Imperialism’s Bosnian mire

BACK IN 1990 the government of Iraq detained westerners during the build-up to the Gulf War, and the West’s media dreamt up a cliché: the ‘human shield’. Five years later the Bosnian Serbs have refined this concept, using UN ‘peacekeepers’ as the shield.

TV images and newspaper photographs throughout the world have shown captive members of the UN contingent under guard, in some cases handcuffed to military installations. The Guardian (May 27) reported that the UN had been “humiliated”. The latest events followed NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serb positions, and Bosnian Serb rocket attacks on Sarajevo and Tuzla.

The Bosnian situation was never fully under imperialist control, but it is rapidly losing all of the restraints which previously limited the mayhem’s range and reach. There is a degree of desperation visible in the Bosnian Serbs’ actions. They are fighting a Bosnian government army far better armed and resourced than it was before. The seizing of hostages from some powerful countries shows a degree of decisiveness, but the Bosnian Serbs may have overreached themselves. The UN has always needed to appear ‘impartial’, but its efforts to impose an imperialist ‘peace’ could compel it to move onto an open war footing.

However, there have also been calls for a UN withdrawal from Bosnia. This might seem more appealing to NATO and UN strategists than involving themselves in an all-out war. The former Yugoslavia is no Iraq and this option would only be tenable if UN troops were present in vast strength.

The imperialists might, however, be tempted past the point of no return in their attempt to assert their authority.

The United Nations, just like the League of Nations before it, is in Lenin’s words “a den of thieves” - a coalition of ruthless capitalist and feudal exploiters, overwhelmingly acting in imperialism’s interests.

They have no solutions, but they can sink deep into the mire in trying to find one.

Steve Kay