The "s" shape division is actually not a new idea. In that old old Yugoslavia, which was a Serbian dominated authoritarian monarchy, much alike to what Milosevic had in mind for Yugoslavia in 1991, the compromise was reached between Serb and Croat bourgeoisie in 1939 (Cvetkovic-Macek agreement) to split their parts of Yugoslavia in two large defined territories giving Croatia the largest province (Banovina Hrvatska) in that Yugoslavia. Muslims at that time were not recognized as nationality. Bosnia-Herzegovina did not exist as an entity. Sarajevo and most of today's Muslim dominated Bosnia felt under Banovina Hrvatska (which looked eerily close to Bosnian-Croat confederation today). That agreement came after the most popular Croatian member of Yugoslav parliament was shot in the parliament by a Serbian version of Lee Harvey Oswald (Punisa Racic) in 1928 and after an extremist Ustasha movement emerged in Croatia fighting for secession (much like IRA in Northern Ireland).
Croatia, thanks to its history under Austria was more industrially developed than Serbia, and it was natural that it took a lead in the country. That agreement, which would probably, if left undisturbed for a few generations, produced a happy parliamentary monarchy over the course of years (it was modeled upon the British model), fell apart with the beginning of the WW II. Nazis split the country as they pleased and installed their puppet regimes. Entire Croatian coast was given to Italy, and it was under direct Italian rule. The rest of Croatia and Bosnia was given to Ustashe, which got free hands to cleanse the country from Serbs. Meanwhile Serbs (Chetnicks) in Italian controlled Croatian coastal areas were allowed to massacre Croats.
The war ended with the victory of non-nationalist communist Tito's partisans. Tito split the country as he deemed most convenient for his eternal rule. Communists understood that four years of WW II produced some unspeakable hatreds and that Cvetkovic-Macek division would be unrealistic to hold. Bosnia was actually re-created in its original borders (as a province under Ottoman and later Austro- Ungarian rule), with its diverse population, and Muslim majority, as a "model Yugoslavia" buffer between Croatia and Serbia. Majority of Yugoslav military forces and defense industry was placed in Bosnia (60%) which, under Tito's military doctrine, was deemed as a last retreat in case of invasion (by US or SU). Therefore the "yugoslavism" was most strictly enforced by communists in Bosnia (much stricter than in Croatia or Serbia). Bosnia was meant to preserve Yugoslavia.
And again - given the time - a few generations - maybe children of my generation will break away from stupidity of communist rule and reorganize Yugoslavia on democratic principles into a federation similar to the U.S. But time was never given to Yugoslavia. Balkans was never allowed more than 50 years of peace in the entire written history of human kind.
When the present war started both Croatia and Serbia found Bosnia unpalatable: Croatia - because the presence of Bosnia meant that Yugoslavia was possible; Serbia - because the multi-ethnicity of Bosnia proved that multi-ethnicity was possible. Therefore both Tudjman and Milosevic wished for Bosnia to fail. Milosevic heavily armed and trained Serbs of Bosnia into a devastating military force that swept 70% of Bosnia carving it out as an ethnically clean Serbian territory. With less steel and gun-powder, but with more political smarts and diplomatic clout, Tudjman entered the war to rescue Bosnia, driving Izetbegovic into the fabled, U.S. sponsored but never operational confederation, and basically carving the rest of Bosnia out for himself. Now it seems that Bosnians are reenacting the trauma of Hungarians in 1944 - when Red Army "rescued" them from Nazis.
However, since so much p.r. stakes are on Bosnia, it will be inconceivable to take it all. Some territory will have to be left to Bosnian government, and Sarajevo will have to be included in that deal. Otherwise I don't see Clinton being able to sell his Bosnian policy as a success story to the American electorate in 1996 (and that's the only thing that really counts, isn't it?). A small Islamic Bosnian State - not any more multiethnic Bosnia, that was the cradle of rock and roll in former Yugoslavia, that we remember - landlocked between greater Serbia and greater Croatia, like Mongolia between China and Russia, is the realistic prospect.
