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The legal perils of peacekeeping failure
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, July 01, 2006

In a recent post I pointed to a sentence handed down to a convicted war criminal by a UN war crimes tribunal in Amsterdam. 2 years for standing by and not stopping those under his command from torturing and murdering at least 6 Serbians.

Well apparently the UN and the Dutch government are going to have the legal opportunity to answer for the deaths hundreds of Bosnians who were their responsibility to protect:
A Netherlands-based law firm is preparing to file a suit against the Dutch government and the United Nations seeking damages for almost 8,000 Bosnians who lost relatives in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
You remember Sebrenica don't you? Sebrenica was one of the 5 safe areas declared by the international community (that would be the UN) where Bosnians would be under UN protection. Potocari was the UN base near Sebrenica where the Bosnians were disarmed and encamped:
At Potocari, Dutch troops meekly allowed the Serbs access to the camps and the refugees they held. Then, the following day — July 11 — some 1700 men, disproportionately the elderly and infirm, were separated from women and children. The peacekeepers "stood inches away from the Serb soldiers who were separating the Muslim men, one by one, from their families". At Serb command, the Dutch drew up a registry of 242 Bosnian men remaining in the camp, again mostly elderly and infirm. Then they handed the men over to the Serbs. Not one of the 242 men is known to have survived.
Of course, in the aftermath of Sebrenica, the "international community" was quick to condemn the Serbs and in 1996, the International Criminal Tribunal indicted Mladic and Krstic for crimes against humanity committed at Srebrenica.

And Dutch and UN responsibility for literally letting it happen?

Until now, nary a word.
"We think we have strong case," lawyer Axel Hagedorn told Reuters. He and Marco Gerritsen head a 14-strong team from the firm Van Diepen Van der Kroef, which has spent two years preparing the suit, Hagedorn said.

[...]

"Attempts to talk to the Dutch government about a compensation for the relatives were not answered. We see a lawsuit as the only option," Gerritsen said.
Personally I hope the Bosnian plaintiffs win and I hope they win big. What the UN and the Dutch allowed to happen as "peacekeepers" was inexcusable. And they have the blood of those Bosnian lives on their hands as surely as the deaths the recently sentenced war criminal above has on his. They did no more or no less than he did.
 
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And they have the blood of those Bosnian lives on their hands as surely as the deaths the recently sentenced war criminal above has on his.

OK
They did no more or no less than he did.
Uh, No McQ... go sit down, think this over and get back to us....OK, that’ll get your blood up I know. Any way, No the Dutch Peacekeepers didn’t do that same as this guy. Domestically it’s akin to the incident in NYC (??) about the poor girl robbed and stabbed. She pleaded and called for help and "no one wanted to get involved" so no one came to her aid or called the police. Were those folks as guilty as the people who assaulted and murdered her? No, no they were not. The TRULY guilty parties are the ones who assaulted and murdered her.

Ditto, Sebrenica, the folks who rounded up and KILLED the Bosnians are TRULY guilty. The Dutch are NOT as guilty and did nothing that equalled the decision and acts of the Serbs. Sorry, the failure to act is LESS of a crime and a sin than the action taken...it is the sin of omission not one of COMMISSION.

Your hyperbolic poiont tries to say that the Dutch are as guilty as the Serbs and that simply is unsustainable. IF the Dutch ahd been as hapless as they were, BUT the Serbs had merely robbed the Bosnians, THE BOSNIANS WOULD STILL BE ALIVE. The deaths lie on the heads, in a large part, on the Serbs.

Otherwise, I see lawsuits agains the US and the UN for FAILING TO STOP RWANDA and the UN and the Allies for failing to act quickkly enough to end the Holocaust. A failure to stop evil is EVIL, but not as big a sin as the decision to COMMIT evil.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Joe, I think you misread McQ’s post. He isn’t saying that the peacekeepers are as guilty as the ones that committed the act. He is saying that they are as guilty as the man, Oric, in the first linked story. Oric did not commit the act in that incident, but watched it happen and did nothing. He was found guilty and sentenced for that. McQ believes the guilt of the peacekeepers is similar.
 
Written By: Scout
URL: http://
Also you failed to mention one other party "repsonsible." Sebrenica was accupied by ARMED Bosnian Muslims. Who under the cover provided by the Dutch troops and Bosnian civilains fired on the Serbs surrounding the town, all this from a blurb on Strategypage.com. That was the excuse the Serbs needed they advanced into the town to deal with those firing on THEM-and I can’t say I blame them. Prior to this, the armed insurgents exfilitrated the area.

