Letter: A Yugoslav commonwealth to unite the fearful

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From Mr Quintin Hoare

Sir: In your leading article "Bad news from the Balkans', you seem to believe that the only force available to thwart Slobodan Milosevic's aims is the Western force that has not been - and will not be- used, while you pass over the Bosnian force that has indeed been used, to increasingly good effect, to achieve precisely that. The real mistake of Western policy, since the outset of Belgrade's wars of aggression, has been its assumption that the overwhelming advantage enjoyed by the aggressor in military terms must inevitably be translated into a lasting territorial dispensation dictated by that advantage. However, Bosnia's creation - from nothing- of an army capable at least of halting the aggression, if not yet of defeating it, has made Milosevic's aims unattainable.

The tragedy for the Balkan people has been that the initial false assumption in London and Paris has been clung to doggedly, despite four years of overwhelming evidence to disprove it. The true alternative to the failed policies you have often so rightly excoriated would be to recognise that it is not simply more honourable, but also more realistic, to help the victims of Serbian expansionism defend themselves, rather than to proceed ever further down the path of appeasement.

Lifting the arms embargo on the internationally recognised state of Bosnia-Herzegovina is in this sense the precondition for peace. Successive resolutions to this effect passed by the US Congress, far from deserving the contemptuous dismissal they have received from politicians and pundits in this country, represent not merely a more honourable policy, but also a rational one. For, in the long run, peace, stability and democracy in the Balkans - including, of course, in Serbia itself - depend upon the defeat of expansionary ambitions that, undefeated, condemn the whole region to unending war.

Yours sincerely,


Alliance to Defend


London, WC2