Destroyers of Yugoslavia

September 22, 1995

In a second attempt to justify the Serb-sponsored genocide against the people of Bosnia, Will Podmore (THES, September 8) has misquoted me. In order to make his claim that the aggression in the former Yugoslavia was strictly internal, Podmore has revised my letter. He says I wrote "that the Yugoslav National Army went into Croatia and Bosnia before the international community recognised Bosnia and Croatia". I did not.

I wrote (THES, September 1) "before the international community recognised Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Serb-led Yugoslav national army had bombed the Adriatic sea port of Dubrovnik and levelled the Austro-Hungarian city of Vukovar."

The chronology of events that led to the destruction of Yugoslavia is well recorded. On April 6, 1992, the international community recognised Bosnia-Herzegovina as an independent state. The Serbian terror had already started, however, most of the ethnic cleansing, the creation of rape and concentration camps and the practice of genocide took place after Bosnia's recognition. In effect, Serbia-Montenegro continued its invasion into a neighbouring state well into the summer. The JNA even admitted to operating in Bosnia until June 4, 1992, when it technically left. In practice, the Yugoslav National Army simply converted itself into the Bosnian Serb Army.

It is historically inaccurate for Podmore to suggest that "the Yugoslav government was using the Yugoslav National Army to prevent the break-up of the country." The Yugoslav National Army was not the rescuer of the former state of Yugoslavia but its destroyer. It sought to implement the Serbian leadership's plans for a greater Serbia to be created at the expense of the local non-Serb population.

Podmore should stop with the cheap analogies and misquotes that fall short of historical analysis and accurate reading. One does not have to apologise for fascism and genocide to be opposed to foreign forces in other countries. Mr Podmore. Countries should have the right to settle their own problems but genocide is not an acceptable solution.

Brad Blitz International Development Education Stanford University, US.

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