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What Does US Congress Know About Bosnia-Herzegovina? – Analysis

Bosnia and Herzegovina. Source: CIA World Factbook.Bosnia and Herzegovina. Source: CIA World Factbook.

On the basis of a report by Steven Woehrel, entitled ‘Bosnia-Herzegovina: Current issues and U.S. policy’, an average American congressperson is unlikely to form a clear or consistent or adequate image of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and will therefore be unable to found on the report an implementable, or viable or consistent, foreign policy towards the country.

By Dražen Pehar*

In January 2013, Steven Woehrel, a European affairs specialist, presented a report on Bosnia-Herzegovina to the members and commissions of the US Congress. The report, titled “Bosnia-Herzegovina: Current issues and U.S. policy,” and archived as R40479, is proposed to the US Congress as a fruit of the work of the U.S. Congressional Research Service. The 12-page document thus embodies a narrative frame of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) that every American congressman and –woman concerned with the state should have internalized by now. Hence, in this regard the key question may be put as follows: upon having read, grasped, and taken as credible the aforementioned report, is an American congressperson likely to form an image of BiH that is clearer, more pertinent, and more informative than no image at all? Secondly, is the image likely to be adequate and pertinent in two essential aspects: first, will the congressperson form or obtain a story that includes the key phenomena and relations? Thirdly, will the congressperson form or obtain a sufficiently consistent and informative image on the foundation of which s/he may base a practical and viable U.S. policy vis-a-vis BiH, i.e. a realistic and implementable foreign political initiative?

In this brief essay I explain why the answer to both questions must be in the negative. Having read Woehrel’s report, or research, an average American congressperson is unlikely to form a clear or consistent or adequate image of BiH; hence, the man or woman will be unable to found on the report an implementable, or viable or consistent, foreign policy towards the BiH. In other words, assuming that Woehrel’s report embodies an exhaustive cluster of data concerning the BiH that the U.S. Congress is in possession of, the institution is neither familiar with the most crucial facts, including, most importantly, the nature of today’s political relations within BiH, nor is it endowed with a contradiction-free image on which it could base a viable and potentially successful foreign policy. Of course, one could only make a bold conjecture on the causes of such a state of affairs. Prima facie it is unclear how, and why, a super-power with a population of over 300 hundred million, and with the best universities of the world, the largest number of Nobel-prize winners, an enviable tradition of political thought, and also the most advanced technology in the world, is not capable of producing for its legislators a truthful and plausible analysis of the political affairs as are practiced in a state with which American politicians dealt extensively and through a protracted period of time. This, of course, does not mean that one should not raise some interesting and inspiring questions, and point to some possibilities, that could serve to the future researchers as guidelines for an empirically sound, social or political epistemological research.

In the first section of the essay, my focus is on Woehrel’s propositions on BiH in the sense of their veridical value – I simply demonstrate that his propositions are insufficiently fit to survive a scrutiny based on historical and political facts, having in mind that the latter also include those of a legal and ethical character. In the second section of the essay, my focus is on Woehrel’s statements in the sense of the narrative coherence and relevance; in this regard I will be especially interested in Woehrel’s ‘blind spots,’ that is, the facts and relations that have not, but should have, found their place in his narrative, which gives me a sound evidence in support of the thesis that Woehrel is actually actively trying to conceal those facts and relations. In the third section, I make an attempt at explaining, or at least partially making sense of, the fact that the U.S. Congress was presented with an analysis or research of such a low cognitive quality.

