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Post Bosnia-Herzegovina "Safe Havens"
Created by John Eipper on 12/09/12 2:29 PM

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Bosnia-Herzegovina "Safe Havens" (Brian Blodgett, USA, 12/09/12 2:29 pm)

As I read about Sabra and Shatila (most recently, see Martin Storey, 8 December), I was reminded of Srebreneca and Zepa (and Gorazde). While these three are not yet at their 20-year anniversary, I thought it was important to mention them, as they too were used for not only exacting vengeance, but more importantly genocide. In fact, on 27 September 2012 in the United Nations General Assembly, "the leader of Bosnia and Herzegovina upbraided the international community over its failure to act in the Syrian crisis, saying it had failed to learn the lessons from the massacres that tore his own country apart 17 years ago to prevent a repetition of those events in the Arab state."  (Izetbegovic, 2012)

"On April 16, 1993 the UN, acting under Chapter VII, passed Resolution 819 setting up a safe area in Srebrenica. Resolution 824 extended the concept to the towns of Zepa, Tuzla, Sarajevo, Gorzade, and Bihac. The hope was that the residents of these towns could remain in relative safety and receive humanitarian assistance. The wording of these resolutions was very strong; it described a clear mandate for a Chapter VII operation with the backing of possible NATO air strikes. However this robust mandate did not translate into reality. Of the 34,000 troops demanded by the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), only 7,600 were authorized. In actual fact, throughout the operation there were only about five thousand UN ground troops in and around Sarajevo, perhaps three thousand in and around Tuzla, and five hundred each in Gorzade, in Bihac and in Srebrenica/Zepa" (Haspeslagh, n.d.).

A major flaw in the mandates was that it provided the areas with safe haven status, but did not require the demilitarization of the safe havens, thus allowing the use of these areas as staging areas against the Serbs. Additionally, the UN did not provide a solid mandate on when these forces could use force, and it was up to the individual commander at the scene to determine if force against the Serbs in protection of the Bosnians was worth potentially having the UN force in the enclave attacked and defeated.

During the first two incidents which did result in genocide in Srebrenica and Zepa, the UN was relatively helpless in saving the people who were in the "safe haven" and the results really redefined a "safe haven."  At this time I was a member of NATO, and we were monitoring the UN situation in Bosnia-Herzegovinia with more of a concept of how to evacuate the UN forces if necessary rather than how to save the citizens of the country. It was not until Gorazde came under pressure that NATO acted, using its warplanes to help the citizens of the enclave by destroying the Serbian forces around the areas, as best as could be done. I recall trying to determine where the "enemy" was through various reports--from the UN, NATO members, and other sources that I forget. One particular incident remains in my mind however, and that was of a list of "enemy positions" around Gorazde that we received from the Turkish government. As I recall, the list was a virtual cornucopia of Serb positions, and I use the word cornucopia on purpose since the document actually listed many sites that were later found to never exist--perhaps they did at one time, or perhaps, as was the common thought at the time, an attempt by the Turkish government to make the situation seem much grimmer than it actually was.

Either way, NATO aircraft began their bombing campaign against ground forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the first-ever use of NATO aircraft in an air-to-ground mission.  Earlier in the year NATO had their first air-to-air action over the country.

Years later, in Serbia, NATO reacted to reports of genocide in Kosovo via air attacks against Serbia, followed by occupation of Kosovo, an action that many might consider very honorable to save the Kosovo citizens, and others deplore as a use of a foreign military force that ultimately led to the separation of Kosovo from Serbia, a sovereign nation.



JE comments:  Brian Blodgett has more Balkan experience than just about anyone in WAISworld, and he's written me off-Forum that he'll try to participate more actively in our discussions.  That, for me, is great news.

One wonders if the Turkish reports on phantom "Serb positions" were simple intelligence failures, or attempts to settle old religious scores.

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  • Bosnia-Herzegovina "Safe Havens"; House of European History (Nigel Jones, -UK 12/10/12 1:53 AM)
    It is a small irony the Brian Blodgett's 9 December post reminding us of the horrors of the wars and massacres that attended the break-up of Yugoslavia comes on the day that the three clowns (no wise men they!) heading up the European Union--José Manuel Barroso, Hermann van Rompuy, and Martin Shulz--journey to Oslo to collect the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to them by the Norwegian academy.

    Ironic, because, while the EU itself labours under the sad delusion that it (rather than, say, NATO) has fostered peace in post-World War II, the one occasion when the EU was presented with a real war on its doorstep--in ex-Yugoslavia--it failed miserably to act in unison, which resulted in tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths before NATO stepped in.

