Letter: A modest proposal for Bosnia

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Sir: The United Nations finds itself in a quandary over whether to take sides in the present war in Bosnia in spite of having instituted sanctions against Serbia. There is now some considerable reluctance by the major powers to commit ground troops in Bosnia, under the UN or other flags, for fear that they may be drawn into combat while protecting relief convoys to besieged Bosnian cities.

President Bush is on record as having argued that he does not wish to commit US troops since there is no clear objective in Bosnia and no clear timetable for winding the operations down. All these difficulties can, in fact, be easily overcome, and to this end I would like to put forward a modest proposal for preventing the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina from being a burden to the United Nations and for making themselves beneficial to the New World Order.

Alternating for a week at a time, the United Nations should have unhindered access to all Bosnian cities for delivery of aid, while the Serbian forces should be allowed unchallenged shelling of cities and imprisonment and deportation of non-Serbian citizens. This way the UN will avoid offending the Serbs and be able to continue discharging its humanitarian duty.

Since after each period of shelling and deportatian there will be fewer and fewer people in need of aid, the UN operation could be scaled down accordingly, thus bringing about considerable savings.

Moreover, expert statisticians will be able to make projections which could indicate the precise time when the whole operation could be terminated after the demise of all non-Serbian inhabitants of the Serbian-held part of Bosnia-Herzegovina. This would provide the answer to the problem that now seems to exercise President Bush.

In case any of your readers feel uneasy over this unusual plan, they should be persuaded that their difficulty may be surmounted by President Bush, who has now offered 'moral inspiration' in solving the Bosnian crisis. Alternatively, they may wish to recall Jonathan Swift.

Yours faithfully,


Magdalen College


17 August