These guys provoked the fight and then fled...I note that your story doesn’t have anyone suing the Bosnians who fled the scene! No Deep Pockets or no one CARES about that.

No my last name isn’t Milosovic and I have no family dog in this fight. It’s just that the Balkan Wars of the 1990’s have a standard template, "Evil Serbs" v. Good Bosnians/Croats. And the reality was a lot more complex than that. The Serbs had the guns, by dint of being the government, the others had FEWER guns, but that didn’t make them good, just LESS WELL-ARMED.

I hope that the same law firm is preparing to sue Croatia and the UN for the mass expulsion/"ethnic cleansing" of 250,000 Serbs from teh Kraijina region of Croatia, all that occurred under the auspices of the UN, too.

 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Scout, OK, I’d buy that...We’ll see what happens from McQ if he responds.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Joe, I think the problem with your analogy is that the Dutch, in this case, were not simply bystanders. They had an affirmative duty to protect the people in the camp that they were supposedly gaurding. It would be excusable if they were over-run, but to actually draw up a registry of Muslim men and then hand them over to their enemies does seem criminal.

 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
McQ - Personally I hope the Bosnian plaintiffs win and I hope they win big. What the UN and the Dutch allowed to happen as "peacekeepers" was inexcusable. And they have the blood of those Bosnian lives on their hands as surely as the deaths the recently sentenced war criminal above has on his.
My, that’s a real incentive to a military commander to want his troops sent overseas to "keep peace"! If they are too aggressive against the enemy, as the Canadians were on infiltrators into their camp, they are nailed for "atrocities" against the innocent little Jihadi/looters by a lickspittle government out to burn it’s own troops to please "Human Rights Groups" that themselves furnish endless lawyers and agitators but no people willing to risk their lives as soldiers. If they fail to protect, though, they are sued and imprisoned.

Tell me again why US military people that are almost fanatical against putting themselves in a Sebrenica situation are wrong.......
Aldo writes - Joe, I think the problem with your analogy is that the Dutch, in this case, were not simply bystanders. They had an affirmative duty to protect the people in the camp that they were supposedly gaurding. It would be excusable if they were over-run, but to actually draw up a registry of Muslim men and then hand them over to their enemies does seem criminal.
I think failing to be able to protect, do the mission assigned, is bad enough on the reputation of the troops. The UN troops in Rwanda and their commander complained of the shame they felt after the genocide - of being outgunned and ineffectual, and lack of external support. If you throw your own into a remote area of the world, you damn well better have their back - and not be eager to throw them under the bus when they are overwhelmed by an enemy and no cavalry is sent to bail them out. In WWII, both the British and Americans had situations where the Japs came in and demanded lists or be shot, which of course were provided, of people in Singapore, HK, the Philippines - who were members of the Communist Party or noxious criminals or such. Many were killed by the Japs. No British or American official was "sued and imprisoned" after the war. Nor were the European counterparts also forced to give up documents that doomed people, or work for the Nazis - or die - sued until recently, when the litigious Holocaust Industry seeking extra billions in lawsuit grub finally caught up to them, though they too had little choice - as surrounded and overwhelmed as the Dutch at Sebernicia were. In later wars, the US retreated under enemy pressure from Korean and Vietnamese towns and left them to their massacres.
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Is there anything that the UN does well? The orgaanization has outlived whatever usefulness it may have had. Time to disband it. If the USA, Japan and the EU were to stop payment, the organization would collapse.
 
Written By: chsw10605
URL: http://
Scout, OK, I’d buy that...We’ll see what happens from McQ if he responds.
Scout is completely right. I’m not sure how you missed it Joe.

Scout seems to have taken on the job of interpreter. He pointed out when I did exactly the same thing to another commenter (Laurie, I think).
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
My, that’s a real incentive to a military commander to want his troops sent overseas to "keep peace"! If they are too aggressive against the enemy, as the Canadians were on infiltrators into their camp, they are nailed for "atrocities" against the innocent little Jihadi/looters by a lickspittle government out to burn it’s own troops to please "Human Rights Groups" that themselves furnish endless lawyers and agitators but no people willing to risk their lives as soldiers. If they fail to protect, though, they are sued and imprisoned.
Good lord man, did you read what the Dutch did ... or better said, didn’t do?

