Brotherhood and Disunity: A Strategic Analysis of the War in Bosnia, 1992-1996

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Petrick, Jane, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
OCHS, Peter, Religious Studies, University of Virginia

This paper evaluates the War in Bosnia by applying contemporary U.S. Joint Doctrine of the ends, ways, means, strategic paradigm. Most scholarship on the war in Bosnia was written during or immediately after the war; the accounts are pessimistic in their analysis of Dayton and the prospect of enduring peace. It has been twenty-five years since the Dayton Accords were signed. Bosnia Herzegovina is comprised of two autonomous entities: The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska. Between the two entities there is a road, open and porous. It is not the Korean peninsula with a Demilitarized Zone or Cyprus separate and disjointed. It is a lasting and enduring peace. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia successfully indicted 161 individuals, including Bosnian Croats, Serbs, and Muslims for war crimes, culminating in 2017. To argue that this was a civil war caused by ancient hatreds or a war caused by foreign aggressors is too binary and limiting. This paper supports research that argues that this war was both, a hybrid war. The war in Bosnia was a fabricated civil war, one in which the resources and means available were ethnoreligious; soft power tools that included a nexus of identity, history, propaganda coupled with legitimate concerns for the future resulted in genocide and the displacement of over a million people. For those who survived and endured ethnic cleansing and a siege, seeing neighbors turn on neighbors, it too was most certainly a civil war. Strategically analyzing the war using the U.S. joint military doctrine, this paper claims that the character of the war was dominated by ethnoreligious nationalism. The targets, tactics, and objectives were all influenced by ethnoreligious nationalism. This was fueled by the breakdown of Yugoslavia, weak religion, and weak economic and political structures that were exploited by nationalist chauvinism. The two main leaders in the Bosnian war Slobodan Milosevic and Alija Izetbegovic, applied ethnoreligious nationalism asymmetrically in support of their political objectives which directly contributed to the Dayton accords.

MA (Master of Arts)
Bosnia, Nationalism, Religion and Conflict, Strategy
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