Bosnians Alarmed by U.S. Threat: Bosnia pleaded Monday with the United States to back off on threats to dismantle a U.N. police mission in this troubled Balkan country, arguing it could erode recent gains toward lasting peace. [...] "If Americans pull out there will be troubles all around," said Halil Deronja, 23, a student in Sarajevo. "I'm afraid of what will happen in the future in Bosnia, especially because in the past other countries said that if one pulls out- all of them will do the same." Aziza Hadzic, 65, a retiree of Sarajevo, put it even more bluntly: "If Americans leave, there may be a new war here."
On the one hand, I sincerely doubt that Europe would pull out of the police-training mission, if only because it would represent a prime opportunity to spit in our eye. (So they might think, anyway; I suspect our general reaction would be to shrug and say, "Yeah? So? It's what we wanted in the first place.") Second, at this point in time, Europe should have an extremely well-founded fear of leaving the Bosnians to their own devices, seeing as they have a nasty tendency to use them to torture one another.
That said ... the question is, how long are we supposed to be there? The world resents us for acting as the world's policeman, but then won't let us stop doing it, because they so often feel that the alternatives are worse. If Europe has a justified fear of Bosnian tendencies to mayhem, Bosnia has a justified fear of Europe's tendency to throw sanctions at bullets and paper them over corpses. The Bosnians can't be trusted to police themselves (or, more sadly, don't trust themselves to do it), they don't trust Europe to do it, and they won't allow Asia or Africa to do it. (And a nice little spot of Euro racism that was, too ... although part of it was based in the fear that they would send in Muslims, who they feared would just stand by and watch the Christians get brutalized. Oddly, the world seems to regard the Americans as either nonreligious or irreligious, despite the poisonous fundamentalist tinge our policies have taken the past 20 years. Nobody seemed to fear that the Christian Americans would stand by and watch the Muslim Bosnians get mauled. Wonder why that is? But I digress.)
At some point in all these various peacekeeping operations, the country at issue has to grow up enough to handle its own peace, or there was never any point. We didn't sign on for a permanent occupation of Bosnia, and I don't think the UN quite wanted to sign on for a formal partition of the country, but all that seems to have happened.
(We didn't sign on for a permanent occupation of Afghanistan, either, but that's what's going to happen there, as well. And I suspect we'll continue to kill innocent people as long as we can't tell a wedding party from an al-Qaeda convoy, but that's neither here nor there at the moment.)
At some point, any peacekeeping force -- whether US-backed or not -- needs to be able to step back and say, "All right, you're on your own now. Try to behave yourselves." Else, what's the point?Posted by iain at July 01, 2002 04:25 PM