United Nations Should work To Put Yugoslavia Back together

June 27, 1993|By ROBERT M. HAYDEN

The recognition that the Vance-Owen plan for Bosnia is dead andthat that supposed "state" has been partitioned coincides with the second anniversary of the Croatian and Slovenian secessions from Yugoslavia that initiated the war.

These two years have shown that the original policy of opposition to those secessions was correct. Overall, the population of what was Yugoslavia has been impoverished; and three million people have been driven from their homes while perhaps 150,000 have been killed. What had been the most liberal communist country in Europe has been replaced by a cluster of little states, almost all of which are more repressive than the regimes that preceded them.

The war and the poverty feed on each other. America's one diplomatic success, the imposition of sanctions on Serbia, has not stopped the war in Bosnia, but the sanctions have created an economic situation in Serbia worse than Germany in the 1920s. Not surprisingly, the result has been the rise of a true

fascist movement, now driving much of state policy, including the most militant attitudes toward Bosnia and Kosovo.

The sanctions have also severely injured the economies of Macedonia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Ukraine. The cost to these countries has been far more than it has been to Serbia. Yet the sanctions are unlikely to be removed soon, since the Serbs (and Croats), will not abandon their major gains in Bosnia. The United States has thus trapped the United Nations into causing severe damage to the economies and political systems of innocent countries, with no way end this situation for the foreseeable future.

The failure of the sanctions policy is only a symptom of the inept diplomacy of the United States and the European Community over the past two years. The recognition of Croatia and Slovenia was premature at best, and it doomed Bosnia. The recognition of a Bosnian "state" that was never accepted by many of its supposed citizens put the United Nations in the position of trying to create a Lebanon. Serbia and Croatia, defined primarily by their hostility to each other, may resume their war at any time.

None of this bodes well for peace in southeastern Europe. The United States and the European Community are thus now confronted with the folly of their abandonment of 70 years of support for the unity and integrity of Yugoslavia and permitting the dismemberment of that founding member of the United Nations. It is that original diplomatic sin that needs to be rethought. Stability will not be restored to the Balkans as long as it is Balkanized.

A successful Yugoslavia policy would stop as much of the war as possible, contain the rest, remove the sanctions that are damaging the economies of southeastern Europe, permit the arrest and trial of those responsible for war crimes, and show the international community that reckless political actions will not be endorsed.

The most effective way of accomplishing these goals is through the removal of Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian regimes that brought on the war. Such a removal could be accomplished in two steps, one diplomatic, the other military.

Diplomatically, derecognition of the new states of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina is no more heretical than the dere cognition of Yugoslavia. The derecognition of the first two might make the demise of the last acceptable to the non-aligned bloc. The isolation of all three would also set a precedent for the international community that precipitous political acts, such as secession, will not be rewarded.

Derecognition by itself, however will not remove these regimes. Instead, the United Nations and NATO should think seriously about the only military action in Yugoslavia that would be likely to succeed: an invasion of Serbia and Croatia across the Panonian Plain, taking Belgrade and Zagreb. Both regimes would be overthrown, and could be replaced by occupation forces and governments along the lines of those set up in Germany and Japan after World War II.

The prospect of an invasion of Croatia and Serbia may seem daunting to politicians who cannot agree on lesser military actions. Yet a Panonian Storm would be everything that Bosnian Storm could not be. Both the political and the military goals would be clear cut, as they cannot be in Bosnia. NATO has long had plans for an invasion of Yugoslavia; these would be simplified since the Russians would now take part in the operation rather than oppose it. The action would be largely across a plain, ideal for rapid armored warfare with air cover. Yugoslav military doctrine always recognized that Belgrade and Zagreb were not defensible, and based all strategies on defense of Bosnia.

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