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The Real Story Behind Srebrenica
The Globe and Mail ^ | 14 July 2005 | Lewis MacKenzie

Posted on 07/15/2005 9:30:59 AM PDT by Doctor13

This week marked the 10th anniversary of the United Nations' second greatest failure since its creation in 1945 -- the genocide in Rwanda being the undisputed No. 1. With much fanfare, the ceremonies focused on the massacre of "up to" 8,000 Bosnian men and boys by General Ratko Mladic's Bosnian Serb army in Srebrenica in July of 1995.

In the vast majority of recent media reports, the background and responsibilities for the disaster in Srebrenica were absent. Preferred was the simple explanation: a black and white event in which the Serbs were solely to blame.

As someone who played a modest role in some of the events preceding the massacre, perhaps a little background will provide some context. In early 1993, after my release from the Canadian Forces, I was asked to appear before a number of U.S. congressional committees dealing with Bosnia. A few months earlier, my successor in the UN Protection Force, General Philippe Morillon, had --against the advice of his UN masters -- bullied his way into Srebrenica accompanied by a tiny contingent of Canadian soldiers and told its citizens they were now under the protection of the UN. The folks at the UN in New York were furious with Gen. Morillon but, with the media on his side, they were forced to introduce the "safe haven" concept for six areas of Bosnia, including Srebrenica.

Wondering what this concept would mean, one U.S. senator asked me how many troops it would take to defend the safe havens. "Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 135,000 troops," I replied. It had to be that large because of the Serb artillery's range. The new UN commander on the ground in Bosnia, Belgian General Francis Briquemont, said he agreed with my assessment but was prepared to try to defend the areas with 65,000 additional troops. The secretary-general of the day, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, went to the Security Council and recommended 27,500 additional troops. The Security Council approved a force of 12,000 and, six months later, fewer than 2,000 additional soldiers had been added to UNPROFOR for the safe-haven tasks.

Then the Security Council changed the wording of the safe-haven resolution from "the UN will defend the safe havens" to "by their presence will the UN deter attacks on the safe havens." In other words, a tiny, token, lightly armed UN contingent would be placed as sacrificial lambs in Srebrenica to "deter" the Bosnian Serb army.

It didn't take long for the Bosnian Muslims to realize that the UN was in no position to live up to its promise to "protect" Srebrenica. With some help from outsiders, they began to infiltrate thousands of fighters and weapons into the safe haven. As the Bosnian Muslim fighters became better equipped and trained, they started to venture outside Srebrenica, burning Serb villages and killing their occupants before quickly withdrawing to the security provided by the UN's safe haven. These attacks reached a crescendo in 1994 and carried on into early 1995 after the Canadian infantry company that had been there for a year was replaced by a larger Dutch contingent.

The Bosnian Serbs might have had the heaviest weapons, but the Bosnian Muslims matched them in infantry skills that were much in demand in the rugged terrain around Srebrenica. As the snow cleared in the spring of 1995, it became obvious to Nasar Oric, the man who led the Bosnian Muslim fighters, that the Bosnian Serb army was going to attack Srebrenica to stop him from attacking Serb villages. So he and a large number of his fighters slipped out of town. Srebrenica was left undefended with the strategic thought that, if the Serbs attacked an undefended town, surely that would cause NATO and the UN to agree that NATO air strikes against the Serbs were justified. And so the Bosnian Serb army strolled into Srebrenica without opposition.

What happened next is only debatable in scale. The Bosnian Muslim men and older boys were singled out and the elderly, women and children were moved out or pushed in the direction of Tuzla and safety. It's a distasteful point, but it has to be said that, if you're committing genocide, you don't let the women go since they are key to perpetuating the very group you are trying to eliminate. Many of the men and boys were executed and buried in mass graves.

Evidence given at The Hague war crimes tribunal casts serious doubt on the figure of "up to" 8,000 Bosnian Muslims massacred. That figure includes "up to" 5,000 who have been classified as missing. More than 2,000 bodies have been recovered in and around Srebrenica, and they include victims of the three years of intense fighting in the area. The math just doesn't support the scale of 8,000 killed.

Nasar Oric, the Bosnian Muslim military leader in Srebrenica, is currently on trial in The Hague for war crimes committed during his "defence" of the town. Evidence to date suggests that he was responsible for killing as many Serb civilians outside Srebrenica as the Bosnian Serb army was for massacring Bosnian Muslims inside the town.

