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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 27-Feb-07
U.N. Court blames Serbian people, but not country of Serbia, for 1995 Srebrenica genocide

Web Log - February, 2007

U.N. Court blames Serbian people, but not country of Serbia, for 1995 Srebrenica genocide

This is the essence of a generational "crisis war."

In a lengthy ruling, the International Court of Justice said that the Serbian state did not order the massacre, but was responsible for failing to prevent it.

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"The court finds that the acts of genocide at Srebrenica cannot be attributed to the respondent's (Serbia) state organs." This was true although the Serbian government in Belgrade "should have made the best effort within their power to try and prevent the tragic events then taking shape."

The 1995 Srebrenica massacre was a shock to all of Europe. The war in Bosnia had been going on since 1992, and it was brutally genocidal from the start. Amy Chua describes the war in her book World on Fire: "In the Serbian concentration camps of the early 1990s, the women prisoners were raped over and over, many times a day, often with broken bottles, often together with their daughters. The men, if they were lucky, were beaten to death as their Serbian guards sang national anthems; if they were not so fortunate, they were castrated or, at gunpoint, forced to castrate their fellow prisoners, sometimes with their own teeth. In all, thousands were tortured and executed."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is what happens in crisis wars. The great majority of wars are non-crisis wars, where there are usually specific, clear objectives, such as the repatriation of land. But crisis wars are visceral, driven by panic by entire generations of people who have never seen anything like it before and are therefore are willing to accede to mass slaughter of enemy soldiers and civilians alike.

That's why the decision by the Court of Justice makes sense. Non-crisis wars come from the politicians, the governments; crisis wars come from the people. The Court of Justice found that the Serbian army in Bosnia -- the "people" -- were responsible for the massacre, not the Serbian government in Belgrade.

The Court of Justice did blame the Belgrade government for not stopping the genocide, but here I disagree with the Court; a crisis war genocide of this type cannot be stopped. It's a primal force of nature. That's why the U.N. couldn't stop the Srebrenica genocide either, and that's why the U.N. couldn't have stopped the Rwanda genocide, and can't stop the Darfur genocide today.

This is another important difference between crisis and non-crisis wars: Non-crisis wars are usually politically unpopular, and they often just peter out, or quickly end when a specific objective is reached or as a result of mediation.

But crisis wars cannot be mediated, and they don't just peter out. They continue to build in energy like a huge unstoppable rock rolling down a hill until it crashes into something with explosive force.

The climax of a crisis war is always such an explosion, something that sears the memory of the participants for decades or even centuries.

In the case of the Bosnian war, this explosive conclusion was the massacre at Srebrenica.

Tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslims had taken refuge in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, which had been designated as a "United Nations Safe Area" in 1993.

In July, 1995, the Bosnian Serb army claimed that the Muslim army was hiding out in Srebrenica, and began shelling the town. The Serbs distributed candy to the children as a trick to separate the men from the women and children. 23,000 women and children were bussed away, while the men were held in trucks and warehouses. By the time it was over, 7,000-8,000 men were massacred. 100,000 were killed during the entire war.

Videos of the massacre are available on YouTube -- just type the word Srebrenica into the search engine. Here is one from a Muslim point of view that takes you through the major events, but doesn't contain any explicit violence. Also, here's a link to a BBC file for RealPlayer that tells the story with original BBC broadcasts.

There is a great deal of guilt among the Europeans for the Srebrenica massacre, since it was in their backyard and they didn't try to stop it either, which means, in the logic of court decision, that the European community is just as guilty as the Serbian government.

As part of its action in capturing Srebrenica, the Serbian army captured 14 Belgian U.N. "peacekeepers," and kept them as hostages. The Serbs threatened to kill the hostages, resulting in the termination of any U.N. air action to stop the massacre. Then, to get its peacekeepers back, the U.N. exchanged 5,000 Muslims it was sheltering for the 14 Belgians. The 5,000 Muslims were presumably slaughtered.

Furthermore, all of this happened just a year after the explosive conclusion to the Rwanda civil war when, in three months in 1994, one million Tutsis were raped, murdered, tortured and dismembered by their Hutu neighbors, friends and family. The U.N. had made no attempt to stop that genocide.

Today, the only full-fledged crisis war going on in the world is the genocide in Darfur.

As I wrote when the world first became came aware of Darfur in 2004, the U.N. is completely irrelevant, and that the genocide cannot be stopped until it's run its course.

That prediction has certainly come true, but when will the Darfur genocide have run its course? The answer to that question is when the climax occurs. It will have to be something so explosive, like the Srebrenica massacre or the atomic weapons blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended World War II, that people will never forget it.

So far, nothing like that has happened in Darfur, as far as I'm aware.

File footage: Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic at a peace signing in 1995. <font size=-2>(Source: BBC)</font>
File footage: Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic at a peace signing in 1995. (Source: BBC)

Meanwhile, the Srebrenica story is far from finished. If you think that the bitterness between Jews and Arabs is great, then you don't know the Serbs and Muslims. Here's an example of what I stumbled across in a blog, doing research for this story: "Who are you to talk - you have no history other then begging the USA for help. The US should drop condoms on you so when you f--k with your sisters you don't multiply like animals. You are aware that it takes your mother 9 months to throw out the garbage." I toned that down a little, but you get the idea. The feelings are similar on the other side.

Given that feelings still run so deep, you won't be surprised to learn that the Serbian government is preventing the capture of Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, the Serb leaders who masterminded the 1995 massacre.

Which just goes to show the truth of that saying: One man's terrorist or mass murderer is another man's freedom fighter and hero. (27-Feb-07) Permanent Link
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