Monday, November 12, 2012

An Enduring Mystery

On Veterans' Day (originally Armistice Day, commemorating the end of the Great War), a local newspaper in Bellingham, Washington published a letter from one of the local soldiers, who took part in the IFOR peacekeeping mission in Bosnia.

Officially, everyone was enthusiastic about the mission, and its success in stopping the previously intractable Bosnian War was later taken for granted. But one of the things I learned in Bosnia, while having the honor to work with retired Army colonel David Hackworth, was that one should always trust the grunts, not the "perfumed princes" with fruit salads on their uniforms. And from what I've heard from the grunts - much, much later - it was a near run thing that Bosnia did not relapse into war by the end of 1996.

Here's something PFC Matthew Levi Aamot, wrote in that letter to his grandmother Charlotte, in March 1996:
"One thing that bothers me here is all the kids who stand out at the road and beg food. Thing is, most of these kids so far are well fed and clothed, and are just trying to get something for nothing. ... Suspect that the kids are being paid by the Bosnian army to get ahold of our MREs (meals) to use for themselves.

I also think that these people are just using this year to rearm and recruit more troops. After we leave they will fight again. Maybe we can help get peace established, but somehow, I don't think that us being here will make a lasting impact."
Yet somehow, the peace took. The war has been in remission ever since. And there have been few attempts to explain why. Maybe because the U.S. troops stayed on beyond the one-year deployment that was originally promised? Perhaps because Washington refused to green-light a new war in Bosnia, as it had Serbia to fry? Or was it that the armistice, once it actually took hold and became peace, proved too seductive to people who had to be lied into war to begin with?

It is hard to tell. But until it is figured out, I'm afraid that deciding whether PFC Aamot was right or wrong may hinge solely on the definition of "lasting."


Aleks said...

I've read elsewhere (I think from former ICRC staff based in Bosnia at the time) that the Bosnian Serb RC distributed what little aid it had professionally, but that aid destined for Sarajevo went to the storage depots where the ArBih had first pick on whatever they wanted.

In effect, the UN in Bosnia turned a blind eye to feeding the ArBih and kept the war going for another two years or so for an agreement quite similar to Cutilhero's proposed plan, vetoed by Izebegovic & the Americans at the cost of 100,000 dead in all...

You should also look at the recent report that the criticizes the UN deliberately avoided publicizing the Sri Lankan army's strategy at the tail and of the civil war (where they went hell-for-leather to wipe out the Tamil Tigers despite the cost to civilian lives) and not ask the obvious question why it was suppressed, namely that the US and the major western powers (inc. Israel who supplied UAV's, Kfir's and military advisers etc.) had given full backing to the Sri Lankan government.

The report has been called a Black mark against the UN that elevates it to Srebrenica and Rwanda (!).

Yet again, it is one rule for the moralizing western 'democratic' countries, and another for everyone else. I wonder how long it will be before they declare the use of weapons that are not 'precision guided' as a war crime... :(

CubuCoko said...

Given that everything the Empire does is by definition good, and everything anyone else does is by definition a crime (as the "reasoning" goes), I wouldn't be in the least surprised.