The Clinton administration’s meddling in the Balkans in the early 1990’s remains one of the most dubious achievements in recent U.S. diplomacy. In fact, Clinton’s misguided multiculturalist influence in the former Yugoslav nation of Bosnia (officially called Bosnia and Herzegovina) helped start a bloody three-way war involving Bosnian Muslims, Serbs, and Croats, instigated a wave of ethnic cleansing, and established a terrorist stronghold threatening all of Europe.
Yugoslavia was created in 1918 in the aftermath of the First World War. It combined the six predominantly Slavic speaking nations of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Serbia. Previously, Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Serbia and Macedonia had been part of Greater Serbia, and most of Montenegro had been independent for some years.
These former nations of Yugoslavia, although speaking various Slavic dialects, can also be divided by strong religious heritages. Slovenia and Croatia are predominantly Roman Catholic. Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia are predominantly Orthodox Christians, and Bosnia has a mixed population with a Muslim plurality. Bosnia is about 44 percent Muslim (Bosniak), 33 percent Serbian Orthodox, and 17 percent Croatian Catholic.
Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, and the southern part of Montenegro were part of the Turkish Muslim Ottoman Empire starting from 1459 until various dates in the 19th and 20th centuries. Serbia was first to eject the Ottomans in 1804. Bosnia became part of Austria-Hungary in 1878. Macedonia was rescued from the Ottomans in 1912. The Ottomans held southern Montenegro, the Serbian province of Kosovo, and predominantly Muslim neighboring Albania until near the end of the First World War. Despite sometimes harsh methods, the Ottomans failed to establish significant Muslim strongholds except in northern Albania and Bosnia. By determined resistance, the Serbs were able to preserve their Orthodox Christianity in tact. The southern Serbian province of Kosovo, however, has by means of earlier ethnic cleansings by the Turks and recent Albanian migration, become predominantly Muslim and is now seeking independence from Serbia. It has already become a Muslim terrorist threat to the rest of Europe and may become part of “Greater Albania.”
Bosnia can be divided into predominantly Bosnian Muslim areas and Serbian areas in the east and south and predominantly Croatian areas in the southwest and northeast. Herzegovina, the southern part of Bosnia, is only about 25 percent Bosniak. These non-Muslim regions in Bosnia would turn out to be a tinder box of ethnic clashes when Yugoslavia began to break up in 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Communist influence in Europe.
Understanding the ethnic volatility in Yugoslavia requires one more dimension—its history in the Second World War. The Kingdom of Yugoslavia surrendered to the massive onslaught of the German Wehrmacht on April 17, 1941, after only eleven days of resistance. Partisan guerilla warfare by the Serbs, however, continued. In response, the Germans quickly turned Croatia into a Nazi puppet state hostile to the Serbs and incited Bosnian, Albanian, and Kosovar Muslims against them as well. The Allied powers at first assisted the Serbian Chetniks, partisan guerillas loyal to the Yugoslav monarchy.
The fierce Chetnik resistance against the Germans was met with extraordinary Nazi brutality. For every German soldier killed by Chetnik guerillas, the Nazis executed 100 Serbian civilians. They executed 50 civilians for every German soldier that was wounded. In the face of such barbarity and heavy civilian losses, Chetnik armed resistance folded. The allies then backed the Communist Yugoslav Partisan resistance, which continued until the Germans were expelled in 1944. Josip Broz (Tito), the Croatian leader of the Communist partisans, became the first President of the new Yugoslav Socialist Republic in 1944. He ruled over Yugoslavia’s fractious ethnic diversity with an iron hand until his death in 1980.
Because of widespread Croatian and Bosnian Muslim collaboration with the Nazis during the war, Serbs tend to be very sensitive to any perceived mistreatment of Serbian minorities in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo and to any political developments that might be disadvantageous to Serbian interests. The Serbian experience has molded them into a people similar in psychology to the Scotch-Irish. They were “born fighting” and their defense of their religious and ethnic heritage can be fierce.
Slovenia was the first to secede from Yugoslavia in June 1991. Croatia seceded at the same time but did not declare its independence until October 1991. Fearing Croatian dominance, the predominantly Serbian areas in Croatia formed a Serbian Republic shortly thereafter. Macedonia seceded in September 1991. Fearing Serbian dominance of the remaining parts of Yugoslavia, Bosnia seceded in April 1992. The Croats and Serbs plotted to annex the respective Croatian and Serbian regions of Bosnia. The predominantly Serbian areas of Bosnia formed a Serb Republic that included much of eastern and southern Bosnia. Predominantly Serbian Montenegro held with Serbia in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia until 2006.
Bosnia was the real tinder box, but there was also some concern about the Serbian areas of Croatia. Still, fighting was not inevitable. The Lisbon peace agreement of early 1992, negotiated by Portuguese Foreign Minister Jose Cutileiro, would have established an independent Bosnia with three semi-autonomous ethnic states. But then entered Bill Clinton with his own pro-Muslim agenda, giving the radical Bosnian President, Alija Izetbegovic, hope for complete Muslim control over all of Bosnia.
