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Vitomir Miles Raguz: Who Saved Bosnia
By Prof.Dr. Darko Zubrinic | Published  04/16/2011 | Bilingual , Croatians in B&H , Politics , Education | Unrated
Ambassador Raguz served in several Bosnian- Herzegovene and Croatian diplomatic posts (1992 to 2000)
Originally published January 2, 2011


Vitmomir Miles Raguž

Da nije bilo Oluje i drugi eseji / Who Saved Bosnia and other Essays
Zagreb: Stih, 2005.
ISBN 978-953-6959-28-0

 
PREDGOVOR
Dr. Ante Čuvalo – profesor povijesti

Više od trideset godina je Walter Cronkite, negdašnji znameniti glavni izvjestitelj CBS-ovih večernjih vijesti, smireno, jasno i uvjereno završavao svoja izvješća rečenicom: “I tako je to”.  Kao uvaženog novinara, Amerikanci su ga u sedamdesetim godinama prošlog stoljeća uvrstili među desetoricu ljudi “koji najviše utječu na donošenje odluka u Americi”.  Gledatelji su prihvaćali njegovu tvrdnju da je svijet uistinu onakav kakvim ga je on prikazivao.  Ta spremnost da se prihvati nečije viđenje svijeta nije neuobičajena.  Ljudi diljem svijeta prihvaćaju “tako je to” stvarnost, umjesto da se potrude sagledati je u svoj njenoj složenosti.

Jednostavnije je, lakše, a najčešće i manje opasno prihvatiti pretpostavke što ih razni Cronkitei i nazovi Cronkitei na svijetu odabiru, pakiraju i prikazuju, nego prihvatiti Kantov poziv da se “odvažimo spoznati” začudnu stvarnost svijeta.  Po Kantovim mjerilima ljudi iz masovnih medija, društvenih znanosti i javnog života nanose veliku štetu čovječanstvu, tvrdnjom da posjeduju konačnu istinu, jer tako čini izlišnim naše nastojanje da što bolje spoznamo svijet, što bi nam, sa svoje strane, pomoglo da ga izmijenimo nabolje.

U ovoj knjizi skupljeni eseji Vitomira Milesa Raguža nisu odraz glavne struje onih što za sebe tvrde da su najpozvaniji tumačiti događaje koji su pratili slom socijalističke Jugoslavije.  Ne moramo se slagati s autorom da bismo shvatili da su ovdje skupljeni tekstovi značajan doprinos razumijevanju nedavnih zbivanja u Hrvatskoj, Bosni i Hercegovini i u regiji.  On se suprotstavlja uvriježenim shvaćanjima o tragičnim zbivanjima iz toga vremena i dovodi u pitanje one koji su nam neprestance tvrdili “tako je to”.  Raguž svoja razmatranja temelji na činjenicama, a ne na politički prihvatljivim pretpostavkama i uvriježenim mitovima.

Ali on, isto tako, razlikuje “vidljive” činjenice (tko je što učinio iz ovih ili onih razloga na lokalnoj razini) od procesa i pojedinosti koje su u pozadini donošenja političkih odluka, čime i stručnjake prisiljava da učine isto, ukoliko žele spoznati puno značenje pojedinih zbivanja.  On iskazuje optimističko očekivanje da će budući povjesničari doći do dubljih sagledavanja, te da će takvim prodorom u “srž stvari” doprinijeti regionalnoj pomirbi više nego Međunarodni krivični su u Haagu ili današnji “posvećeni” stručnjaci.

Veleposlanik Raguž obnašao je više dužnosti u hrvatskoj i bosansko-hercegovačkoj diplomaciji (od 1992. do 2000. godine), te je mogao izbliza promatrati povijesnu dramu koja se odvijala u tome desetljeću.  Bio je u prilici promatrati protagoniste te drame, a ponekad je s njima bio i na pozornici.  Bliskost sudionicima koji su oblikovali zbivanja omogućila mu je dublji uvid u, primjerice,ulogu zapadnih sila u povlačenju hrvatskih vojnih snaga iz Posavine (1992.), sastanak Izetbegovića i hrvatskih diplomata u Jedi, u Saudijskoj Arabiji (1992.), namjere i ulogu Sjedinjenih Država u hrvatskoj vojnoj operaciji Oluja (1995.), te raznorazne pokušaje za okončanje rata u Bosni i Hercegovini.

