Letter: After its humiliation at Gorazde, the United Nations could still salvage a little credibility

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The Independent Online
Sir: It would be more honourable for Malcolm Rifkind, Secretary of State for Defence, to admit that the UN is unable to keep its word than to insist that it may use force solely to protect the lives of its own personnel. Such hypocrisy adds to the perils that confront British servicemen, by inviting Serbian attacks upon them so as to prove how worthless is their presence to Muslim civilians.

The most tragic lesson arising from the UN's humiliation in Gorazde is that any peace settlement will hereafter be subject to the same terrors as the war. The Bosnian Serbs will fear no one if they choose to dishonour their agreement; the government forces will have every incentive to expand the borders of an unviable state; and the UN troops required to police a settlement, if they ever appear, will be caught in continual crossfire.

The only justification for a UN initiative in Bosnia has always been the need to intervene militarily on behalf of a defenceless population. If all the civilised world can manage is cant and bluster about safe havens, it would be far better, even now, to bring our useless soldiers home and to lift the arms embargo against the Bosnian government. Already without credibility, the UN will not survive complicity in war crimes.

Yours faithfully,


Department of Government

University of Manchester


18 April