lie that "250,000 people were killed" in the Bosnian war, which Vulliamy describes as "organized mass rape, the burning of millions from their homes, and the enforced deportations that came to be called ‘ethnic cleansing.’"

In line with the deliberate invocation of World War Two that both Ashdown and his fellow activist Vulliamy are so fond of, the viceroy at one point declared:

"This country is about history, and unless the Serbs in particular – although terrible things were done by the Bosniaks and Croats too – come to some understanding of this history, we cannot build a stable state. The major burden of guilt is on them, and they have to acknowledge it, just as the Germans acknowledged it."

Creation of "a stable state" in Bosnia depends on the Serbs accepting their assigned role as Nazis. That the "Bosniaks" and Croats were the actual Nazis, back in WWII, is the kind of history that does not interest Ashdown, Vulliamy, or the "international community" in the least.

The Official Truth and "history" as it pertains to the Balkans has nothing to do with the actual WWII, and everything to do with an attempt by the present generation to re-create its analogy in the Balkans and give themselves a glorious moment on par with that of their parents’. In this "history," WWII was fought because of the Holocaust; hence the collapse of Yugoslavia was driven by Serbian genocidal plans. Just as in 1940, brave Brits fought the Nazi evil alone, till Americans belatedly agreed to intervene. Serbs were the irredeemably evil enemy, and any attempt to reason with them was declared "appeasement." That the Hague Inquisition is often compared (by its sympathizers, anyway) to the Nuremberg Tribunal is not an accident, either.

A Personal Cause

This fallacious analogy served as the foundation for intervention in Bosnia, but it was only when Ashdown became the viceroy in the spring of 2003 that it became the foundation for Bosnia’s "peace process" as well. True, his predecessors had imposed some laws and arbitrarily sacked some officials, but their actions always seemed guided by real political interests of the moment. Carlos Westendorp’s crackdown on the Bosnian Serbs, for example, took place in the run-up to the bombing of Serbia in 1999, when many worried – entirely without reason, it turned out – that the Serbs of Bosnia would react violently to their occupiers attacking their trans-Drina kin. Ashdown brought a kind of personal passion into the occupation of Bosnia, and has not been afraid to affirm it openly.

Such was the case with his eulogy for Alija Izetbegovic, the wartime leader of the Bosnian Muslims seen in the West as a moderate democrat and champion of tolerance, but celebrated in the Muslim world for his Islamic revolutionary work. At Izetbegovic’s funeral in October 2003, Ashdown said:

"He became the father of his people – the person who did more than any other to ensure the survival of the modern state of Bosnia and Herzegovina."

Yes, so democratic, tolerant, and moderate was Ashdown’s friend Izetbegovic that he was buried at the "martyrs’ cemetery," since Bosnian Muslim soldiers who died in the war were declared martyrs in the holy jihad. Ashdown made it plain that he supported Izetbegovic’s vision of Bosnia – but was it the vision conjured by his Western apologists, of a supposedly "citizen state" where ethnic and religious background were meaningless, or a Muslim state, incapable of coexisting with other forms of government, as Izetbegovic wrote in his 1970 pamphlet and 1990 book?

So used were they to Ashdown’s support, Izetbegovic’s heirs found it shocking when last month the viceroy quashed their plan to rename the Sarajevo international airport after the departed First Bosniak. Leaders of Izetbegovic’s SDA party howled in protest and denounced Ashdown, forgetting instantly his support for their agenda, or that his decision didn’t say "no," so much as "not yet." Ashdown thus found himself sharing the fate of every foreign official who came to Bosnia sympathetic to the Muslim cause, only to end up an object of invective as soon as he deviated even slightly from the SDA dogma of Muslim innocence and victimhood.

Paddy’s Legacy

The attempts to impose a centralized government upon the feuding ethnic groups of Bosnia, which Ashdown escalated exponentially during his term, may seem successful on the surface. Even the "instinctively separatist" Serbs (to borrow a rare phrase from Vulliamy that is merely mildly derisive) have apparently agreed to accept "reform"; that was, however, before Washington announced its plan to establish a strong central government with only one president, abolishing the Dayton Constitution in letter as well as in spirit.

However, animosities among the communities have not diminished in the least; Muslim insistence on righteous victimhood – and the "retributive justice" they demand for it – along with centralization that strips Serbs and Croats of safeguards against Muslim political domination, have rubbed over half of Bosnia’s population the wrong way. Under the placid surface of Ashdownland, ancient hatreds are broiling and social engineering isn’t taking hold.

Another danger lurks in the shadows of denial. Throughout his term, Ashdown has rejected all reports of Islamic terrorist activity in Bosnia as malicious propaganda against the Muslims. Yet the evidence of a terrorist presence has been substantial. Just last week, two men were arrested on suspicion of planning suicide attacks on Western embassies, with searches turning up solid evidence against them. Soon afterward, Danish authorities arrested six people connected to the Bosnian suspects.

It is important to understand that, even though motivated at least in part by personal sentiment, "Paddy" Ashdown has not acted in Bosnia solely on his whims. Throughout his term, he has enjoyed the tacit support of the "Peace Implementation Council" – a group of old European empires, led by the USA, with Russia added as an afterthought. After last year’s Christmas purge, the U.S. ambassador in Bosnia publicly endorsed Ashdown’s actions. Whoever is appointed as Bosnia’s next – and rumors say, last – viceroy will not matter as much as the agenda for Bosnia that is firmly set in Empire’s mind.

It has been said on several occasions that without the "Office of the High Representative" Bosnia would have ceased to exist. Well, perhaps it should. There is not one single valid reason its people should continue to be lab rats in a social engineering experiment designed to garner credit with the Muslim world and assuage the pretense of Western conscience seduced by the politics of guilt.

"You have to know when your time us up," Ashdown told his fellow activist Vulliamy. Too bad the Empire doesn’t.

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for Antiwar.com debuted in November 2000.