Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Serbs' Fanaticism Has Made Them a Pariah among Nations

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Serbs' Fanaticism Has Made Them a Pariah among Nations

Article excerpt

Part of Serbian national mythology is that Serbs are invincible in battle but always lose their wars. This again is happening. It is a problem of overreaching. Someone has said of Russian history that Russia never hits its goals, it always overshoots them. So it has been with Serbia.

Last Monday's shelling of Sarajevo's old city was probably meant by the Bosnian Serbs to subvert the peace proposals Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke brought to Europe, but it proved the act of bloody hubris that was the ultimate overreaching. It at last brought NATO into the war to defend the "safe areas" in Bosnia that the United Nations had proclaimed but had mostly, and shamefully, abandoned.

The Bosnian Serbs' crime on Monday made a peace settlement more likely than ever before by rendering their case utterly indefensible, even to those disposed to defend it. S The barbarous methods used by the Serbs have extinguished sympathy for their position. How can they have been so stupid?

Several commentators, who had not previously exhibited much interest or even acquaintance with Balkan affairs, recently discovered that there is a case for the Serbs.

Of course there is. It was not unreasonable for Serbs to object to national borders arbitrarily set by Tito at the war's end, or to wish not to live in an independent Croatia, which had treated Serbs atrociously during World War II and whose leader in 1991, Franjo Tudjman, offered them no concessions, or in a newly independent Bosnia with a Muslim majority, despite the efforts of the new Bosnian government to treat its citizens impartially.

The Serbs themselves have made it impossible to respond to their legitimate concerns and demands. Rather than propose their case rationally, and argue it before the international community, they chose the course of demagogy, grotesque demands for an inflated Greater Serbia, the deliberate fostering of ethnic hatred, and military aggression, terrorism and ethnic cleansing.

They then complained that there was an international conspiracy against them. There was no conspiracy. In 1991 international sympathy was rather more disposed towards Serbia - ally of the democracies in two world wars - than to Croatia, which had earned a vile reputation as a fascist puppet-state in World War II. …

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