Please, explain to me how what they did in any way even borders on "peacekeeping". Sometimes ’peacekeeping’ means you point the gun at an aggressor and say "back off or I fire". You certainly don’t produce lists for the aggressor so the men can be separated out of a crowd at a camp you’ve designated as a protected safe area and where you’ve disarmed everyone and then stand there and watch while they’re led off to be murdered.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I’d say you need to be more clear in your writing then McQ...just kidding.
OK, again, respectfully I would disagree with you. No, the Dutch are NOT as guilty as the person WHO ordered the attacks. Again IF the Serb commander had ordered BEATINGS or ROBBERY or even the distribution of US $100 to each person in Sebrenica AND the Dutch had been as hapless, the folks in Sebrenica would have been beaten, robbed OR $100 richer. The ctritical factor was NOT the Dutch, but rather the Serb commander. So, no the Dutch ARE NOT AS GUILTY. Sorry, I’m sure you’ll disagree but well I believe you’re wrong, in the moral scale.
Joe, I think the problem with your analogy is that the Dutch, in this case, were not simply bystanders. They had an affirmative duty to protect the people in the camp that they were supposedly gaurding
Uh No, they didn’t. They had an AFFIRMATIVE DUTY TO FOLLOW THE ORDERS OF THEIR GOVERNMENT. Sorry, they’re troops of HOLLAND, not Freelance do-gooders nor were they troops of the Bosnian government or anyone else. They were bound by the dictates of their Rules of Engagement and the dictates of their government, rules the troops sought to change, but Holland did not see fit to auhtorize proactive violence. The Dutch government chose to send a lightly armed Dutch infantry battalion to the area, with only their small arms and NOT authorized to fire on the Serbs. They were running a bluff on the Serbs, a bluff the Serbs felt little fear in "calling." Any way, I would disagree with the Dutch troops "Affirmative duty" to do more or less than they were ordered to do.

International law on "Only following orders" covers POSITIVE acts. You are NOT allowed to SHOOT civilians or torture them or treat them inhumanely. There is no requirement POSITIVE requirements to act, only negative requirements to NOT behave in certain ways. So there isn’t an affirmative duty to DO anything. It would have been NICE if the Dutch had acted, but they weren’t required to. And whilst I’m sure that many would say:
1) The Serbs would not have risked a wider war by attacking thru a resisting Dutch battalion; or
2) It would have been acceptable, even if the Dutch unit had been overrun.
There is the possiblity that the Dutch unit WOULD have been overrun and the civilians killed ANYWAY, added to the bother of Dutch POW’s/Hostages.

So IF the Dutch commander HAD foloowed his so-called affirmative duty he would ahve lost his command, disobeyed his government, widened the war, and the Bosnians would STILL be dead. And IF an American unit commander sees it as HIS affirmative duty to violate the dictates of his/her orders will you be so forgiving? And even if YOU; are should the US military? Remember the China War bagan in 1931 and expanded in 1937 because the Japanese Kwantung Army felt it had a DUTY to expand the Japenses holdings in CHina, with or WITHOUT agreement of the Tokyo government.

Now I don’t equate the US military to the Imperial Japanese Army, but I would point out that military commanders, in the Western model, are RESPONSIBLE TO THEIR GOVERNMENTS, not some spurious "affirmative duty", do be defined by the UN or International Lawyers and national court systems?

C. Ford brought up a good point, now commanders will be judged ex post facto by courts and juries about his/her actions, about what he/she should have done, by folks not there? By lawyers....I don’t see it.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
No, the Dutch are NOT as guilty as the person WHO ordered the attacks.
I never said they were. I said they were as guilty as the guy who had the power to prevent them and didn’t.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Good lord man, did you read what the Dutch did ... or better said, didn’t do?
The Dutch were unable to prevent Jihadis they were supposed to be protecting from exfiltrating out of their safe haven and killing Serb families in the surrounding area.

A retaliatory Serb force went in to kill any Muslim male who could conceivably be a threat. Determined to match atrocities with more atrocities because the Dutch wards violated Sanctuary, and the Serbs felt they had no obligation to honor "UN protection" anymore, and informed the Dutch of that as they went in. They also knew the Dutch maintained a list of all inside, demanded it, and got it as fast as the Brit Colonial Adminstrators handed over lists of doomed Singaporean and HK communists to the Japs at bayonet point. The Dutch also knew that Bosnian Jihadis had repeatedly violated their sanctuary and weren’t too keen to die on their behalf. And knew like the Belgians did in Rwanda and Colonel Dassault’s force there that no reinforcemnts would come.

