We are peace and human rights advocates who have long urged a progressive US foreign policy, and a just and democratic international order. We recognize that a lasting peace in the Balkans ultimately requires regional demilitarization. Yet this recognition must not stop us from responding now to the genocide taking place in Bosnia-Herzegovina. An immediate first step should be to lift the cruel arms embargo imposed against Bosnia.
For the past fifteen months, the embargo has locked in place the unequal and unjust distribution of force that has all but destroyed Bosnia. When Yugoslavia broke up into independent states, its army, the fifth largest in Europe, did not break up with it, but remained almost entirely in Serb hands. The embargo has had little effect on the ability of the Yugoslav Army and the Serb militias to wage war in Bosnia, but has made it virtually impossible for Bosnian democratic forces to defend themselves.
In effect, the embargo has constituted an intervention on the side of the aggressor. Therefore we call for an immediate lifting of the ban on arms to the Muslim-led government of Bosnia, which has repeatedly stated its commitment to uphold a democratic, multi-ethnic society.
We respect the concerns of citizens committed to peace who argue that lifting the arms embargo would only serve to further escalate the level of violence in the region and prolong the war, but we are not persuaded by them. On the contrary, we believe there are three compelling reasons to lift the embargo now.
First, lifting the embargo would not only permit the Bosnian victims of aggression to defend themselves, but could help shorten the war by letting the Serb forces know that their assaults will be met with resistance. Second, effective resistance now could help deter the spread of agression to Macedonia and Kosovo, by all reports the next intended victims in the Serbian expansionist program. Finally, ending the embargo would free the Bosnians from exclusive dependence for arms on the few suppliers so far willing to circumvent the embargo. Some of these Islamic sources may subject the Bosnians to unwelcome pressure to retreat from their goal of a democratic, secular, and multicultural state.
The United Nations, the United States, and the European Community bear a heavy responsibility for pursuing the policy of pseudo-evenhandedness that has in fact strengthened the side of aggressive Serb expansionism. It is time to admit the terrible failure of this policy, to lift the arms embargo, and give the Bosnian government a chance to survive.
Please join the list of signatories. Mail your name and profession or affiliation to: Joanne Landy, Suite 1458, 163 Joralemon St., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201. Tel. (212) 666-4001. Fax (212) 662-5892.
Richard Caplan, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, England
Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Frankfurt City Ministry for Multicultural Affairs (Germany)
Manuela Dobos, College of Staten Island, City University of New York
Ariel Dorfman, Writer
Michael Foot, British Labour Party
Elinor Fuchs, School of the Arts, Columbia University
Todd Gitlin, Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley
Thomas Harrison, Teacher
Adrian Hastings, Department of Theology, University of Leeds
Dr. Lynne Jones, former chairperson, European Nuclear Disarmament (Britain)
Joanne Landy, Peace Activist
Michael Lerner, editor, Tikkun
Robert J. Lifton
Steven Lukes, European University Institute, Florence
Tomaz Mastnak, Senior Fellow, Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Erika Munk, Yale School of Drama
Nigel Osborne, Faculty of Music, Edinburgh University
Eva Quistorp, Member of the European Parliament; Chairperson, Women for Peace (Germany)
Jennifer Scarlott, Peace Activist
Kenton Worcester, Social Science Research Council
Affiliations for identification purposes only.
March 4, 1993