Letter: A disastrous policy of appeasement

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The Independent Online
Sir: A ceasefire must seem better than no ceasefire. Nevertheless, as a response to Bosnia's troubles on the part of the West, negotiation of a ceasefire in present circumstances is almost worse than useless, even if it held.

A legitimate government has been treated on a par with a couple of brigands. One of them at least, Radovan Karadzic, (the leader of Serbian forces in Bosnia) is both the tool of a foreign government and the instigator of some of the most appalling atrocities Europe has seen this century. To bring him to London, bestow on him a measure of legitimacy and exert pressure on Bosnia's Foreign minister to sit in the same room with him is despicable.

Furthermore, a ceasefire negotiated in London confers a sort of legitimacy upon the Serbian seizure of most of Bosnia. Once aggression has succeeded, a ceasefire must benefit the aggressor, suggesting that he has a right to hold what he has, in this case at least two-thirds of Bosnia.

Unlike the Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, I do not think so poorly of the British people to believe that they would be unwilling to offer a saving hand to the people of Bosnia. What I do fear is that Mr Hurd has the mind of Neville Chamberlain: he simply does not see how a small country in Eastern Europe can matter to us sufficiently actually to intervene. That shows how little of a European he really is. What is worse is that, not willing to intervene himself, he dissuades others from doing so.

But a phoney ceasefire is still worse. It holds the world off while aggression goes on. It is now absolutely certain that every Bosnian town other than Sarajevo will have fallen to the Serbs within the next two to three weeks if there is no outside military intervention. No tightening of sanctions, expulsion from the UN, or whatever else, can make any difference. It is navety for Mr Hurd to continue to talk of the different republics 'finding their way back to peace' when the Serbian campaign is on the verge of total success.

Never has appeasement been more disastrous. The refusal to stand up to aggression has already produced two million refugees, numerous massacres, the destruction of several cities and the development of a situation that could eventually bring much of Europe close to ruin.

Without the use of force (probably far more force and over a far longer period than was needed to protect them), the refugees who have been expelled en masse as the 'Final Solution' to achievement of a Greater Serbia will never return; but Europe cannot possibly absorb them. The consequence will be the unsettling of every other country in the area, a vast increase in terrorism and a great worsening of relations between Muslims and the rest of the community in Bradford and Leicester, as much as in the Balkans.

Is that really a price worth paying to avoid a military intervention which could have put the forces of Slobodan Milosevic and Karadzic out of action within days?

Yours faithfully,


Head of Theology and

Religious Studies

The University of Leeds


21 July