The Dutch were barred from shooting the Jihadis in Sebernicia that exfiltrated at night to kill. Barred from killing armed Jihadis on the streets inside Sebernicia that refused their request to disarm. Jihadis who, BTW, were not stopped by their elders from going out of sanctuary on raids, so the "innocents" do have some culpability. When the Serbs moved on them, all the armed Jihadis fled, counting on the Dutch to protect their families or counting on the Serbs to be nicer on civilians than they were. But the Serbs weren’t.
You certainly don’t produce lists for the aggressor so the men can be separated out of a crowd at a camp you’ve designated as a protected safe area and where you’ve disarmed everyone and then stand there and watch while they’re led off to be murdered.
As noted, the Dutch had proved unable to disarm the Jihadi killers. They had no "affirmative duty" to protect the Muslims no matter what, or significant troops strength to realize that goal. They JUST HAD THEIR GOVERNMENT’s mission orders.

And the fleeing guerilla fighters were who abandoned their people to their fate, not so much the Dutch. It appears the Dutch assessed the situation and decided it was wiser to surrender than to fight to the last man to protect the people who violated sanctuary from consequence from their fighter’s raids from the Sebernicia safe haven. I note that the Dutch were not sure if the Muslim males being taken away would be imprisoned or massacred. Perhaps they would have fought if the Serbs had begun executing Muslim men under their noses. BUt they were aware that the Jihadis who had caused so much of the trouble had fled and saved their asses, and not stood up to fight the Serb forces.
Please, explain to me how what they did in any way even borders on "peacekeeping".
They came in and said, "chill". But, as peacekeepers, they lacked the authority to kill the Jihadis in their care who did guerilla war, or punish the
civilians that supported them. And lacked the military power to hold off even a modest-sized Serb force. And knew no last minute cavalry was coming to boster them.

They were put in an impossible situation.

The determination of Human Rights Groups to have their heads and the determination of the Dutch government that it is politically expedient to offer up soldier heads is a pungent reminder that any soldier ever sent on such a peacekeeping mission is not only in danger of their lives, but are in deep danger of being criminalized for any misstep made noted by "human rights monitors and lawyers", or any time they find themselves in an impossible situation.

Which is why US military commanders have such a deep antipathy for Peacekeeping missions. They set themselves up for careers being sacrificed from Leftist activists complaints and reports. They suffer career damage simply for drawing such an undesirable assignment, even if they somehow succeed without activist or enemy complaints on their conduct. And why other nations are becoming more reticent after the Canadian, French, Nigerian, and Belgian prosecutions and
now Dutch prosecutions.

You want Peacekeepers that can go out confident that their people will back them? Start the Draft and send draftees, and make it a one-for-one offer that for every human rights activist or lawyer willing to pick up a gun and fight & die for "peace", one draftee goes along. That should shut the activists and their impossible noble standards up. Or, even better, they go and the people support them with criminal immunity - meaning if they have to kill and beat folks to maintain an effective armistice under rules of engagement that actually can have a chance of working in the fouled up messes most peacekeeping situations are - they can.



 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Now McQ WHAT EXACTLY DOES THAT MEAN? Do you mean the Serb comander, God...Milosovic... now I’m confused. So now the Dutch are guilty as some unspecified individual? It becomes difficult to judge culpability when suddenly the goal posts become undefined...

But even given that McQ, whilst I know you disagree, and you are WRONG, they are not as guilty as someone who made an affirmative decision to commit an act. I’m sorry but one can not be guilty of an equal crime if someone decides to commit a grave sin. I keep saying it McQ and you need to address it, IF the Serbs had decided to give the folks $100 they folks of Sebrenica would have been richer... so the problem did not reside with the Dutch but with the person that decided to attack the Bosnian Muslims.

I realize we agree, it seems...but we don’t. I just don’t consider the Dutch guilty of anything approaching the guilt of those who actually committed the crime(s) and those who ordered it.

You may be angry with the Dutch as a professional soldier, for having failed to perform in a manner that you JUDGE to be acceptable, but it is an emotional judgement, not one to be sustained. You and Aldo seem to want to burden commander’s with certain affirmative duties, beyond those established by the authorities that raised and paid for them. I will say that the Dutch unit, sufferd badly, in the aftermath with a number of suicides. The Dutch soldiers feel they failed, and in a sense they did. But that was what they were ordered to do. They bear that moral burden and the actions ordered brought down the Dutch government. But legal responsibility... do you want to do that? I just thnk that this is a bad idea.

But that raises two issues, McQ’s moral argument about the responsibility of the Dutch AND the question of LEGAL liability...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
The Dutch were unable to prevent Jihadis they were supposed to be protecting from exfiltrating out of their safe haven and killing Serb families in the surrounding area.
Ah, so you didn’t read it.

