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August 17, 1992
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 47

Fear of Military Intervention

by Dusan Reljic

"We pose the following question to the people of Serbia and Montenegro - do they want to go down in history as members of the last fascist state in Europe?" - were the words of the Deputy State Secretary of the USA, John Bolton, at a meeting of the UN Commission for Human Rights in Geneva at the close of last week. The Yugoslav ambassador, Branko Brankovic, replied that in as much as the Commission wanted to condemn fascist regimes, it should start with the role of America in Vietnam.

The television pictures of starving people in Serbian camps in Bosnia-Herzegovina first shocked and then set the world in motion. The International Red Cross Committee, after visiting four Serbian, six Croatian and two Moslem camps, announced that they were "full of innocent and terrified civilians". "The internment of these people is part of the politics of coercive exchange of civilians which is being massively carried out marked by systematic brutality. On the list of methods are intimidation, murder, confiscation of property, deportation and hostage taking, which brings individuals down to the level of being used in the settling of accounts..." says the report by the Geneva organization.

Despite the fact that the Red Cross and other international organizations carefully point out that all three sides are violating international human rights, the Serbs are being incriminated as the main offenders. There are many reasons for this, of which an important one is that they do not denounce the regime of Slobodan Milosevic in big enough numbers. With three abstentions (China, India and Zimbabwe), Resolution 770 was passed, authorizing the world organization, in as much as it sees fit, to apply force to ensure humanitarian aid reaches the jeopardized population of Sarajevo and other places in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In Resolution 771 the Security Council demands free access to all the camps in the former Yugoslavia and warns transgressors of the Geneva Convention that they will be individually considered responsible for the violation of human rights.

Resolution 770 does not prescribe the use of arms in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but is "only a case of a resolution which authorizes the use of force as a last resort". Nine members of the Western European Union (WEU), whose warships on the Adriatic coast are already overseeing the execution of the sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro, immediately said that they had no intention of taking part in major military intervention.

The estimate of Western military experts on the number of soldiers necessary for "protection" increases parallel to the length of time this possibility is considered. From the first few hundred thousand it has already become half a million, with reference to the fact that the coalition against Iraq had almost the same number of troops at its disposal. There is a preponderance of those who warn of the danger of "sliding" into the "Yugoslav quagmire". Three NATO countries, Germany, Italy and Greece, made it clear even before the OUN Resolution that they were against military intervention. Chancellor Helmut Kohl was more for a "total blockade", and the Italian Minister of Defence, Salvo Ando, for a "blockade to the strangulation" of Serbia and Montenegro.

The reason why a military strike against the Serbian forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina is still not on the horizon is not, however, due to the fact frequently used by Moslem politicians in Sarajevo, that there is no oil in question. American president, George Bush, announced at the beginning of last week: "Before I send our forces into battle, I want to know what the beginning, goal and end will be. I don't see any answers to my questions."

In line with its consistent inconsistency throughout the whole Yugoslav crisis, the West simply doesn't want to pay the necessary price to realize its axiom - to prevent the changing of borders and taking over of territory by force. The dogma of irrevocable borders, which it abandoned in accepting the disintegration of Yugoslavia, must now, at the cost of war, be proved in the instance of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Resolution 700 is the watershed in the tortuous extinguishing of Yugoslavia. Nonetheless, while everyone is fearfully looking on, afraid that from this "serpent's egg" will appear "the mother of all wars in the Balkans", many fail to see that at the same time, just before the conference on Yugoslavia on August 26, favorable conditions are being made for the changing of internal boundaries.

Repugnance for the actions of the warring sides in Bosnia, and in particular those of the Serbs as the strongest military force, is a consequence of something deeper than mere moral revulsion. Balkan atavism threatens the West itself, in the beginning via the East, but it could explode amongst the "European partners" themselves.

President Yeltsin continues to once more establish the Russian presence in Yugoslavia, based on troops and not emotions: in the Security Council "approval" was heard of the "interventionist" resolution, accompanied by a readiness to despatch new Russian units as part of UNPROFOR, this time to Bosnia

Panic's only option is to incline the international community towards a more favorable impression of Serbia. He has paid the first terrible price of currying public favour: last Thursday morning it was clear that there was no reason why the Federal Prime Minister should go to Sarajevo. Nobody there wanted to see him. Nevertheless, Panic had previously promised the American television network ABC, which followed him for a few days, that he would make a photogenic journey to the besieged capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina. At the airport he pondered on whether to go or not and, as witnesses confirm, gave in to the persuasion of the American team. Its producer, David Caplan, was killed by a sniper's bullet half an hour after arriving in Sarajevo.

Panic is prepared to accept many of the demands of the international community, using dogma such as the non-recognition of ex-Yugoslavia. In this way he will ignite the momentarily constrained Serbian national chauvinism. At best, he could be overthrown by some Chetnik, neo-Stalinist coalition. At the worst, "poor quality Serbs" in Belgrade could find themselves to be sniper target.

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