Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

`Peacekeeping' In Bosnia: a Farce

EVEN with United Nations peacekeepers in Bosnia for months, the genocidal ethnic cleansing of Muslims went ahead full steam. It is sad to contemplate, but the cease-fires negotiated by the UN peacekeepers actually seem to serve the ethnic cleansing - allowing the Serb forces to regroup and move on new areas, as the Serbs are currently doing against the towns of Travnik, Tuszla, and Garadacac.

In Sarajevo in recent months, peacekeeping monitors stood next to Serbian guns that were shelling the town. They carefully marked down which gun fired what shells how many times in what direction. The peacekeepers monitored, but there was no mandate to stop the shelling of civilians.

About these ads

Meanwhile, in Croatia, the UN negotiated cease-fire is eroding because of constant violations. This bodes ill for next March, when the cease-fire is due to be renewed. British, French, and American political and military leaders repeatedly state that they are leery of strong military measures such as enforcing the "no fly" zone that the UN voted for. It might jeopardize the security of the UN peacekeepers on the ground. Given these hesitancies, perhaps Patrick Glynn of the American Enterprise Institute i s right in saying that "Western relief and peacekeeping efforts are creating hostages to policy" in the former Yugoslavia.

There is no doubt of the dedication, humanity, and courage with which peacekeepers perform their arduous and thankless task in Bosnia and Croatia, where a score of them have been killed or wounded. They have an impossible role: trying to keep peace in an escalating war.

For peacekeeping to be successful, the parties to a dispute have to decide not to go on fighting. When that is not the case, as in Bosnia, then a peacekeeping operation is in serious danger of being abused, misused, and manipulated. It acts as a fig leaf for continued war, and for the absence of will on the part of UN member states which ought to resort to peace enforcement - which may be the only way to stop the war in Bosnia and its spread to Sendjak, Kosovo, and Macedonia. The United States and its NA TO allies have made halfhearted noises about getting tough in Yugoslavia. But they haven't faced real problems.

The UN Security Council authorized use of force for humanitarian purposes. But that mandate was never used. The no-fly zone is not enforced. Even the recent UN naval blockade against the former Yugoslavia is very muddy. Its success is dependent on the goodwill of such patent sanctions-busters as Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece. Half-measures do not impress anyone. The horrific depredations against Bosnians continue. I would suggest that what we have seen in Yugoslavia so far is a case where a war is actual ly fueled by a hapless peacekeeping operation.

Now, in the capitals of the Western powers, one hears insistent voices that Bosnia has had it. The state of Bosnia is "proven" to be nonviable; one must accept "facts" and abandon any idea of restoring the country. Why the capitulation? What does it say about the West and its strength and staying power that it is so ready to write off an independent state, a member of the UN? Consider the following:

* In 1915 the complete Serbian Army, government, parliament, and king vacated their country, then occupied by German and Austro-Hungarian forces. In 1918 the Serbs heroically returned.

* Cechen and Ingush and Crimean Tatars this year returned to their Crimean homeland - a half century after Stalin banished them, seemingly forever.

About these ads

* No one but Turkey recognized the so-called "Turkish Republic of North Cyprus" in 1983, not even a single Islamic country.

* For half a century the US did not recognize the Soviet grab of the Baltics in 1939. In 1990 the wheel of history turned and the Baltics regained their independence.

What is urgently required in the West is a solemn and authoritative declaration by the heads of state of the US and European powers that they will never recognize the wiping of Bosnia from the map of Europe and the world.

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.