The Western powers must keep up the pressure on the Serbian army to stop the violence in Bosnia-Hertzogovina and it must continue its efforts to get supplies through to the non-Serbian population of Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital. The historical rights and wrongs and the demography behind the fighting will be hotly contested. Each side blames the other, and says it has right and history on its side. Fundamentally, it comes down to political borders not matching the ethnic make-up of the population. When that is combined with a history of enmity, violence is almost inevitable.
Tito and the Stalinist legacy must take most of the blame. Throughout his empire Stalin subdued nationalist aspirations by artificially pandering to them. He would nominally allow them greater chunks of territory in their “”autonomous” regions than the ethnic make up of the population warranted. The “”autonomous” region would still be ruled by his totalitarian followers, but potential national uprisings were subdued. With the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the fallout has been often violent clashes over territory. The clashes have frequently been based on unstable and unsuitable borders, particularly in what was Yugoslavia, were added to artificial borders has been the difficulty of minority enclaves of Serbs within the borders of the other constituent parts of what was one federal nation.
The moment Croatia declared its independence last , the Serbian army moved in to protect Serbs in those enclaves and to grab as much territory adjacent to the old Stalinist border as quickly as possible. Bosnia was inevitably next.
The Serbian troops attempted to justify their invasions by past experience. Without the authority of a strong central government, Serbs in enclaves suffered greatly. History, however, is no justification and no excuse. The cycle of violence has to end, and there should have been no better time to end it than with the end of the Cold War and the return of the United Nations into something resembling its original intention.
However, until last week, decisive international action has been lacking. Now the Western European Union (comprising the European members of NATO) has put in place and air and sea blockade to enforce the United Nations sanctions applied to Serbia last month. Further, France has committed aircraft to keep (by force if necessary) the relief supply lines into Sarajevo. Indeed, France has behaved with the most conviction and honour of all the European nations. Unfortunately, more is needed. An enforced buffer zone along the border is needed to stop more Serbian troops crossing into Bosnia.
One of the tragic ironies of this war, is that ordinary Serbs in Serbia do not want it, judging by recent demonstrations in Belgrade. They, too, just want peace. Further, they, too, are innocent victims of war, because they will be directly affected by sanctions.
Given the recalcitrant leadership in Belgrade, it seems only a massive show of western force will convince the Serbian army that it has no place in fighting in Bosnia and that negotiations ultimately will lead to a more secure future for Serbians living in Bosnia than civil war. It is not a futile hope. In talks with UN officials last week Serbia agreed to hand back territory in neighbouring Croatia.
As murder and starvation continue in Bosnia, the new world order is being put to the test. Increasingly, it is being seen that the real target for the new world order is not a nation, like Iraq, Serbia or Libya or a whole people like the Iraqis, the Serbians or the Libyans, but single so-called leaders like Colonel Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and pathologically deranged Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic.
It is unfortunate that the logic of the new world order is to apply sanctions against the (mostly innocent) people so make their life so uncomfortable that at least some of them rise up to overthrow the leader directing the unacceptable behaviour. To move in directly and remove the leader by force appears to transgress the UN creed of non-interference in internal affairs. The new world order will only be properly effective when the nations of the world recognise that the Slobodan Milosevic and his appalling conduct in Bosnia, is not an internal affair, and that individual national leaders only have a right to stay in power when they conform to standards of civilised conduct.