Letter: Fixing responsibility for Gorazde

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The Independent Online
Sir: The unnecessary confrontation over Gorazde between the Bosnian Serbs and the Western powers arose because the US insisted on intervening, against the better judgement of at least some of its European allies and without consulting Russia.

In March 1992, the US undermined the tripartite agreement negotiated by Lord Carrington and Jose Cuteliero in Lisbon. Subsequent framework settlements, the Owen-Stoltenberg plans, were rejected by Washington. In the autumn of 1993, the Clinton administration advised the Slav Muslim leadership in Bosnia to refuse the EU proposals for peace and to prepare themselves for the spring offensives that initiated the present round of fighting.

On leaving Bosnia in January 1994, the former UN commander, General Francis Briquemont, stated (as reported by the Washington Post on 22 January) that the ill- defined, American-sponsored 'safe havens' in eastern Bosnia were being used to prepare these offensives and to provoke the Bosnian Serbs into retaliatory action that would lead to renewed calls for forcible intervention by the international community.

This strategy of encouraging the Slav Muslims to aim for maximal gains, which their capabilities cannot deliver, and of repeatedly advocating the lifting of the UN arms embargo while threatening the use of American air power, has now been shown to be foolhardy and hollow.

Paradoxically, the stalemate in the peace process for Bosnia might now be ended if the US recognises the limits of its power to act militarily and supports a diplomatic initiative to lift sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro, and if, at the same time, the Slav Muslim leadership is finally disabused of its aim of controlling the entirety of Bosnia against the legitimate territorial and security interests of its second largest ethnic community, the Bosnian Serbs.

Yours sincerely,