Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bosnian Serbs Call the UN's Bluff Airstrikes Did Not Intimidate Serbs into Stopping Advance on Gorazde or Adequately Protect UN Military Advisers

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bosnian Serbs Call the UN's Bluff Airstrikes Did Not Intimidate Serbs into Stopping Advance on Gorazde or Adequately Protect UN Military Advisers

Article excerpt

THE collapse of the Bosnian Muslim town of Gorazde glaringly reveals the limits of last week's restricted use of NATO force in support of United Nations peacekeeping efforts for the battered Balkans enclave.

A pair of bombing runs by NATO aircraft neither intimidated Bosnian Serbs into stopping their advance on Gorazde nor completely protected UN military advisers in the area from suffering casualties. Bosnian Serb forces, in effect, called the UN's bluff - and found that the West had no intention of intensifying airstrikes to stop them.

The UN's inconclusive use of force may embitter Bosnian Muslims as well as damage the credibility of peacekeeping efforts in the region, according to critics.

"If we had planned it, I do not see how we could have gotten into a worse mess than we are now in," said Lawrence Eagleburger, briefly President Bush's secretary of state, in a television interview Sunday.

"The Serbs are trumping every ace that the United Nations and we put forward," Mr. Eagleburger said.

As of this writing, attacking Serb forces had not overrun the center of Gorazde proper. But Muslim defensive lines had collapsed, and yesterday morning shells were falling at random into the town, said a UN spokesman, despite its putative status as a UN-protected safe haven. At least one shell hit the roof of a hospital. The UN commander for Bosnia, British Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Rose, said with refugees swelling Gorazde's population to 65,000 "a major humanitarian catastrophe" loomed.

Calling the situation in the besieged town of Gorazde "grim and uncertain," President Clinton yesterday renewed his call for lifting an international arms embargo so Bosnian Muslims can better defend themselves. He has said that under certain conditions the United States would be willing to consider a European proposal for a phased lifting of economic sanctions against Serbia - as a reward for reining in Bosnian Serbs. …

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