As the parent of any toddler knows, there are a few golden rules that you (try to) follow.
The first is that if you make a threat then you must be able to carry it out. So, when you say to your adorable offspring in their least adorable state 'if you do that again then we won't be going to the playground' you must be able to not go to the playground if they continue to spit yogurt drink all over their brother. This punishment can often be as much a punishment for the parent as it is for the child, to not go to the playground will obviously entail a screaming tantruming child who wants to go out, is now corralled at home with a parent who now has to deal with the little angel and has to find something else to do to fill the afternoon. The key here is obviously to find a better punishment, but I'm drifting off point.
If you don't carry out your threat you lose all legitimacy and, in the words of the great Potty Mummy you are toast. The kids have you were they want you. They don't need to listen to what you say, they know you don't mean it.
So, us lowly mums have a lesson for the International Community present in Bosnia. When you say to the Bosnian Politicians, you are all very very naughty and you must do what I say or else, you need to have an 'or else' or the Bosnian politicians will consider that you, too, are toast. Or at least irrelevant and will laugh at you when you get all cross and huffy. Trust me, there is nothing worse than being laughed at when you are cross and huffy.
It isn't surprising then that the role of the International Community here is being questioned, with quite a few people pushing to close OHR. Without teeth, without the ability to do the 'or else' (or even have an idea of what the 'or else' will be) it doesn't appear to have a whole lot of relevency.
But, the political situation here is still ever so tense. The situation has not improved with yesterday's decision to allow Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro visa free travel in the EU, but not Bosnia or Albania. As the Bosnian Croats mainly have Croatian passports (and visa free travel) and the Bosnian Serbs can legally obtain Serbian passports (and therefore are about to get visa free travel), the only group of people this is affecting is the Bosniaks (also known as Bosnian Muslims). There is a concern that isolating Europe's Islamic population in this way will lead to increased tension in the region (as detailed by the European Stability Initiatives report here). Some people here are questioning why it is that the victims of war crimes, such as Srebrenica, are to be denied visa free travel, while the perpetrators, by stint of their passports, will be able to travel freely (see the Balkan Insight article, but a few people I've spoken here have said the same thing). It should also be said that Serbia did meet the requirements laid out by the EU for visa free travel, and Bosnia has yet to do so, although the difference between the two countries is very slight indeed.
So, with an already tense political situation, decisions being made that will only make it even more so, it is important to think through what exactly an international presence here in Bosnia is designed to do. OHR (the international community organisation here in Bosnia) thinks of itself as stabilizers for kids learning to use a bicycle. Others say having the stabilizers stops the kids from learning how to balance. Either way, as all parents can tell you, if you want respect you must be prepared to be unpopular and carry through clearly defined threats. Otherwise you become an irrelevancy. In the decision of having an international community presence or not, the choice of having an irrelevent one is the least attractive of all.