SERB leaders in Bosnia and Belgrade have been given all the opportunity afforded civilized people to conduct their business and politics by law, convention, and negotiation. Indeed, they have been given more - because of the West's dithering as the horror in Bosnia reached new heights in postwar Europe. Atrocities have been committed in Croatia and Bosnia all along. Yet news and photos of Serb-run concentration camps in Bosnia have finally forced the West's hand, and tried its conscience. It is time to d o something.
The US, British, and French resolution this week to use "all necessary means" to deliver aid to Sarajevo and inspect Serb camps in Bosnia must be agreed to by the UN Security Council immediately. The West must punish those who practice genocide. Another round of talks in London, another investigation in Geneva, another cease-fire signed in Vienna only buy time for Serb aggression. The question that concentration camps in Bosnia raise is: What kind of world is this to be? It's doubtful that camps at Omar ska and elsewhere in Bosnia equal an Auschwitz. But they don't need to be Auschwitz to fufill the "ethnic cleansing" campaign of Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic. Serbs have used a carefully calibrated campaign of terror against civilians.
Lining up Muslim males in town after town, killing them randomly, burning villages, raping women, dotting the land with "detention centers" that practice torture and execution - all say to Muslims: leave. "Final solution" style genocide isn't needed. The 2 million Muslim refugees now scattered across Europe are testament to the success of Milosevic's tactics. Half of Bosnia is now a concentration camp without walls.
By UN convention, genocide is not mass killing alone. It is the ending of a people's identity by relocation or denial of their language, culture, religion, or well-being. Hence, both Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic must be investigated for war crimes.
As for action the scope of "all necessary means" is the question. There is a "quagmire" potential in the Balkans if the West rushes in headlong. It isn't doing so.
The West can't solve ancient blood feuds. But it can end barbaric slaughter. A US-led UN coalition must carry out air attacks as needed, commit volunteer forces to Bosnia, and, if unable to disarm Serbs, must give Bosnians military aid to help them fight the battle. This isn't reckless; Margaret Thatcher, for one, has called for it. President Bush is correct that the Balkan problem is "very very complicated." But it won't get less complicated by ignoring it.