I recently stumbled onto the blog of a college sophomore named Caleb Posner. Between him and our new friend Natalie, there’s hope for the future. For an American to have the remotest awareness that the “Serbian genocide against Bosnians” wasn’t all it was cut out to be is exceptional, so the rest of Caleb’s analysis is just the icing on the cake. I reproduce his post in full below:

Bosnia’s Legitimacy (Or Lack Thereof)

Recently, I wrote an article about the ahistoric and doomed nation of Bosnia, which prompted quite a stir. Unsurprisingly, it compelled one reader to draft a guest editorial weakly attempting to refute my claims or second guess my underlying intentions. I could not let this go unchallenged, but I decided that getting lost in the comment section of another website probably wasn’t the best option in addressing the statements made by Edip Oncu. Thus, what follows are quotes from his article, and my response to them.

Where relevant, I have linked to sources that validate my claims. Feel free to read them if you so desire.


At a time when the United States is celebrating its historical moment of having an African-American President-elect in its own challenge against its racial and religious prejudices, it is disappointing to see a biased article in an international affairs section regarding a European nation’s fate. In Caleb Posner’s column (Student Life, Nov. 5) he discusses Bosnia and Herzegovina’s nationhood or “historical validity” and proposes that the Bosnians should be denied of their independence and statehood. His claims are poorly-based and biased.

Since I write as an editorial columnist, it ought to be unsurprising that my writings do, in fact, reflect my personal opinion. Undoubtedly then, my column is biased, in the same way [as] something written by Julia Gorin or Jonah Golberg. But that does nothing to undermine the statements of fact contained within the article. And the claim made in Mr. Oncu’s opening paragraph proves invalid, as his subsequent objections are essentially groundless.

Posner attempts to negate the biggest achievement of the Clinton administration, to stop the Serbian genocide against the Bosnian people, and Richard Holbrooke, just because he thinks Bosnia is a breeding ground “for jihad and Islamism” requires serious consideration. (What is Islamism anyways? There is no political movement called Islamism in any kind of literature; did he mean radical Islamists? Or Islamic terrorists?)

Clearly, Mr. Oncu has an agenda. I say this because he speaks of the “Serbian genocide against the Bosnian” people as though it were indisputable fact, and was a one-sided slaughter where only the Serbs were guilty of inappropriate action. The truth is, while the Western media has sided overwhelmingly against Serbia, there is not a factual consensus on either of these issues. Even the most famous incident of the supposed slaughter of the Bosnians is heavily disputed. And even if we accept his claim that such a genocide occurred, no honest individual can claim that the Bosniaks were devoid of any guilt, since we know they had Jihadist militants fighting for them. They even had suicide units.

Now, to answer the parenthetical questions posed, Islamism is the ideological system of an Islamist. That is, one who seeks to modify existing law and culture to impose the values established in the Quran and Islamic law. While the potential for Islamism to become a powerful force has been there since the Turkish occupation of the Balkans centuries earlier, and has on occasion proven a problem, it manifested itself anew in a serious fashion during the war, when Al-Qaida got involved, and continues to this day (even the US recognizes this).

1. Posner writes, “Truth be told, Bosnia has no historical legitimacy.” How can any authority prove the historical legitimacy of a state? Who legitimizes a nation?

Well, a starting point we be a unified culture developed over time by a group of people who have consistently inhabited the region, and integrated the concept of nationhood into their identity. This does not, in any way, describe Bosnia. It plays host to three distinct groups. First and second are the Serbs and the Croats, both of whom have ethnic identities linked closely to neighboring states, and have a historic presence in the region. Third though are the Bosniaks. They are the Islamic individuals who identify themselves as Bosnian, chiefly because they have no other obvious group with whom to associate. It turns out though that Bosniaks are most closely linked with the Turkish (who, as noted in the above links, supplied many of the Jihadists that fought for the pseudo-nation). Indeed, the very term Bosniak is of Turkish origin. Of course, this influence only tells us so much. More important is the constantly changing status of Bosnia, which has historically been under the domain of others, usually linked to Serbia based on ethnic composition.

2.He next argues, “Bosnia is not a nation of historic validity, but a disputed buffer region.” Again, who validates if a nation is historically valid or not?

And is a nation a geographical term determined by buffer zone? Even if you use that ill-definition of buffer zone, Croatia was the buffer zone for centuries between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Empire. If Bosnia is artificial, so are Serbia and Croatia, since all those were created by Jozip Tito after WWII artificially.

Credit must be given to our Turkish friend Mr. Oncu for his attempts to use Serbian and Croatian legitimacy as a defense of Bosnia. Unfortunately, this does not hold up. As established previously, Serbia and Croatia both have legitimacy and historic precedent. This includes having distinct, coherent cultures of their own. The same cannot be said of Bosnia, which takes land that might otherwise belong to its neighbors, and establishes a new state for the purpose of militarily restraining two historic enemies. If Mr. Oncu wishes to draw a parallel, then the nation which Bosnia most closely resembles is the Western European state of Belgium. It too was created with the purpose of undermining the power of neighboring nations that were rising to challenge a foreign power (the UK), and is comprised of two distinct peoples who have little cause for unity.

3.Dayton Accords did not create that federal system as Posner argues; it was a system going far back to Ottoman times which was equally applied by Tito. The Bosnian lands becoming battlegrounds was the guilt of Serbian leaders, who ruthlessly and systematically applied means of genocide to claim majority in Bosnian lands. And all of those leaders went on trial for their part in genocide.

The federal system, AS IT PRESENTLY FUNCTIONS, was a product of the Dayton Accords. Nobody disputes that there were systems somewhat similar applied during previous times. But note that in none of those cases was Bosnia an independent nation free to act as it wishes. The creation of a federal Bosnian country is very much a late 20th century exercise in American political power that closely mirrors the British creation of Belgium.

As for the other claims, I have already taken issue with the general allegations of genocide on the part of the Serbs. So, rather [than] speak more to that invalid claim, I would instead note that the Bosnians have much to answer for, which our friend has conveniently forgotten about. Moreover, the bias of the ICTY, which is conducting the trials mentioned, is quite clear.

4. Posner claims that “Bosnia would be kept in check; its ability to provide a breeding ground for jihad and Islamism would be reduced by threat of invasion from neighbors.” This sentence explains Posner is against Bosnian independence just because there are Muslim people living in Bosnia. But, what kind of Islam do Bosnians practice, and are there any accounts that Bosnian people support any kind of terrorism? Any reasonable and informed person would know that Bosnian Muslims are generally tolerant and mild—it is one of the reasons they were butchered so easily by the Serbian soldiers.

It requires a special insanity to misconstrue my concerns about Islamism in Bosnia as meaning that I oppose Bosnian independence based exclusively on the population’s Islamic faith. My original article stated quite clearly that I do in fact support an Islamic state in the region following the return of parts of the country to Serbia and Croatia.

Again Mr. Oncu speaks of Islam in Bosnia, and the alleged criminal actions of the Serbs. I could once more note how the Jihadist problem in Bosnia is established fact or how it is they, not the Serbs, who owe us an explanation, even if the international community is unwilling to enforce justice.

My final question is this: Is Posner trying to justify Serbian genocide just because Bosnia has a sizeable Muslim population? What kind of an approach is it that leads to an American sophomore trying to deny a nation from its nationhood and proposing that that nation be swallowed up by its neighbors?

There is nothing to justify, though for the record, I would never endorse genocide based on a population’s religious identity. The issue here though is national validity, of which Bosnia has none. But I concede that present demographics require that an Islamic state remain in between Serbia and Croatia, even if it is the bastard child of the Ottoman empire.