    No wonder that a worthier Nobel Peace Laureate, Archbishop Tutu of South Africa, has denounced the preposterous award to the three EU monkeys for the travesty it makes of the Nobel prizes.

    A further irony is that the Norwegians themselves, ignoring the advice of their elite, have sturdily demonstrated their sense and independence and twice voted in referenda to steer well clear of the whole disastrous EU enterprise, and that ordinary Norwegians greeted the arrival in Oslo of the three EU Magi with torchlit protests.

    Not that this will prevent them carrying their prize in triumph back to Brussels where it will be housed in their latest white elephant vanity project--a House of European History costing $100 million which will bear as much resemblance to the real course of European history as the moon does to green cheese.

    The greatest irony of all, however, is that the EU is currently presiding over social unrest and dislocation unprecedented in post-war European history, caused by its catastrophic imposition of a common currency on wildly differing European economies.

    Let the Magi enjoy their brief moment of Norwegian euphoria--they are in for a rude awakening.

    JE comments: I posted the "clowns" and "monkeys" verbatim, although I prefer more tact in my epithets.

    Can we turn the conversation to the new House of European History?  According to Wikipedia, it's due to open in 2014, but the project is cloaked in controversy, not the least of which is the vast amount of money it's consuming in these austere times.  Is the museum going to whitewash Europe's painful past in a quest for "unity"?  Perhaps Gilbert Doctorow and Angel Viñas, our colleagues in Brussels, will send their thoughts.


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    • Monkey See, Monkey... (Nigel Jones, -UK 12/11/12 6:00 AM)
      Just to explain the "monkeys" gibe in my post of 10 December, which made JE squeamish.

      I meant this of course in the "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" sense rather than the merely simian sense. The EU three represent a tiny Euro elite disastrously out of synch with the 500 million EU citizens. Youth unemployment figures in the eurozone are truly horrific--ranging from 58% in Greece to 25% in France. Only the Germans appear happy with the current state of things--and even they are becoming a little uneasy.

      JE comments: How can a nation with 58% youth unemployment avoid total meltdown? Meanwhile, after just one year in power, "Super Mario" Monti has announced plans to step down as Italy's PM. In a truly bizarre turn of events, this may prepare the stage for Berlusconi's return.  Did I mention that this is truly bizarre?

      Roy Domenico does excellent analyses of Italian politics. Roy, your thoughts?

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      • Brain Drain in Spain (Henry Levin, USA 12/12/12 1:51 AM)

        In response to Nigel Jones (11 December), the great sadness of the European situation is that the best who have
        access to contacts and resources and have valuable degrees in
        engineering and technical subjects are leaving for other countries.
        In Spain we know of many who have left for Germany, US, UK or
        Australia, with or without necessary documentation. If they are in
        technical fields and have good connections, they will have employment
        or consulting opportunities (off the books) in these countries. Some
        are even showing up in China, as we have found in our current stay in Beijing.

        These countries are losing their most talented youth. Worse yet,
        youth are losing their dream and are becoming cynical about the norms
        and expectations of their societies. We will spend the spring and
        summer in France and Spain, and may try to do some interviews that we
        will summarize and send to WAIS.

        JE comments:  Brain drain is a poignant example of the "death spiral" phenomenon I outlined on 9 December.  Henry Levin will be able to answer this question:  what kind of studies have been done on the effects of brain drain on GDP?

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        • Brain Drain and GDP (Henry Levin, USA 12/13/12 7:05 AM)

          In response to JE's question of 12 December, at one time the emigration of educated labor was called brain drain
          from sending countries, and brain gain for receiving ones. Now the
          distinction is less clear. The reason is that:

          1- Immigrants send remittances to their families and countries which
          become important sources of investment and improvement of living
          conditions which support enhanced nutrition and education of the next
          generation. At least 8 countries receive more than 20 percent of
          their GDP from such remittances.

          2- Many immigrants gain more education in the US and command of
          English, which enable them to get technical jobs or go into business.
          Now there is increasing return flow of many of these former immigrants
          to their home countries, particularly China and India, where they are
          even more successful than in the US.

          3- Obviously, this is not true for all countries, some of which which lose huge
          proportions of their college-educated to education with few returnees.
          At least 10 countries lose 2/3 or more of their college-educated to

          Data for 2010 compiled by the World Bank can be found at:


          JE comments: My thanks to Henry Levin for this informative response.

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