’Nuff said.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
...now I’m confused.
Now you’re confused?

Heh ...
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I figured I’d leave that one by net... so now WHO is guilty, on the Serb side? And exactly how are the Dutch as guilty as him/her again?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Joe, I think it’s confusing because these are two separate events that took place in the same location.

Oric was convicted of war crimes and sentenced yesterday. He is a Bosnian Muslim and has nothing to do with the Dutch. He protected the area from Serbs before the Dutch/UN took over. In 1992 and 1993, Serb prisoners were murdered by troops under his command. He was convicted for six of these deaths. He was not convicted for participating, he was convicted for knowingly letting it happen.

The Dutch/UN took over in 1995. It was while the Dutch were in charge that the Serbs massacred the Muslims. A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the Muslims against the Dutch and the UN for letting it happen.

McQ’s opinion is that the Dutch are as culpable for the massacre of the Muslims as Oric is for the murder of the six Serb prisoners. It’s an interesting point because a court has found Oric guilty of what are similar, though not exact, charges.

It is worth noting, and probably will come up in the lawsuit, that the Muslims along with troops under Oric’s command had defended that area against the Serbs for years. It was literally only weeks after the Dutch took over that the Serbs massacred them.

Regardless of the causes for and guilt of Muslim and Serb actions, the Dutch/UN took responsibility for keeping that area safe for the Muslims. The lawsuit is against the Dutch government and the UN for failing to do that. I don’t believe it seeks to blame any individual peacekeeper. I’m sure it will specifically cite that by not giving their peacekeepers the proper authority to actually keep the peace the Dutch government and UN are culpable. The suit seeks to have the Dutch government and UN pay compensation to relatives of the Muslim massacre victims.
 
Written By: Scout
URL: http://
You and Aldo seem to want to burden commander’s with certain affirmative duties, beyond those established by the authorities that raised and paid for them.

Joe, admittedly my knowledge of the facts is limited to what McQ posted.

If the Dutch soldiers were charged by their commanders with the task of guarding a camp, then it seems to me that their responsibility to the people in the camp ran a little deeper than that of bystanders, which is essentially how you characterized it in your analogy. When I used the phrase "affirmative duty" I was simply referring to the duty of any soldier to follow orders and attempt to complete the mission. I was not, as C. Ford claimed, asserting that the Dutch were bound by some sort of nebulous new legal obligation to protect the Muslims "no matter what".

I share your aversion to international courts and Monday Morning Quarterbacking by lawyers. My impression was that this lawsuit was being pressed against the Dutch government in a Dutch court, not the International Criminal Court.

If the Dutch soldiers had simply failed to protect the camp from the Serbs I would object to the very idea of a lawsuit. In this case, though, the Dutch soldiers are alleged to have drawn up a list of Muslim males in the camp, and then fetched them for their Serbian enemies. Based on these facts, I can see how it might reasonably be alleged that the Dutch soldiers crossed the line into collusion with the Serbs.

Of course, this allegation might be completely spurious. If C. Ford’s version of events is accurate it probably IS spurious, but the Dutch court is not an unreasonable forum for confronting that allegation and formally passing judgement on it.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
"Domestically it’s akin to the incident in NYC (??) about the poor girl robbed and stabbed."

I believe you are referring to the Kitty Genovese case, and I don’t think this is a good analogy. If the police had been at the scene and done nothing, then you could compare the Dutch to the police, but not to the civilians who did nothing.

"They were running a bluff on the Serbs, a bluff the Serbs felt little fear in "calling.""

Yes, and that is why they will probqably be found guilty in a civil suit. They advertised that they would keep the peace and protect innocent civilians, and the Bosnians relied on this assurance. You might say they were defrauded by the Dutch government.

" so the "innocents" do have some culpability"

Nonsense. How do unarmed civilians prevent armed combatants from fighting?

"They JUST HAD THEIR GOVERNMENT’s mission orders."

Which were...?

"The determination of Human Rights Groups to have their heads and the determination of the Dutch government that it is politically expedient to offer up soldier heads"
"But legal responsibility... do you want to do that?"

It is the GOVERNMENT which is being sued, not the soldiers, and the plaintiffs will probably use some of the same arguments you are using.

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I find this discussion flabbergasting.

Joe,

you obviously have missed key elements in this case. No biggie, but you are distracting the discussion. Read everything over again.

