Letter: Military intervention, not dithering, is needed in Yugoslavia

Sir: Last November, a leading article in the Independent expressed the fear that the Western world would come to accept 'a low-level civil war in Croatia, a war in which a dozen or so Croats and rather fewer Serbs lose their lives daily'.

Several months on, Croatia, having lost 10,000 people and still under daily attack on a number of fronts, is scantily reported by the press; and Bosnia, with more than 7,000 dead in weeks, and several hundred thousand near starvation, is still under bombardment, with a real threat of Kosovo and Macedonia being pulled in, too. It is an altogether more horrific scenario than that painted by your leader - and the Western world still, de facto, accepts it.

There is now the danger that President Mitterrand's visit, although positive in the immediate sense, may nonetheless throw a smokescreen over the real issue of a relentless war, being waged in many areas, which nobody is yet doing anything effective to stop.

As an onlooker, who did, however, spend several months recently in various parts of what used to be Yugoslavia, and witnessed the build-up of tension resulting from the political stalemate, I am stunned by the apparent absence of understanding on the part of the international community, of events - and indeed people - in that area.

While Serbia was busy restructuring the military zones and rebuilding the infrastructure, well before the annexations of Vojvodina and Kosovo, the West continued to turn a blind eye, evidently hoping that the Yugoslavs could sort out their own 'squabbles' - a policy endorsed by the US Secretary of State, James Baker, on his visit to Belgrade a year ago.

Now, with thousands dead, more than two million refugees, and the danger of a full-scale Balkan war which may yet drag in Western Europe, the Western powers are still dithering about what and how and when and even whether to do anything at all to stop the indiscriminate slaughter in what is, not without reason, known as the powder keg of Europe.

As it was obvious more than a year ago that the Yugoslavs were unable, for a number of complex reasons, to arrive at a political compromise by themselves, so it is now even more obvious that the war will not end of its own accord.

Economic intervention by the West a year or more ago could have saved 20,000 lives; military intervention will now be needed to prevent a European tragedy turning into a European disaster.




29 June

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Insight Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k – North London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...

SQL Developer - Permanent - London - Up to £50k

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum 23 days holiday plus Pension scheme: Clearwater Peop...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

Day In a Page

Read Next

We need to talk about homophobia in the police

George Gillett

i Editor's letter: Summer holidays are here... so what to do with the children?

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn