Clinton's Bosnia Adventure Goes South

Since the Gulf War, no one would ever accuse the beltway gang of being astute strategic thinkers.  While the Democrats have not cornered the market in this regard, there’s no doubt the leftist DC establishment have become experts at developing policies that result in abject failures.  These misadventures go down the memory hole in the offices of the NYT and the WaPo, except if a Republican is President.  But not so with foreign news outlets.  France 24 has highlighted Bill Clinton’s arrogance and ignorance in one of history’s classic leftist military interventions.

In the early 90s, US media crews showed us every detail of the Bosnian battlefields, burning farmhouses, and battered marketplaces, in order to paint a picture of a complex ethnic war that was tearing the country apart.  CNN and its go-to-war promoter, Christiane Amanpour, were particularly effective at laying a guilt trip on the American public and politicians in urging intervention.

In reality, the ethnic and religious angle was emphasized because the Clinton administration just could not bring itself to declare that the war was largely a fight of national identity to gain freedom from tyrannical, socialist dictators by the name of Slobodan Milosevic and his Bosnian Serb ally, Radovan Karadzic.  It was not advisable to openly go against ideological soul mates of the communist persuasion.

The Dayton Accords were ironed out in 1995 to stop the war and promote the peace, but there there was a major flaw in the plan crafted by US Secretary of State Warren Christopher and chief negotiator Richard Holbrooke.  The agreement presupposed that the final battle lines and unit boundaries were indicative of the pre-war ethnic population distribution in the country.  Of course, US and NATO soldiers now had to figure out how to step in amongst three sets of belligerents composed of Bosnian Croat Roman Catholics, Bosnian Serb Orthodox Christians, and Bosniak Muslims.  One Herculean task was to assist the return of refugees to their traditional homes, which, in many cases were behind enemy lines.  It was forecast at the time that it would take until, well, about now, to safely return displaced people to their original lands.  So, how did this work out after 20 years?

According to France 24, it hasn’t worked at all.  In their push to get a deal – any deal – to stop the war (sound familiar?), Clinton and his advisers had failed to differentiate military occupation of land due to combat operations and the origin and movement of ethnic refugees.  In other words, the accords forced ethnic segregation where previously there had been ethnic integration.

France 24 notes that where ethnic groups had settled after the cease-fire, had resulted in de facto ethnic home territories.  These entailed arbitrary boundaries stipulated by the accords and over a generation had promoted segregation rather than a return of refugees and ultimately a return to a pre-war status quo.  To expect a multi-national force composed of US and Western European forces, combined with Turks and US paid Russian units, to follow the script was the height of folly.

On another front, the Clinton administration agreed to an arms embargo, but then tacitly allowed weapons to be smuggled in from the Middle East to help the Bosniak Muslims.  Clinton then went along with regional isolation protocols to prevent outside help from reaching all the belligerents. Mysteriously, he turned a blind eye to the infiltration of about 200 Mujahadeen fighters into Bosnia.  Either deliberately or unwittingly, former President Clinton had sown the seeds for a new Islamo-fascist threat; this time in Southeastern Europe.

At the time, even European media criticized the decision while the US military command downplayed the significance of this infiltration.  Twenty years later, France 24 confirms the disastrous consequences of this ploy.  The Muslims in Bosnia were considered to be very secular with a soft adherence to the tenets of Islam.  This has been replaced by the hardline Salafist approach such that Bosniak Muslims provide the majority of European recruits to the Islamic State.  France 24 reports that,

Around 300 Bosnians are fighting alongside jihadists in Syria today. Many of them are believed to have been radicalised when Salafist preachers emerged in Bosnia during the 1992-1995 war.  Today the tiny Balkan nation is facing an increasingly alarming security situation as the jihadists threaten to return home, calling for terror strikes in Bosnia, and elsewhere in Europe.

Hillary Clinton’s presidential run has already been plagued by scandals from when she was Secretary of State, yet the MSM still shields her from scrutiny.  While dodging sniper fire in Bosnia, she apparently didn’t realize that her husband’s military expedition, much like Obama’s precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, had formed a country that can now function as a safe haven for Islamic jihadists.  It is likely this failure will not penetrate the MSM wall around Hillary, nor will it likely impress the hacks of the GOPe machine.  This perhaps leaves only Trump or Cruz to bring this forgotten national security disaster to the fore.  Let’s hope they do so.

John Smith is the pen name of a former American intelligence officer.