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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 11/19/19

Contemporaneous US Government consultations were strangely silent on "Srebrenica Genocide"

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"Our military advisers," he tells Chirac, "say there are significant hazards in attempting to land a force with helicopters in Srebrenica and that UNPROFOR might be better off securing Gorazde first""

He goes on to point out that "the Bosnian Government has 9000 troops in Gorazde, who apparently are willing to fight. In Srebrenica there were about 3000 Bosnian troops but, as you know, they left under pressure of shelling. They left without putting up a fight, although I think they could have done so. The British have 300 troops in Gorazde, so I think they will be more inclined to take a stand there." [Page 8]

Clinton stated clearly his awareness that Bosnian army garrisons were present in both Srebrenica and Gorazde, although he should have known that in Srebrenica at least that was illegal under the enclave demilitarization agreements. Not unreasonably, he articulates the US position that Bosnian troops should take the lead in fighting against the Serbs, a burden which, in his view, they had not borne adequately:

"We cannot defend democratic values in the abstract. My military advisers tell me the Muslims could have made a hell of a fight in Srebrenica and raised the price of the Serbs' occupation, but they wouldn't do it. We can't fight just because the UN says they are 'safe areas'. We can't send the Muslims back and commit ourselves to stay forever if they won't defend themselves." [Pages 9-10]

Clinton continues: "If we intervene to regain the enclaves on their behalf and they won't fight, how do we keep them open? UNPROFOR's mission would be completely changed and you would have entered into combat on the side of the Bosnian Government when they don't fight for themselves." [Page 10]

Curiously, some of Chirac's responses in this conversation with Clinton are blacked out.

Documents reflect that over the next several days, while in Srebrenica major atrocities rising to the level of genocide were allegedly taking place, Western governments were preparing a conference in London to agree on further steps to put the situation in Bosnia under control.

White House Situation Room documents dated July 14 1995 contain diplomatic cables with inter-governmental communications to lay the groundwork for the planned London conference. [Pages 27-32] The main issue referred to in the cables is the disagreement between British and French governments on the feasibility of retaking Srebrenica. Again, there is no hint of awareness or even speculation of major atrocities taking place on the ground.

The London conference was finally held on July 21, 1995, ten days after the fall of Srebrenica and several days after the completion of the alleged genocide.

The results of the conference were summed up in a US government cable that was sent out to NATO allies:

"WE WENT TO LONDON CONVINCED THAT THE STATUS QUO IN BOSNIA WAS UNTENABLE AND THAT ONLY STRONG AND DECISIVE ACTION WOULD BE SUFFICIENT TO HALT SERB AGGRESSION, RESTORE UNPROFOR'S EFFECTIVENESS, AND REESTABLISH CONDITIONS THAT COULD LEAD TO A POLITICAL SETTLEMENT. WE WERE PARTICULARLY DETERMINED THAT CLEAR DECISIONS BE TAKEN TO PREVENT THE BOSNIAN SERBS FROM ATTACKING THE LAST REMAINING SAFE AREA IN EASTERN BOSNIA, GORAZDE, AND THAT MEASURES BE ADOPTED FOR RELIEVING THE SERBS' SIEGE OF SARAJEVO." [Pages. 21-22] Again, there was no reference to Srebrenica or anything out of the ordinary known to be taking place there.

The laid back attitude about possible grave violations of international law and the Genocide Convention after the fall of Srebrenica is best exemplified by the US Department of State "Discussion Paper: Elements of a Post-UNPROFOR Strategy; Support the Federation; Contain the Conflict" [pages 33-41]. The Discussion Paper was a recapitulation and adaptation to current conditions of a May 23 Principals Committee meeting on Bosnian policy. According to the paper's summary of major issues of policy concern as of July 14, while a genocide was allegedly in progress: "Principals agreed that all these elements of a possible post-UNPROFOR strategy need further analysis, as do several other questions including: What relief and other military operations could or should remain in place? How would we work with Allies and friends to contain the fighting? What are Russia's likely responses to our efforts to lift the arms embargo and bolster the security of Bosnia-Herzegovina?" [Page 33] Again, there is no mention of awareness of an incipient Srebrenica genocide.

The first suggestion in this batch of documents that in the aftermath of the July 11 fall of Srebrenica killing on a major scale may have taken place there is recorded on July 25, 1995. It was triggered by a dispatch on the same date by Peter Galbraith, US Ambassador in Zagreb, Croatia [pages 18-20]. Galbraith draws his superiors' attention to information he received through "a UN official" about an interview conducted with a Srebrenica refugee in Tuzla who alleged that at the location of Konjevic Polje "Bosnian Serbs have massacred many, if not most, of the 5,000 plus military age men in their custody following the fall of Srebrenica."

However, the statements of the "highly credible" source cited by Galbraith appear doubtful in light of the map of execution sites and mass graves published by ICTY chief investigator Jean-Rene Ruez. According to that map, there were no executions in Konjevic Polje. The nearest mass graves, according to Ruez, were located in Cerska and Nova Kasaba. Though what Galbraith transmitted in his diplomatic cable was very likely a false or exaggerated report, it still appears that no official mention of major Srebrenica atrocities had been made prior to July 25. And even then, the report consisted of an account by a single individual. It lacked the precision that could have been provided by arguably more reliable intelligence or technological surveillance assets.

Apparently on the strength of Galbraith's report from Zagreb, on July 30 US Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights John Shattuck was sent to Tuzla to conduct an investigation, interviewing as he stated "about twenty, perhaps fewer" Srebrenica refugees. The modest dossier assembled by Shattuck soon had further repercussions. On August 4, 1995, a document with the dramatic title "Memorandum for Anthony Lake from Rob Malley, Subject: Human Rights Atrocities in Bosnia" [page 15] is reproduced in our collection. Anthony Lake, be it recalled, was Clinton's national security adviser at the time.

Suddenly, after weeks of studious silence, in a memorandum submitted to the national security adviser it is alleged that "There is increasingly solid evidence of atrocities committed by the Bosnian Serb army during its attack on Srebrenica and Zepa. During a mission to central and northeastern Bosnia, A/S Shattuck was able to confirm through interviews with refugees reports and intelligence we have been receiving. Approximately 12,000 persons from the two former enclaves are still missing and unaccounted for. Hundreds, perhaps up to a thousand, persons (principally men and boys) appear to have been killed in mass executions." This is the first recorded use of the "men and boys" meme that ultimately became integral to the Srebrenica narrative. As for the "intelligence we have been receiving," there is actually no trace of it in the released documents nor, as the analysis of their content shows, was there any reference to or suggestion of awareness of any such intelligence in prior official communications.

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Stephen Karganovic is the president of the Srebrenica Historical Project.


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