Back in 1996, shortly after the end of the war in Bosnia, New York Times foreign affairs “sage” Thomas Friedman posed this question in his column: “What does Bosnia need today if it is going to be stabilized?”
The answer, according to Friedman’s calculations: “Bosnia needs big tanks, big roads, and Big Macs.”
To be sure, the vision of tank-based corporate conquest is of a piece with the variety of neoliberal plunder that Friedman has devoted much of his career to championing. And while the Bosnians took their sweet time getting into the Big Mac game—it was not until 2011 that the country’s first McDonald’s opened in Sarajevo—the location of this particular McDonald’s on none other than Marshal Tito Street is certainly the stuff of Friedman’s wet dreams. Another spike in the coffin of Communism.
Following Ronald McDonald’s triumph over the iconic Yugoslav leader, then, did stability immediately begin to emanate along with the French fry grease?
As anyone not blinkered by neoliberal, capitalist doctrine might expect, the corporate globalization process in Bosnia has entailed a fair amount of human misery. And although the apologists for global capitalism will continue their efforts to silence naysayers with lofty illogic, the fact remains that it simply is not good for the average human being when the needs of foreign investors are made paramount and basic existence is rendered financially prohibitive.
On a flight to Sarajevo earlier this year, I was seated next to two Turkish businessmen who interrupted their high-decibel discussion of investment opportunities in Bosnia exactly once: when a glance out the window prior to landing evoked a comparison of a certain Turkish landscape to the verdant hills below.
Incidentally, “available natural resources and beauties” is listed on the website of the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FIPA) as one of the answers to the question “Why Bosnia and Herzegovina?” Among the nation’s numerous other offerings and perks are “strategic location,” “abundance of industrial zone [sic] . . . and available production facilities,” “favorable legal environment,” “low tax rates,” and “regional and bilateral Free Trade Agreements.” READ MORE AT THE WASHINGTON SPECTATOR.