Book Reviews
Fikret Muslimović (2000). War and Politics
(Volume 1, Number 3-4, Autumn-Winter 2000.)
30 ruj 2000 03:14:00
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Sarajevo: Bosančica-print
pp.295

As the title indicates, Muslimović's book deals with war and politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1993 and 1996, from the point of view of one of the three constitutive peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina - the Bosniacs - Muslims, and provides a review of the events in the region up until 2000.

The author was born on December 9, 1948, in the village of Rašljevo near Gračanica (Bosnia and Herzegovina). He graduated from the Military Academy in 1971, and from the High Military and Political School in Belgrade in 1980. In 1991, he left military school with the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the Yugoslav National Army (JNA), as a result of disagreements with the actions of the leadership in Serbia and the JNA.

Since the recognition of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina on April 8, 1992, he was head of security at the Territorial Defense Headquarters and advisor for military issues in the Presidency of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1993, he became head of the Administration for Morale and, at the same time, was the leading Bosniac representative at the Joint Staff of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Croatian Defense Council.

From 1997 until 2000. he acted as Deputy Minister for Defense Preparations. On April 1, 2000, he was retired with the rank of Major General.

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Muslimović has been a member of the Party of Democratic Action, and from 1994 until 1996, was a member of its central committee. He has published two books, How they lied to us, and Defense of the Republic and Aggression.

War and Politics comprises 295 pages and is divided into sixteen units, written chronologically and covering the years 1993-2000. Each of the units can be read separately, independent of the previous one. The book presents a collection of articles created in accordance with a particular strategic or current political issue.

Unit one

"Conception, strategy and the doctrine of defense" comprises fifty pages and is the only unit which lists a total of seventeen references. The author first defines terms such as defense conception, defense system, strategy and doctrine of defense.

Security and defense he defines as a function of state authorities, and then individually analyzes the conception of security and defense, the strategy of security and defense, and finally the doctrine and system of defense.

According to the author, "the conception of defense provides a solution to the issues of organization and engagement of internal potentials in the realization of particular political and defense-oriented goals".

He views the security strategy as falling "between the conception of security and the political goals to be achieved on the basis of appropriate conditions and directions," while the defense strategy forms "an integral part of the security strategy."

The defense doctrine is "a system of acquired attitudes and views of the organization, preparation and use of armed forces, and conduct of armed battles as a fundamental and crucial form of war operations on the level of strategy, operativeness and tactics."

The author further defines and analyzes nine "areas of operation of a military organization" where "the doctrine is oriented towards providing various solutions." The defense system presents "the totality of factors in the state and society that have a defensive role, according to which tasks are defined" for the armed forces, management and command, i.e., for the "defense sector."

He further directs his attention to the defense system in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, "factors in the defense system in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina", "factor tasks" and "interactive connections among the defense factors in the Federation," in relation with Annex 4 of the Dayton Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Constitution of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

At the end of the unit, the author describes particular military and political organizations in their historical dimension (NATO and the Warsaw Pact), with special reference to the strategic role and significance of NATO.

Unit two

"Special characteristics of endangerment and defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina" comprises thirty pages and was written in Sarajevo in July 1996. The central issue of this unit is the defense of the Bosniac (Muslim) people, and seen in that light, the defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina. As the author himself states "the destruction of the Bosniac people and the destruction of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina are not the enemy's goals in themselves, but are effects that are implicated if the final goal - the destruction of Islam - is achieved."

He presents three elements which endanger Bosniacs: killing - genocide, urbicide, abuse; and assimilation. In his opinion, the failure to organize components of defense against the three afore-mentioned elements of endangerment of Bosniacs would be fatal. Islam occupies a central place as the source of Bosniac defense power. "A successful defense of Bosniacs as a people and Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state is only possible through a link of the Bosniac people, its consciousness and its behavior with its religion, Islam. Without this link the survival of Bosniacs in this region is impossible."

The author concludes that "the defense interests and needs of Bosniacs do not contradict, but assist, the defense needs of Bosnian Serbs and Croats, and "the defense organization of Bosniacs is based on the Bosniac ideal of peace."

