Meanwhile I'm swotting Noel Malcolm's excellent book Bosnia: A short history. The early 1990s come surging back. The names we heard daily on the news: Milosevic; Arkan; Srebrenica; Sarajevo. The pigs-ear that resulted not least because Western governments, it appears, didn't have the first clue what the conflict was really about.
A few examples. An arms embargo was placed on the entire region - which left most of the old Yugoslavian supplies in the hands of the Serbs, but the Bosnians without recourse to defend themselves. "No-fly zones"? Unenforced and unenforcable. "Safe havens"? Ditto. UN peacekeeping forces? Nice idea, but they ended up becoming human shields. You can scarcely miss the frustration in the text:
"It fell to the British government, as holder of the rotating presidency of the EEC, to chair a joint EEC-UN conference on the entire situation in Yugoslavia...The paralysis of the Wrst was made only more apparent. John Major obtained what he thought were solemn pledges from the Serb leaders to lift the sieges of Bosnian towns and cities and place their heavy weaponry under UN supervision. It later emerged that 'supervision' was to be interpreted in its original, etymological sense: UN monitors were allowed to look over the artillery pieces above Sarajavo every day while they were being fired."
Off to Sarajevo tomorrow.