FRENCH United Nations Gen. Philippe Morillon's ongoing defiance of Serb "ethnic cleansing" forces in a Bosnian town is an unexpected act of bravery and conscience. Having earlier downplayed the severity of conditions among Bosnians, General Morillon was so shocked by the barbarous shelling of refugees he witnessed that he refused to leave until aid convoys make it to Srebrenica.
Unless events in East Bosnia change, however, Morillon's shining moment will dim. Some aid will get through. Morillon will leave. The men, women, and children he now pities will be killed or driven out by the Serb offensive now taking place on land all parties know the Bosnians are supposed to hold under the Vance-Owen UN peace plan.
Yet Morillon's moral outrage is an appropriate backdrop as negotiations on that plan resume today in New York. Bosnian leader Alija Izetbegovic is under severe pressure to sign the plan, which carves Bosnia into 10 zones. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is also on the spot. Can this man, accused of war crimes by the State Department, sign a plan that rolls back his ill-gotten spoils by 40 percent?
President Izetbegovic should sign only if he gets well-defined commitments by Western leaders that the plan will be enforced. These commitments must not be made in secret, but in public - for all to see. They include placing Serb heavy weapons under UN control, and Serb withdrawl to the agreed UN map lines. Without guarantees, there is every reason for Izetbegovic not to sign. He knows too well how the UN-brokered Vance Plan turned out in Croatia. Both parties signed a specific map, but then the Serbs re neged and decided to keep large chunks of land now called by the UN "pink zones."
There is every reason to believe Mr. Karadzic will sign only if he believes he can get away with huge pink zones in Bosnia that UN/NATO forces would ignore. Serbs agreed in London in August to remove heavy weapons from Sarajevo, then didn't. Such an outcome would be a diplomatic farce. It would offer temporary peace of mind. But it would continue a pattern of appeasement and capitulation to aggression that will haunt the world's future.