Bosnian Serbs Provoked (in 1994)

Bosnia – Mission Unethical

Serbs are White Christian Europeans. British and American foreign policy is run by loud-mouthed hypocrites who love grand moral postures, but who also know quite well what public opinion back home will actually put up with. Serbs will not be bombed with the sort of seriousness and viciousness that might actually make a difference.

[I was of course wrong about this.  But it took a lot more effort to get to that point.]

The actual bombing that took place was based on pure legal jiggery-pokery. And the Russians had every right to be furious about it. The UN had given generalised permission for bombing to defend UN personnel. So SAS men were deliberately sent into Gorazde, and then directed the bombing that was nominally for their protection. The sort of scheme you might get on that old TV series Mission Impossible.

But unlike TV villains, the Serbs fight back. A handful of “special forces’’ are no match for hundreds of trained fighters on their own home ground. A British plane was shot down, and one of the SAS was “accidentally” killed near the front line, and the whole scheme collapsed very rapidly.

If moral principles were to be taken seriously, one would have to say that the Bosnian Serbs were originally hard done by. Despite being the largest of Bosnia’s interwoven minorities, they were stripped of their constitutional rights by a Muslim – Croat alliance. Taken out of multi-ethnic Yugoslavia and into a sovereign mini-state run by their traditional foes. Foes who had allied with the Nazis to massacre Serbs in World War Two.

Of course the Serbs have also done wrong on a lot of occasions – beginning with the suppression of the autonomy of the Albanians of Kosovo. The ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Kosovo is expected to happen as soon as the war in Bosnia finishes, and no one even pretends that they are going to do anything about it.

In Gorazde, it does seem that the Serbs didn’t start it

“What seems to have stirred the [Bosnian Serb Army] into action at Gorazde is the attempt by Moslem groups there to link up with their brethren in Zepa and Srebrenenica.”

Thus writes Paul Beaver in the Daily Mirror of April 19th, giving facts that are treated as non-facts elsewhere in that same paper.

“A little aggressive patrolling prompted a knee-jerk reaction from the Serbs.

“Whether it was the Moslem’s intentions to provoke a response doesn’t really matter … but they certainly got one.

“The Serbs nearly played directly into their hands and allowed the Moslem government, through NATO air strikes, to internationalise the dispute.”

Except that when it comes to the crunch, British and American public opinion would not be willing to see White Christian Europeans massacred for the benefit of Muslims. Were it to be attempted, even the Daily Mirror would doubtless print heart-rending pictures of Serbian bombing victims and blame the government for following the logic of the Mirror’s own propaganda. Serbs are not a people that can be casually massacred the way the Iraqis were. No one dare say this openly. But everyone except perhaps the Bosnian Muslim government knows perfectly well that it is so.


This first appeared in Newsnotes for  May 1994, in Issue 41 of Labour and Trade Union Review, now Labour Affairs.  You can find more from the era at and