Friday, Sept. 13, 1996
Another power outage. I looked out and the town was black. It was already after curfew–they impose it at 11 p.m.–and I was secretly rather glad. The blackout would soon make it possible for me to walk home, since I could avoid being stopped by the cops. It’s odd, but I feel courageous with Serb warlords but sheepish with Bosniak traffic policeman. My friend Jim refuses to show them his papers, and I’m afraid that one of these days, he’ll end up in a dungeon. But he used to prosecute criminal gangs in New York, so he could probably tackle any cop who demanded to see his ID.
The blackout made me glad for another reason. It’s good that all the journalists and parliamentarians and even Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum, Clinton’s emissary to Bosnia, invading Sarajevo for the week get to see how bad it can be here. Because they will realize that Bosnia is not yet ready to be written off as a problem that has been solved.
Come to think of it, Mr. Kornblum must be staying some place with a generator. Generators are very popular here. If the black marketeers have generators, the U.S. Embassy must have one too. So Mr. Kornblum might not be made aware of Sarajevo’s difficulties with electricity.
International Crisis Group does not have a generator (we are a small group and a small office, but we have become Sarajevo’s salon par excellence). I sit in almost total darkness, save the glow from the burning wood stove, with a downloaded copy of an op-ed article written by Anthony Lake in the New York Times. I get very annoyed when I read rosy articles like this. He writes such things as “freedom of movement is improving” or, “Once-divided families are being reunited.” He claims that running water and electricity are being restored.
Indeed. The ICG office is in the center of town: We have water for 30 minutes at 7 p.m. each day. For comments on electricity, see above. And as for the notion that freedom of movement is improving, well, I have been living in Bosnia since May and have not seen one car with Bosniak plates more than a few kilometers into Bosnian Serb territory, and vice versa. Nobody, not even someone with a foreign passport, would travel in a car with “counter-ethnic” plates. It would be suicidal. Doesn’t Mr. Lake know that?