1. Veridical value

It is already on page 1 of Woehrel’s report that one can find a clear historical fabrication i.e. a distortion of historical facts: “Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, a Bosniak, worried [in 1991 and early 1992] about the possible spread of the conflict to Bosnia and tried to find a compromise solution. However, these efforts were made very difficult by the Milosevic and Tudjman regimes, both of which had designs on Bosnian territory. In addition, Izetbegovic’s hand was forced by the European Community (EC) decision in December 1991 to grant diplomatic recognition to any of the former Yugoslav republics that requested it, provided that the republics held a referendum on independence and agreed to respect minority rights, the borders of neighboring republics, and other conditions. Izetbegovic and other Bosniaks felt they could not remain in a Milosevic-dominated rump Yugoslavia and had to seek independence and EC recognition, even given the grave threat such a move posed to peace in the republic. Bosnian Serb leaders warned that international recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina would lead to civil war.“

Obviously, after you read the paragraph, your impression of the causes of the war in BiH will amount to the following narrative: Tuđman’s and Milošević’s regime, and also partly the EC, but especially the leaders of the Bosnian Serbs, who have responded by force and rebellion to the international recognition of BiH, are those responsible for the outbreak of Bosnian war. Most importantly, the paragraph suggests that Izetbegović was a ‘good guy’ who even sought some compromise solutions. However, the suggested image is fully inadequate. As to BiH, Izetbegović has not sought a compromise solution: his message, in 1991 and immediately prior to the 1992 referendum for independence, was clear – either a full sovereignty of BiH or a war [1]. In other words, in Woehrel’s narrative all the key facts are simply deleted: deleted is the fact that, in early 1992 too, BiH is a multiethnic state composed of three equal and equally constituent peoples; deleted is the fact that, prior to the outbreak of the war, Izetbegović signed on two occasions a compromise peace plan drafted not by him but by the EC/EU representatives; however, he swiftly revoked his signature on both occasions and thus clearly indicated his will to rely on an armed force as a conflict-resolving means; deleted is as well the fact that, on one occasion at least, Izetbegović revoked his signature after his meeting with the US Ambassador Zimmermann in Sarajevo [2]; and perhaps most importantly, deleted is the fact that, trough his many 1991 and 1992 public statements, Izetbegović expressed his view that BiH was, or should be deemed, a state in which the Bosniak-Muslim people’s right as somehow foundational, and primarily state-making one, to BiH, and more important to the state than the rights of the other two peoples (and even, in Izetbegović’s view but contrary to empirical reality, a majority one in BiH), must be recognized and affirmed; this Izetbegovic’s view was and remains irreconcilable to the explicit wording of key constitutional provisions of BiH (that, contrary to Izetbegovic’s view, the three BiH peoples are equally foundational and co-constitutional) [3].

Now, Woehrel’s fact-clouding claims extend to the post-war, post-Dayton, peace implementation period as well. For instance, on p. 3 is Woehrel’s statement concerning the Office of High Representative as follows: “At a December 1997 PIC conference in Bonn, Germany, the international community granted the High Representative powers (known as the ‘Bonn powers’) to fire and take other actions against local leaders and parties as well as to impose legislation in order to implement the peace agreement and more generally bring unity and reform to Bosnia“. In the sense of a legal qualification, this is an orthodox, but flawed view. As sufficiently widely known, at the Bonn conference PIC simply ‘welcome’ the decision by the High Representative to use his own powers broadly (as he deems fit, according to his own interpretation). In other words, the High Representative is a self-constituted institution that is created by its own interpretation of its own powers [4].

In a legal sense, nobody can stand above, or ‘supersede,’ the institution, not even the PIC, if we endorse the interpretation of the High Representative’s powers that the very High Representative endorsed when he decided to exercise his powers broadly (in mid-1997), and that the PIC endorsed when they ‘welcome’ the High Representative’s broad use of his own powers. Of course, the interpretation is, in a legal sense, indefensible, but it is exactly such an interpretation that both High Representative and the PIC decided to try in practice [5].Most importantly, under such an interpretation, the High Representative becomes a dictatorial figure, and BiH can in no way be deemed a democracy as long as such a figure plays a prominent part in its politics. However, like many other ‘interventionists’, Woehrel is prone to presenting a flawed view of PIC as a source of High Representative’s authority because, in such a view, the latter appears less authoritarian, or more democratic, than in the condition when we strictly adhere to legal facts including the fact that the PIC ‘welcome’ the decision by the High Representative to exercise his broad, dictatorial mandate. Also, in the second section, I will demonstrate that Woehrel’s presentation, in the part that addresses ‘the unity and reform of Bosnia’, suffers from another cognitive flaw.

