Balkans: April 17, 2002


: More fallout from the Dutch Institute for War Documentation report on Dutch peacekeepers actions (and inactions) around Srebrenica. Today the government of the Netherlands resigned --in shame. Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok and his entire cabinet sent a letter of resignation to Queen Beatrix. Kok was also Prime Minister in 1995 when the murder of 7,000 Bosniak Muslims (by Bosnian Serb forces) occurred. A Washington Post report on the Dutch government's action included this quote: "This (Srebrenica) report weighed so heavily on the cabinet and the ministers that they had to accept the consequences." Analysts say the Kok government will continue in power as an "interim government." Elections were already scheduled for May 15. The report says the Dutch forces deployed around Srebrenica were under orders to "deter by presence" rather than the use of force. Translation: Have guns, don't use them (unless you yourself are fired upon). This kind of order ignored the fact that "peacekeeping" operations are combat operations. Deploying forces to protect an area (or in this case, a group of people in a town) then denying them the ability to project force to fulfill that mission is foolishness on the face of it, a rank violation of military common sense. Words rarely deter killers. A demonstrated ability and willingness to use the rifle and bayonet, however, gives killers pause. They have to consider immediate consequences. The Bosnian Serb gangs operating around Srebrenica figured out there was no immediate consequence (ie, no harm to them) if they hauled off Bosniak civilians and killed them. In the heat of the moment the international community's threats of war crime prosecution didn't register one twit with the Bosnian Serb thugs. The terrible results --the dead at Srebrenica-- are sad proof of that point. (Austin Bay)




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