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A Dutch Pontius Pilate in Srebrenica

The British diplomat and historian Harold Nicholson once said that a diplomat is an honest gentlemen sent abroad to tell lies for his country's good. Recent official reports from The Hague regarding the conduct of the Dutch Battalion in Sreberenica in Bosnia in l995 may suggest that sometimes UN Blue Helmets are honest people sent abroad to protect victims of aggression -- and may find themselves in the position of facilitating genocide.

This is perhaps not exactly what happened with the Dutch Battalion in Srebrenica, but the recent 6000-page report of the Dutch Institute for War Documentation (NIO) suggests that when it comes to taking responsibility for the hideous massacre of 7,000 Bosnian Muslims under the eyes of a UN protective force (UNPROFOR) in Srebrenica, everyone now washes their hands and looks somewhere else to find who is responsible.

The details of what happened in the UN protected area of Srebrenica in July l995 are complex, and obviously a Rashomon-like set of accounts is what one would get under such circumstances. Even the Dutch report, for all its attempted fairness, cannot give a full authorized picture. Yet a

few facts are incontestable: