EDITORIAL: Bosnia’s Bitter Truths

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The bloodshed in Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia has been stopped for several months now. The cost of conflict has been horrific, with an estimated 250,000 people killed and 3 million made refugees since 1991.

Indescribable brutality, torture, and killing of unarmed civilians; concentration camps, mass rapes, ethnic cleansing; the destruction of entire towns and villages; spiteful disruption of agreed upon cease-fires; taking hostage the United Nations' peacekeepers and obstructing humanitarian relief is a minimal and totally inadequate catalogue of intolerable crimes, which were tolerated by the international community. There is no completely innocent side in this conflict. In addition to Serb atrocities, Bosnian Muslims and Croats have also practiced ethnic cleansing. Nevertheless, the factions are not equally guilty.

As an evangelical church leader in Croatia, I have witnessed the sickening cost of bloody warfare. It is clear to me that Bosnians would have continued to bleed to death were it not for the U.S.-led NATO bombing of the Serbian military positions and the ensuing aggressive pursuit of peace. It was the unique American combination of military muscle and robust diplomacy that finally brought peace to Bosnia.

There is a place for the unfortunate necessity of military action in the face of aggression. In 1992, at the European Youth Congress in Utrecht, the Netherlands, I did in fact suggest that the only way to stop Serbian aggression in Bosnia was through resolute military action. "A Croatian theologian asks for military intervention!" the headlines screamed, confusing my pacifist friends and angering Serbian nationalists and a few of my ministerial colleagues. At the time, I argued that the only language these ...

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