Letter: Bosnia - British stance; reactions to the camps; methods of military intervention; 'ethnic cleansing'

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The Independent Online
Sir: John Major and Douglas Hurd, in replying to Lord Owen, Baroness Thatcher, Paddy Ashdown and others, now repeatedly tell us that they would be willing to help Bosnia militarily if they could see a way of being effective without committing ground troops.

There are, in fact, several ways. Obviously no such way can be wholly decisive, but it can, nevertheless, be effective in reducing the pressure on Bosnia at quite a small cost to ourselves, whereas UN discussions and resolutions of themselves affect absolutely nothing.

The first thing is simply to patrol Bosnian airspace with the authorisation of the government of Bosnia to prevent any Serbian air activity. That alone would constitute a considerable relief and is well worth doing even if nothing else is done.

But the second thing is to pinpoint certain specific military targets. It is odd that we are now regularly told how difficult it is to undertake precision bombing when in the Gulf war we were regularly being told by the same voices how effective precision bombing could be. At the same time we read in the obituaries of Lord Cheshire how he pioneered precision bombing 50 years ago. Where there is a will there is a way. It is the will, not the way, that our political leaders lack.

Finally, I am not advocating the targeting of Bosnian Serbs but of concentrations of heavy artillery and tanks belonging to the former Yugoslav army and controlled and manned from Belgrade. It is on that account that conscription goes on in Serbia and it is the heavy guns and tanks, not the snipers, which are bringing Bosnia to its knees. We could very well target the large armament factories in Serbia, and we could give people a day's warning before doing so.

Yours faithfully,


Head of Department

Department of Theology and

Religious Studies

University of Leeds

6 August