Woehrel’s presentation is beset by another, comparatively worse fabrication of facts: this one concerns neither the pre- nor post-Dayton period taken longitudinally, but the current state of affairs; it aims to embody the key diagnosis of today’s key problem in BiH, or the core and key cause of its current trouble. The diagnosis is presented in the first sentence of the Summary of Woehrel’s report: “In recent years, many analysts have expressed concern that the international community’s efforts over the past 17 years to stabilize Bosnia and Herzegovina are failing. Milorad Dodik, president of the Republika Srpska (RS), one of the two semi-autonomous ‘entities’ within Bosnia, has obstructed efforts to make Bosnia’s central government more effective. He has repeatedly asserted the RS’s right to secede from Bosnia, although he has so far refrained from trying to make this threat a reality. Some ethnic Croat leaders in Bosnia have called for more autonomy for Croats within Bosnia, perhaps threatening a further fragmentation of the country“. In other words, Woehrel here presents Dodik as a key problem. Dodik is one who, in Woehrel’s view, aims to separate the RS from Bosnia, which also explains Dodik’s obstruction of the efforts to make Bosnia’s central government more effective. A further burden, or obstacle, comes from Croats who are simply inclined to contributing to ‘disintegration’ of BiH. Woehrel’s presentation also clearly implies that no problems come from the circle of Bosniak-Moslem politicians. The latter are constructive and eager to make the central government effective.

However, Woehrel misrepresents both Dodik’s and Croat politics in BiH. First, as to the latter, Woehrel passes in silence over the fact that, on two occasions, in 2006 and 2010, the Bosniak-Muslim population vote elected the Croat member of BiH Presidency, one of the worst cases of open discrimination against Croats of BiH to which the international community, including both the Office of High Representative and U.S., responded by shrugging their shoulders. Woehrel’s did not devote a single word to the fact that the current election rules, combined with the current institutional structure of BiH Federation including both legislative and executive, are de facto imposed by the international community, and that such rules directly violate the status of BiH Croats as, ideally, one of the three co-constituent peoples of BiH [6]. Hence, when some Croat representatives argue for the notion of a third entity within BiH, it is a rationally motivated move; it is a response to an unjust and imposed legal-political constellation that makes BiH non-viable, unfair, and non-multiethnic in the form in which it currently exists, not generally or abstractly [7].

The same applies to Woehrel’s presentation of Dodik’s quasi-obstruction: Dodik’s threats are rationally motivated – it is a fact that BiH in today’s legal-political form cannot survive, because it in the long run should not survive in the form of ‘international dictatorship.’ Additionally, it goes without saying that, unless a consensus is formed between the three parties/peoples on the shape of a future BiH, both secession of RS and the dissolution of BiH into three entities are equally legitimate options. Most importantly, Dodik never stated that the RS should secede from BiH in the condition of adherence to the original, Dayton-based powers of the RS and BiH, as those were specifically and precisely enumerated by the Dayton Annex 4. His reference to a referendum and secession should normally be coupled with the condition of a heavily centralized structure of BiH as imposed increasingly by the US and EU, in agreement with the Bosniak-Moslem political elite, with no foundation in the explicit wording of the Dayton Peace Agreement. This should be placed in comparison to Holbrooke’s statement, as reproduced even in his memoirs, that the Dayton constitutional blueprint as originally drafted, and offered for signature, is a draw of “two strong entities and one loose central government.” [8]

2. Coherence, relevance, and ‘blind spots’

Woehrel’s report is incoherent in many parts. Hence, having received and read this report, American congresspersons must have experienced a significant amount of confusion. For instance, how is it possible to claim, within the confines of a single research, that Tuđman’s Croatian regime had design on the Bosnian territory, and then, in the next sentence, to claim that the BiH referendum for independence was carried out predominantly by the BiH Bosniaks and Croats? Additionally, how is it possible to claim that Tuđman’s regime had design on the Bosnian territory, and then further claim that the road to the Dayton agreement was paved by the joint action of the Bosniak and the Croat/Croatian military forces?

