Building a Multiethnic Military in Post-Yugoslav Bosnia and Herzegovina

Short, Elliot (2018) Building a Multiethnic Military in Post-Yugoslav Bosnia and Herzegovina. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This dissertation explores ideas of the state, the military, and identity. It demonstrates the complex relationship between these concepts by charting the evolution of three armies which were established to fight the Bosnian War from their inception in 1991 until their formal unification in 2006. This process is illustrated through the analysis of a wide range of sources, including interviews, speeches, military journals, government documents and legislation, memoirs, newspaper articles, and trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The author’s perspective is informed by his experience living, researching, and working in Sarajevo for over two years, in which time he also travelled throughout every former Yugoslav republic and learned the local language.
Nestled in the heart of the Dinaric Alps, Bosnia and Herzegovina is home to three constituent peoples (Bosnian Croats, Muslims, and Serbs) which, until the period of study, lived in mixed communities scattered across its mountains and valleys. Heritage from a particular constituent people did not necessarily inform political outlooks, and for much of the population regional or ideological loyalties took precedent. This dissertation first examines how the Yugoslavs attempted to build a cohesive military from this range of identities during the socialist period. It then explores how rival nationalist leaders raised armies and attempted to build states on Bosnian territory following the collapse of Yugoslavia, offering new perspectives and fresh analysis of the Bosnian War. The focus of this research, however, is on the process of defence reform and military integration which followed the conflict. Just ten years after the Dayton Peace Agreement ended the war, the three armies which had fought it were unified by the Bosnian parliament. Such a development represents a rare moment of political consensus in post-Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina, and is considered to be the greatest step in establishing peace since the end of the war. This dissertation illustrates how this step was taken.
The case of Bosnia and Herzegovina offers us many insights. It reminds us that the boundaries and salience of identity are fluid, and that states are fragile constructs that are difficult to build and maintain. It illustrates the difficulties of building a cohesive military from a diverse population, and offers a lens to analyse various attempts to overcome them. Furthermore, it demonstrates that military integration can serve as the vanguard of institutional reconciliation in post-conflict states and a unified army can serve as a symbol of cooperation in a divided society.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Jackie Webb
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2019 13:53
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2019 13:53


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