YASUSHI AKASHI: ARCHITECT OF DISASTER IN BOSNIA
By Georgie Anne Geyer
Victoria Advocate, p.10A
11 July 1995.
TOKYO — On Saturday, I wrote about how one man — Japanese U.N. diplomat Yasushi Akashi — had almost singlehandedly formed the disaster that is closing in upon us in Bosnia.
After talking with important diplomatic and journalistic friends of his here, I have come to the inescapable conclusion that this man is not at all the pacifist many believe him to be – nor is he a classic U.N. “neutralist at all costs,” as he described himself to me.
Instead, after my research here and elsewhere, Akashi, a man of considerable charm and intelligence, turns out to be a classic Japanese nationalist, trying to gain Japan a place in the world politically and militarily (above all, he has wanted Japanese soldiers prominently under U.N. banners).
His is also a contorted pseudo-U.N. neutralist ideology that has (as his good friends admiringly admit) frankly played up to the Serbs and flattered them to get them to throw down their arms and say,” Here’s to peace in the world!”
What, you may ask, is the matter with that? Well, since we are now at the moment of truth in Bosnia — the U.N. troops have to be withdrawn or Akashi’s bloodless and masochistic United Nations has to be really oppose the Serbs — let us start with the most important answer to that question.
Akashi’s now clear and sick policy of humbling himself (and, thus, the entire U.N.) to the Serbs will not work because it cannot. These thugs and criminals are “mountain” Serbs who fight dirty unless contained, when they rather easily give in to superior force.
Instead of assuaging fears these Serbs have about the outside world, gestures of “understanding,” a la Akashi, are simply taken contemptuously as the obeisances that weakness rightly pays to strength. And so, the more U.N. troops come, as with the new European “reaction force,” and the more Akashi assures the Serbs that even that force is only there to back up his policies of “reconciliation,” the more the Serbs revel in their military superiority and conquest.
So Akashi’s nearly unilateral policy of flattering and supinely agreeing with every depredation of the Serbs has merely encouraged them to keep fighting for more. Akashi, because of his own strange compulsions and the complications cowardice of the West, has constantly expanded the war.
This one man has been allowed to make such world-shaking decisions by, first, the weak willingness of the Security Council members (most definitely including the United States) to pass hapless resolutions over Bosnia, and, then, to give them to Akashi to carry through as special representative.
Because of the chaotic lack of structure of the United Nations — it has no army, no generals, no legal system, no real accounting, nothing of what constitutes a real, tested military — one man like Akashi, who is left to coordinate everything with no real controls on his work and personal intentions, can have unparalleled power.
And so, it has been he who has decided, time after time, that the U.N. soldiers should not be protected from the Serbs (that would “unnerve” the Serbs) and that no humiliation was too great for him to force the U.N. to stomach — all, of course, in the wondrous name of peace.
Finally, we come to Akashi’s intentions, and based upon what I have seen in Bosnia and heard from people close to him here and in the United States, I believe he is almost consumed by hatred of the West in general and of the United States in particular. In this, too, he identifies with the Serbs.
His mentality has been formed by a lifetime spent as a U.N. bureaucrat (a job that Japanese have historically disdained). It is formed by a Third Worldism that reinforces hatred of the South against the North. It is also formed by his experience of seeing America occupy Japan when he was only a boy and by his subsequent education in America.
Whatever the details of his motivation and psyche, the contours of what they have led to are now clear. Bosnia has become the paradigm for the overwhelming failure of the responsible countries and alliances of the world, destroying the hope of the post-Cold War world. The younger generation of the world has seen its leaders side with the Serbs, some of the bloodiest killers since the Nazis. NATO, which Akashi wantonly brought in, never to use except as a “bluff” to the Serbs, is seriously threatened.
And the leaders of Europe and the United States — who somehow were not paying attention as all these depredations occurred in their names — are now faced with either trying to bring the U.N. soldiers out as still another winter approaches, or sliding deeper into the Bosnian abyss.
And you know the oddest part? Most of them wouldn’t even know Akashi’s name.