However, with such historiographic incoherences put aside, it seems to me that those that concern the post-Dayton period of implementation of the Dayton peace frame are much more troubling. For instance, Woehrel accurately presents the nature of the Dayton constitutional structure for BiH: two strong entities, one loose central government, special parallel relations between the entities and the neighboring states. However, he then continues describing the interventions by the international community towards the strengthening of the central powers of BIH as nearly a natural phenomenon: as something that nearly goes without saying, even as something that ought to naturally and automatically continue into the future; in Woehrel’s narrative, we saw that the undesired obstruction is coming from Dodik and, to a lesser degree, also from the Croat politicians. But, if the original constitutional structure is as described by Woehrel, then Dodik’s, or Croat, policy is not a problematic part of the post-Dayton BiH; what is problematic is in fact the very policy of the international community, which, as Woehrel’s accurately points out, “[only] had the support of Bosniak politicians” (p. 3). [9]

However, in comparison to such incoherence, even a higher degree of importance should be attributed to some facts that Woehrel fails to mention despite their widely known significance for the process of the Dayton peace frame implementation: for instance, when he briefly explains the role of international community as a factor that “brings unity and reform to Bosnia,” an inattentive reader could think that the role can be reduced to an attempt to strengthen, or widen, the central powers of BiH; however, as a matter of historical factography, such role involved a much more serious attempt – to modify the institutional structure not only at the central, but also at the entity level; more importantly, it was an attempt to undermine, to the extent possible, the notion of ‘constituent peoples’ as put in the preamble to the Dayton Constitution. Those parts of a recent BiH history are simply eradicated from Woehrel’s report. For instance, the report contains no word on BiH Constitutional Court decision U 5/98-III, which was passed by a combined majority of foreign and Bosniak-Muslim judges at the court, and which set the foundation for a subsequent redesign of the post-Dayton BiH, both at the state and the entity level, to the disadvantage of the concept of ‘constituent peoples.’ [10] Also, perhaps predictably, Woehrel’s report contains no word on the 2005/6 attempt by High Representative Paddy Ashdown to initiate the process of forming of the BiH state police force contrary to the explicit wording of the relevant provisions of the Dayton constitution.

It is also interesting to note that, when referring to the US Vice-president Biden visit to BiH in May 2009 (p. 9), Woehrel makes no mention of the key elements of Biden’s speech; I think the cause is deliberate – those elements cannot be reconciled to the Dayton structure of BiH nor to the unproblematic elements of international consensus concerning the post-Dayton BiH. To remind: in his speech, Biden emphasized that “in BiH, as in the US, today’s majority may tomorrow become a minority,” and “we [U.S.A.] are your project.” [11] The former proposition cannot be reconciled to the status of Bosnia’s constituent people, post- or pre-Dayton; and the latter proposition by Biden implies that the USA is the only authority for the construction of post-Dayton BiH because, as Biden clearly suggested, the USA creates the BiH in its own likeness.[12]

Woehrel suppresses some further relevant facts concerning BiH: for instance, he explicitly refers to the so-called “April 2006 package of constitutional amendments” offered by the international community to Bosnian politicians; he simply states that the BiH politicians/leaders failed to adopt the package (p. 3); however, it is immediately clear that Woehrel fails to mention the key issue – the actors who were the key culprit of the negotiating fiasco; and the reason why he fails to mention those actors is probably in the fact that this cannot be harmonized with the key elements of his narrative. An inattentive reader will probably fill the blank by assuming that Dodik, or somebody from the RS, was the key culprit; this is not true as the process was undermined jointly by one Bosniak-Muslim (very pro-state and centralist-oriented) “Stranka za BiH” and one smaller Croat party from the BiH Federation, HDZ 1990.

