Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bosnia Is Not Dead, and Its War Is Far from Over

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bosnia Is Not Dead, and Its War Is Far from Over

Article excerpt

HOW dare Western commentators and other "experts" declare the war in Bosnia "over." For Bosnians of all religions and beliefs, the war is far, far from finished. The only sense in which the war is over is that the Western powers' policy of dithering has reached a new, baser phase. How ethnocentric, how provincial, can you get?

What remains - behind all the Western posturing, all the increasingly irrelevant anguishing about "the future of NATO" - are two big issues:

* Do we want to see a viable, multiethnic Bosnia existing at all, however small, on the map of Europe?

* Is there any way to reform existing intergovernmental bodies, primarily the United Nations, to make sure that a string of Bosnias and Rwandas does not stretch out well into the 21st century?

Right now it is more important to keep sharp focus on Bosnia. Defeats around Bihac have grabbed much attention. But the (democratically elected) government continues to hang on to between 30 and 40 percent of the territory we recognize as Bosnia-Herzegovina. To declare Bosnia "dead" is to say nothing about the fate of this land and its people - except, by default, to accept that over time it will get swallowed up by a Greater Serbia.

What long drawn-out agony that would cause, we can only guess. But if Western "peacekeepers" weren't there, and we therefore didn't need to "be concerned about NATO," perhaps those who now declare Bosnia dead would simply turn away?

It wouldn't be that simple. Too many others around the world would think that the caving of Western military might in the face of Serb aggression gives them a green light too. Letting Bosnia "die" would not prevent other conflicts in the Balkans and elsewhere from escalating. Just the opposite.

The people and government of Bosnia need to know what, other than the pain and ignominy of slow death, the West intends for them. The most helpful advice comes from Morton Abramowitz, head of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who urges Western help in consolidating the Bosnian government and population within the government-held lands in central Bosnia. …

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