Saturday, January 06, 2007

Form. Dutch Minister: US held off on Srebrenica

There has been a lot of recent developments/allegations regarding the Srebrenica massacre, and in particular, how much the US and other Western countries knew about plans for a massacre, but did nothing to stop it.
Most notably there was Carla Del Ponte's statement that international observers and politicians knew that a massacre was about to take place; but did nothing to forstall it.
Added to that is Richard Holbrooke's statement that National Security Advisor, Anthony Lake was considering sacrificing the eastern enclaves in order to make the geographic boundries easier for partition.
Now, a former Dutch minister has stated that the US deliberately held off from taking action against the threatened VRS attack on the enclave. He also states that there was no willingness to defend the enclave with air support from the US, British, or French.
He also recommends that the conclusion of the NIOD report, that the attack on the enclave could not have been forseen, be re-evaluated.


Daniel said...

OFF TOPIC: Lewis Mackenzie saga continues (his letter in English)

Owen said...

"I am now investigating my legal options regarding the North American-based perpetrators of these accusations"

It's difficult to know how much one can read into this remark but the phrasing does seem to fall some way short of "the remarks concerned are defamatory, I am suing the people who have made them and you may not repeat them without opening yourself up to similar legal action".

It would be interesting to know when it was that MacKenzie filed his complaint with the Bosnian Judiciary and the state of progress of that complaint. It's a long time since the original proceedings were brought in 1992. Was the complaint filed in response to the original charge or subsequently? Are there time limits? Has the "Bosnian Judiciary" (not a precise term) given its answer?

It sounds out of character for MacKenzie to walk away from an opportunity to defend himself / cause offence. Is he using the time-honoured tactic of using vague references to legal proceedings to dodge the issue? It would be interesting to have a libel lawyer's take on the letter.

Anonymous said...

You only had to be watching the news in the most cursory manner to KNOW that a huge massacre would take place! This was NOT rocket science! As for General MacKenzie, he is one of the most useless wastes of skin walking the earth.

Shaina said...

QUOTE: You only had to be watching the news in the most cursory manner to KNOW that a huge massacre would take place! This was NOT rocket science!

I agree; Srebrenica didn't happen in a vaccum; anyone who watched CNN during the first massive wave of ethnic cleansing in April-June 1992 and followed the situation in Bosnia, particularly in the Srebrenica enclave could have predicted that if the VRS overtook Srebrenica, tragedy would befall.
In 1993 one of the US UNMO officers stationed in Srebrenica specifically used the term "genocide" to refer to what he feared might happened if the VRS overtook the town.
But, the latest allegations seem to go far beyond simply that anyone who paid even a cursory attention to what was going on in Srebrenica coul have predicted a massacre. The new information seems to imply that the US and others had solid information that a massacre without certainty was going to take place; and they purposely chose to obstruct ways of possibly stopping said massacre (such as ordering air strikes) in order to create an easier way to partition the country.

The allegations aren't new, they have been surfacing ever since the enclave fell. But, now it seems as if there is more and more evidence pointing to a less benign evidence of the US's knowledge of what was about to befall the enclave.

As for MacKenzie, unfortunately his UN status still makes him a respectable figure in some circles.

Owen said...

There were general knowledge of what had happened already in Bosnia and general awareness of what was liable to happen. The Francis Boyle letter to Del Ponte refers (not always in a legally rigorous way) to various points where the international community and UN officials were turning a blind eye, for example pointing to Carl Bildt et al. negotiating in Belgrade while the massacre was happening.

But what is harder to pin down is the question of whether deliberate decisions were taken not to act as events were imminent or in progress. I think it's important as far as possible to look at three issues separately - the issue of culpable disregard of the general level of risk, the issue of culpable disregard of the consequences of the fall of Srebrenica and the issue of deliberate collusion with K and M.

It doesn't make a difference to the victims and no-one should be allowed the defence that more general culpability is not culpability but clarity of perspective is important if we want to understand properly what happened.