Dayton's Incomplete Peace

Courtesy Reuters


A visitor to Sarajevo is struck by how far this city and country have come since Bosnia's brutal war ended just four years ago. This once-beautiful city that dominated headlines for much of the first half of this decade has seen significant reconstruction. Many of its facades are freshly painted, apartment complexes have been repaired, new houses have been built, the inner city bustles with activity, and the innumerable cafes are filled with animated conversation. And yet, it is also immediately apparent how far Bosnia still is from recovery. Nationalist politics and ethnic differences continue to dominate every aspect of daily life. The line dividing Bosnia's two entities is still regarded by nearly all who live there as a "border" separating friendly from unfriendly territory. What little economic activity exists directly relies on the foreign assistance that has flooded in since the 1995 Dayton Accord. But without substantial reforms, it would grind to a halt as soon as the foreign aid dried up.

Bosnia's post-Dayton reality is a complex one. Although the country has moved a long way from its war-shattered past, it still functions only because the international community has poured vast resources into it. Whatever progress has been achieved in Bosnia is due to the untiring efforts of foreign soldiers, diplomats, and aid workers to provide security for all individuals, to cajole and persuade the country's leaders to move forward one small step at a time, and to assist in the rebuilding of the physical and psychological infrastructure that was devastated by more than three years of war. Instead of moving toward self-sustaining peace and economic growth, the country's economy, politics, and even its security remain firmly dependent on foreign, rather than Bosnian, efforts.

Bosnia's reality presents the world with a choice: Either it follows what might be called the "Kosovo model" and takes matters into its own hands, using the power thus gained to build the multiethnic, democratic, and economically sustainable country that many hoped Dayton

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