bosnia report
No. 3 January - 1994
 
Open Letter to President Clinton

On the eve of the NATO Summit, the daily victimization of Bosnia puts into sharp relief the failure of the United States and Europe to resist aggressive nationalism - a core test in post-Cold War Europe. NATO's continuing refusal to act effectively in Bosnia calls into serious question its relevance to the challenges of the new Europe and the value of your proposal for a new "Partnership in Peace".

Mr President, you have the unique opportunity to address "unfinished business" on the NATO agenda, and lead NATO in fashioning a new division of responsibility between the international community and the legitimate government of Bosnia. We must end the genocidal assaults on Bosnia. The alternative is a de facto comü plicity in the sieges and shelling of Bosnian civilians, interdiction of urgently needed humanitarian assistance, and the forced transfer and elimination of populations - all in the name of ethnic cleansing.

If Bosnia is not dealt with in a forthright manner, the NATO summit will be an empty promise and a missed opportunity, making NATO's future an open question. Bosnia must be considered first - not swept under the rug.

"Bosnia First" - A new Policy based on Principles, US Interests, and Courage

"Bosnia First" is intended to replace two years of failed policies that have brought the United States and the international community to the point of permitting war criminals to carve up Bosnia and thereby reward aggression. The plan restores a meaningful division of responsibility for Bosnia and the Balkan region and is based on fundamental principles enshrined in the Atlantic Charter, the United Nations Charter, and the Helsinki Final Act. It has two fundamental parts:

  • NATO must concentrate its enormous resources on saving civilian lives by ensuring that necessary humanitarian relief is actually delivered, stopping war crimes, and preventing a wider Balkan war.

  • The right and ability of the Bosnian people to defend themselves should be restored and forcefully asserted.

This plan does not call for US troops to be deployed in Bosnia. Indeed, provided important initial steps are implemented, the plan contemplates withdrawal of international forces from Bosnia, which could help remove longü standing divisions within NATO. We believe this plan is not only workable, but can also form the basis for a new international consensus to resolve the crisis in Bosnia and promote stability in the Balkans.

Policy Steps

We recommend the following steps for NATO, in sequence:

  1. Officially Assert Moral and Legal Imperative to Assist Bosnia
    • The US government has voted for UN resolutions condemning `ethnic cleansing'. Nevertheless, the US has declined to invoke the United Nations Genocide Convention with respect to aggression in Bosnia.

    • The US should show moral leadership by invoking the Genocide Convention, which calls on signatory states to prevent and punish genocide. The US can give substance to this dÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌäeclaration by seriously and publicly supporting the International War Crimes Tribunal, including making all US experts and materials on war crimes in former Yugoslavia available to the tribunal. In addition, states that harbor those indicted by the Tribunal and refuse to turn defendants over for trial will be informed that they will be treated as international pariahs.

  2. End the Arms Embargo Against Bosnia The UN-ordered, NATOüenforced, international arms embargo stands in the way of the Bosnian government's ability to defend its civilian population against war crimes (Serb and Croat interdiction of humanitarian aid, murder of civilians by shelling and sniping, laying sieges to Sarajevo and other towns and safe havens).
    • The arms embargo against Bosnia clearly contradicts Article 51 of the UN Charter that provides a state with the right to selfüdefence. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has failed to take measures necessary to ensure Bosnian peace and security, as called for in the UN Charter.

    • The US should affirm strong legal arguments that challenge the validity of the UN embargo against Bosnia, and assert that neither the US, NATO, nor Bosnia are bound by the embargo as passed against the old Yugoslavia, before Bosnia's admission to the UN as a new member state.

    • Existing UN Security Council Resolutions authorize UN member states to act together or alone using "all necessary means" to provide humanitarian assistance and protect safe zones.

  3. Enable the legitimate Bosnian government to deliver humanitarian supplies and vital services to its own people, where NATO and the UN have failed in this mission - as called for in Resolutions by the UN Security Council
    • Let the UN, and/or those countries that wish, transfer the responsibility, authority and means (materiel, transport and military hardware) to the legitimate government of BosniaHerzegovina to deliver humanitarian assistance by all necessary means.

    • As the Bosnian government assumes responsibility for the delivery of humanitarian relief, the US, NATO and international organizations will provide materiel, technical assistance and air support for Bosnian forces to assume protection of safe zones, convoy routes and corridors.

    • Ensure active NATO/US air cover for Bosnian-led humanitarian supply missions. The air forces of willing NATO member states would coordinate with the Bosnian government efforts to deliver humanitarian relief by using air power to attack Serbian and Croatian forces intent on interdicting deliveries of humanitarian relief. This would include attacking/breaking roadblocks and sieges, and using air power against other vital Serbian or Croatian targets if either side interferes with the UN-Bosnian transfer of responsibility for delivering assistance.

  4. Phased near-to-mid-term withü drawal of UN forces previously concerned with humanitarian resupply efforts As Bosnian forces, with the support of NATO/US air power, prove successful in delivering humanitarian relief, UN personnel would be withdrawn, leaving international technical support, human rights and aid monitors in place. Humanitarian assistance supplies and air delivery (including supplies delivered via Tuzla) would continue to be provided by the international community.

Serving US Interests and Working for Real Peace

We agree with Secretary Christopher, when he earlier asserted US interests in working toward a settlement in Bosnia:

"The conflict [in Bosnia] may be far from our shores but it is not distant to our concerns. . . The continuing destruction of a new UN member state challenges the principle that internationally recognized borders should not be altered by force. . . The world's response to the violence in the former Yugoslavia is an early and crucial test of how it will address the critical cÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌäoncerns of ethnic and religious minorities in the post-Cold War world. The quesü tion reaches throughout Eastern Europe. It reaches to the former Soviet Union, where the fall of Communism has left 25 million ethnic Russians living as minorities in other republics, and it reaches to other continents as well." (February 1993)

Notwithstanding the Secü retary's statement and your previous pledges, the United States has reflected and contributed to the West's failure in the former Yugoslavia. Our impotence in the face of brutal aggression must be replaced by forceful leadership. It is up to us to lead Europe to a reassertion of and dedication to the principle that there will be no profit or territorial gains from aggression. Since 1945 Americans and American leaders have affirmed the vow of "Never Again". You have a special opportunity to reverse the tragedy in Bosnia, and sustain America's moral leadership in the world. This leadership should begin at the NATO summit.

Written on 6 January 1994 and signed by Morton Abramowitz, Hodding Carter, Max M. Kampelman, Joseph Lieberman, Frank McCloskey and Aryeh Neier.

Action Council for Peace in the Balkans is based in Washington. Its Steering Committee includes Morton Abramowitz, William Brock, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Frank Carlucci, Hodding Carter, Dennis DeConcini, David Dinkins, Geraldine Ferraro, Barbara Jordan, Max. M. Kampelman, Lane Kirkland, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Tom Lantos, Joseph Lieberman, Richard Lugar, Frank McCloskey, Susan Molinari, Edmund Muskie, George Schultz, Susan Sontag, George Soros, Paul Volcker and Elie Wiesel.

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