Pojedinosti koje Raguž iznosi i događaji okojima piše nisu predstavljali državne tajne, niti su u ono vrijeme bile nepoznate inozemnim promatračima.  Ali mnoge od tih “pojedinosti” nisu objavljene i o njima se nije raspravljalo, jer su se protivili tada prihvaćenu načinu sagledavanja stvarnosti.  Drugim riječima, oni bi doveli do korjenitih promjena u stvarnosti kakvu su stvorili stručnjaci za regiju.

Možda najraširenija paradigma bila je ona o podjednakoj moralnoj odgovornosti, koja je jednaku krivicu za krvavi raspad Jugoslavije pripisala Slobodanu Miloševiću i Franji Tuđmanu.  No na osnovi procesa donošenja političkih odluka kojima je svjedočio, Raguž dokazuje da “Hrvatska nije bila proble, nego rješenje” sukoba što ga je izazvao srpski ekspanzioinizam.  To je bilo najočitije u slučaju Bosne i Hercegovine.

Za iskrivljenu sliku o Hrvatskoj i o Hrvatima on, međutim, ne krivi inozemne stvaratelje imidža, nego domaće i inozemne političare koji zbog kratkoročnih političkih probitaka izokreću stvarnost, kao i neke hrvatske intelektualce.  Potonji osjećaju potrebu da dokažu da su ravni onima koje smatraju intelektualno naprednim elementima u Europi.  Ponekad to čine i zbog vlastitog političkog aktivizma, a za neke koji su imali nedemokratsku prošlost to je put za osobnu rehabilitaciju posredstvom vjerodajnice dobivene iz inozemstva.

Kod veleposlanika Raguža to nije slučaj.  On se ne da uhvatiti u zamku idealističkih ili ideologijskih modela.  Premda je u vrijeme kad je prihvatio prvo postavljenje na diplomatski položaj Raguž bio mladi bankar, a ne diplomat, ubrzo je shvatio osnovna pravila međunarodne politike, prema kojima interes i realizam imaju prevagu nad idealizmom, internacionalizmom i humanizmom.  On stoga piše o onome što se uistinu dogodilo, a ne o onome što se trebalo dogoditi kad bi svijet bio savršeno mjesto.

Veći broj članaka u ovoj knjizi objavljen je u izdanjima koja su na Zapadu utjecajna, uključujući najčitanije dnevne političke novine na engleskom jeziku The Wall Street Journal, a zatim The Jerusalem Post, European Voice i The Harvard International Review, kao i u hrvatskim novinama i časopisima.  U svim tim esejima veleposlanik Raguž iznosi ne samo vrijedna svjedočanstva izravnog promatrača, nego dokazuje da je prvorazredni analitičar zbivanja u regiji.  On, također, nudi i prijedloge za rješenje onoga što se doima kao niz složenih problema koji prijete ugroziti mir i stabilnost u jugoistočnoj Europi.

Premda je Raguž realist, on je i optimist.  Uvjeren je da su dobronamjerni ljudi u tom napaćenom europskom području daleko brojniji od onih sa zlim namjerama.  Ali zaključuje da prije nego što regija krene na putovanje u bolju budućnost, moramo stvoriti “uravnoteženu sliku” o nedavnim ratovima.  Iz toga razloga višekratno je pozivao sve koji su bili uključeni u zbivanja, kako one u regiji tako i one izvan nje,da preispitaju postojeće verzije događaja koje su se uvriježile, ali često ne odgovaraju činjenicama, i da potraže istinu u svoj njenoj složenosti – radi bolje budućnosti sviju.

Chicago, Illinois
Svibnja 2005.

 
FOREWORD
By Dr. Ante Čuvalo – Professor of History

For over thirty years, Walter Cronkite, celebrated former anchor of CBS Evening News, calmly, clearly, and with authority ended his news reports with the sign-off line, “And that’s the way it is.”  As a news anchor, he was voted by Americans among the top 10 “most influential decision-makers in America” in the 1970s.  His audience accepted his word that the world was the way he presented it.  This willingness to accept the world as others portray it is not unusual.  People around the world accept reality “the way it is” instead of making an effort to see it in all its complexity.

It is much simpler, easier, and quite often safer to accept the assumptions that various Cronkites and would-be Cronkites of the world select, package, and present to us, rather than to accept Kant’s invitation to “dare to know” the perplexing realities of our world.  By Kant’s standard, those in the mass media, social sciences, and public life are doing a great disservice to humanity by claiming to possess the final word because by doing so they forestall our efforts to seek a better grasp of the world, that should, in turn, contribute to helping us to change it for the better.

