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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 12-Jul-05
Survivors commemorate the genocidal 1995 Srebrenica massacre

Web Log - July, 2005

Survivors commemorate the genocidal 1995 Srebrenica massacre

After Rwanda, Srebrenica and Darfur, United Nations says "Never again" - again.

When I was growing up in the 1950s, I used to hear the words "never again" in reference to the Jewish holocaust in 1930-40s Germany.

Since then, we've had several genocides which were just as bad as the Jewish holocaust, and we seem to hear the words "never again" again and again and again.

On Monday, world leaders gather with tens of thousands of survivors and neighbors to say "never again" again and to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, where thousands of boys and men, who had been separated out from the women, were massively slaughtered and buried in mass graves -- all right under the nose of a United Nations "peacekeeping force."

The Balkan states (formerly Yugoslavia) is the meeting place of three great civilizations: the Western (Judeo-Christian) civilization, the Orthodox Christian civilization, and the Muslim civilization. Great genocidal inter-civilization wars have occurred in this region with regularity for centuries. One of the greatest of these wars was World War I, the Great War, that began in 1912. When it was settled, the Balkans were united as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Regular readers of this web site know that genocidal crisis wars occur in every tribe, society, nation and region, and that they occur roughly every 70-90 years, the maximum length of a human lifetime. And so it's no surprise that Yugoslavia survived only 74 years from the time it was formed, and then dissolved into a new genocidal crisis war.

When Yugoslavia collapsed in the 1980s, it split into largely Catholic Croatia, largely Orthodox Christian Serbia, and largely Muslim Bosnia and Albania.

Remarkably, these three groups lived together peacefully for decades in the Balkans. In many cases, they were friends and neighbors, living near each other, babysitting for each other's children, often intermarrying - just like any suburban neighborhood in America. That's why it was so remarkable to see how brutal and violent the Balkans war of the 1990s was. It was as strange and unexpected as if the citizens of Stamford, Connecticut, decided one day to rise up and start killing each other.

The war was extremely brutal, with atrocities committed on both sides. However, the better-armed Serbs gained the upper hand, and developed a policy of mass-murdering all the men and mass-raping all the women.

With the Serbs achieving victories, the United Nations tried to stop the war. In 1993, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 819, declaring that the town of Srebrenica and a 30 square mile area around the town is now the first "United Nations Safe Area."

There's always a big problem with "safe areas," in that they're usually protected from attack by some political prohibition, but nothing stops them from being used as bases for counterattacks. (For example, the Muslims in Iraq often used mosques as "safe areas," feeling free to store weapons there and launch missiles from there.) Thus, the Muslims were "safe" in Srebrenica, but could store weapons and launch counterattacks from Srebrenica, thus further infuriating the Serbs.

By December, 1994, the war had resulted in some 200,000 or more deaths, millions of refugees, and tens of thousands of rapes.

In January, 1995, a battalion of Dutch Peacekeepers arrived on the scene to Keep the Peace in Srebrenica. Unfortunately, the Serbs didn't comply, and took 350 of the Dutch Peacekeepers as hostages.

An angry United Nations decided to bomb the Serb positions, but there were some mixups, and the request for bombers was filled out on the wrong form (I'm not joking!!!), then it was too late because the bombers were running out of fuel, so the whole thing got delayed. Finally, two Dutch F-16 Fighters drop two bombs on Serb positions. The Serbs threatened to kill Dutch hostages and shell refugees, so the bombing campaign was called off.

Later the same day, July 11, 1995, the Serbs entered Srebrenica and issued an ultimatum: The Muslims must hand over their weapons to guarantee their lives. Some men fled into the mountains; they were shelled, captured and killed. But most Muslims complied. Thus did the Serbs acquire most of the Muslim weapons in Srebrenica.

On July 12, the Serbs demanded that the men and boys be separated from the women; the Serbs insisted that men must be questioned to identify Muslim War Criminals.

The women were sent away on busses, and the men and boys were slaughtered. Between July 12 and July 16, 1995, the Bosnian Serb Army killed over 7,000 Muslim men. It was the greatest European atrocity since World War II.

