bosnia report
No. 8 January - 1995
Neither Peace nor Honour
by from the Editors

The Contact Group countries, by redefining their non-negotiable 'peace plan' for Bosnia- Herzegovina as merely a basis for further negotiations, have in effect buried it. The Vance-Owen Plan, once sold as 'the only show in town,' was equally unceremoniously dropped once the Pale Serbs refused to sign it. What is different this time is the Clinton administration's capitulation before the French and British appeasers of genocide and aggression.

For almost three years now the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina have been treated as mere pawns in a great game of bluff, in which the only real card has been readiness to use brute force. When the Knin and Pale Serbs first prevented all humanitarian aid from reaching the UN 'safe area' of Bihac, then used all the hardware at their disposal - including combat planes and helicopters - to attack it, the UN and NATO did nothing (apart from the cosmetic temporary cratering of one runway). That under-equipped units from Bangladesh (inexplicably replacing well-armed French forces shortly before the attack) were targeted along with Bihac civilians made no difference, any more than that the Knin Serbs' attack from the UNPA in Croatia across an international border constituted a self-evident case of aggression.

But were not the 'safe areas' proclaimed to be under UN protection precisely in order to justify maintaining an embargo on the acquisition of self-defence weapons by the Bosnian State? And were United Nations troops not sent to Bosnia in the first place precisely to deliver humanitarian aid to the sick and starving people? There can be no further excuse for keeping the embargo in place, especially in view of the steady influx of the deadliest we4apons to Karadzic's army via Serbia and occupied parts of Croatia. Not tht there was ever such an excuse! As Paul R. Williams, a former legal adviser to the State Department, argues below, the proposed Dole-Lieberman bill to reerminate US participation in the arms embargo amounts simply to compliance with international law.

Western leaders know very well that Bosnia is a victim of outside aggression aimed at the creation of a Greater Serbia (this much was admitted by David Owen, when he took up his current job: see box on back page). They also know that the mass murder and deportation of civilians has been pursued in the service of racial purity and ethnic apartheid: something which, as Mirko Pejanovic (a Serb member of the Bosnian state presidencey) argues here, is a catastrophe for Bosnian Serbs as well. Having chosen to do nothing about it, they have been trying to over up their own surrender by forcing the Bosnian government to follow suit. What they have not grasped is the fact that no nation is weilling to commit suicide to suit the convenience of Great Powers. This is true in Bosnia as much as in Chechnya. IndeedÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ as General Spegelj, former Croation minister of defence and later chief of staff, argues in this issue, echoing the view of both Croation and Bosnian high ranking officers, the growing strength and professionalism of the Bosnian Army is turning the military situation on the ground to Bosnia's advantage. Peace to the Balkans will come only with the defeat of the 'Greater Serbia' project and with it all plans for an ethnic partition of Bosnia - including that ot the Contact Group countries. Indeed, far from being lost, the war remains to be won - provided there is a will for it. But it is Zagreb more than Sarajevo that will be decisive here.

For this is the tricky part. Unable to persuade the Bosnians to surrender, the Contact Group countries hve resorted to a device tried before b y Lord Owen, which involves seeking to broker a back-room partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina between Serbia and Croatia. A combination of bribes and pressures have aloready been used to persuade Tudjman not to intervene to stop the invasion of the Bihac 'safe area' from Serbian-held parts of Croatia. This has been accompanied by a new emphasis by Zagreb on building of 'Herzeg-Bosnia' as an alternative to the Federation. This is the path of partition. If pursued further, it will lead to repudiation of the Washington Agreement and a renewal of war between Croatia and Bosnia, to the detriment of both countries. With the West and Russia playing a highly dangerous and reckless game with the fate of all the states and peoples of the area, it is imperative that Croatia does not pin its hopes on their cynical schemes and false promises, but opts for the one viable alternative, which is a firm political and military alliance with Bosnia-Heregovina.


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