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Remember the Battle of Srebrenica, where the UN set up a sanctuary for Bosnians during the war against the Serbs? The city had been garrisoned by troops from The Netherlands, who provided security for the city as part of the UN contingent. I'm sure you recall the brave stand by Dutch peacekeepers that saved the refugees from being massacred by the Serbians in reprisal for attacks by the Bosnian Army ... right?
What? You don't remember it that way? Well, apparently the Dutch do, because they're issuing an insignia commemorating their participation in the mission that allowed the massacre of thousands of refugees (h/t: CQ reader Mr. Michael):
The Dutch government said the troops deserved recognition for their behaviour in difficult circumstances.
Presenting the insignia to some 800 soldiers from the Dutch battalion (Dutchbat) at a military barrack in Assen, Dutch Defence Minister Henk Kamp said they had been unjustly seen in an unfavourable light.
He said they were sent to Srebrenica on a mission impossible - without enough weaponry - and a limited mandate.
Any soldier presented with this should refuse to wear it. It should be seen as the Scarlet Letter of insignias, given the nature of the collapse of the Srebrenica defense. A 2002 report split the blame for the massacre between the UN and the Dutch, noting that the Dutchbat contingent ran away from Srebrenica without firing a shot in its defense.
Without a doubt, the UN has the overarching responsibility for Srebrenica. Their peacekeeping efforts -- at the time under the charge of Kofi Annan, who would succeed to the Secretariat nonetheless -- became a model for Turtle Bay's irrelevancy today. Peacekeepers had conflicting rules of engagement that discouraged action even in self-defense, and they seriously underequipped the troops for their missions even at that. We have seen the same type of response several times from blue-helmeted units, most recently when violence erupted in Kosovo that claimed 19 lives.
However, it was the Dutch who ran without even bothering to discharge their weapons to protect the refugees of Srebrenica. Thousands of civilians were murdered, and they didn't lift a finger to stop it or prevent it. Their commander bears the blame for that decision, but the troops do not deserve any recognition for the humiliation of the collapse of their responsibilities. They have no honor coming to them for Srebrenica, and the Dutch government dishonors itself by attempting to grant it now.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Dutch Distribute Badges Of DishonorEd Morrissey Remember the Battle of Srebrenica, where the UN set up a sanctuary for Bosnians during the war against the Serbs? The city had been garrisoned by troops from The Netherlands, who provided security for [Read More]
Tracked on December 5, 2006 2:27 PM
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