Bosnia Lobby Works US Congress

SERBS accuse them of dictating their view of Bosnia's war to Americans, while Muslims worry that their voice is fading.

The ''Bosnia lobby'' -- a combination of liberals and conservatives calling for more aggressive US action in Bosnia -- has done much to further the Muslim-led Bosnian government's cause, but has failed to deliver on the big issues.

No US troops have been sent to Bosnia, NATO airstrikes have not been widely used, and an arms embargo that critics say freezes Serb military superiority in place has not been lifted.

And Americans' sympathy for Bosnian Muslims, forged from reports of death camps and videos of snipings, has not translated into support for US intervention.

''I think the Bosnian Muslims are enshrined as the victims in American consciousness,'' says the American Enterprise Institute's Patrick Glynn. ''But the dominant feeling ... is that it's a big mess we shouldn't get involved in.''

In its heyday in 1992, the Bosnia lobby helped prompt presidential candidate Bill Clinton into vowing a more aggressive US stand on the war. And Serbian-American groups complained that US Rudder-Finn public relations firms -- representing the Bosnian and Croatian governments until 1992 -- spread false accounts about Serb atrocities.

Rudder-Finn denies the charge, but observers say lobbyists for Bosnia helped popularize a nontraditional style of foreign policy lobbying. ''It's not focused on Congress, it's focused on the media,'' Dan Nelson says.

With heavy fighting resuming in Bosnia and Senate majority leader Bob Dole saying in June he will propose that the US lift the arms embargo against the Bosnian government, Bosnia may again gain prominence.

But, ''Dole could blunder on this,'' Mr. Glynn says. ''If the US lifts the embargo, sends troops in to aid a UN withdrawal, he could be painted as the one responsible for injecting US troops into Bosnia.''

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