Stop the killing in Bosnia

August 10, 1992

First the United Nations needs to get the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina fed and the concentration camps inspected by the International Red Cross and then emptied, or at the very least maintained with decent standards of nutrition and sanitation and without brutality.

If it takes military action to suppress anti-aircraft and artillery fire to get the emergency airlift planes to Sarajevo with food and medicine, then let there be military action. The United States is calling for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, and maybe that can lead to some good.

But that's just the humanitarian side of things. Agreements have to be reached between the warring sides in former Yugoslavia for the war to stop. They need our help. They can't do it on their own. If this means arm-twisting through diplomatic and economic pressure, so be it.

The former British defense secretary, Lord Carrington, has been doing this in behalf of the European Community. Frustrated as he is, he ought to keep it up.

But beyond that, aggression has to be shown to fail. That's what collective security is about. That's what the world is supposed to have learned from World Wars I and II. That's why, supposedly, the United States and its coalition partners intervened to throw Iraq out of Kuwait. This must not stand. It cannot be allowed, or it will happen everywhere.

Beyond any doubt, the humanitarian emergency comes first. The reports of Bosnian Muslim and Croatian refugees, of persistent murders in concentration camps maintained by Serbs in seized territory, are credible.

In a civil war of this savagery, it is certain that atrocities have been committed by some members of all sides. But that does not make all sides equally guilty or the truth even-handed.

The Serbs of Bosnia and the federal invaders are the principal aggressors with the larger forces. They are winning. The greater number of accounts refer to Serbian-run concentration camps. The United Nations and European Community and Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe have to put a stop to this first. Resolution of disputes and rollback of aggression can be left till a little later, so long as they are not forgotten.

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