Srecko Latal | Bosnia Is on the Brink of Breaking Up – The New York Times

Mr. Latal is a journalist, editor and analyst who has reported extensively from the Balkans since the 1990s.

“SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina — A Serb strongman, who for years exploited ethnonationalist feelings to claim more power, publicly pledges to break his country apart, threatening to set off cascading conflict. The West, distracted by its own problems, barely notices.

No, that’s not Yugoslavia in 1991. It’s Bosnia and Herzegovina today. The country, whose complex constitutional order was painstakingly negotiated in the teeth of a bloody war and settled through the Dayton Accords, is on the brink of breaking up.

At the heart of the crisis is Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serb leader and longtime separatist. In October, he announced plans to withdraw the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska, one of the country’s two administrative entities, from major state institutions. In what effectively amounts to secession, he intends to set up a separate taxation office, army and security forces. For a region with a recent history of ethnic violence and conflict, it’s a terrifying development.”

Opinion | What Happens When Our Leaders Lack Moral Courage

“Over the years, thousands of cadets at the United States Military Academy, myself included, have memorized and recited West Point’s Cadet Prayer. “Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong,” the prayer goes, “and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice, and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.”

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Twenty years later, Bosnia is once again coming apart.|By Edward P. Joseph

When I recently visited my daughter in Sarajevo, I am embarrassed to say that I was surprised to learn that the Siege of Sarajevo, the shelling of the city by Serbian forces in the surrounding mountains, lasted four horrible years, 1992 to 1996. A survivor of the siege I interviewed, said the Americans under President Bill Clinton were largely responsible for pushing NATO and the UN to oppose the siege, eventually, with NATO airstrikes, that caused its end.

Edward Joseph was there. Now he writes: “To allow the likes of Mr. Dodik to threaten the secession of Republika Srpska from Bosnia is a step toward vindicating the wartime Serb project. Srebrenica stands — and must always stand — as a red line against maximalist Serb aspirations.”

Twenty years later, Bosnia is once again coming apart.|By Edward P. Joseph