Many things have died or been seriously compromised in Bosnia. The optimism of the Cold War's end. The credibility of NATO. The American commitment to European security. The notion that a Europe no longer divided shares a commitment to basic human dignity. But perhaps the death of Western honor has been the most devastating.

It was a sense of honor, conceived as part of a military culture that also embraced the values of self-sacrifice and unswerving courage, that drove American boys into Nazi fire and onto the Normandy beaches.The same values were the guarantee and the bedrock of postwar security and prosperity in Western Europe. Even in Vietnam, where America's confidence in itself was battered, the honor of fighting to extend the reach of freedom stood at the core of the beliefs of those who backed the war.

But where lies the honor, or the commitment to anything, amid the Bosnian morass? Forty months into the war, the sight in recent days of still further thousands of Muslim women and children pushed over the Bosnian hills by the Serbs after the fall of the so-called U.N. "safe area" of Srebrenica was a reminder of how far the West has fallen in Bosnia.

By Roger Cohen

New York Times News Service