Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Srebrenica Update

Frank from (always a topnotch source on Balkan/war crimes info) has posted a new, very interesting update about Srebrenica.

Holbrooke admits:

"I was under initial instructions to sacrifice Srebrenica, Goradze and Zepa... and I felt it was wrong."

According to Holbrooke the instruction to abandon the enclaves was given by Tony Lake, a former senior Clinton advisor.

Holbrooke goes on to say,

"I look forward to the day when Srebrenica is fully back in the hands of its original inhabitants, who are Muslims."

An audio clip of the interview can be found here.


Shaina said...

ETA: It isn't really "new" news either, the interview is from 2005; but the comment has seemed to go unoticed until now.

Owen said...

Mr Lake wasn't very proactive on another front - see interview with Alison des Forges at

Bg anon said...

Well it isnt to brave to talk about that today is it really?

I mean this 'admission' shows what a good guy he is right.

Perhaps its unrealistic to expect politicians to behave in a responsible way but if Holbrooke had felt strongly enough about the potential danger to Srebrenica he would have resigned and gone public. I am a fan of politicians who resign - they can earn a measured amount of respect from me for doing that.

On the other hand it may be that in those early days neither he nor any of us realised what would happen to Srebrenica. In which case his point is moot.

I'm all for honest and difficult admissions but I somehow doubt the veracity of these platitudes

Shaina said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shaina said...

I have a lot of respect for those politicians and people in positions of authorities who are willing to risk their jobs and go public over what they feel to be policy/moral problems.
With regards to Bosnia, the resignation of several State Department employees over what they felt to be the U.S.'s very poor Bosnia policy immediately springs to mind.
However, sometimes one can be more effective staying within the system and trying to influence co-workers from within.
Whether that influenced Mr. Holbrooke's decision is another matter.
That perhaps doesn't explain why he waited 10 years to reveal this information though.
For what it is worth, if anything, I read his book on the Dayton Peace Accords; and while I certainly do not agree with everything he said in the book; overall the impression I had of him was favorable.
Anyways, it would be interesting to hear Mr. Lake's reactions.
While I haven't read anything as blatant as Holbrooke's comments; several books on Bosnia and the Clinton administration did at least mention in passing how while some of the staff found the fall of the eastern enclaves to be "tragic" in a realpolitik sense they found that the fall of the enclaves helped made the "maps" much more clear and uncluttered.

Owen said...

These people work on the "big picture", which is justifiable as long as you don't ignore the significant details. For example, Tony Blair believes that all British citizens should be on the police's national DNA database, apparently without any understanding of the many dangers involved.

Sometimes very clever people can be very stupid. They see what ordinary people don't spot, but equally they miss what is plainly obvious to you or I.

Bg anon said...

'sometimes one can be more effective staying within the system and trying to influence co-workers from within'

Yes this is something to be considered of course, always. But in that case your 'right' to paint yourself as the 'voice of reason on a crazy ship' after the event is diminished.

But, as Owen I think touches upon, there is also the danger that this way of thinking is nothing but self delusion. Thats a kind way of putting it. I would say in most cases either conciously or subconciously the politician knows (s/he) is kidding themselves with your words above going through his head.

Thus the principled bottom line is to speak out, resign or at least fight the battle bitterly from within - even if it damages ones career prospects.

Hell in the short term it might damage career prospects but in the long term then you really can speak out in public with pride about how you tried to stop something happening. Whats more people will be much less suspicious.

Give people their due respect if they truly earnt it but if not we should give them the cold shoulder (or the elbow!)