According to Acting Undersecretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, the Clinton administration aimed to support the Muslims in Bosnia in order to repair the perception of anti-Muslim bias that they believed tarnished U.S. image in the Islamic world.
As usual for the multiculturalist elite, Clinton and his diplomats were oblivious to Muslim words and actions. Izetbegovic had issued an Islamic Declaration in 1970 and repeated it in 1990:
“The Islamic movement must, and can, take over power as soon as it is morally and numerically so strong that it can not only destroy the existing non-Islamic power, but also build up a new Islamic one.”
The U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office warned the Clinton Administration that although the ideal of a multiethnic society may appeal to some in Bosnia’s more secular circles, “President Izetbegovic and his cabal appear to harbor much different private intentions and goals.” But Clinton and the State Department began a propaganda campaign to demonize and slander the Serbs while portraying the Bosnian Muslims as peaceful pluralists. Through Ambassador Warren Zimmerman, Izetbegovic was encouraged to reject the Lisbon agreement and avoid any compromise. He was promised U.S support and NATO military intervention, including bombing, if necessary.
Following a Bosnian referendum on independence on March 1, 1992, which the Bosnian Serbs boycotted, Bosnia declared itself an independent nation on April 3. Military conflict between Bosnian and Serbian Republic forces erupted almost immediately. Serbian forces had taken almost 70 percent of Bosnia within months, and the Croats and Bosniaks were left fighting each other for the remaining 30 percent. In March of 1994, the U.S. persuaded the Bosniaks and Croats to sign a peace accord, and NATO intervened militarily by bombing Serbian positions in 1995. They also assisted the Bosnian Muslims by facilitating the immigration of about two thousand Al-Qaeda related veterans of the USSR-Afghanistan War to Bosnia. Without the help of these foreign mujahadeen and U.S. and NATO bombing, Bosnia would have been defeated. At least 700 of these Islamist warriors stayed in Bosnia after the war and now pose a terrorist threat to Europe.
Over 100 thousand people died during the four-year Bosnian war. Over half of them were civilians. The most accurate record of military casualties indicates that 28 thousand Bosniaks, 14 thousands Serbs, and 6 thousand Croats (fighting on both sides) died. Because of competing propaganda claims, civilian casualties are more difficult to estimate, but it appears that about 28 thousand Bosniaks and 17 thousand Serbs died. War crimes, especially ethnic cleansing, were common on all three sides.
Naser Oric, a Bosniak warlord from the Srebenica area, had razed 192 Serbian villages, killing over 3200 people.
In August 1995, Croatian Army forces expelled more than 250 thousand Serbs from the Croatian district of Krajina, where the predominantly Serbian population had set up a Serbian Republic. About 14 thousand Serbian civilians died.
The Bosnian Muslims even employed a special “Mujahed” unit from 1992 to 1995 for carrying out atrocities against Serbs. Its members were recruited from Saudi Arabia by Al-Qaeda leader, Abu Abdel Aziz. Their specialty, of course, was terror by beheading. According to German reporter Renate Flottau of Der Spiegel, Osama bin Laden himself came to visit President Izetbegovic in 1993. The Clinton administration and NATO, however, made sure that most of the war crime claims were attributed to the Serbs. General Charles G. Boyd, deputy commander in chief of the U.S European Command from 1992 to 1995, concerned about the Clinton administration’s favoritism toward the Muslims and its demonization of the Serbs remarked:
“Ethnic Cleansing evokes condemnation only when it is committed by Serbs, not against them.”
Later in 1995, General Boyd’s criticism of the Clinton administration was stinging:
“The United States says that its objective is to end the war through a negotiated settlement, but in reality what it wants is to influence the outcome in favor of the Muslims…This duplicity, so crude and obvious to all in Europe, has weakened America’s moral authority to provide any kind of effective diplomatic leadership. Worse, because of this, the impact of U.S. action has been to prolong the conflict while bringing it no closer to resolution.”
The Bosnian War ended in late 1995 with the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords by all parties. The result was that the Bosnian government presides over two semi-autonomous states: a combined Bosniak-Croat Republic and a Serbian Republic, both policed by NATO and UN security forces. This is very close to the Lisbon proposal that the U.S. State Department encouraged Bosnian President Izetbegovic to reject in early 1991. Over 100 thousand people were killed and 1.3 million displaced so Bill Clinton could demonstrate U.S. friendship to the Muslim world. In doing so, he also created an Islamic terrorist stronghold threatening our European allies.
You were probably thinking that the Monica Lewinsky affair was Clinton’s biggest scandal. No, it was establishing strongholds of Islamic terrorism in Bosnia in 1995 and in Kosovo in 1999.