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Bosnia murder as self-fulfilling prophecy

The United States did not fear bombing of Serbian extremists Bosnia. In the UN Security Council, only the Czech Republic would clearly stop the abuser Mladic.


Some of the reactions to my article "Stoltenberg's co-responsibility for Srebrenica" in Ny tid 5 August testify that we in the Norwegian public still have a very long way to go before Stoltenberg's co-responsibility is acknowledged.

The fact that the protagonist himself gives an "answer" that is not at all about what the criticism is about (as if what he is being criticized for not complying with his reporting obligation to the UN) does not make the recognition easier. Thorvald Stoltenberg's steadfastness and declared flawedness deny his reputation as a man of dialogue and reconciliation.

Gunnar Garbo is among those who believe that Stoltenberg has no reason to regret anything, or put it another way: that the claim about Stoltenberg's co-responsibility for Srebrenica is "completely overstrained" (debate post in Ny Tid 12 August). That this claim still – after 10 years filled with journalists 'and academics' research, UN-initiated investigation reports, the Dutch Srebrenica report and various trials in The Hague – can be perceived as "completely overstrained" here on the mountain, says a lot about how protected Stoltenberg's own version has been in the Norwegian media.

Americans quit the job

Let me clarify my point. When I concluded in my column that Stoltenberg has a co-responsibility for Srebrenica, it does not mean that I believe that he is alone in such a co-responsibility. In the article, the assessment of his role was my theme. The list of politicians, diplomats and officers who have a co-responsibility more or less similar to Stoltenberg's is long: there is a shortage of space on the «Wall of Shame». Co-responsibility is extensive, but it must nevertheless be broken down to named individuals, no matter how unpleasant it may be. The co-perpetrators, in the sense of those who helped create a situation that was such that Mladic – correctly – estimated that he could kill 8000 boys and men in Srebrenica without being hindered, form a different category than the killers, although a category whose behavior must be confiscated if we are to understand how the Srebrenica massacre could have taken place.

However, Garbo's post is not primarily about Stoltenberg, but about the UN and the US. So let's discuss their role.

This is an important discussion, but it is distorted by the similarities in Garbo's presentation. Garbo does not state what events and times his descriptions are meant to be valid for. He writes, "The US is still eager for bombing." When? Does "constantly" mean that throughout the course of the spring from 1992 to the fall of 1995, they were constantly eager for bombing? Bombing against whom, and as part of which overall policy?

The reality is that the Americans were not supporters of bombing directed at one of the "parties". As Samantha Power documents in the book "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide," no less than four middle managers in the State Department's Bosnia section resigned during 1993. Why? Because they could no longer live working for "an administration that supported a diplomatic process that legitimizes aggression and genocide" (p.315).

Czech Republic clearly for bombing

Instead of bombing, let alone opposing the genocidal goals and actions of the strongest party on the ground, for three years the US political leadership sought to train the advice and intelligence that said military power would be the only thing that could prevent continued ethnic cleansing . This is what Clinton and Hoolbrooke have now apologized to the victims in Srebrenica, and in Bosnia in general.

If Garbo has the United States' approach to Srebrenica in particular in mind, his claim that the United States was eager for bombing is equally misleading. The UN Security Council discussed Srebrenica's fall and Dutchbat's request for an air strike the day after the enclave was occupied by Mladic's forces. At this meeting – an hour of destiny for the people of Srebrenica – the representatives of France, Italy, Nigeria, Russia, Britain and China went against giving the green light to NATO weapons power under the auspices of the United Nations. The United States took a somewhat more positive stance on the use of air strikes, but did not stand firm to trump this through; only the Czech representative unequivocally agreed to take a hard line against Mladic, with the following argument:

«The Bosnian Serbs will be reaffirmed in their belief that Security Council resolutions are just paper tigers. They will be tempted to repeat what they did in Srebrenica in Zepa, Gorazde and other so-called safe areas, knowing that they can do so with impunity ”(quoted from Kofi Annan's Srebrenica report, December 1999, paras 329-339) .

Stoltenberg copies Mladic

Garbo's response that Svein Mønnesland and I accuse Stoltenberg of being pro-Serbian consists of accusing us of being anti-Serbian. It's a short circuit. For my part, I am in principle an "anti" force that encourages and commits serious human rights violations – be it the Serb Mladic, be it the Bosnian Naser Oric. The short circuit consists in assuming that "Serbs" are identical with the group that supported Karadzic and Mladic's "ethnic cleansing" in the name of creating a Greater Serbia "free" for non-Serbian citizens. But as we know (though Milosevic's propaganda and media control did everything to hide it): not all Bosnians in Bosnia identified with this project; the multi-ethnic orientated Serbs thus became the "unclean ones" and a thorn in the side of the ideologues of Pale and Belgrade; several of them were killed on an equal footing with Croats and Muslims who embodied Bosnia as a de facto multiethnic society.

I am not "anti-German" when I condemn the Hitler regime's genocide, let alone anti-Russian when I condemn the Stalin regime's Gulag. Stoltenberg was pro-Serbian in the sense of taking over perceptions of the situation in Bosnia that were confusingly similar to Karadzic's and Milosevic's official ones.

On May 20, 1995, a number of newspapers quoted the following statement by Karadzic: “Serbs, Croats and Muslims can no longer live together. You can't keep a cat and a dog trapped in the same room. "11 days later, Stoltenberg said as his main message:" You can't force people to live together. "In short, Stoltenberg did one of the" party's " ) analysis, diagnosis and solutions to their own perspective, and measure it with all their authority as the UN's top broker. You could even call it plagiarism.

To conclude, Garbo comes up with Stoltenber's apologetic favorite argument:

"If the United States had not undermined the scheme of UN and EU peacekeepers, hundreds of thousands of people would have been saved for two to three years by the horrors of war. And the Srebrenica massacre would not have happened. "

Those who refused to sign Owen-Stoltenberg's plan of division (s) in 1993 were the Bosniaks, not the Americans. Why should they have accepted the plans, with or without US support? Yes, says Stoltenberg and Garbo, because the facility shows that a deal in 1993 would save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Peace Plan problem

Captivating? Possible, but the questions are in line. Could – or should – the Bosniaks have known that the next two years would bring so many lost human lives? That a massacre of Srebrenica's scope was necessary for third parties to stop the main aggressor through military intervention? That UN broker Stoltenberg would never list Karadzic and Mladic as negotiating partners, regardless of their series of lies and breaches of promise? More principled: Should Izetbegovic in 1993 have given in to a division model which – contrary to Europe's credo after the end of Nazism – means that people of different (mixed) ethnic backgrounds cannot live together within the same territory (cf. the Karadzic quote taken over by Stoltenberg)? Why should the "party" whose original goal was still multiethnic coexistence state this in favor of a "party" whose declared – and violently realized – goals were forced ethnic segregation?

In 1993, the only alternative to signing an agreement that "accepted the political outcome of unheard-of violations of international law" was not granted (peace investigators Agrell and Alcala on the Dayton Agreement, as Garbo correctly points out, are not very different from Owen-Stoltenberg model) would be approx. 200.000 killed people, most of them Bosnian Muslims. Garbo's Stoltenberg argument is entirely dependent on the knowledge advantage of the future vis-à-vis the past.

Not only that. By consistently presenting the position of the strongest party – ie the main aggressor – that ethnic homogeneity must replace existing multi-ethnicity as meaning the only possible political solution, Stoltenberg contributed to this position winning, almost as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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