November 12, 2005
Last night, the New School hosted a panel on a 10-year post-Dayton post-mortem to a surprisingly full house. Besides the usual suspects, the Tishman Auditorium held a fair number of students, and although there were no fireworks (10 years after a war seemed to have mellowed political passions) there were a few newsworthy items.
1) Allowing three armies to exist in a single country
2) Not putting enough power in the central government
3) No Truth & Reconciliation Commission (Said Holbrooke: "Had I seen the movies about [Desmond Tutu's] commission, I would have put it in the Agreement.")
4) Calling Republic Srpska, Republic Srpska (How about "The No Shave Zone"?)
Laura Silber disagreed on point #3, saying Miloševic and Tudjman were not ready at the time to take responsibility.
Cowboy-booted David Rieff noted that if Holbrooke's suggestions are implemented, "you'll have a hollow shell of a country." Adding that "Bosnia is dead -- the idea of Bosnia is dead." His point: With lines of Bosniacs lining up to leave the country every day before dawn, it can't be called a country.
"I guess I'm supposed to be the voice of gloom," said Chuck Sudetic on his turn. Now at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, he spoke of a "mother load of transcripts" from the Croatian government, that showed how decisions made by President Tudjman created a whiplash effect, resulting in several atrocities in Bosnia committed by Croatians.
After the panel I asked Sudetic: "Had Tudjman lived, would he have been called to The Hague." He paused, sizing me up, and spoke: "I can assure you he would."
I had the opportunity for just two more questions, if my Deep Throat contact in Bosnia, nicknamed "The Priest", was alive, and if so would he soon be called to The Hague. "He's alive, and I can't comment," was Sudetic's reply.
My exchange with Laura Silber was almost as brief. I asked her about George Rudman, who was my researcher and Virgil on my Tudjman book. "Oh yes, the little war criminal," she jokingly responded. "Rumors have it he was CIA or worked for the CIA," I said. "I would not be surprised," she laughed, "but I really don't know."
There were the anticipated parallels with Iraq, the delving into the minutiae of whether Banja Luka should have been taken by the Croat-Muslim army during the war, and a few nods to Dafur.
But the evening is best summed-up with my fleeting encounter with Holbrooke, whom I ambushed as he entered the building. "I'm Joe Tripician," I began my run-on sentence, "we met in '98 when I interviewed you for my book on Tudjman, which was never published because the Croatian government didn't like what I wrote." He shook my hand, smiled wanly, then marched ahead, saying, "I'm looking for the men's room,"
"The ICTY has indeed said that both Tudjman & Izetbegovic had a case to answer for war crimes & that unfortunately they both upped & died just before the indictment was ready darn it. Considering that they were able to indict Milosevic on a closed indictment before all but 1 of the things they charged him with over Kosovo actually happened this seems non-credible."
"Bosnia isn't a dead state it is unliving in the same way that a cardboard cut out is unliving. Even Izetbegovic objected to the use of the term 'Bosniac' to describe its Moslem citizens until he understood it played as useful advertising to western peasants."
12 Nov 2005 5:05:10 PM EST