C. Ford,

Are you kidding? First of all, your argument only applies to the soldiers if the facts are what you say they are. Since we are talking about the Dutch government and the UN it is very appropriate that they be sued for setting up the rules of engagement that allowed the situation to deteriorate to the point you describe. As for all this nonsense about affirmative duty, of course they have an affirmative duty. If the police are on scene when a woman is fleeing and flag her over to take cover they now have an affirmative duty to protect. If in fact they never had an intention to protect then they have led the woman to her doom. That would be a crime. The Bosnian Muslims of Srebenica were told the peacekeepers were there to protect them. They acted on that belief. That led to them being massacred. The UN and the Dutch government deserve to be punished severely, and if it means that in the future UN and other peace keeping missions have to be something more than window dressing to appease human rights activists, great. We might do fewer peace keeping missions, but they also will not be complicit in murder. My guess is a few more effective peace keeping missions might make them more likely, not less. If the UN and the EU states were to be forced into actually doing something rather than making empty (and in many cases such as this one, destructively empty) military gestures then the world will be a better place.

Finally, if the US ever goes on a peacekeeping mission and our government behaves similarly then yes, C. Ford, I hope we end up in a US court and get our head handed to us.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
Test
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
They JUST HAD THEIR GOVERNMENT’s mission orders."

Which were...?
to NOT engae the Serbs in a firefight. The Dutch commander sought air support and the right to engage, he was denied.
It is the GOVERNMENT which is being sued, not the soldiers, and the plaintiffs will probably use some of the same arguments you are using.
I understand that. As usual of QandO my quibble/debate is a little smaller. I simply deny McQ’s argument that the Dutch have the SAME moral culpability as the Serbian commander(s) who ordered the attack. The commanders have the bulk of the moral guilt-and by extension LEGAL guilt too-those who actually carreid out the murders bear the next most guilt and finally the Dutch troops. So yes I know that the SUIT is about the government of Holland.

As to the legal issues I say be careful of what you wish for. IF government’s are going to be held liable for their FAILURES to act, then I’m afraid you won’t see as many peacekeepers. There is the phrase, "Hard cases make BAD law." This is a hard case, BUT if the Dutch lose, then Holland may not contribute troops to peacekeeping. It’s akin to law suits in the US, yes YOU won $10 million over a playground accident, the city simply removes the playground. Good for YOU, not so good for anyone else that might want a playground

War and National Security Affairs are issues were law is IMPORTANT but not paramount. The Dutch PAID a price already for this. The Dutch battalion had a number of suicides and the Dutch Army had an intense discussion about this. The Dutch commander was cashiered, IIRC, and his revelations brought down the Dutch government.

And Holland debated INTENSELY the next deployment of Dutch troops, to Afghanistan. Some framed it as an anti-war debate, but it was ALSO a debate about Sebrenica and Rules of Engagement. How would the Dutch contignet be authorized to fight? If the same ROE’s prevailed in Afghanistan as in the Balkans, many opposed the deployment. OTOH many feared that Holland was going to be "at war" with freerer rules of fire. Hollandf DID learn it’s lesson from Sebrenica, but you start getting lawyers involved and Holland may decide it’s not worth the open-ended leagl liability and begin to decline to deploy its troops.

Lance,
you obviously have missed key elements in this case. No biggie, but you are distracting the discussion. Read everything over again.
What did I miss? I’m not basing my writing on this article but from a number of other blurbs I’ve read elsewhere.


 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Lance - Finally, if the US ever goes on a peacekeeping mission and our government behaves similarly then yes, C. Ford, I hope we end up in a US court and get our head handed to us.
And my point is that if you criminalize US troops or the US government or saddle them with open-ended legal liability for the slightest misstep, you will get zero military support, and greatly reduced Congressional support for peacekeeping missions.

Don’t like 3rd World massacres and genocides?

Then stop gunning for the troops sent in to stop them.

Or you and the human rights activists can watch them happen unimpeded.

Already in Iraq it is noted that the lawyer and the media are more effective against Americans than the suicide bomb, in removing many American soldiers from battle and demoralizing the rest. It’s when a Jihadi practices taqqiyah - "the skillful lie one uses against a foe". Cook up a completely false American atrocity, or exaggerate a minor one, and you can take a whole Marine Brigade out of action - and hopefully energize the American supporters of Jihadis to try and criminalize the troops, and diminish political support of the mainstream Americans who don’t support the enemy, but do hate Bush or the US military.

Are the human rights activists working with the Sunnis also investigating the Sunnis themselves for atrocities like mass bombings or executions of Sunnis, or actions on Coalition soldiers that violate the Geneva Conventions??

No, they admit. That would violate the "trust that has been built up" and would endanger human rights activists and lawyers.
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
"We might do fewer peace keeping missions, but they also will not be complicit in murder."

