Friday, December 08, 2006


The word is Bosnian for well-done and that's the sarcastic message some 16,000 people here sent to troops in Holland who won medals for their service a decade ago in Srebinica, site of the worst civilian massacre in Europe since WW II. A student radio station in Sarajevo organized the campaign this weekend and the AP wrote about the level of outrage it demonstrated.

CNN has also reported on the storm these medals have stirred up. It reminded that the Dutch soldiers not only stood by helplessly but even assisted the Bosnian Serbs in separating women from the 8,000 Muslim men and boys they bused away to be shot.

CNN said "The Dutch troops returned home to scathing charges of cowardice or incompetence. Many soldiers required long-term trauma therapy." Some didn't go to the medal ceremony.

Independent reviewers in a 2002 report, "cleared the Dutch troops of most blame, noting they were outnumbered, lightly armed and under instructions to fire only in self-defense." CNN also noted that partial blame was assigned to the Dutch government for the rules of engagement it saddled the troops with and to a French U.N. general who failed to send air support when it was requested.

Anes Alic wrote a great commentary on it all for an internet newsletter called ISN Security Watch: " In what is likely a first in military history, soldiers have been awarded medals of bravery without having fired a single shot, having been undeniably humiliated by a clearly less powerful aggressor, and failing, totally and completely to accomplish the mission at hand...

"Defeated, frustrated and powerless - certainly. But brave, certainly not. And medals or no, and mandate or no, the international actors here cannot deny their share of responsibility for what happened in Srebrenica."

This article suggests that the odd timing of the medals have to do with a lawsuit by survivors of the massacre pending against the Dutch government.

Lots of Aferim to go around.

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