Letter: Beware the hearts that bleed for Bosnia

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The Independent Online
Sir: Many of the quotations from the assorted great and good about possible large-scale military intervention in the former Yugoslavia (16 December) demonstrate how far the chattering classes have been affected by uncontrollable bleeding of the heart. The object of the foreign policy and grand strategy of a state is to further its prosperity and security. Neither of these desirables is at risk in the former Yugoslavia.

Facile parallels are sometimes drawn between the case of Yugoslavia today and Czechoslovakia in 1938. But at stake in 1938 was the entire strategic balance in Europe between an expansionist Nazi Germany and the forces of democracy. No such issue is at stake in Yugoslavia. It cannot therefore be argued that the plight of the Bosnians is a British or EC interest, warranting the commitment of large military forces to an open-ended campaign in mountainous country.

However, we stand in more general danger of being seduced by cant phrases such as 'the world community' or 'the new world order', not least because of the busy-bodying of the United Nations organisation, which has already sucked European troops into Cambodia and Somalia, neither of which constitutes a European interest.

There is no world community or new world order, as objective assessments of the facts must serve to demonstrate.

There is only a world arena of rivalry and conflict, in which the principles of Karl von Clausewitz or the practices of Lord Palmerston serve as better guides than woolly idealism and a bleeding heart.

Yours faithfully,

CORRELLI BARNETT

Churchill College

Cambridge

17 December

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