This month marks the seventeenth anniversary of the Srebrenica Massacre in Bosnia during the Yugoslavian War. Its significance lies in both what it is as much as what it is not.
Srebrenica was not Genocide. However, the Western Mainstream Media (WMM) and the liberal intelligentsia would like you to think it was. They preferred to shine a bright light on Srebrenica and label it genocide. But the salient point is that genocide was not committed.
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC, Genocide is:
“It is a very specific term, referring to violent crimes committed against groups with the intent to destroy the existence of the group.”
Genocide is a specific and horrendous act that should not be trivialized. Equally, it is wrong to apply its use incorrectly for political gain or correctness. For anyone who has forgotten — here is a short recap of actual genocides in the 20th century.
The Armenian Genocide was implement in 1915 and lasted until the end of World War I. In the end, the Ottoman Turks had murdered 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children. The means of extermination were methodically planned, with the intention of destroying the existence of the Armenian people in Turkey. They used some of the same methods we associate with Nazi Germany, such as death marches, starvation, extermination camps, use of poison gases, drowning children, and mass burnings. Their intent from the start was to wipe out the Armenian people, with the ultimate end game resulting in the systematic eradication of the Armenian population from Turkey. The fact that modern day Turkey, under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, denies that it was genocide is laughable.
The Jewish Holocaust of World War II is understood and accepted today as the definition of Genocide, in most of the world. The exception is the world’s Islamic nations. Nazi Germany and their Quisling collaborators exterminated 6 million Jews, two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe, in a systematic state planned program, i.e., The Final Solution. The methods and means of history’s most horrific genocide are well documented.
Yet, what is not as well known is what happened in the Balkans during this same period. The Nazis and their Croatian Ustase collaborators killed 581,000 Serbs. German forces, under direct orders from Adolf Hitler, fought with a special vengeance against the Serbs, who like Jews and Romas, were considered untermensch (sub-human). It is estimated that 300,000 Serbs were murdered in the Croatian operated Jasenovac concentration camp. Large numbers of Serbs were also killed at the hands of Albanians, who allied themselves to the Nazis. It is estimated that Albanians killed 40,000 to 60,000 Serbs.
The Rwandan Genocide began and ended in 1994. It is estimated that 750,000 ethnic Tutsi were murdered in 100 days. This genocidal act occurred under the protection of a United Nation’s Peacekeeping Force, under the direction of Mr. Kofi Annan, Head of the UN Peacekeeping Department. Hutu tribesman who comprised 80% of the population of Rwanda attempted to destroy the existence of all Tutsi in the country.
In the Balkans, during the Yugoslavian War (1991 – 1995) and the Kosovo War (1999), there was war and there were war crimes. Everyone in the Balkans has blood on his hands; war crimes were committed by all of the major warring factions. The greatest of these war crimes was the now infamous Srebrenica Massacre.i
In 1995, from July 12 through July 16, Bosnian Serbs killed 7,079 Muslim men, the majority of whom were unarmed. This was a war crime. Much as the American massacre at My Lai was in 1968 during the Vietnam War.ii What made Srebrenica unique were not the number of people killed, although significant, but rather the international community’s role in the crime, and the subsequent portrayal of this event as genocide.
United Nation’s Peacekeepers, under the direction of Mr. Kofi Annan, the ongoing Head of the UN’s Peacekeeping Department, had disarmed Muslim fighters and guaranteed their protection in the designated “safe area.”iii As someone who experienced the terrain of Srebrenica firsthand, it was abundantly clear that you could not select a more disadvantageous place to ensure anyone’s safety. Srebrenica is a small town with a single north – south thoroughfare situated in a hollow with steep treed hills on both sides. One could defend the town, much as Texans defended the Alamo. But no one should have mistaken Mr. Annan and his UN Associates, for William Travis, James Bowie, or Davy Crockett.
Since the Bosnian Serbs did not attempt to destroy the existence of all Bosnian Muslims, Srebrenica was a war crime and not genocide. Women and children were also living under UN protection in the Srebrenica “safe area,” and they were not killed. They were put on buses and trucks and were transported out of the area. One may posit that the aim of Bosnian Serbs was to ethnically cleanse Muslims from eastern Bosnia, but it was not genocidal. In any war, combatants and civilian populations are on the move – sometime by force and sometime by choice.
So what have we learned? One lesson learned from Srebrenica was that Europe and the United States did not have the will to defend and protect the people who had put their lives in their hands. Moreover, UN officials such as Mr. Annan, Mr. Yasushi Akashi (UN Special Representative for the former Yugoslavia), and French General Bernard Janvier (UN Force Commander in the former Yugoslavia), were either incompetent and/or complicit. They have yet to be held accountable for their part in this horrific war crime.
A second lesson is that Peacekeepers only protect you when there is peace. In the past, a hostile force has used Peacekeepers as human shields, and hostages and pawns in a negotiation. And in this case, worst of all, the Peacekeepers gave the veneer of safety to those whom they were tasked to defend; thus rendering them defenseless and compliant. Survival would have been better achieved knowing ones vulnerability and acting accordingly, rather than relying on a quasi-military force under orders not to engage an opposing hostile force.
The men of Srebrenica put their lives in the hands of the United Nations, and were slaughtered as a result. Apologies and hand ringing does not help the dead. And neither does inappropriately euphemistic labeling. Progress may someday be made in the Balkans when broken rhetoric is replaced with honest dialogue.