Summarily, there is one key ‘blind spot’ in Woehrel’s presentation of the post-Dayton Bosnia:  he fails to consider the fact that the post-Dayton BiH is actually projected as a state formed by a federal constitutional arrangement, based on the concept of constituent peoples (i.e. a plurality of actors), and viable only on the basis of a consensus. Since the state is based on a federalist concept, it goes without saying that its preservation and functioning requires a balance between an ethnic autonomy, and a cooperation based on a parity-presentation of constituent peoples, on the one hand, and an integrative, state-making function, on the other: a consociational arrangement. Hence, it also goes without saying that the entire constitutional arrangement on which the BiH is based includes both centrifugal and centripetal institutional elements; hence, one should not decide to simply rank higher the centripetal tendency as somehow more valuable, or more important, to the smooth functioning of the post-Dayton BiH.

It is exactly this attitude of ‘the higher ranking of centripetal tendency’ that Woehrel, through his research, attempts to smuggle to the American congressmen and –women. And it is exactly due to the attitude that Woehrel’s research fails to answer a key question that is otherwise strongly suggested, though not explicitly posed, even by his own research: if the viable change to the BiH could have been brought about only by an internal consensus (concerning, for instance, a fully revised post-Dayton constitution to create fully functioning state-institutions), and if such a change had not been brought about yet, how can one explain the motivation behind the international interventions at the time those were occurring, especially having in mind the fact that, as Woehrel too pointed out, two of the three constituent peoples opposed those interventions? How can one imagine that one can create a state on another person’s behalf, and then, 17 years later, when one realized that this was an impossible task, to stop at the extremely complicated and inefficient structure and, which is even more paradoxical, demand from the local actors to continue negotiating a new structure, or structures, as if nothing happened in the meantime? Woehrel’s open suggestion that the pointing to Milorad Dodik as an alleged ‘key source of the obstruction’ should help one formulate an answer to the question is in direct contravention to all the results of Woehrel’s own research. Contrary to Woehrel, it is obvious that the key members of the Peace Implementation Council, that is, the international community including primarily USA and the key EU members have preserved, and even worsened, instability of BiH, i.e. they helped BiH to continue the state of war by other means [13].

3. Political analysis, myths, and Gestalt-effects

Judging from the report Woehrel offered to U.S. Congress, the answer to the question “What does U.S. Congress know about BiH?” should read as follows: “whatever it seems to ‘know,’ it would be better if it knew nothing.” Woehrel gave to the congress an inaccurate, incoherent, and very incomplete picture of BiH. It follows from this that, based on such a picture, it is impossible to formulate a coherent, purposeful, and potentially successful foreign political initiative.

Perhaps most importantly, Woehrel’s report fails to address the factor that every serious political analysis ought to address: political goals, ideas, and attitudes or projects, of the local political actors. The key political actors are presented by Woehrel as simple carriers of likes and dislikes, and nothing else; but, without a more detailed, and more realistic reference to the actors’ political ideas and arguments, it is, of course, impossible to explain the nature of the conflict within BiH or the true character of its internal political relations; furthermore, it is impossible to explain the sense in which the actors’ ideas and arguments support, or undermine, the current post-Dayton constitution of BiH.

Woehrel’s narrative of BiH resembles a vision of a giant who has been watching a fly without the help of a microscope. It seems that the giant simply put down in writing some impressions of a possible meaning and appearance of the fly, without actually looking into its internal structure. Also, in the writing, the fly is somewhat enlarged not by a microscopic vision, but by the fly’s positioning within a wider context formed by its neighbourhood and international community, including primarily the EU and NATO. But, whatever metaphor of the Woehrel’s narrative we choose, it is clear that the latter has the character not of a substantiated, evidence-based political analysis, but of a myth.

