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Not A Peace Plan

by Marshall F. Harris and Stephen W. Walker

For nearly three years, the Clinton administration has distanced itself from its European allies by proclaiming an intent to preserve Bosnia as an undivided state. Now, it is suddenly bent on sponsoring Bosnia's ethnic partition.

As former diplomats, we no longer have to mince words. If we were advising the Bosnian government about its talks with the Clinton administration, here is what we would say.

If Mr Holbrooke tells you that Croatia's liberation of the Krajina region from Serbian occupation has opened a new window of opportunity, what he really means is that there is a new chance to clean the President's slate for the 1996 elections. Now more than ever, the Administration wants to get Bosnians behind it and off the front pages.

Congress is fed up with the President's failed policies and is poised to override his veto of legislation to end the arms embargo so that you can defend yourselves if the UN withdraws. At the same time, many Americans, from voters to experts, increasingly view Mr Clinton's Bosnian policies as representing a failure to lead and to maintain America's credibility abroad.

When American officials tell you that they are redoubling their efforts to obtain a 'political solution' or a 'negotiated settlement', remember that these area code words for appeasement. Serbia's genocidal assault on your nation is a military, not a political, problem; it will have to be dealt militarily before negotiations can bear fruit. A credible American policy would back its diplomacy with a real threat of force. Unfortunately, for three years, the Administration has presided over surrender talks, not genuine negotiations.

When the officials tell you that hundreds of millions of dollars in aid would pour into Bosnia, remember that you will receive large American and international assistance regardless of the outcome of this mission. Congress, whose many isolationists nevertheless support Bosnia, will undoubtedly provide for you. Ignore any American threats to withhold what is inevitably heading your way.

When they tell you they will ask the Serbs to give up territory around Sarajevo as part of the new partition plan, remind them that everything that Serbian forces now hold in Bosnia is yours. IN UN resolutions, the Administration joined in demanding that Serbian forces disarm, disband or withdraw from all of Bosnia. Now it has been conveniently lost sight of these and its other UN and NATO commitments to protect your capital city.

When the officials suggest that it would be helpful if you would kindly consider surrendering Gorazde, your last remaining eastern 'safe area', ask them if they are really from the United States, the country that produced the United Nations Charter, signed the Helsinki Final Act and other anti-aggression treaties, and ratified the Genocide Convention.

Ask them how an Administration that already abandoned two 'safe areas' to Serbian slaughter could reduce itself still further by pressurizing you to hand over still more territory to war criminals.

When they tell you that they will end sanctions against Serbia if its President Slobodan Milosevic grants you diplomatic recognition and pressures the Bosnian Serbs to sign the plan, ask them why are rewarding him for doing what international law and Security Council resolutions demand that he do anyway.

When they tell you that the UN protective mission will withdraw if you do not agree to the plan, remind them that the mission effectively stopped functioning months ago.

The UN has allowed the Serbs to keep Sarajevo airport closed for four months. In spite of a renewed commitment a month ago, it is not responding to the attacks on Gorazde. If it were not for the Bosnian and Croatian Armies, the UN would still be watching Bihac population being driven to starvation and victimized by the atrocities that are the hall-mark of the Serbian campaign.

This Administration has done far too little to merit your continuing trust. The United States is still your friend and your best hope, but the Clinton Administration is neither.