Unit three

"Continuity of struggle for an integral Bosnian state", comprising 14 pages, was written in Sarajevo in April, 1997. It is a "content analysis of President Alija Izetbegović's statements." The issue pervading the entire analysis is why the Bosniac leadership, headed by President Izetbegović, has been accused of the partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The analysis attempts to address this issue by presenting and explaining attitudes from some of President Izetbegović's statements.

Unit four

"The fighting morale of the defensive-liberation forces during the aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina", comprising a total of 54 pages, describes the main characteristics and the state of the fighting morale in the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1990 and 1995. This unit actually presents an analysis of the fighting morale of B&H Army units in the defensive-liberation war against the aggressor attacking the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and is a work product of the Administration for Morale, headed by the author of this book.

The analysis is divided in two parts. The first is entitled "Character, foundations, goals, organization of work aimed at development of the fighting morale in the defensive-liberation forces in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina", and the other is "Characteristics of the state of fighting morale in the defensive-liberation war against the aggressor attacking the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina."

In the first part, characteristics of fighting morale are analyzed, as well as the foundations of the creation, goals, organization and work of experts in the development of the fighting morale in the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The second part analyzes the basic characteristics of the fighting morale in different periods (1990, from 1991 until early April 1992, from April 1992 until the end of 1992, from early 1993 until early 1994, and from early 1994 until the end of 1995). The above-mentioned periods refer to the time before the armed aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the initial period of the aggression, the time of "activities against aggressive military potentials of the Republic of Croatia and military potentials of Serbia and Montenegro", and the period from the Washington Agreement up to the Dayton Agreement."

The state of the fighting morale in the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the author points out, was assessed on a daily and weekly basis at the Administration for Morale, and the results of the assessments were used by "the President of the Presidency and the Commander-in-Chief of the General Headquarters."

The author particularly emphasizes the following influences on the fighting morale in the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina: loss of manpower, military and professional competence of commanders, influence of the state authorities on the morale of unit members, the attitudes of soldiers towards the system of management and command in the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the level of information acquired by the soldiers, emotional and rational attitude of soldiers towards the aggressor, behavior of soldiers, stimulative measures, motivation and readiness for participation in military operations, and faith and negative forms of behavior.
It should be pointed out that the development of the fighting morale in the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina was an integral part of functional responsibility for all management and command elements, from the lowest level of lance-corporal to the President of Bosnia and Herzegovina as the Supreme Commander.

Unit five

"Principal evidence of aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina" totals four pages and was written in Sarajevo on May 22, 1998. It lists eight facts which, according to the author, provide evidence of aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The facts are as follow: international recognition of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, direction of military activities on the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina from Belgrade, deployment of mobilized manpower from Serbia and Montenegro for the execution of military activities against the legal institutions of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, supremacy of the Serbian and Montenegrin people over the Bosnian Serb leadership, the "Tuđman - Milošević" agreement, ethnic cleansing, and political and military goals of Serbia and Montenegro for the accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Unit six

"Some strategic aspects of the position of the Bosnian liberation forces" consists of eight pages and was written in Sarajevo on June 3, 1995. It analyzes the position of Bosniacs as a constitutive people in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in relation to, the author states, (1) political and military potentials of the greater-Serbian aggression and (2) political motives and activities of the leadership of the Republic of Croatia, who want to use the political and military power of the legal Bosnian authorities for the creation of circumstances in which the political position of Bosniacs would be marginalized and eventual domination of Croats over Bosniacs would be ensured."

At the end, the author offers the following solution: "A federation of non-national cantons within the internationally recognized borders of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the formula for the most complete form of preservation of the Bosnian state, and the equality of its peoples and citizens."

Unit seven

"The role of Bosnian Army officers and the significance of armed combat comprises four pages and was written in Sarajevo on June 29, 1995. Its goal is to raise the morale of officers in the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The entire unit was written in the spirit of the author's initial thesis: "If we want to protect ourselves, if we want to save our families, if we want to save the people, especially Bosniacs, and if we want to save the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the only thing left is combat, armed combat against the enemy, against the aggressor."

