Argos TV: Why Srebrenica had to Fall

Current affairs - Politics
Srebrenica, UN
54'
Bart Nijpels & Huub Jaspers
HUMAN-VPRO
HD
HD available

Serb general Ratko Mladic knew that there would not be any NATO airstrikes when, in July 1995, his troops launched the attack on the Srebrenica enclave – which was protected by Dutch UN soldiers – and killed over eight thousand people. Six weeks earlier, the Clinton administration had decided not to carry out any further airstrikes on Serb targets ‘for the time being’. Washington made that decision ‘in silence’. The Dutch government at that time was left completely in the dark.


On 28 May 1995 the Clinton administration decided to suspend the airstrikes against the Serbs. This decision was made after consultation by phone with the French President Chirac and the British Prime Minister Major. They urged the President of the United States to stop the airstrikes after hundreds of UN soldiers had been taken hostage. The Serbs had chained the blue helmets to strategic locations to avoid NATO bombings. The documentary will show, based on internal documents, that the Clinton administration made its decision ‘in silence’: ‘ …make no public statement to that effect’ was the advice the President was given the next day.

Joris Voorhoeve, the Dutch Minister of Defence at the time, on this subject in the documentary: “The text of the decision does not even include the words “the Netherlands”. Personally, I think this is extremely serious as well as the fact that the Netherlands was not informed. We are allies, and the Netherlands was given the most difficult task of all in East Bosnia. So, we should have been informed.”
The Bosnian government was not informed either, confirms Mohamed Sacirbey, former Minister of Foreign Affairs. “I did not know anything about this until you just told me.”
Sandy Berger, former United States National Security Advisor, remembers the decision and the discussions with the French and British leaders. He says he does not know if other allies were informed. “I assume they were informed, but I can’t be sure.”

As a result of the US decision, general Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, political leader of the Bosnian Serbs, decided to attack Srebrenica. Former Minister Voorhoeve tells Argos that, six years after the fall, he received relevant information from a highly placed intelligence officer whose identity will remain confidential. His source confirmed that the Serbs knew that there would not be any response if they were to take the enclaves.
In the documentary, Sandy Berger, former United States National Security Advisor, acknowledges that the decision to suspend the airstrikes was “not a productive decision”.