How We Dined with Mladic and Failed our Duty
26 May 2011
The writer is the author of ‘Complicity with Evil: The United Nations in the Age of Modern Genocide’
(…) But if Gen Mladic and the Gaddafis likely share a destination in the dock on charges of crimes against humanity, there the similarity between Bosnia and Libya ends. The uprising in Libya began in mid-February. A month later, the Security Council passed UN Resolution 1973, authorising a “no-fly zone” and “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. Western military advisers are working with the rebels. Nato planes are bombing Col Gaddafi’s forces. Even attack helicopters may now be despatched. How the permanent representative of Bosnia-Herzegovina – ironically, one of the 10 members to vote in favour of 1973 – must have longed for such decisive action in the Bosnian war.
That war broke out in spring 1992 and ended in 1995, with the signing of the Dayton Accords. By that time, more than 100,000 were dead, and many more had been ethnically cleansed. The Bosnian Serbs set up a network of concentration camps and for more than three years freely laid siege to Sarajevo. It was only at the end of August 1995 that Nato finally launched waves of airstrikes against the Bosnian Serbs. Gen Mladic’s military machine rapidly collapsed.
Consider too the contrast within the UN Secretariat over Bosnia and Libya. There was none of today’s readiness for action; indeed quite the opposite, even though UN observers had reported back about the build-up of forces for some time before Gen Mladic launched his onslaught on Srebrenica on Thursday July 6 1995. (…)
(…)Srebrenica guilt still festers in western chancelleries and so it should. Douglas Hurd, the former UK foreign secretary, recently expressed regret over the arms embargo that prevented the Bosnians from defending themselves – an embargo he for years demanded be maintained. Had we in Bosnia shown a fraction of the resolve now on display in Libya, 8,000 men and boys would likely still be alive. Libya’s freedom is being bought with Bosnian blood. That one of those most responsible for spilling it now faces justice is meagre recompense. (…)
Source: Financial Times (Subscription Required)