Letter: Who's to blame?

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Robert Fisk's swipe (Comment, 30 March) at the American President, the British Defence Secretary and "armchair warriors" would find little support among Kosovo Albanians.

They do not blame Nato actions for Milosevic's current "ethnic cleansing", because they know that this was exactly what Milosevic did in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, when Nato stood aside, and that he was planning to do the same in Kosovo long before Nato decided to intervene.

Serbia has promised, Fisk writes, to fight an invader. This should be questioned. There are very few Serbs in Kosovo, while the response to the recent call-up in Serbia itself has been poor.

The vast majority of young Serbs have no desire to die for Kosovo. Yes, the rhetoric is there, and they display their defiance by attending rock concerts in Belgrade; but this is not difficult to do.

The prowess of the Serbian police and army is great only when confronting unarmed civilians. Serbia took territories in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, in 1991 and 1992, before these countries had managed to raise armies. Once they did so, Serbia began to lose on the battlefield.

Mr Robertson and his colleagues fear deployment of ground troops, as is perhaps their duty, but once this deployment is decided Belgrade is much more likely to sue for peace than to resist. Once in Kosovo, moreover, Nato forces will be welcomed and assisted by the local population.

To turn for help to the United Nations Security Council would be wholly irresponsible. One need only recall the disastrous record of the UN "safe areas" in Bosnia.

Failure to stand up to Milosevic now would result in the extension of war and "ethnic cleansing" to Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia. Nato's determination to humble - and hopefully remove - the Butcher of the Balkans is a precondition for the region's return to peace.


London W10