For quite some time now, the American dominant narrative of BiH manifests the features of a myth, not of a fact-based or realistic image. As I demonstrated elsewhere, it seems that the creators of American narrative of BiH, starting with the beginning of political crisis in the early 1990s, are not interested in BiH as such: they seem interested in it only to the extent it enables them, or gives them an excuse, to tell a story about America, and especially to the extent it can help them to recover or improve America’s international reputation primarily in a symbolic sense [14]. In fact, Woehrel repeats the rhetorical strategy that we find in Holbrooke and that can be illustrated especially by Holbrooke’s political qualification of Izetbegovic: in his memoirs, Holbrooke presents Izetbegovic as a political actor without inherent political goals; Izetbegović is framed simply as a victim who fought for a sheer survival. According to Holbrooke, this explains why ‘Bosniak-Muslim politicians’ failed to formulate a coherent negotiating strategy during the Bosnian war, and especially why they failed to formulate clearly their political goals – the kind of BiH they aim for in a political sense [15]. However, today we know that Holbrooke was wrong, that he painted Izetbegovic in much brighter colours probably due to his need to emphasize the positive nature of American connection with the Muslim element in BiH. This was probably due to the American need to improve its own public image abroad, not due to some inherent overlap between American and BiH Muslim policy in Bosnia. In other words, compared to Izetbegovic, a real political actor, Holbrooke’s presentation is arbitrary, unfounded, or fictional.[16]

Thus one should not be surprised to find in Woehrel a considerable degree of myth-making as a part of political analysis; we find old themes propagated and digested hundreds of times: in Woehrel’s narrative, “Bosniak-Muslim political element” has no negative political attributes or properties; in contrast to the element, the tendency to a destructive, or problematic, political conduct, is attributed steadily to either Serb or a Croat element, with Dodik serving as a convenient current personification of the former. Having in mind that the silent revision of the Dayton constitution by the international community very unequivocally diminished, or weakened, the constitutional position of the BiH Croats as one of the three officially constituent peoples under the Dayton, such Woehrel’s attribution means adding insult to injury.

Also, Woehrel makes an attempt to position his narrative within the frame of the story on “the international, enlightenment- or modernity-spreading missionaries of democracy,” who are temporarily stalled, or prevented, by a barbaric element. Such a frame, of course, has no anchor in political reality, and the very basic, compromise-based constitutional structure of BiH poses an insurmountable obstacle to Woehrel’s attempt. Now, since obviously Woehrel’s analytical frame is not motivated by political reality, we have the right to raise the issue of the frame’s true motivation. It is clear that the frame is a myth, not a well-argued or evidence-based description or diagnosis; but, what is the motivational structure behind the myth itself?

To put it briefly: due to its key or foundational narratives that are built into the collective image of the nation-making, America views itself as an unjustly expelled outcast from ‘the Old World’ that is frequently identified with Europe; it is a victim of some ancient prejudice who returns to the world not in the shape of an avenger, but of a redeemer. It recovers justice and defends the weak and the oppressed, and also radically alters political reality as a part of the process. Hence, the American narrative typically revolves around very dramatic political relations marked by what is considered unequivocally evil and unequivocally good element. In such a sense, American projection of such a narrative into BiH [17] is enabled by a Gestalt-effect: on maps, BiH is normally depicted as an inverted triangle surrounded by two states that, through their BiH-based co-nationals, seem to penetrate the triangle creating an impression of both external and internal threat. The relations within BiH may be perfect, but the Gestalt-effect is likely to remain active – BiH appears as a fully surrounded, perfect geometrical shape that is threatened by disintegration or shrinking.

It is into such a space that America fictively projects its need to intervene, to defend (and either recover or strengthen) a weak, surrounded and oppressed, nation from some collective prejudice or a backward idea of homogenous nation-states or ethnic/collective rights [18]. Now, have in mind that the narrative is not rational – even when we imagine that BiH is a mono-ethnic state, populated by a single nation, the Gestalt-effect is likely to persist. However, it seems that America actively cultivates the need for exactly such a kind of narrative; and that it acted and continues acting in BiH in light of such a narrative regardless of the actual outcome of the acting. It needs this vision of two strong Goliaths and a single David, three figures that unambiguously define the role for America in the part of the world. It seems that this vision, not a reliable and empirically exhaustive study, is what lies at the foundation of Woehrel’s narrative of BiH. Let us hope that, opposing Woehrel, at least some U.S. congresspersons will recall the idea that contemporary states ought to be based on constitutions, not on mythological apparitions from the Old Testament.

