Atrocities cast long shadows. The Dutch government has resigned over the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, which occurred when the supposedly "safe" enclave of Srebrenica, supposedly defended by a battalion of Dutch UN troops, surrendered to heavily armed Serb militias. The massacre of at least 7,000 Bosnian boys and men followed. The Dutch government of Premier Wim Kok resigned after a report that it had commissioned accused the government of 1995 (also headed by Mr. Kok) of acting irresponsibly in underestimating the threats faced by Dutch peacekeepers.
It is, of course, an honorable act for a government to take responsibility for so grave a failing and resign. Too few governments or politicians ever accept this debt to honor. But the resignation of the Kok government does not deal with the disgrace of Srebrenica. It only underlines the fact that the international community still has scores to settle with the largest massacre on European soil in the last half century.
What we should have seen in The Hague was not only the resignation of a Dutch government - but more importantly the appearance of General Ratko Mladic and his accomplices to face the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. So long as these men remain at large, the shame over Srebrenica will stick to the international community.
Most people remember the televised images of General Mladic humiliating the Dutch commander of the "safe" Srebrenica enclave, Colonel Ton Karremans, offering him drinks and gifts for his family. Then the Dutch peacekeepers were sent on their way, as were women and children. Only the men and the boys remained, to be slaughtered.