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Vetlesen's ethics

Last week, Professor Arne Johan Vetlesen had the article "Bosnia murder as a self-fulfilling prophecy" in print in Ny Tid. Here he receives an answer from former Storting representative and ambassador Gunnar Garbo.


Philosophy professor Arne Johan Vetlesen, who sometimes expresses wise thoughts, nevertheless does not state his tireless efforts to impose on Thorvald Stoltenberg a co-responsibility for the genocide in Srebrenica ten years ago. As unpleasant as it may be, he writes compassionately in Ny Tid on 19 August, the responsibility "must nevertheless be broken down to named individuals". To this end, he directs his accusation at the UN's Norwegian peace mediator.

It does not appear that the professor places similar ethical requirements on his own debate technique.

When he accuses Thorvald Stoltenberg of being pro-Serbian and I notice that one might probably call himself the same as anti-Serbian, he declares that I am guilty of a short circuit. Vetlesen is just against they foundSerbs. On the other hand, his own generalization about Stoltenberg's Serbianism is obviously in order, for Stoltenberg allegedly held with they found.

In support of his accusation that Stoltenberg was biased, Vetlesen mentions Karadzic's statement that Serbs, Croats and Muslims could no longer live together. He points out that Stoltenberg shortly after said: "You can not force people to live together.". Vetlesen interprets this statement as if the mediator made one party's "analysis, diagnosis and solution proposal" his own.

Peace brokers were right

One thing is that one or more parties to a conflict declare that they cannot live together. Something else is to point out that you cannot force them to do so. This is about two completely different attitudes. The task of peacemakers was to try to get the parties to live together in peace. They had to deal with the warriors on all sides and put the pressure on the parties that was possible for them. But of course, Stoltenberg was right. You can't force people to live together.

A third point: Vetlesen claims that I make myself "completely dependent on the knowledge advantage of posterity vis-à-vis the past". When I believe that all parties should have accepted the division plan in 1993, it was allegedly "because the facts show that an agreement in 1993 would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives". This, too, is his own tendentious interpretation. Of course, no one at the time knew what the next few years would bring. But this plan was on the verge of success. I meant and believe that it should have been accepted, simply because it would have created peace. The fact that posterity has shown how much suffering it has since spared the population is only a sad confirmation that the peace brokers were right.

It was the Bosniaks and not the Americans who refused to sign the Vance-Owen plan, Vetlesen writes. In its report to the Security Council on 26 March 1993 (S / 25497), the UN Secretary-General stated that two out of ten signatures were missing. But it was only the Bosnian Serbs who had not signed the provisional documents, he insisted. Now the secretary general thought that the world community had to put enough pressure on the parties to sign all. In my discretion, EU peace broker David Owen documents in his book Balkan Odyssey that it was primarily the negative attitude of the United States to the EU and UN peace plan that prevented this.

Albright's attack

The Americans were not in favor of bombing one of the parties, Vetlesen argues. Not? In the study Stumbling into a new role (Defense Studies 5/1999) Torunn Laugen makes the resounding map of how Europeans, with United Nations support, opposed US demands to give NATO the right to bomb Bosnian-Serbian targets of their choice.

In his book Winning Ugly Ivo H. Daalder and Michael E. O'Hannon also write that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright worked for a long time to deploy military force against Milosevic in Bosnia and consistently called for air strikes.

What was important for me to point out in my previous reply was that not only Thorvald Stoltenberg, but all the European countries that had peacekeepers on the ground, opposed this demand for power. Vetlesen invokes four middle managers in the State Department who at the time resigned their positions. I think their reason was that Albright reluctantly bowed to Europeans. Unfortunately, she did not do the same when it came to the peace agreement.


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