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Chechnya – Article by Senator Jesse Helms PDF Print E-mail

USA TODAY

 

JULY 27. 1995

     

OPINION USA

it's time U.S, helped arm Bosnians

 

 

By Sen. Jesse Helms R-N.C., Waltman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

BY Ahmed Baljric AFP

BOSNIA: Muslim-led government soldiers carrying their wounded flee after Bosnian Serbs took Srabrenica

 
 
 
 


The Senate's vote Wednesday to lift the Bosnian arms nbargo marks the beginning of the end of America's ameful policy of neutrality in the Bailout conflict. Then Bosnia requests the pullout of U.N. forces, which it as indicated it will do before November, the embargo will be lifted and the Bosnians will at last be allowed to defend themselves.

The Senate vote has effectively ended the debate over the embargo and the U.N. presence in Bosnia. The moment has come to develop a new policy - one that distinguishes clearly between victim and aggressor and puts the diplomatic, military and financial sources of the United States behind the victim Some have argued lifting the embargo is enough - that the U.S. should wash its hands of the Bosnian  This Would be a terrible mistake Iike lifting the embargo is only half the solution. The United States now must lead the Atlantic alliance in a new approach by coordinating a decisive allied response to Serbia's aggression. In the name of simple decency, our Policy cannot be to "lift and run" - It must be to "lift and arm."

The time has come for the president and Congress to develop a specific package of arms for the Bosnian Muslims. The president's spokesman, Michael McCurry. recently who support arming Bosnia to recently chided senators "explain where the money comes from, where the arms come from, how they will get them to the Bosnian Muslims  He should know better. Congress has voted three times - 1993, 1994 and 1995 - to give the president a $50 million authorization for arming Bosnia The money has gathered dust for 2 2 1/2 years while Bosnia burned, and thousands of innocent man. women and children have died. I will make the president this offer if he will agree to a policy of aggressively supporting Bosnia's self-defense  I will introduce an amendment to the Defense appropriations bill next week allowing him to immediately take this $50 million and use it to start an international fund to enable the Bosnian government to defend itself.

Already several Muslim countries - Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and others - have indicated a willingness to contribute to Bosnia's defense- Along with U.S. contributions, Boards can acquire the weapons and training It needs to turn back Serb aggression.

Why must the United States take such a strong stand in defense of the Bosnians? There are serious moral and strategic reasons: First. the conflict is not a "civil war" but a war at aggression, Serbia is not merely attempting to conquer Bosnia; it is trying to "ethnically cleanse" the region of Bosnian Muslims and create a racially pure Greater Serbia- This is a Policy of genocide unseen in Europe since Hitler's Final Solution. America must not stand aside and play the role of disinterested observer.

Second. over the past three years the embargo has given radical Islamic states such as Iran a foothold in Europe. Responsible members of the international community Muslim or not have abided by the embargo. The result has been an exaggerated influence for outcast nations like Iran, unfettered by the norms of international law. More troubling still, western indifference to Serbia's genocide of the Bosnian Muslims has bolstered Iran's otherwise laughable promotion of a Western-Muslim conflict and helped Tehran advance its anti-Western agenda in the Muslim world. With the embargo lifted, the U.S. must displace Iran's influence by arming the Bosnians in concert with secular Muslim governments

Third, the United States has a vital interest in repairing the damage done to our credibility by the Clinton administration's vacillation in Bosnia. For three years, the United States has Issued threats and ultimatums to the Serbs and for three years the Serbs have thumbed their noses at us. Western forces have been taken hostage, Bosnian civilians putatively protected by the U.N. have been massacred, a US. pilot has been shot down and U.N. "safe havens" have been overrun - all with impunity.

This ongoing series of humiliations has sent a dangerous message to the world that the United States can be defied without cost or consequence- That message has repercussions far beyond the conflict in Bosnia: It undermines every aspect of our foreign policy, from pressing North Korea to abandon its nuclear program, to seeking China's release of Harry Wu, to stopping Russia's nuclear sales to Iran - increasing the odds for dangerous confrontations. That damage must be repaired. One step in that direction will be a decisive stand against the Serbs.

The Clinton administration has recently acknowledged that, once the embargo is lifted, the US. will have a "moral responsibility" to arm and train the Bosnian government. The administration argues this will require US. forces to "go into Bosnia to help equip and train the Bosnians," leading to an "Americanization" of the canflict. This is a transparent excuse for doing nothing

There is no need to send Americans to Bosnia. During the Cold War, the U.S. successfully backed the contras in Nicaragua and the mujahadeen in Afghanistan without sending one soldier to light on the ground. As for the notion that the US. will have to train Bosnians an Bosnian territory, the most fitting word is absurd. The Bosnians can be trained anywhere; friendly Muslim countries would undoubtedly provide bases for such training.

The president should stop making excuses. Hitting behind our allies has not worked: abdicating leadership to the U.N. has not worked; appeasement has not worked; and Issuing empty threats has not worked. The time has come to end this isolationism in the guise of multilateralism Pull out the U.N., end the embargo arm and train the Bosnians If the Clinton administration has a better idea. let's hear it. Now.

 
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