So yesterday, 50,000 people rallied in Srebernica to commemorate the massacre.

Officials from all over the world spoke utter nonsense.

British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, said it was "a shame on the international community that this evil took place under our noses. I particularly regret this. And I am deeply sorry for it."

Similar sentiments came from Richard Holbrooke, who eventually engineered a peace treaty. He said, "Srebrenica was the failure of NATO, of the West, of peacekeeping and of the United Nations It was the tragedy that should never be allowed to happen again."

How was it a failure of Nato, the west, peacekeeping and the UN? What else could have been done? We didn't do anything about the Rwanda genocide, and the Darfur genocide. And we've gotten nothing but grief from intervening in Iraq. Straw and Holbrooke don't say what could have been done, and indeed, nothing could have been done.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan put out a press release and sent an envoy, Shashi Tharoor, to the rally. Tharoor said, "Ten years after those tragic events, they continue to haunt us and serve as a reminder that such atrocities must be met with all necessary means and that there must be the political will to carry the policy through."

Annan must be getting exhausted from all the haunting he's suffering, with all the genocide going on. And there's never any political will. Annan forgot to mention that after the massacre, when American-led forces intervened and forced an end to the war, we did so without UN approval. But nine years later, when American-led forces intervened in Iraq, Annan called the war illegal.

One thing I've discovered is that everyone has their favorite wars.

Last year, I was startled to hear the great peacenik Jesse Jackson call for sending American troops to Darfur. Kofi Annan has also called for intervention in Darfur.

So an intervention in Iraq is a "bad intervention" to these guys, but an intervention in Darfur and Sudan is a "good intervention." Do you get the feeling that we're dealing with political twits?

The problem, as I've said many times on this web site, is that these massacres and genocides all take place in the context of crisis wars, and are "acts of nature," which cannot be stopped any more than a tsunami can be stopped.

A year ago, when I first wrote about the crisis war in Darfur, I predicted that the UN would be helpless to stop the crisis war until it had run its course. And I was absolutely right. Crisis wars happen regularly, and they can't be stopped.

There are many reasons why they can't be stopped, but one of the main reasons is that there are many people around who don't want to stop whatever war you're talking about. The UN couldn't intervene further to prevent the Srebrenica massacre because Russia and China opposed intervention.

One columnist, William Montgomery, wrote a column entitled, "There's plenty of blame for us all," which contained these paragraphs:

"The fault for this lies equally with the United Nations and the powerful countries like the United States and others in the Contact Group that provided much of its policy direction. Instead of demanding a cease-fire and backing it up with sufficient force, Unprofor had to beg, cajole and offer a variety of carrots or empty threats with totally predictable results....

If we are going to move this region away from the idea of collective guilt, the first and necessary step is to acknowledge individual guilt and to indicate remorse that war crimes were committed. At the same time, though, where are the leaders of the international community who also helped to bring events in the Balkans about? Have we ever heard one word of apology or acknowledgement of failure or responsibility from anyone in leadership positions of Unprofor, the United Nations or the major governments that they got it wrong?"

Well, of course it's all America's fault, but I'm particularly struck by his claim that the massacre was "totally predictable." Really? There was nobody predicting a Srebrenica massacre at the time, to my knowledge.

But OK, why don't we turn away from the past, and look at some things that I've discussed on this web site, things that are "totally predictable" today:

  1. We're headed for a major stock market crash with 100% certainty, but no one's talking about it or preparing for it. I never understood how people didn't see the crash of 1929 coming, but I sure see it now.
  2. China has the largest army in the world, and is quickly militarizing and arming itself to the teeth with high technology weapons. Their plan is to capture Taiwan, go to war with Japan and get revenge for WW II atrocities, and gain hegemony over all of the Pacific region, including all of southeast Asia, taking the place of America as the world's largest superpower. What are we doing about that, inasmuch as it will cause a new world war? I never understood how Neville Chamberlain could have been so completely fooled by Hitler (and why Winston Churchill was mocked and scorned at the time), but I sure do now.
(12-Jul-05) Permanent Link
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