Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Power Is Useless without Resolve

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Power Is Useless without Resolve

Article excerpt

By rejecting terms for the dismemberment of their country, members of the Bosnian Parliament have given the West a last chance to understand the consequences of its policy there: a chance to draw back from folly and danger.

What is the policy? For months now, however clothed, it has been to accept the ethnic partition of Bosnia. Western publics as well as the Bosnians have been told in effect that partition is inevitable.

The negotiations conducted by Lord David Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg have essentially been about legitimizing the Serbian aggressors' seizure of territory. The agreement they propose would award legitimacy by lifting sanctions on Serbia in return for the Serbs' giving up a part of their conquests.

Defenders of the dismemberment agreement say that it is the least bad outcome, given present realities. It would at least stop the killing and starvation before another terrible winter sets in.

That argument has some force. But those who make it - the international mediators and political leaders - do not mention the price that would be paid: the abandonment of principles fundamental to peace and decency in the world.

Acquisition of territory by force is forbidden by international law and the U.N. Charter. The Bosnian dismemberment agreement means accepting territorial conquest. It means accepting genocide as a way of acquiring territory. It means accepting the destruction of a U.N. member state.

Because it is the only superpower, the United States has a particularly heavy responsibility for this outcome. President Bill Clinton has tried to avoid the responsibility by waffling. But he, like his predecessor, has refused to face the real problem, the real danger in the former Yugoslavia.

The danger is extreme Serbian nationalism. The last two U.S. administrations have effectively concluded that it is better to come to terms with a Greater Serbia. After all, it is said, Slobodan Milosevic is not a Hitler trying to conquer all of Europe.

No, the Serbian demagogue is not a physical threat to all of Europe. But he is a psychological threat, a mortal one. For he is creating a climate hospitable to that menacing phenomenon, extreme nationalism. …

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