Unit eight

"Priorities in the strengthening of combat potentials of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina" comprises three pages, and was created in Sarajevo on July 27, 1995. It was written in the same vein as the previous unit - strengthening of the fighting morale. The following sentence speaks for itself. "... we are wondering how to survive ... the answer is ... simple: we need to fight."

Unit nine

"Psychological propaganda of the aggression forces and information activities of the defensive-liberation forces during the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina" comprises 74 pages. It provides an account of the psychological propaganda used during the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina, and opposed to it, the information activities "of the defensive-liberation forces during the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina".

In his account of the psychological propaganda during the aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the author analyzes the characteristics of greater-Serbian and greater-Croatian propaganda.

His starting point, later elaborated through a series of units, is evident from the following sentences: "During the preparations for the aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and at its beginnings, a danger from greater-Serbian propaganda was overtly manifested, while the greater-Croatian propaganda was during that period covert, mostly within regions that were being prepared for the perfidious greater-Croatian aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Together with the greater-Serbian propaganda, the second half of 1992 sees an escalation of an ever more overt greater-Croatian propaganda, intensified with the attack of the Croatian Army on the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was preceded by the organization of the Croatian Defense Council, as a form of mobilizing Bosnian Croats during the aggression."

The author's starting position in the description of "greater-Serbian and greater-Croatian" propaganda is that aggressors against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina were Serbia, Montenegro and the Republic of Croatia. It is, therefore, necessary to point out some of his conclusions relating to greater-Serbian and greater-Croatian propaganda:

"Since the creators of greater-Serbian propaganda were aware that many Croats felt the same prejudices and hatred towards Bosniacs as did the Serbs, the entire greater-Croatian propaganda, which fulfilled both greater-Croatian and greater-Serbian strategic appetites towards the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was realized within the greater-Serbian propaganda on the basis of the Tuđman-Milošević agreement aimed at achieving greater-Serbian interests."

..."The greater-Croatian propaganda had the function of realizing greater-Serbian interests."

..."Because of the same goals (partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina and extermination of Bosniacs), the greater-Croatian and the greater-Serbian propaganda had the same characteristics with regard to conditions, substance, and methods of their realization."

The author goes on to describe the goals and the scope of "information activities" that had "the purpose of exposing ... false claims, and proving that the aggressor states were violating generally accepted principles of international relations, by stating facts about the aggression of Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina."
Finally, the author provides facts regarding the substance of "information activities" from the beginning of the armed aggression until the end of 1992, during 1993, 1994 and 1995 up until the beginning of peace negotiations in Dayton (November 2, 1995).

Unit ten

"Special operations against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina" comprises eleven pages and was written in Sarajevo in August, 1995. Here the author analyzes goals, sites, and scope of the special operations against Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosniac people. He pays particular attention to "the activities prior to the escalation of the greater-Serbian and greater-Croatian policies", "special activities of the greater-Serbian and greater-Croatian policies in the period shortly preceding the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina," and "special activities during the armed aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina." The author concludes that the "special activities" will continue with the same goal as in the past, "in order to destroy Bosniac political and statehood particularities."

Unit eleven

"What 'Yugoslavia' means in the hands of greater-Serbian Nazis" comprises two pages and was written in Sarajevo on January 28, 1999. Using the example of Montenegro, the author indicates that the armed conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, those in Kosovo, and the potential ones in Montenegro, exhibit the characteristics of greater-Serbian aggression, rather than those of an internal conflict or civil war.

Unit thirteen

"The importance of the Dayton Agreement" comprises three pages and was written in Sarajevo on November 22, 1995. In this article, the author analyzes to what degree Bosniac interests were realized, and emphasizes that "the Agreement guarantees more than a minimum of necessary conditions for a successful perspective of Bosniacs."

Unit fourteen

"The meaning of Tuđman's statements during the signing of the Paris Agreement on December 14, 1995" is a one-page article written in Sarajevo on December 15, 1995. The author provides a critical analysis of late President Tuđman's statement, considering that it "contains a series of messages arising from greater-Croatian goals that deny Bosniacs as a people and Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state."

