Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bosnia - US Policy 95-06-17

Bosnia and the U.S. Policy

Mirza A. Beg

June 17, 1995

Tuscaloosa News Oct 1995

Could Bosnia become a quagmire? Yes and no! Yes, because the members of the UN Security Council, primarily the US, Britain and France and the NATO again led by the same three countries have tried to portray it as such. It is a prophecy of self-fulfillment. And No! It need not become a quagmire, because there are distinct principles at stake with a clear line of action and an achievable solution.

The first is a moral principle: Genocide is a violation of the sanctity of human life. The evidence is overwhelming and irrefutable that the Serbs are the aggressors in Bosnia, and Serbia is the instigator and the source arms and even the soldiers in this aggression. The Serbs have practiced genocide (mass killing), forcible expulsion (Ethnic Cleansing), rape, pillage and torture on massive scale not seen in Europe since the Nazi holocaust.

There is a clear consensus in the world body that this reprehensible behavior of the Serbs is an affront to all internationally codified principles of morality and decency. It should not be tolerated and every effort should be made to stop it.

The second is a political principle: The national interest of the United States, the only superpower in the world. A superpower that invokes the principles of morality and decency is unwilling, worse unable to check the criminal behavior of the Serbs and is reduced to making empty gestures, hollow threats and wringing of hands in helplessness.

This encourages Milosovics and other mini-Hitlers to copy the Serbian model. Power not used in defense of these two principles, ebbs away and finds new Fuhrers.

The world was well aware of the beginnings on Nazi atrocities before the Second World War, indulged in tepid condemnation, but did nothing until Hitler devoured three countries. After the war it was called a holocaust. The world expressed belated shock and indignation and promised “Never again”.

Was it an empty promise? Thanks to the television, we have witnessed horrible events in Bosnia for three long years. The Chamberlains at the helm of affairs in the US, Britain and France have dithered and run out of breath condemning the Serbs thousands of times in these three years.

NATO blames the UN and UN blames the NATO. Both feign respect for the Russian sensibilities and hide behind each other’s inaction. It is the US, Britain and France, who by their inaction, even worse erroneous action of imposing an arms embargo on Bosnia, have inadvertently colluded with the Serbs in this horrible tragedy.

The Holocaust Museum in Washington is a great gesture. It is cheaper and safer to commemorate a horror than to combat it. The fallacy of this myopic behavior has been learnt many times in the past at great costs. Will we go on having meetings and reprimanding Serbs with empty threats till Bosnians too qualify for a Holocaust Museum of their own?

Every time the Serbs embark on a major brutality, the Security Council and the NATO loudly condemn them, call a new urgent meeting, promise a new decisive policy, and with great pomp produce a mouse to scare the Serbs into sanity. The Serbs are warned of dire consequences in a discordant tepid chorus. The Serbs look askance, wait a while and resume the genocide. Meanwhile the brave UN soldiers have been placed in an indefensible situation designed for inaction and hostage taking, to justify the cowardice of the Western leaders.

It is erroneous to compare our involvement in Vietnam with our help in Bosnia. Vietnam was a genuine civil war, were in late forties and fifties we supported French colonialism over an indigenous albeit a communist revolution. Later in sixties and seventies, we fought for a succession of imposed corrupt dictatorships. Bosnia, a member of UN is a victim of aggression from Serbia and renegade Bosnian Serbs. Bosnisns do not ask others to fight their war all they ask is a chance to defend themselves. In our preposterous timidity we equate the victim with the heinous aggressor and proclaim neutrality.

The US has always taken moral leadership in immoral European wars. It has led Europe twice to do the right thing despite the naysayers. We need to do it again and in the process save Kosovo and Macedonia from a similar fate.

In the absence of Soviet threat NATO has lost its purpose and moorings. Without a resolute moral leadership the UN will degenerate like the League of Nations. The blood of the Bosnians will haunt the NATO and the UN into oblivion. European powers have degenerated into third rate powers and under Mr. Clinton’s leadership we are aspiring to become a second rate power.

Enough is enough. WE should take the leadership with a bipartisan effort by the congress. Mr. Clinton and the Europeans will follow and later even take credit for the success. Our principles, line of action and goals should be clear and precise.

The principles should be:
1. Liberty and equality for all Bosnians (Serbs, Muslims and Croats) within the internationally recognized borders of Bosnia.
2. Insistence in clear terms on self-determination for Kosovo.
3. Safety for Macedonia.

The action should be:
1. Unilateral removal of arms embargo on Bosnia
2. Arm and train Bosnians.
3. Deter Serbs by bombing all military targets in Serbian controlled territory and Serbia itself. This may not stop Serbians but it will give time to Bosnians to regroup and train.
4. Be prepared to accept some casualties. Military is an instrument of foreign policy. If we refuse to use it to defend out principles and become a second rate power, then some day we may have to defend our shores.
5. Military should be given clear directives and a free hand to carry out the policies within strict guidelines.

Bosnians, the victims of a cruel genocide do not ask for US ground forces. They are willing and eager to fight for civilized principles and defend themselves. The time to act is now.

Mirza A. Beg can be contacted by email at

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