This collection of essays by Vitomir Miles Raguz does not reflect the mainstream thinking among those who claim to be expert interpreters of the events that accompanied the collapse of Socialist Yugoslavia.  But one does not have to agree with the author to realize that this collection is a significant contribution to understanding recent events in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and the region.  He challenges the conventional wisdom regarding the tragic events of the period and he questions those that have repeatedly told us “that’s the way it is.”  Mr. Raguz bases his discourse on facts, not on politically correct assumptions and popular myths. 

But he also distinguishes “visible” facts (who did what for various reasons on the local level) from beyond the scene policy-making processes and particulars, and he urges the experts to do the same if they wish to grasp the full meaning of events.  He is optimistic that future historians will probe more deeply, and by getting to the “bottom of things” contribute to regional reconciliation more than the ICTY or the “committed” experts of today.

Ambassador Raguz served in several Bosnian- Herzegovene and Croatian diplomatic posts (1992 to 2000), where he had a front-row seat to the historic drama that unfolded during that decade.  He was able to observe the protagonists of this drama and sometimes was on stage with them.  His close proximity to the participants who shaped events gave him significant insights regarding, for example, the role of Western powers in the withdrawal of Croatian military forces from Posavina (1992), the meeting between Alija Izetbegovic and Croatian diplomats in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (1992), the intentions and the role of the United States in the Croatian military operation “Storm” (1995), and the various efforts to end the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The details Mr. Raguz reveals and the events he discusses were not state secrets nor were they unknown to foreign observers of the region at the time.  But many of these “details” were not made public and discussed because the standard paradigms then in use excluded them.  In other words, they would have forced radical changes in the realities constructed by experts on the region.

Probably the most popular paradigm was that of moral equivalence, which attributed equal blame for Yugoslavia’s violent dissolution to Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman.  But based on the policy-making processes that he witnessed, Raguz argues that “Croatia was not the problem but the solution” to the conflict caused by Serbian expansionism.  This was nowhere more evident than in the case of Bosnia- Herzegovina.

He does not lay the blame for the popularity of distorted images of Croatia and Croats on foreign image-makers, but places it with local and international politicos who bend the reality for short term policy gains, as well as with some intellectuals in Croatia.  The latter had a need to prove themselves to be on a par with what they believed to be the intellectually progressive elements in Europe.  At times this was also the case because of their ideological activism, and for some with non-democratic pasts, a way to personal rehabilitation through an external imprimatur.

This was not so for Ambassador Raguz, who was not trapped within idealistic nor ideological models.  When he accepted his first posting as a diplomat Mr. Raguz was a young banker, not a diplomat.  Nevertheless, he quickly grasped the basic rules of international politics that interest and realism prevail over idealism, internationalism, and humanitarianism.  He therefore writes about what happened, not what should have happened had the world been an ideal place.

A number of articles in this collection appeared in influential publications in the West, including the largest circulation English language policy daily The Wall Street Journal, The Jerusalem Post, European Voice, and The Harvard International Review, as well as in Croatian newspapers and magazines.  In each of these essays, Ambassador Raguz gives not only valuable eyewitness testimonies, but he also proves himself to be a first-rate analyst of events in the region.  He also offers suggestions for resolving what seem to be complex issues that continue to threaten peace and stability in south-eastern Europe.

Although Mr. Raguz is a realist, he is also an optimist.  He believes that well-intentioned people in that troubled part of Europe outnumber those with evil intentions “by a wide margin”. But he concludes that before the region can embark on its road to a better future, we must have a “balanced picture” of its recent wars.  For that reason he has repeatedly urged all those who were involved, both within and outside of the region, to question existing accounts which are popular but often inaccurate assessments of events, and to seek the truth in its full complexity- for the sake of a better future.

Chicago, Illinois
May, 2005


Source www.cuvalo.net
Many thanks to Dr. Ante Čuvalo for submitting this contribution for the readers of the CRWON

 
Reviews from the book hardcover

Brian Gallagher, London UK

This is really a superb piece of work, arguing that far from being responsible for aggression against Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia was responsible for saving it.

Raguz remind us that is was Croatian forces that saved Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995. Futher, he informs us of the unfashionable fact that Bosnian Croat forces in the early part of the conflict were responsible for saving Bosnia from being completely over-run by Serbian aggression.

Raguz also tackles the issue of the Muslim-Croat war, and convincingly puts forward the idea - shared by others such as the respected military historian Charles Shrader's The Muslim-Croat Civil War in Central Bosnia - that the aggression came not from the Croats; but from the Bosnian Muslims.