Now, since the world such nicely shrank hopes of Bosnians to regain their lost country, I suppose the mighty NATO has some idea of how would such Bosnia survive: what would be the basis of economy? what would people do there? where would people live there? how would they get in and out of their country? how would they be supplied (and how would they avoid getting robbed by their neighbors)? Does Alija have any clue what should he do to make it work?
What is going to happen to Bihac area? It is ruled by Bosnian government - but it is separated from central Bosnia by the large swath of territory half controlled by the Serbs, and half by Bosnians-Croats (and Croats have all the meaningful weapons). Plus, the area is home of Muslim rebels lead by Abdic which do not recognize Sarajevo's government.
What is going to happen to Banja Luka? Now it is overflown by Serbian refugees (one million of them), and it is still defended by Mladic's army and air-force. NATO actually allowed them to break no-fly ban and attack advancing Croat army. Without NATO support Croats stopped their offensive (smart move). Nobody in the West could stomach probable massacre of a million people even if they are just Serbs. So, the exit through the Brcko doors is left wide open for Serbs to go to Belgrade.
Banja Luka is also a part of another torturous negotiation process, maybe: the one between Bosnian and Croat government.
And the latest meeting of Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims in New York proved as a dead-end. Clinton reiterated his belief that Bosnia should remain undivided. Unconvincingly, because he still threatens to veto the lifting of arms embargo against Bosnian government, depriving Bosnians of means necessary for them to stop otherwise inevitable division which is under way already. This is even more cynical given that the West armed Serbs before the war. Alija did not prepare. He was caught sleeping. Milosevic bought everything necessary on time, before the embargo. Reputable arms dealers around the world (like InterArms Inc.) recollect affable relations with Serbs and arms factories in Serbia for 25 years before the war.
Bosnian government, on the other hand, for the price of the indivisibility agreed on Bosnian-Croat-Serb joint parliament and government. The thing they proposed in 1991, but Serbs boycotted, retreated to the mountains and started pounding Sarajevo. It didn't work then. Why would anybody believe it would work now after four years of incredibly hate-mongering war? Also, do they really want Karadzic to sit in the parliament building in Sarajevo, after he almost levelled it by shelling? No. They want him prosecuted for war crimes. But who would then represent Serbs in the parliament if all legitimate Serbian political leaders in Bosnia are by now convincingly accusable of committing war crimes?
So, this agreement, like so many previous ones is here just to save Americans face, not to actually solve the Bosnian problem. After the short bombing campaign, which of course did some damage to Serb military force, but it had to stop so that the West may still claim it is not completely sided with Bosnians (or with more precisely with Croats) - some agreement was a necessary justification for invested military effort. Two French airmen are still being held by Serbs. Hollbroke had to produce something. So, he produced the agreement that claims at the same time that Bosnia is not going to be divided and that Serb and Croat held Bosnia will remain under Serb and Croat regional leadership. Nothing else is enforceable anyway. But then - isn't that a division in itself? And Serb artillery is still around Sarajevo (Serbs finally agreed to move pieces over 80mm - there are plenty of lower calibre left around). And there is no more trees in Sarajevo to be cut for heat this winter, so people are eventually going to freeze without gas and electricity in the middle of the capital of the country they supposedly rule. Stay tuned to CNN for latest gory details during January 1996.
Clinton can't admit that division actually already took place, because he pledged not to permit that division - so, officially division have not happened before November 1996. He, also, can't do much to reverse history. America and the rest of the West do not want send their ground forces to fight in Bosnia. This is 21st century: public won't approve that. Ratings will plunge. So, they rather rely on Croatian Army to do the dirty ground work, and Croatian Army did the job pushing Serbs out and now wants to stay there. Who will get them out? In concordance with western wishes, Croatia keeps acknowledging Bosnian rule for media, but on the ground in reality Croatia rules.
Who knows - maybe Republicans already have secret deals with Croats, Serbs and Bosnians (as they did have with Iranians in Carter era) that would recognize division of Bosnia, award Croatia extension of its territory and let Serbs keep some, confining Bosnia to the size of Liechtenstein, and then introducing all three leadership to the beauties of free market (making them rich and their people even more poor). I have some acrid taste in my mouth that the war in Bosnia will end with the "breakthrough" peace- agreement immediately following Republican presidential victory in the U.S.