On March 18, 1992, Alija Izetbegovic (Bosnian-Muslim leader), Mate Boban (Bosnian-Croat leader), and Radovan Karadzic (Bosnian-Serb Leader) all reached an agreement on the peaceful succession of Bosnia & Herzegovina from Yugoslavia.
The Agreement was known as the Lisbon Agreement (it is also known as the Cutileiro Plan). The agreement called for an independent Bosnia divided into three constituent and geographically separate parts, each of which would be autonomous. Izetbegovic, Boban, and Karadzic all agreed to the plan, and signed the agreement.
The agreement was all set, internal and external borders, and the administrative functions of the central and autonomous governments had all been agreed upon. The threat of civil war had been removed from Bosnia, that is until the U.S. Ambassador Warren Zimmerman showed up.
On March 28, 1992, ten days after the agreement was reached that would have avoided war in Bosnia, Warren Zimmerman showed up in Sarajevo and met with the Bosnian-Muslim leader, Alija Izetbegovic. Upon finding that Izetbegovic was having second thoughts about the agreement he had signed in Lisbon, the Ambassador suggested that if he withdrew his signature, the United States would grant recognition to Bosnia as an independent state. Izetbegovic then withdrew his signature and renounced the agreement.
After Izetbegovic reneged on the Lisbon Agreement, he called a referendum on separation that was constitutionally illegal. On the second day of the referendum there was a Muslim-led attack on a Serb wedding. But the real trigger was Izetbegovic announcing a full mobilization on April 4, 1992. He could not legally do that without Serb & Croat consent, but he did it anyway. That night terror reigned in Sarajevo. The war was on.
The United States likes to point to Bosnia as a shining example of where it helped Muslims. It is true that the United States armed the Muslims in Bosnia. But, after many thousands of deaths and massive destruction throughout Bosnia, the Muslims were afforded by the terms of the Dayton Accords, less territory than they had been guaranteed by the Lisbon Agreement, which the United States urged the Muslim leader to reject.
The bottom line here is that this war didn’t have to happen at all. Nobody had to die in Bosnia. If Ambassador Zimmerman had just left Izetbegovic alone, then none of this would have happened to begin with. It’s that simple. The blame for all of the death and destruction associated with the Bosnian war lies exclusively with Alija Izetbegovic for starting the war, and with the U.S. President [Herbert Walker Bush] for sending that idiot Zimmerman to Bosnia in the first place.
MacKenzie and Bisset on Bosnia 20 years later
Yugoslavia the avoidable war! Part 1 of 10