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December 16, 2003
A Visit to Srebrenica

Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota, and his wife Mary are in Srebrenica visiting Minnesota National Guard troops standing guard as part of the NATO effort to keep Muslims safe in Bosnia:

The weather turned suddenly ominous on Monday as Gov. Tim Pawlenty and First Lady Mary Pawlenty were finishing their tour of the memorial site of the worst massacre in Europe since World War II, walking somberly past gravesite after gravesite of newly buried victims.

Gray clouds enveloped the small valley where 7,000 Muslim men and boys were rounded up to be executed later by Serb forces in July 1995. Thunder rumbled in the distance as the Pawlentys, finishing the second day of a two-day tour of Bosnia, looked at photographs in a small basement museum.

Governor Pawlenty's trip has been chronicled for the past few days, as he performs the happy task of visiting Minnesota reservists and reviewing their accommodations. The Pawlentys' visit also highlights the tragic history of Srebrinica and the reason why Minnesotans have to stand guard in Bosnia:

"It underscores the importance of our military being here," Pawlenty said, standing in the memorial, dedicated only a couple of months ago. "My impressions are it's a horrendous tragedy, and it's sad to see these grave markers and what it represents: people being incredibly cruel and evil toward one another."

The men and boys were rounded up at an abandoned battery factory across the road from where the memorial is now located. They were bused away and later shot over a period of days. Others were hunted down as they fled in the woods. Srebrenica's status as a "U.N. protected zone" provided no safety. After the atrocities of Srebrenica became known, a NATO-led alliance bombed the Serbs. Four months later, the war was over.

The Star-Tribune doesn't quite do justice to the story. The UN, which had been in charge of the peacekeeping forces in Bosnia, designated Srebrenica a safe zone so that non-combatants could flee to the city to avoid the brutal fighting going on in the Yugoslavian civil war. They stationed Dutch troops there to keep the civilians safe. However, when Serbian partisans began rounding up and killing civilians, including children, the UN and the Dutch decided to keep their powder dry and never fired a shot to protect the civilians they had insisted on putting in Srebrenica. Thousands of Bosnians were slaughtered in the city, and to this day, NATO forces continue to search for and find bodies of the victims.

When Democrats insist that the UN must be put in charge of Iraq or anywhere else, remember Srebrenica. The bureaucrats at the UN will not fire a weapon to protect civilians, and have a poor record of courage under fire anyway. Let's not forget that they've bugged out of Srebrenica, Rwanda, Iraq, and are threatening to pull out of Afghanistan where they are in charge, leading comedian Larry Miller to comment that the UN couldn't be trusted to stop a food fight. Putting the UN in charge of anything but a debating society is a recipe for disaster, as history proves over and over again, and anyone who prescribes this course of action is a fool who should not be trusted with national security decisions.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 16, 2003 5:51 AM

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