Therin lies a problem. In order to be effective peace keepers, the troops must ber willing and able to kill(how droll; kill for peace). Once they do, no matter how justified, and particularly if they are American, the same people who wanted them there will start calling them murderers. And now that the precedent has been set, we can expect the US to be sued for every peace keeping mission we embark on. Deep pockets and all that. And, given that most lUN peacekeepers are poorly trained and equipped and badly led third world types sent because the UN pays well, and given the proven record of corruption of these forces, any actual use of force by these forces will probably result in even worse slaughter than Srebenica.


." IF government’s are going to be held liable for their FAILURES to act, then I’m afraid you won’t see as many peacekeepers"

Not for a failure to act, but for a failure react and to meet their promises. As for a lack of peacekeepers-good. Why pay for useless posturing? It does more harm than good.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Not for a failure to act, but for a failure react and to meet their promises. As for a lack of peacekeepers-good. Why pay for useless posturing? It does more harm than good.
I understand your point HOWEVER, the Dutch government, the folks that raised, trained and PAID the troops also made a decision to NOT engage in combat. That seems a reasonable National decision.

And No peacekeeping doesn’t ALWAYS do more harm than good. IF both sides of the conflict are willing to end a conflict, but simply can not trust the other side peacekeeping works. Where it fails is where there is no peace to keep, Rwanda, Haiti, Somalia, and the Balkans, then you are Peace-MAKING, of course we used to call that making WAR. TM if you’re willing to look at MSNBC, CBS, the BBC, Deutche Welle and say, "Not our fight, those folks can just get killed," OK. Most nations aren’t willing to do that. It’s under the rubric os DO SOMETHING...The Dutch DID something, the Serbs did WORSE. Now the Dutch are being sued? Why not the Serbs and the SERBIAN GOVERNMENT? Yeah I think we can guess that answer....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
What did I miss? I’m not basing my writing on this article but from a number of other blurbs I’ve read elsewhere.
I simply deny McQ’s argument that the Dutch have the SAME moral culpability as the Serbian commander(s) who ordered the attack.
Joe, this second claim is what you are missing, so everything you are writing debating this is missing the point. McQ is not saying they do have the same culpability as the serbs, and you are right that would be absurd.
No, the Dutch are NOT as guilty as the person WHO ordered the attacks.
I never said they were. I said they were as guilty as the guy who had the power to prevent them and didn’t.
See, he agrees with you that they do not have the same culpability as the serbs or those who ordered the attacks. He is saying their culpability is similar to that of Oric, the Bosnian who knowingly allowed six serbs in his units possession to be murdered. He and others have pointed this out and you seem to be missing it and continuing to argue that they do not have the same moral culpability as the Serbian commander(s). As far as I can tell neither McQ nor any commenter is saying they they do. Therefore that entire part of your discussion is off fighting a tangent nobody is on.

IF government’s are going to be held liable for their FAILURES to act, then I’m afraid you won’t see as many peacekeepers.
And No peacekeeping doesn’t ALWAYS do more harm than good.
He didn’t say peacekeeping always does more harm than good, he said useless posturing does more harm than good. What is the point of peacekeepers if they will not act? If I am a Bosnian I would rather not have peacekeepers than have people who claim they will help, lead me to act upon that claim and end up slaughtered. If that means fewer, but more effective peacekeeping missions then so be it.
And my point is that if you criminalize US troops or the US government or saddle them with open-ended legal liability for the slightest misstep, you will get zero military support, and greatly reduced Congressional support for peacekeeping missions.

Don’t like 3rd World massacres and genocides?

Then stop gunning for the troops sent in to stop them.

Or you and the human rights activists can watch them happen unimpeded.
Talk about a good point in the service of a bad cause. Given that I have spent a good bit of time on this site and others pointing out the inevitable tragedies of war and keeping them in context you would normally be preaching to the choir, but here? This is no slight misstep and Joe’s recitation of the fate of the officers doesn’t move me at all because as has been pointed out the real problem was the UN and the Dutch government. They are being tried in their own court which I think is as it should be and the Dutch have been quite brave since 9/11. I don’t in any way want to slight them in general, but here they screwed up and put their soldiers and the lives of the people of Srebenica in an untenable place.

There are things C. Ford which are not just part of the fog of war or monday morning quarterbacking or something that inures just to the commander or soldiers on the scene. The UN or a government telling people you are going to protect them when in fact you never had any intention of doing so and then handing them over to their murderers is an example of crossing the line. The fate of the soldiers saddens me, but if the facts are what has been presented here then I am not persecuting them, but the international and national bodies that neutered them.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
I simply deny McQ’s argument that the Dutch have the SAME moral culpability as the Serbian commander(s) who ordered the attack.
And once again, that isn’t my argument.

