Monday, October 30, 1995
The war in Bosnia
Does the US have any business getting involved in another foreign war? The President has declared that we have to move in 20,000 peacekeepers for a year, along with the troups with our NATO allies, to supervise the establishment and acceptance of the boundaries painfully ground out in meetings of the three warrior leaders on Dayton, Oh, a week ago. Tis is to be done for humanitarian reasons, and
There are some hidden aspects of this tht do not come up on discussions. for years we have shuddered st the reports of the slaughters of Bosnian Muslims, at
On the surface it would seem that we should heed the lessons of Vietnam and not get involved in internal feuds of foreign people, that might lead to fighting in an area that favors guerillas.
The historic background is a centuries old feud among brethren. The Eastern Orthodox Serbs hate the Bosnian Muslims, their own brethren who adapted the Muslim faith after the Ottoman Turks beat Serbs at Kosovo in 1389. The Roman Catholic Croats hate the Serbs who lorded over them after 1812, when the Karageorgevich and Obrenovich families assumed the Sergian throne, with approval of their Habsburg (Austro-Hungarian) overlords, and continued to do so after partial independence in 1912, and real independence in 1918. More recently, from 1940 through 1946 Croat nationalists declared independence, allied with the Bosnians and killed between 400,000 and 750,000 Serbs and other minorities. Allied with the Nazis, they ruled for a bloody four years in Croatia and Bosnia. The Chetniks - Serb nationalists suffered the most.
In 1945 when the Communists led by the Croat Josip Broz known as Tito assumed control, they executed both Chetniks and Ustashis, withthe loss of some 400,000 lives, and declared a republic, then a federated republic of six republics and two autonomous regions, 1n 1946. His iron hand held the dissidents and nationalists in check, but after his death in 1980 the independents slowly caused the republic to brak up, starting with Slovenia in 1990. Territorial struggles between Croats and Serbs in 1991 were temporarily halted in 1991. Serb revolts against the Bosnian Moslem coalition government broke out in 1992// and 2/3s of the republic fell in Serb hands, culminating in the flagrant massacres at Srebrenica in July 1995. The Croatians,who had been slowly buiding up forces, attacked the Ser-inhabited Croatian province of Krajuna in September, committing atrocities in turn and uprooting 170,000 inhabitants. The Ustashi mentality had not died - the reports of atrocities perpetrated upon Serbs mentioned corpses with with scooped-out eyes. This nightmarish vision reminded me of a story read decades ago, of the Ustashi leader Petkevich, who met a Western journalit sitting behind a table with a dish filled with what appeared to be oysters. When questioned, he exclaimed: "Eyes of dead Serbs! I'll eat them!"