Let Bosnia defend itself

Issue 

Let Bosnia defend itself

"What has changed in Yugoslavia above all is that the Bosnians have refused to play their assigned role as victims. From the very beginning, western and particularly British policy has been driven by the view that the central problem was to get the Bosnians to accept that they were the losers", observes Martin Woollacott in the January 30 Guardian Weekly.

The Europeans' strategy in the Balkans has failed dismally, and yet they cling to it. French foreign minister Alain Juppe recently told the New York Times that the US should convince the Bosnians to give up the fight. Juppe's comments reflect the British and Russian governments' less candid positions. The war has come to represent a political embarrassment for the Europeans — one they wish to divest themselves of, at the cost of Bosnia.

But the Bosnians won't abandon the fight to spare the red faces at European summit meetings. They refuse to sign inequitable "peace" accords that offer no peace at all, and concede to Serbia and Croatia almost 80% of Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Having reorganised, the Bosnian army — which is 30% Serb and 15% Croat — is now holding its own against both the Serb and Croat regimes, and has even made some advances. However, a UN arms embargo remains in force against the Bosnians, limiting their ability to defend themselves. The arms embargo has actually prolonged the conflict, because the Serbian and Croatian extremists' military superiority discourages them from making any concessions in the peace talks.

The only member of the new world order gang to give even rhetorical support of Bosnia's self-defence is the US. Calls for an end to the arms embargo by secretary of state Warren Christopher play the role of appeasing US public opinion, which is demanding support for the beleaguered Bosnians. But the US has no genuine desire to see an end to the war; a divided European Union is an advantage to the US in the world of realigning trade blocs.

The Bosnians can't be expected to and won't accept an unjust peace. Ultimately, a negotiated settlement is the only way the war, which has taken the lives of nearly 10,000 children alone, will be ended.

All the major powers have their own agendas. The only people who have the desire and capability to defend multi-ethnic Bosnia are the Bosnians themselves. The European powers bear a heavy responsibility to end the arms embargo against Bosnia and allow the people to defend themselves against the reactionary regimes of Serbia and Croatia and their puppets in Bosnia — the aggressors in this war.

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