WASHINGTON — A retired U.S. general says Dutch troops failed to prevent the 1995 genocide in the Bosnian war because the army was weakened, partly because it included gay soldiers.
The comment by John Sheehan, a former NATO commander who retired from the military in 1997, shocked some at a Senate Armed Services Committee, where he spoke against to a proposal to allow gays to serve openly in the U.S. military. Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin told Sheehan he was "totally off-target."
Sheehan said after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and other nations "made a conscious effort to socialize their military — that includes the unionization of their militaries, it includes open homosexuality."
Dutch troops serving as U.N. peacekeepers and tasked with defending the town of Srebrenica in 1995 were "under strength, poorly led, and the Serbs came into town, handcuffed the soldiers to the telephone poles, marched the Muslims off, and executed them," Sheehan said of the killing of about 8,000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men by Serbian forces.
The massacre at Srebrenica "was thoroughly investigated by Dutch and international authorities and none of these investigations has ever concluded or suggested a link between homosexual military personnel and the things that happened over there," Dutch defense ministry spokesman Roger Van de Wetering said.