Monday was the 10th anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica to Bosnian Serb military and paramilitary units and the beginning of the largest massacre in Europe since the end of World War II
In no way does it diminish the guilt or responsibility of those who methodically organized and ruthlessly carried out the massacre to say that there are powerful lessons for the international community in how the Bosnia crisis in general and Srebrenica in particular was handled. For it was decisions and actions taken (or not taken) by the United Nations, by the major countries of the Contact Group and by the governments in place in Bosnia and Serbia that made all of what happened not only possible, but predictable.
Was there ever a more inept, less effective and positively counterproductive organization than Unprofor, the UN protection force in Bosnia during the war?... Fundamentally, if an organization like the United Nations is going to intervene in a situation like Bosnia, it should do so only if it has the ability and the will to use all necessary force to enforce its directives. From Unprofor's inception, it lacked both and consistently came across as weak.
The fault for this lies equally with the United Nations and the powerful countries like the United States and others in the Contact Group that provided much of its policy direction. Instead of demanding a cease-fire and backing it up with sufficient force, Unprofor had to beg, cajole and offer a variety of carrots or empty threats with totally predictable results
If we are going to move this region away from the idea of collective guilt, the first and necessary step is to acknowledge individual guilt and to indicate remorse that war crimes were committed. At the same time, though, where are the leaders of the international community who also helped to bring events in the Balkans about? Have we ever heard one word of apology or acknowledgement of failure or responsibility from anyone in leadership positions of Unprofor, the United Nations or the major governments that they got it wrong?...
We are rightly looking for full accountability from the parties in the region. I am sorry that we are not doing the same for ourselves.