*Dražen Pehar has a PhD in politics and international relations from Keele University (SPIRE 2006), holds an assistant professorship (BiH) in the philosophy of law and in politics with sociology. Dražen is a DiploFoundation Associate, and previously served as Chief of Staff to the BiH Federation President (1996) and as a media analyst to the OHR (1999/2000). Dražen is also part of the Institute for Social and Political Research (IDPI), a member of the Global Coalition for Conflict Transformation

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of TransConflict.


  1. For a more detailed presentation, see Pehar, D. (2011), Alija Izetbegović and the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina (Mostar: HKD Napredak, bilingual edition): (accessed 30 December 2016)
  2. See also De Krnjevic-Miskovic, Damjan (2003), „Obituary: Alija Izetbegovic, 1925-2003“, National Interest (22. October); (accessed 30 December 2016)
  3. Pehar (2011, 143-151)
  4. For more detail, see Pehar D. (2014a), „Four reflections on the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina“ (Part 1 and 2), TransConflict, October 7 and 8: and (accessed 30 December 2016)
  5. Ibid.
  6. For my detailed argumentation, see Pehar D. (2014b), „Democracy, democratic representation, and constitutional logic of ethnic electoral units in Bosnia-Herzegovina;“ IDPI Mostar, September 15: (accessed 31 December 2016); see also Vukoja I. (2014), „Elections as a form of discrimination against Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina“ TransConflict, 13 October (trans. Drazen Pehar): (accessed 31 December 2016)
  7. Even a worse case of discrimination was committed in 2011, when a number of Bosniak-Muslim parties, with a moderate support of small and non-representative Croat parties, excluding HDZ and HDZ 1990, formed so-called ‘Platforma Government’; this was done through an open coup-d’etat, that is, by direct violation of the constitutional provisions; even the High Representative, by a motion against the BiH Election Commission, helped in the process in direct contravention to the democratic ethos and the rule of law in BiH.
  8. Holbrooke, R. (1999), To End a War, New York: The Modern Library, rev.ed., pp. 96-97
  9. For more detail, see Pehar, D. (2014c), „Theory of dediscoursification and implementation of Dayton peace as a continuation of the state of war,“ Mostar, IDPI, 4 November: (accessed 31 December 2016)
  10. For a detailed argument, see Pehar, D. (2016), „U 5/98-III: why it is doomed from an interpretive point of view“ (parts 1 and 2); TransConflict, 29 September and 4 October: and (accessed 31 December 2016)
  11. Transcript of Biden’s speech as broadcast by the BiH TV ( author’s private record; May 2009)
  12. For my more extensive analysis of American foreign policy vis-a-vis BiH, see Pehar, D. (2014d), „On some disconcerting aspects of American foreign policy towards Bosnia-Herzegovina;“ IDPI Mostar, and Journal Status (Mostar) no. 17 (Croatian version): (accessed 31 December 2016)
  13. See also Pehar (2014c)
  14. For more detail, see Pehar (2014d)
  15. Holbrooke (1999, 97)
  16. For a very important detail, see Pehar (2011, 139); I analyze Holbrooke’s presentation of Izetbegović in more detail in Pehar, D. (2016), „Chamberlain, Izetbegović, and Arab-Israeli post-242 negotiators – dediscoursifier’s special figures,“ TransConflict, 18 March: (accessed 31 December 2016)
  17. See also a war-time UN-mediator to BiH Thorvald Stoltenberg’s interview to Radio Free Europe from April 2012: “UN envoy recalls time when being anti-Serb was ‘preferable’; “ (accessed 31 December 2016
  18. For a similar approach, see Kostić, R. (2013), „American nation-building abroad: exceptional powers, broken promises, and the making of ‘Bosnia’“, in: Eriksson, M., Kostić R. (2013), Mediation and Liberal Peacebuilding: Peace from the Ashes of War?, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 22-39

About the Author

TransConflict was established in response to the challenges facing intra- and inter-ethnic relations in the Western Balkans. It is TransConflict’s assertion that the successful transformation of conflict requires a multi-dimensional approach that engages with and aims at transforming the very interests, relationships, discourses and structures that underpin and fuel outbreaks of low- and high-intensity violence.

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