U.S. General Blames Bosnian Massacre on Gay Dutch Soldiers
March 19, 2010
(ChattahBox)—As the senate continues to hold hearings on ending the misguided military policy of “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), a retired U.S. general appeared before the panel on Thursday spouting off bigotry and unfounded charges. John Sheehan, former supreme allied commander of the Atlantic, told the senate panel that he partly attributes the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, to the Dutch military’s policy of allowing gays to serve openly.
Sheehan, an opponent of the repeal of DADT was invited to testify before the panel to lend his years of service as a former military commander to the argument. But instead, the retired general offered unfounded charges against the Dutch military and managed to smear gay soldiers as well. Sheehan’s argument is based on his contention that socializing the military with openly gay soldiers makes fighting forces less military ready.
Sheehan testified that after the end of the Soviet threat in the early 90s, Dutch military forces became complacent with their units filled with homosexuals. “[N]ations like Belgium, Luxembourg, the Dutch, et cetera, firmly believed there was no longer a need for an active combat capability in the militaries,” said Sheehan.
“As a result, they declared a peace dividend and made a conscious effort to socialize their military,” he said. “That includes the unionization of their militaries. It includes open homosexuality demonstrated in a series of other activities, with a focus on peacekeeping operations, because they did not believe the Germans were going to attack again or the Soviets were coming back.”
“That led to a force that was ill-equipped to go to war. The case in point that I’m referring to is when the Dutch were required to defend Srebrenica against the Serbs. The battalion was under-strength, poorly led, and the Serbs came into town, handcuffed the soldiers to the telephone poles, marched the Muslims off and executed them,” Sheehan said.
“That was the largest massacre in Europe since World War II.”
When asked by the senate panel if members of the Dutch military told him that gays were partly to blame for the massacre, he said, “Yes. … They included that as part of the problem.”
Sen. Carl Levin, (D-MI) condemned Sheehan’s remarks and charges after the hearing. “Srebrenica was an unconscionable massacre, but it’s way off the mark to attribute it in any way to the fact that gays can serve openly in the Dutch military, which failed to protect Srebrenica’s citizens, said Levin. Levin pointed out that U.S. soldiers serve with the Dutch military in Afghanistan, without any of the issues with gay soldiers that Sheehan spoke of.
And the Dutch ambassador to the U.S., Renee Jones-Bos, strongly disagreed with Sheehan’s charges, saying “I take pride in the fact that lesbians and gays have served openly and with distinction in the Dutch military forces for decades, including in leading operational positions, such as in Afghanistan at the moment.”
Many currently serving military officials, such as Gen. David Petraeus, Commander, U.S. Central Command and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, believe gay service men and women should be allowed to serve openly.
Gen. Petraeus testified before the senate panel, telling lawmakers, “I believe the time has come to consider a change to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”