LETTER:Withdrawal of United Nations peace-keepers would lead to carnage in Bosnia

From Mr Randhir Singh Bains

Sir: The holding of UN troops at Nato targets by the Bosnian Serbs once again highlights the West's foreign policy fiasco in the Balkans. By failing to act decisively in the wake of the Serbian aggression in April 1992, the West has not only put the lives of the UN peace-keepers in danger, but it has also unwittingly contributed to the death of the emerging multi- ethnic Bosnian state and the fulfilment of the "Great Serbian" dream.

The Serbs began their aggression by pouring irregulars from Serbia across the Drina, the 12th-century boundary between Serbia and Bosnia, and shooting up the riverine Muslim towns. A Nato military response at this stage would have caused the Serbs to reconsider their aggression. They were not, after all, engaged in a liberation struggle, for the Bosnian Serbs had no grievance and were not being mistreated by the Bosnian Muslims. But the West used the presence of its peace-keepers in Bosnia as an excuse against the use of force, although the Serbs were in no position, either politically or strategically, to harm the UN troops.

The flexing of military muscle at this late stage may eventually help to end the war, but it is unlikely to undo the damage already inflicted on the multi-ethnic character of the Bosnian state. In erstwhile Yugoslavia, Bosnia was the epitome of ethnic tolerance and civility. As a successful multi-ethnic society, it was a challenge to the nationalist warlords of Serbia. That is why it had to be broken up. Yours faithfully,


Gants Hill, Essex

27 May