Unit fifteen

"An assessment of the current situation regarding NATO's use of military forces against Milošević's regime" comprises five pages and was written in Sarajevo on April 1, 1999. The assessment examines current results of NATO air strikes directed at the achievement of strategic goals; problems created from the consequences of NATO air strikes on targets in Yugoslavia; and probable directions in further development of the situation in Kosovo and the entire region. The author concludes that air strike results are not sufficient, that NATO should inflict more severe losses to Yugoslav Army man-power, and that a stable political and military organization of Albanians is the only way to achieve the defeat of greater-Serbian politics.

Unit sixteen

"Strategic issues of security in Southeastern Europe" is the last unit, totaling eighteen pages. In this article, the author discusses the security aspects of democracy and human rights, the return of refugees, affirmation of co-existence and the position of national minorities as the most important issue of security and peace, the significance of education, and other security issues related to the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe, the Dayton Agreement, demilitarization, the restoring of balance, and so forth.

The beginning thesis is that democracy is the fundamental issue of peace and stability in Southeastern Europe. He addresses the relationship between democratic and antidemocratic potential, and holds that "the connections among antidemocratic forces in different countries are far closer than connections among democratic forces." The author also stresses that "democratic forces in the Republic of Croatia and Yugoslavia can contribute most to lasting peace and stability in the region."

According to the author, the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe and the consistent implementation of the Dayton Agreement are the "path to peace and stability."

He further analyzes the "new situation characterized by the wish for Bosnia and Herzegovina to access Partnership for Peace and NATO," and asks "whether Bosnia and Herzegovina can maintain two armies", for "two armies in one country is a source of instability, a source for endangering peace." The solution is seen in the integration of "the military dimension of the Bosnian state."

Demilitarization of Bosnia and Herzegovina is not realistic in the current state of affairs, for in the author's opinion, the Bosniac people would thus "remain unprotected." He maintains this to be a good idea, but advocates a "rationalization of military forces" and "maintaining of a balance."
The author sees the possibility for a lasting peace and stability in the establishment of a balance of military potentials, the security policy of countries in Southeastern Europe, "the balanced position of national minorities" and "the balanced relations of majority peoples towards their members in the neighboring countries."

Based upon the above, the following can be said about Muslimović's book, War and Politics.

  1. The author of War and Politics wishes to act as a witness to a difficult period in which the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was established and defended. Regardless of his wish to be an objective witness, the fact that he was an active participant directly affecting the development of events precludes this. The author offers his version of the truth between two sides - good and evil. Two units, the first and last, "Concept, strategy and the doctrine of defense" and "Strategic issues of security in South-Eastern Europe" respectively, differ from the others. All other units exhibit a common trait: the author's fear that "the theses could be confused", i.e. that an aggression was not committed against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and that the conflict was a civil war. Therefore, there is always an aggressor (Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Croatian Defense Council etc.) and a defender - the Bosniac people. In this part, the author often equates the destiny of the Bosniac people with the destiny of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  2. The remaining two chapters do not describe the past, but refer to the future through a consideration of a potential defense system in the Bosnian Federation and the type of balance needed in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to establish a lasting peace and stability. The greatest disadvantage of the book is its lack of connection among topics, and the variety of methodological approaches used in the analysis, induction, deduction, and description of problems. The book offers neither an introduction nor a preface, where the reader might find information about the topic of the book and its basic contribution. Therefore, we recommend this book only as a collection of the author's views and a treatment of the work of the Administration for Morale regarding the political needs for the motivation of military units in the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war, and his recollections on the conception, strategy and doctrine of defense in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The author's central focus is epitomized by a judgment given at the end of the book that "the relation towards territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina is of the most vital importance for the security in Southeastern Europe."

Simply put, the message of War and Politics is:

The destiny of security in Southeastern Europe depends on the destiny of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state. Therefore, security in Southeastern Europe depends on the position of Bosniacs as a people, and a state of Bosnia and Herzegovina tailored to fit the needs of the Bosniacs.

Miroslav Međimorec

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