Two wrongs never made a right, but those moments in history that shame us all because of our indifference should not be viewed in isolation without the context that created them.--

Retired major-general Lewis MacKenzie was the first commander of UN peacekeeping forces in Sarajevo.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: balkanalkaeda; balkans; bosnia; islamofascists; mackenzie; un; unpeacekeeping; unprofor
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To: johnnyBbad

...or the Muslims.

81 posted on 07/27/2005 5:27:32 AM PDT by johnnyBbad
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To: zagor-te-nej

I would back the Serbs more in Bosnia if they'd done something worth backing them for!

82 posted on 07/27/2005 5:32:41 AM PDT by johnnyBbad
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To: Doctor13


83 posted on 07/27/2005 6:57:24 AM PDT by Sal
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To: johnnyBbad

Let us assume, for a moment, that you are a Westerner and/or that you care for the US. In that case I can tell you that you can back up Serbs or Muslim. What happens when West arms, equip and train Muslim forces we saw in Afghanistan – sooner or later they will turn on you. If that is OK with you so be it. You do your work - as for Serbs “Patience - Rescue".

Who started war in Bosnia:
1991 --- VOX magazine cover from October 1991 showing Bosnian Muslim soldier in Nazi SS Division Handzar stepping on decapitated heads of Serbian leaders. Caption reads: "Spremna Handzar Divizija" (The Handzar Division is ready).

84 posted on 07/27/2005 10:41:51 PM PDT by zagor-te-nej (
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To: zagor-te-nej
Sorry man, I'm not going to back the Serbs simply because they fought Muslims. I know that rationale works with a lot of people but not me.

The Bosnian Muslims were very secular before the war and still are today. The Afghan mujaheden, by comparison, were completely insane from day one and Reagan knew it. They were simply a force the US backed as a way of giving the Soviets their Vietnam. The legacy of that decision is positive in some ways (no more USSR) and horrible in others (more Islamic fundamentalism).

Funny that you mention a Bosnian magazine from October 1991.

At about the same time....

"You want to take Bosnia-Herzegovina down the same highway of hell and suffering that Slovenia and Croatia are travelling. Do not think that you will not lead Bosnia-Herzegovina into hell, and do not think that you will not perhaps make the Muslim people disappear, because the Muslims cannot defend themselves if there is war-How will you prevent everyone from being killed in Bosnia-Herzegovina?"

- Radovan Karadzic, October 14, 1991 (said to the Muslims at the Bosnian parliament).

So what do you think had more to do with war starting, a magazine story or an open threat of genocide?

85 posted on 07/28/2005 8:09:27 PM PDT by johnnyBbad
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To: johnnyBbad
Some folks you just can't reach.

Which is why we have the USAF do it for us.

= )

86 posted on 07/29/2005 10:36:48 AM PDT by Hoplite
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To: johnnyBbad
The problem of that is the history of Alija, the regime leaders he brought in had fundamentalist backgrounds and Alija refused to guarantee equality to the Serbs and Croatians.
87 posted on 08/01/2005 2:49:48 PM PDT by ma bell ("Take me to the Brig. I want to see the "real Marines". Major General Chesty Puller, USMC)
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To: johnnyBbad

"I would sacrifice peace for a sovereign Bosnia-Herzegovina… but for that peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina I would not sacrifice sovereignty."
Izetbegovic, February 7, 1991:

So what do you think who was preparing to start war, member of a Muslim youth organization that recruited for the Waffen SS or gentlemen who warned muslim not to take “Bosnia-Herzegovina down the same highway of hell and suffering that Slovenia and Croatia are travelling.”

Hint for you:
Great people of Islamic revival -
Muslim Brotherhood site - Alija Izetbegovic is second on the list:

88 posted on 08/03/2005 7:50:55 PM PDT by zagor-te-nej (
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To: zagor-te-nej

In other words Izetbegovic had to choose between independence and the same Serb-dominated Yugoslavia that everyone else - Christian and Muslim alike - wanted the hell out of.

89 posted on 08/04/2005 7:02:42 AM PDT by johnnyBbad
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To: johnnyBbad

Serb-dominated? LOL! Former Yugoslavia was ANYTHING BUT Serb-dominated. Educate yourself:

90 posted on 08/04/2005 3:48:16 PM PDT by Pantagruel
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To: johnnyBbad; DTA

the war started quietly by the croatians against the serbs of the pakrac region of western slavonia/croatia, back in 1987/8.

91 posted on 09/13/2005 4:34:58 PM PDT by ma bell ("Take me to the Brig. I want to see the "real Marines". Major General Chesty Puller, USMC)
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