Sure, Croatia fought the Serbs in Bosnia for their own interests (protecting Croatia itself), but those interests meant Bosnia survived in some form. Without the Croats - from Croatia and Bosnia - Bosnia would have been destroyed, that is a truth Bosnian muslims should face.

This book will make uncomfortable reading for those who insist on the "Tudjman-Milosevic carved up Bosnia" theory. Indeed, Raguz shoots down the theory that the Posavina region of Bosnia was given to the serbs as part of such a deal. Not so - the west wanted the Croat forces out for a peace conference, and put diplomatic pressure on them including from the Sarajevo government as Raguz argues with evidence.

This is a great book for those interested in the former Yugolavia; it's broken up in many essays on related topics (inclulding the economy) and is a delightful read.

T. Kuzmanovic, Milwaukee, WI United States

This book is an essential read which cuts through the morass of indifference right to key domestic and international players who made the decisions which made or broke Bosnia, and Croatia for that matter. Given his insider status, Raguz could have been cynical. Instead, his analysis is devoid of emotion which often clouds the factual issues of how and why things happened in Bosnia and Croatia. It also exposed the real politik view of the "west", it's complete lack of understanding of the situation on the ground there and the fear of provoking the Serbs. Once they were punched in the nose, they backed down like all bullies do. It's ironic that the American political and military establishments tried to scare everyone into believing that one would need 250,000 troops to quell Bosnia and that it would become a quagmire with loads of American casualties. Nothing of the sort remotedly occurred. The CIA predicted in 1990 that Yugoslavia would fall apart in a violent manner well before the destruction of Vukovar and the shelling of Dubrovnik in Croatia in the fall/winter of 1991 before the war in Bosnia even began. It's a shame they couldn't use what they learned in Bosnia and have applied it to Iraq.


 
Submitted to the CROWN by B. Gallagher / T. Kuzmanovic, May 19, 2002

Excellent letter here from CAA published in Washington Times. Another aspect of the Gotovina cases makes it into the mainstream press: Bihac. This is what I said last year: "Srebrinica is also relevant. Had Bihac fallen, there would have been another massacre. The UN allowed the ´Krajina´ Serbs to besiege and napalm Bihac; the very forces the UN were supposed to be disarming. The UN was prepared to countenance another Srebrenica. Not something many want known, hence the attempts to criminalize ´Operation Storm´. "

It is worth noting that the indictment fails to mention Bihac at all in its skewed history.
It all starts to creeep out into the mainstream. The vested interest the UN have in prosecuting Gotovina is something we should not ignore.

Brian


Washington Times

18 May, 2002

Hague tribunal could spell trouble for former U.S. officials

By explaining that the consequences of the case of Croatian Gen. Ante Gotovina are far more serious for the United States than those of the Slobodan Milosevic case, Op-Ed contributor Jeffrey T. Kuhner revealed something about which official Washington has done much whispering ("A win for American democracy," May 10).

Although the Bush administration has withdrawn from the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC) to protect American foreign policy from international bureaucrats, the United States may yet have problems with the highly politicized and unregulated structure of the temporary International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague.

Just after Dutch U.N. peacekeeping troops could not prevent 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys from being slaughtered by the Bosnian Serb army in Srebrenica in summer 1995, the Clinton administration was intent on using force to stop a much larger massacre of Bosnian Muslims in the city of Bihac. The result was that the United States and its NATO allies provided air power in an unofficial alliance with the Croatian army to reverse the effects of ethnic cleansing by Bosnian Serbs.

In his book "To End a War," former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs Richard Holbrooke quotes then-Ambassador Robert Frasure saying that the Croats were our "junkyard dogs because we were desperate."

Gen. Gotovina started an offensive known as Operation Storm with the full knowledge of the Clinton administration, and Mr. Holbrooke told the Croatian leadership to halt Gen. Gotovina after Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had agreed to the principles that eventually led to the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords and an end to the Bosnian war.

Because Predator intelligence drones allowed the Pentagon to monitor every detail of Gen. Gotovina's ground offensive around the clock, it is obvious that war crimes could not have occurred without U.S. knowledge.

Is Gen. Gotovina responsible for war crimes? Probably not. But given the fact that Operation Storm began with at least passive U.S. approval, was conducted under full U.S. surveillance and was halted by the United States when our objectives had been achieved, it would seem that prosecution of Gen. Gotovina in the Hague on grounds of command responsibility would have similar implications for Clinton administration officials.

GEORGE RUDMAN
National president
Croatian-American Association



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