The Murder of Sarajevo

May 12, 1992

,TC The mighty Yugoslav army, which the United States helped to build into a counter-force to Soviet militarization of Eastern Europe, has found its true foe: Yugoslavians. The unending shelling of Sarajevo is one of the great atrocities of the age, ranking with Saddam Hussein's war on the Kurds.

According to Borba, the independent newspaper in Serbian Belgrade, Serb militiamen allied to the Yugoslav army are "systematically murdering Sarajevo." This is the Muslim city from which Yugoslavia proudly hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics to symbolize peace and show off the mountains of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Now the water is not safe. The garbage awaits the rats. Hospitals cannot cope. Food does not get through. The city is dying.

In the federal army, 40 old Communist senior officers were cashiered, to make way for young Serbian officers less squeamish about assaults on civilians.

What does Europe do? The European Community recalled its ambassadors from Belgrade. That leaves full diplomatic relations. The U.S. and Europe have not recognized the smaller "new" Yugoslavia, which is waging this war along with Serbian militia in the secessionist republics. The catch is that they never ceased recognizing the "old" Yugoslavia. It may be suspended from the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) for human rights abuses and, if it is not, no one will know what CSCE is for.

The independence movements of the republics seemed a bad idea last year, likely to provoke strife. But the massive atrocities that the Yugoslav and Serbian forces inflicted on other nationalities pronounced the moral death of the old Yugoslavia. Nobody today would urge its resurrection.

Bosnia-Herzegovina never had a proper nationalism. Its dominant Muslim politicians declared independence, with Croatian support, in hopes of avoiding the strife. The Serbian third of the republic objected. The result is the opposite of intended. But who would now condemn the Moslems to future Serbian rule?

Greater Serbia or Little Yugoslavia is an outcast among nations, systematically murdering thousands of civilians it calls its own, and targeting cultural symbols like mosques for destruction. The Serb militiamen don't care. Nor, it would seem, does Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic.

And whatever became of the United States, that "only superpower"? Or Germany, the new power of Central Europe, lord of the Danube? Or Italy, the economic miracle as close to Sarajevo as Baltimore is to New York? In getting even for past injuries, Serbs have forgotten nothing and learned nothing. And nobody lifts a finger to stop them.

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