Our Bosnia `Successes'

THE one-month cease-fire in Bosnia has lasted several days, a considerable time for that war. It shows, among other things, that Serbs can control their armies in Bosnia when they want to.

Some see hope for peace in the cease-fire, which is supposed to give negotiators time to design a partition plan for Bosnia. Yet hope needs substantive causes. In the case of Bosnia, no fundamental change has occurred in the West's basic policy, which is to slowly normalize the territorial aggression of Serbs, who have taken 72 percent of Bosnia by a policy of genocide.

Indeed, the Clinton administration has begun to formally adopt the very kind of Western appeasement policy that has been so skillfully manipulated by Serb President Slobodan Milosevic. President Clinton now supports what he said he never would: a partition plan that will reward Serb aggression. He is part of a terrible precedent that can only buy a temporary peace. Moreover, Mr. Clinton himself now raises the issue of lifting the UN sanctions on Belgrade - an action we totally reject, since sanctions represent the only punitive measure the West has ever exacted on the Serbs for three years of mayhem in Europe.

In one sense, the cease-fire is a success. The Bush and Clinton White Houses have defined a successful Bosnia policy as one in which the problem is kept off of Page 1, which it now is. Sadly, the leading US question has not been whether fundamental principles and interests are being damaged in Europe, or whether a genocide should end and the borders of an internationally recognized state be restored.

The ``successful'' policy falsely defines Bosnia as an ancient ethnic feud that one might ``anguish'' over in moral terms, but that is strategically meaningless. This is plainly wrong. Collective security in Europe is again an issue - witness the bitter fight between the United Nations and NATO over Bosnia. The two main threats to collective security, nationalism and fascism, are on the rise.

Negotiators hope to sell a partition plan that divides Bosnia between the Serbs and the Bosnian-Croat federation. All sides may sign a piece of paper. But will the Serbs roll back their spoils by one third? No one believes so. If not, will the West enforce the treaty by putting troops on the ground? No one believes so. The Western mode is now withdrawal.

The assumption that the war in Bosnia is over may be wrong; it may just be beginning. Bosnians are stronger and want land and homes back. The question is not whether the Bosnians get arms, but from whom they will get them. Iran, perhaps?

Is this a post-cold-war success?

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