Bosnia- Brits move a few miles.

Chris Burford cburford at
Tue Jul 25 08:18:39 MDT 1995

Bosnia. Brits Move a few miles.

On the evening of the Friday London conference, I posted a commentary
saying that apart from a change of tone in tilting towards criticism of
the Serbs, the consensus of great powers had committed themselves to
doing if anything even less; that the appeasement policy of the British
Foreign Office had won out at this conference which it had organised
in many ways for this purpose.

In the event it has become apparent that there were some secret
agreements of a limited but still cynical nature. The most
important signal is that Michael Portillo, the darling of Mrs Thatcher,
and new Defence Secretary, has seen the political space to make public
announcements, significantly insisting all the time that there has
been *no* change of policy, putting British soldiers on the line to
ensure that Sarajevo is fed. It is still OK for civilians
in Sarajevo to be shelled, but Portillo's whole political career is on
the line that they will now be fed. That means they probably will be fed.

Part of the deal was that no way could 1000 French troops fly into
Gorazde and upstage the 300 Brits by playing the Marseillaise for the
sound clips, but that there has been a joint Anglo French redeployment
around Mount Igman, which is politically OK in terms of public opinion in

Over the weekend opinion polls and sampling indicated that families of Brit
troops in Gorazde wanted them out, but the majority of Brits thought that
the British army should stay in Yugoslavia and help to defend the Muslims.

With all the bad publicity that Muslims get, and the great risks of racism,
that gives me some faith in ordinary people. We should always look for
the opportunity to distinguish between the imperialist policies of the
government and the better attitudes of the majority of the population.

Other events. Malaysia saw the political space to say as a muslim
country it would lift the arms embargo on Bosnia. It is extraordinary
how moderate these bourgeois muslim governments have been. And Bob Dole is
putting forward a very truncated resolution tonight.

Concepts of limited self-defence, civil rights, and conflict resolution
are still not centre stage, and the manoeuvrings of the western governments
continue to look ridiculous if they were not so cynical.

Chris B, London.

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