The Genocide We All Predicted

Michael Dobbs

Thursday, March 15, 2012 – 10:56 AM

The Srebrenica genocide — as the massacres-cum-ethnic cleansing of
July 1995 has been described by the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal —
did not happen just like that, out of the blue. It was an avoidable
tragedy predicted well in advance. While the organized murder of 7,000
unarmed Muslim and boys took the world by surprise, there were numerous
warning signals that Western governments failed to take seriously.

I have assembled a partial list of warnings/predictions that a mass
atrocity was in the works in Bosnia, and specifically Srebrenica,
which was declared a United Nations “safe area” in April 1993. The
warnings came from representatives of institutions as diverse as the
United Nations, the United States government, and the World Court.

Most striking of all, the authors include the same Bosnian Serb
leaders, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, who are now defending
themselves against charges of genocide in the Hague. They, better
than anyone else, understood the horror of ethnic cleansing.

Pay attention to the dates on these quotes — 1992 and 1993, more
than two years before the Srebrenica tragedy. Some quotes, such as
the one from Clinton, relate to the general situation in Bosnia,
but most are prompted specifically by events in Srebrenica. (I have
omitted the numerous warnings of genocide from Bosniak leaders.)

We cannot cleanse, nor can we have a sieve to sift, so that only
Serbs could stay, or that the Serbs would fall through and the rest
leave…That would be genocide. — General Ratko Mladic, speech
to Bosnian Serb assembly on his appointment as military commander,
May 12, 1992 I think we cannot afford to ignore what appears to be a
deliberate, systematic extermination of human beings based on their
ethnic origin.

The United Nations was set up to stop things like that, and we ought
to stop it. — Bill Clinton, Democratic candidate for president,
August 5, 1992 If we don’t watch out, this could become a slow-motion
genocide. — United Nations special envoy to Srebrenica Diego Arria,
April 25, 1993 Today, Srebrenica is on the verge of falling, in part
because we have failed to take forceful action against Bosnian Serb
forces…We are only attempting to end the genocide through political
and economic pressures such as sanctions and intense diplomatic
engagement. — Letter from twelve State Department officials to
secretary of state Warren Christopher, April 1993 We used to say,
‘never forget, never again. Now the same thing is going on in Bosnia
because people are Muslims…We are legitimating genocide. — Senator
Daniel P. Moynihan, May 23, 1993 If we had entered Srebrenica, those
people entering would be those whose families were killed. 1,200
Serbs were killed (allegedly by Srebrenica Muslims). There would be
blood to the knees, and we might lose the state for that. — Republika
Srpska president Radovan Karadzic, speech to Bosnian Serb assembly,
July 20, 1993

The likely consequences of war in Bosnia were evident long before
hostilities erupted in April 1992. “Bosnian Republic Resembles
Tinderbox Waiting to Explode” was the headline on a front-page article
I wrote for the Washington Post following a brief visit to Sarajevo in
September 1991. One of the people I interviewed was Bosnian president
Alija Izetbegovic who said the following:

It would be a catastrophe if the war was extended here. There would
be neither victors nor vanquished, only victims. Every second person
in this republic has a weapon. All of Yugoslavia would be drawn into
the conflict. Muslims in Serbia would rise up. Europe would not be
able to keep out of such a war.

The politicians were correct in their grim forebodings, although that
did not prevent them from leading their country to disaster. There
was indeed “blood to the knees” after Karadzic ordered Bosnian Serb
troops to capture Srebrenica.

So my question is simple: If so many people had predicted exactly
such an outcome, why was it permitted to happen?

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