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

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Sir: Your leading article today (29 June) refers to Europe's shame exposed by President Francois Mitterrand's visit to Sarajevo. But it is Britain's shame that has above all been exposed by the tragic events in Yugoslavia.

Last July, Douglas Hurd dismissed Slovenia and Croatia's declarations of independence from the Milosevic dictatorship, describing them as 'petty unstable statelets'. In September, he scuppered French and German plans for a joint European peace-keeping force. The 300 members of the field ambulance corps, belatedly and reluctantly deployed, are a pathetically inadequate contribution. Only yesterday, Mr Hurd reiterated that there were no plans whatsoever to increase the number of British troops. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Bosnian civilians face death or starvation.

The difficulties involved in military action against the Serb irregulars have been much exaggerated. Their success has only been achieved against forces lacking military equipment. There can be little doubt that faced with an effective Western army, whether under the flag of Nato, the UN or the EC, they would capitulate as rapidly as did the Iraqis in Kuwait.

What is lacking is the political will to achieve this. Is it too much to hope that President Mitterrand might finally have shamed the British government into sending troops rather than yet more impotent diplomats to the Balkans?

Yours faithfully,


London, SW9

29 June