Really ... this isn’t that difficult Joe.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I simply deny McQ’s argument that the Dutch have the SAME moral culpability as the Serbian commander(s) who ordered the attack.
Joe, the first paragraph and linked story are not about the massacre. They are about a different incident that took place 2 years before the massacre. In fact, the guy convicted for it — the guy McQ is comparing the Dutch with — wasn’t a Serb, he was a Muslim, which is the group that was massacred 2 years later.

McQ, in presenting this particular parallel, do you believe that a Dutch civil court might look at Oric’s criminal conviction as a precedent in the massacre case?
 
Written By: Scout
URL: http://
McQ,

I’m with Joe, failing to prevent the deaths of a civillian population under your protection is not a crime.

Oric was in direct command of the men who beat at least 6 prisoners to death. His defence was twofold - the Muslims were victims of Serbian degradation so anything they did was explanable in the circumstances and that his authority was undermined by Muslim religious leaders (not prosecuted) who condoned the abuse. Prior to this ineffectual enforcement of protection for his prisoners he had successfully commanded a militia that effectively caused several Serbian villages to flee for their lives. He was found guilty for the crimes of men under his command and imprisoned for 2 years.

Unless you show proof Dutch involvement in the massacre then they have no equivalent guilt.
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
"the Dutch government, the folks that raised, trained and PAID the troops also made a decision to NOT engage in combat. That seems a reasonable National decision"

It may very well be a reasonable national decision; the problem is that they were telling the Bosnians something different, and the Bosnians relied on their representations.

"I’m with Joe, failing to prevent the deaths of a civillian population under your protection is not a crime"

The Dutch government is not being charged with a crime; this is a civil action.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
You can be guilty of negligence by inaction as well as action.

But this ruling would only make nations more wary of committing troops to peacekeeping than before. This case is more clear cut than others that will come...and they will.

C. Ford makes a good point about media and lawyers being the best weapons against US troops nowadays.

I can predict one right now: class action lawsuit by Afghan people who have become obese after becoming addicted to high calories Humanitarian Daily Rations.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
McQ,

Here is an important fact. The Dutch was in way over their head. The combined JNA-SVR (Jugoslavian-Bosnian Serbs) forces that laid seige to Srebrenica (at least three brigade) far outnumbered the under-strength Dutch battalion. The Dutch had less than 400 men. Even the armed Bosniaks in the city outnumbered them.

They were given an impossible mandate. To blame the Dutch soldiers is ridiculous. Unless you demand that they fight to the last man and die with the refugees. The forces-on-forces ratio were twenty to one. The Dutch were light infantry with no heavy weapon. The Serbs had armors and heavy guns. The situation was so bad that the Dutch ran out of fuel and could not even operate their vehicle.

The blame goes to the UNPROFOR commander and the UN high command who after declared Srebrenica a safe have, fail to provide sufficient force to protect it. And when the Dutch asked for air support in repelling the JNA-SVR, they were refused. UNPROFOR had plenty of force to spare for Srebrenica. Their total forces in Bosnia were 39,000 men; yet only 400 were at Srebrenica. None of their heavy weapons were where it matter the most. And they were reluctant to use air strike against the aggressors.

I was in Bosnia in 2000. I remember speaking to a Danish peacekeeper who were in Bosnia during UNPROFOR. He told me of his frustration; he was not allowed to return fire when fired upon. He had to radio UNPROFOR HQ in Sarajevo requesting permision to return fire. Most of the time, they said no.
 
Written By: Minh-Duc
URL: http://
Minh-Duc,

Maybe so, maybe not, but if the real culprit is UNPROFOR then that should come out at trial. The UN will hopefully then lose. This is a civil trial in a Dutch court. I suspect the Dutch will get the benefit of the doubt if there is any.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
So, what’s next ?

Perhaps the Belgians for Rwanada, where virtually the same thing happened.

Keep this up and John Kerry won’t be able to get anyone to come to his big "Iraq meeting" that he has been threatening for the last 3 years.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
This could set an unfortunate precedent. Holding governments accountable for their conduct threatens the very foundations of civilization-as-we-know-it.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
timactual wrote:
"This could set an unfortunate precedent. Holding governments accountable for their conduct threatens the very foundations of civilization-as-we-know-it."
Ohmygod. Did you type that with a straight face?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://

 
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