Sociologically, politically and even in a humanitarian way of thinking, this should not have happened. Why? The answer you can see almost twenty years later in the current Bosnia and Herzegovina, about which I have been writing in Eurasia Review this past year and that is published in recent book ‘Bosnia and Herzegovina and the XXI Century’.
The mistakes of U.S. government officials are not based on the non-willingness to conduct the proper way of establishing the so-called ‘Democracy’, which I called a long time ago ‘Demo(n)cracy’ (Question: Am I fundamentalist if I say that real democracy – or just the announcement of such – exists only in Iceland, Sweden, Norway and/or Finland?). Democracy, according to my humble opinion, is the state of acting (and mind, of course) in which my freedom does not threaten the freedom of others, and it stops immediately if I base my freedom on cancelling and hindering the freedom of others. Just check out the World of the XXI Century and the answer will be given.
So, to make a long story short, US government officials’ mistakes are always based on ignorance and an emptiness of local people’s thoughts, conclusions, culture and knowledge.
Question: When was the last time when you met a US Embassy official walking around the old part of Sarajevo, titled ‘Baščaršija’ (rough translation is ‘Just the city’ or ‘Just the place of living and working’) while talking to the locals, except those individuals whom they hire? Never, or just only when some US Government official arrives in Bosnia and Herzegovina who wants to taste ćevapcic, baklava and other traditional foods, and of course to be seen by the local media on the streets of a ruined city. The locals who work for them?
As a person who worked for almost seven years for the International community in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1993-2000) I can simply say, but strongly have to underline: 65 percent of the local employees for the International organization in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been instructed to be there and serve indirectly local powers regardless if they were Bosniaks (Muslim), Croats and Serbs from Bosnia and Herzegovina. What does this mean? The ignorance of the so-called CIA, NASA, MI, NI and so many other acronyms of the great intelligence organizations from United States of America did not do their job. Or did they? We will never know. Why? It is simply irresistible to answer: ignorance.
Then we come in medias res of the essay, which is an example of the total disaster of American policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina (with the help of locals).
Recently, I wanted to share a presentation and valuable ideas about electronic government that could very well be implemented by the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the help of USAID and the US Embassy in Sarajevo. I, along with my colleague and friend, Peter Tase, a US citizen, a scholar and journalist, on December 11, 2014 were to present (remember the word “presentation”, please) a potential project for Establishing the E-Government Initiative in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
But — and it seems there is a always a ‘but’.
Everything began back on October 29, when on behalf of Peter — who was coming to Bosnia and Herzegovina in December 2014, to promote his book ‘The Image of Paraguay in the United States 2012-2014’ and my book as I mentioned above — I sent an e-mail to US officials at the US Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The answer back came not from US officials, but from the local Project Management Specialist from USAID/Bosnia and Herzegovina (whom I do not want to mention her name) who was very nice in her correspondence with Peter — and later with me — in regards to arranging a meeting for the above-mentioned presentation on which I was working, since I had just returned from Kazakhstan, a government that is very advanced with respect to doing everything on-line (and which hosted in October 2014 the World E-Government forum). The idea of the presentation was simple: Through the establishment of E-government in Bosnia and Herzegovina we would connect not just a ruined country, but also the ruined people(s) of Bosnia and Herzegovina and improve their living conditions in a well-organized society where they could get any document they needed within a matter of hours, and not in weeks or months.
As we had previously agreed we were scheduled to meet on Thursday, 11.12.2014 at the US Embassy, we thought that we would be able to deliver the presentation of 30 slides containing our joint proposal, on which we had been working for over two months.
Nevertheless, problems began right in front of the gate at the US Embassy of Sarajevo. First, one police officer said that we could park on the sidewalk adjacent to the walls of the embassy, right next to the main entrance of the embassy, even though there was a sign that prohibited the parking of vehicles there. But soon another police officer arrived, and was very aggressive towards us — and indeed almost ate me alive — just after I had parked our vehicle, and told us that we couldn’t park there and continued, “in regards to my opinion, you can park on Skenderija (note: 2 kilometers away) if you want to, but here you cannot park.”
I had to move the vehicle 400 meters away to a paid parking lot while my colleagues (Peter Tase and Goran Vrhunc) waited on a cold winter day wearing only regular suits (without jackets).
Problems only increased when we entered the control gates and moved toward the embassy’s metal detectors — which was even more protected than a guarded customs area at a major airport anywhere in the world.
Having in mind that I am a Muslim (Bosniak), I expected that I would be thoroughly searched as a possible ‘terrorist’, because you are guilty until is proved differently. As said, I expected this — and certainly kept in mind that the US policy in the world is making more enemies than friends recently — but, what I did not expect was that they would treat my colleague Peter Tase as a possible terrorist and thoroughly search his body for an extended time. Additionally, I had thought that the USAID’s representative who had exchanged many emails with me, would come and welcome us at the security check point. Not so.
Goran, meanwhile, was still waiting outside to be invited to go through a meticulous search.
It seems the problem was with the word, as I mentioned previously, “presentation.” Namely, when I was in a position to be thoroughly searched, a problem appeared. I was asked to leave my laptop in the security check point. Okay.
But, when I was asked to leave my USB with the security officer it became obvious that it was pointless to attend a meeting without showing a Power Point presentation.
While I was explaining this to the local female police officer our escort suddenly appeared, as I was told, to take us to the main building. She again repeated the same adage that we did not agree to bring the USB to our meeting at the embassy. I repeated again that I am an Assistant Professor at a University, and had always used the word “presentation” in my emails.
To which she stated, “you have not written that you will bring the USB.”
My response was that a Project Management Specialist should know what I was talking about when stating that I would give a presentation, as we did days ago at other institutions in Sarajevo.
To which she suggested that “we can have a chat.” How is it possible that USB with the size of 1cm x 2cm can threaten a world power?
This blew my mind.
Peter then entered the security check point, and again they requested his ID and then exited the armored room of the check point.
Meanwhile, Goran was still standing outside confused, probably asking himself, what was going on inside.
In the end, we simply said that we would not go and have a chat (we were prepared to make concrete suggestions and give a serious presentation) and that we would inform the public about their rude behavior and we exited. My colleagues had to wait outside of the entrance to the main gate in a subzero temperature with a freezing wind, which made Peter have a terrible pain in his ears that would continue for days, while I went to pick up our car.
Finally, last but not least, what is the outcome of all of this?
At the outset we thought that it might be good for US Foreign Policy — since the US is the main coordinator of the Dayton Peace Agreement — to promote an e-government initiative in the most politically complicated country on Earth.
But, it the end, we decided to explore other venues to move forward with such a dynamic project of e-government in Bosnia and Herzegovina, because the US Embassy staff is overshadowed by local unprofessional ‘advisers’ who distort the true realities of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The US Embassy staff is simply:
1. Controlled by local feudalistic and ignorant people who have been threatened by our proposal;
2. Are certainly uninformed in regards to the means of a real communication process that is used to convey ideas, and exchange experiences among intellectuals while using the US Embassy as the launching point of this exciting initiative.
3. All above, including ‘1’and ‘2’
Where is the answer? That is the million dollar question. That is the amount of money that Bosnia Herzegovina loses every month if it does not implement the e-government project very soon.
E-government is here to come, regardless with or without us.
The “Presentation” was the problem. Especially when it comes from someone who knows what they are doing. An aspiration and a Presentation destined for the benefit of my nation and the common good — unlike many others whose goal is for personal profit, and do not bring anything new to the table. Unfortunately, freaks in and around the US Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina did not see its content. Or perhaps they do not want to.