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Give War a Chance?

The Yugoslav horror may only be solved by a battlefield resolution

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, February 09, 1994.

NATO and the various agencies of the US government are being forced to consider air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs, behind whom stand the Serbian Army and Russia. What is most annoying about all this posturing is that even the most superficial historian can point with accuracy to atrocities committed by any of the three major factions in Bosnia, and that these charmless stories go back millennia. The Croats lined up for Hitler in the last war, while the Serbs were Stalinists. The Bosnian Serbs, traditionally dumped on by everyone, have publicly adapted a integrated society image. To a degree, it is true. To another degree, they had no choice. Sarajevo had to work because it was so integrated. Tito and his successors kept a tight grip on that area. In short, turning the balance of power in Serbia will not bring peace, but another round of revenge.

Sensing this, the NATO powers have given another page to the annals of military stupidity. They have given a timetable to the Serbian military to give up the siege of Sarajevo. Even an idiot would realize the potential for deception here. The Serbs pull back. NATO commits itself to approval. Supposed rogue elements of the Serb Army return. Back to square one.

It is an accepted truism among peace activists that war never solves anything. Nothing could be further from the truth. War solves just about everything if fought to a conclusion as it is elsewhere in nature. Clearly, if any of the ethnic groups in the former Bosnia wins, their allies will slowly start the attrition of the defeated until the government is filled with the genetically pure. How could such things happen? First, conscience is overcome by genocide support systems that generally go under spiritual headings. The Muslims mumble about holy war. The Catholic Croats must be on the right side because so is Christ, and the Orthodox, institutionally anti-Semitic Serbs have their claims on the holy spirit as well. Once there is no need to worry about lacerating children in a playground by lobbing mortar shells in, then it becomes necessary to fight to a conclusion. Only in repose does conscience, guilt, and the private eumenides of each person find light.

Once the victims are all gone, little remains to remind. Much in other species clearly guides view of war in ours. Apes and monkeys kill each other's children, eat related species not for necessary food but almost in spite.

In this light, things that seemed silly like Vatican Two can be viewed in a new and appreciative light. Up until the 1960's, the Catholic Church held that the Jews were responsible for the death of Christ. Pope John XXIII forgave them and cleared their name, two seemingly irreconcilable acts, but we already have reason to be grateful. The orthodox church still holds the Jews are murderers by decent, and religious bigotry and restrained pogroms still are happening in Orthodox nations, like Russia. Equally, all three tribal groups in Yugoslavia have long and terrible histories of hatred and murder that predate the Crusades. If pressed, the peasant mentality in all three groups would admit to no love for, respect for, tolerance of either of the other two.

It may just be possible that the way to end this war is to let it be fought. Air power over nothing is valueless, so arming the Bosnians may be all that we can do. The problem here is that the weapons do not biodegrade soon enough, and once parity is achieved, the impulse will be to go on the offensive. And in five years Bosnian atrocities in Serbia may be haunting us.