Think tank says UN in Balkans victim of emotion: More grounds for sending troops to Burma than to Bosnia

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(First Edition)

A TOP think tank said yesterday the United Nations had to choose which conflicts it could stop by sending in troops and which it could not, and that there was a better case for intervening in Burma than in Bosnia, Reuter reports.

'There are simply not enough human and financial resources . . . to call to account all the inhumane regimes . . . that are oppressing the weak and the innocent around the world,' said the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

'For the same reasons as in medicine, choices must be made and resources must be rationed,' it said in its Strategic Survey 1992-1993. The survey is an analysis of the world scene over a year in which, the institute said, 'almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong'.

The independent institute, which has members in more than 85 countries, said the UN should intervene only in situations where it could earn 'something besides opprobrium', and that military leaders were right to be wary of involvement in Bosnia. Even if peace could be imposed, it would collapse as soon as an outside force was withdrawn, it said.

But it also criticised the European Community for engaging in 'tortuous negotiations' which it described as being manipulated by the warring parties. The institute said the best policy would be to impose tough penalties on countries that violated UN sanctions against Serbia, coupled with an offer of diplomatic and economic aid to the parties to the conflict once they decided to stop fighting.

It said the bloodshed in Bosnia caused outrage among Western television viewers but that 'in the cold terms of realpolitik' it did not threaten outside powers and UN choices should not be based on media coverage. 'On humanitarian grounds and in defence of Western political values, a better argument can be made for intervening in Burma than in Bosnia-Herzegovina,' the institute said.

It described Burma's military leadership, which ignored the results of 1990 elections that it lost, as vicious and said 'intervention there would have a clear aim, a finite end, and the support of the majority of the people'. The institute said Somalia, where an ineffectual UN force of 500 men was followed last December by a 37,000-strong US-led multinational force, showed what needed to be done where intervention was considered feasible.