Chapter 26: To the Mogadishu Line The Battle for Gorazde April 1994Of the three government-controlled Muslim enclaves remaining in eastern Bosnia, Gorazde was the most formidable and the most obstructive from the Bosnian Serb perspective. Given the obstacle that Gorazde presented to the completion of a contiguous Serb Republic in Bosnia, reports that the Bosnian Serbs were launching a serious offensive operation should have been taken seriously. However, the initial reports were dismissed by UNPROFOR commander General Michael Rose.
The reasons for his refusal to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation eventually would become clear to UN personnel on the scene in Gorazde, who became increasingly frustrated as their reports were not only ignored by Rose, but he continued to misrepresent them to the international media while hiding what he knew. In a word—Rose did not want NATO to repeat the air strikes which had been launched against the Serb forces around Sarajevo. He had become more concerned about maintaining neutrality and protecting his mission than anything else.
Pressure to do something finally mounted however; but Rose kept the airstrikes at such a limited and restrained level that they had no effect. It was hard to avoid at least suspecting that he had deliberately undermined the effectiveness of this strategy in order to devalue the use of air strikes in the future.
At the point the Russians became increasingly involved; at the same time, the calls for air strikes had not gone away simply because Mladic almost seemed to relish mocking the international community, this time by taking UN personnel hostage like the terrorist he was while launching extensive artillery attacks on the government-held stronghold of Tuzla. All the while, the death toll in Gorazde continued to rise.
Eventually, UN envoy was to wrest “concessions” from Karadzic, who was eager to give the international community the illusion of progress and who may have suspected that the rift between his government and the Milosevic regime was coming. These concessions were sufficient to halt the air strikes, although naturally the Serbs did not comply with them. In the end, Mladic was able to get pretty much what he wanted—it was not clear that he intended to completely take Gorazde, only to “neutralize” and contain it—and Karadzic had managed to deepen the rift between the NATO allies. The cost was high, though—the Bosnian Serbs had also managed to alienate their Russian allies and their patrons in Belgrade. The consequences of this new development would soon appear.
Chapter 27: “A Dagger in the Back” The Serbian Split June-August 1994Karadzic and the Bosnian Serbs didn’t know it, but they had tried Milosevic’s patience as far as he felt he could afford, given the continuing damage economic sanctions and international pressure were inflicting in rump Yugoslavia. When the Western Powers represented by the “Contact Group” presented the parties (the Bosnian Serbs and the Croat-Muslim Federation) with yet another peace plan (one which gave the Serbs just under half the country but which expected them to give up secure control of the northern corridor) with their peace plan, the Bosnian government accepted it reluctantly, knowing that it wasn’t just but conceding that they knew the Bosnian Serbs would reject it. And, despite pressure from Milosevic (mostly through Yugoslavian President Zoran Lilic), they did exactly that.
Milosevic was furious, and this time the embargo he imposed on his ethnic allies was genuine, if not total (he didn’t want them to collapse militarily, he merely wanted to punish Karadzic and the other leaders who had defied him). Serbs in Serbia were mystified that the war for Serbian unity could be tossed aside so quickly, while those in Bosnia were stunned that they were being condemned for fighting the unwavering war of ethnic cleansing that Milosevic had done so much to bring about.