Letter: Armed intervention won't solve Bosnia's problems

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The Independent Online
ANTHONY Farrah-Hockley, clearly a practical man, envisages 'say, 30,000 troops' as sufficient to engage Serbian forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina ('Serbia must be beaten back', 13 December) but is less specific about likely casualties. The military option to end the war in the former Yugoslavia is often expressed in sprightly terms. Yet rarely does it ever take into account what the outcome might be, beyond securing an end to fighting.

The military option exercised in Iraq may have driven Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait but there is little evidence of contrition. Weapons are still in good supply and the old hatreds simmer as before. The problem may be contained but it is not solved.

Should the United Nations sanction military action, of whatever kind, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, how will any resulting war be prevented from spreading to other parts of the former Yugoslavia and perhaps surfacing again after military actions cease?

General Farrah-Hockley may see Serbian action as predatory, but it is also racial in that many Serbs regard Muslims as the inheritors of the invading mentality of the Ottoman Empire and therefore not deserving of a home in Europe - which surely they will never again enjoy with any degree of security. This problem is not one to be solved by the military option, although it may well be postponed.

A few days ago my wife spoke on the telephone to her friend in Belgrade and listened to the grief of someone who thought herself a peaceful 'Yugoslav', not a Serb, since she had Croat and Serb parents. Will that attitude remain after the jets and helicopters fly? Does the military option provide for anything other than a demonstration that might makes right, the very posture favoured by the leaders of 'Greater Serbia'? I hope General Farrah-Hockley will be able to tell us what lessons we are likely to learn from this piece of living history.

Hussain R Mohamed

Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey