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Monday, July 11, 2005

Remembering Srebrenica

It is the 10th anniversary of the massacre at Srebrenica. Once more, an organisation founded on the principle of "Never Again" placidly allowed it to happen, all over again. It would be some years yet before the Western World - principally the Western European part of it - would develop enough bottle to confront Milosevic and the demons he had unleashed, and by that time it was too late.

I have to ask myself, how many people in the Islamic world saw and read about those massacres, and came to the conclusions that (1) the West was spineless, the epitome of a decadent society that barked but could not bite, (2) that all our fine talk about democracy was just for show, that when it came down to it we would back people we "could do business with", and (3) that they had no one else prepared to fight for their perceived interests.

The Western world not only failed the victims of Srebrenica ten years ago, it failed itself. Bin Laden was already active, and what excellent propaganda for his cause. For that matter, the very war itself in Bosnia with its three-way ethnic/religious split was an opportunity for him to beat those war-drums, drums that would see te hijacking of four planes six years later.

We could have acted sooner, and engaged the nascent threats of this age at one of its springs, but like a Baldwin-ostrich was refused to see the evil that was laid out before us. Our job today is far more difficult. I certainly pray that we and future generations might finally manage to learn something of the lesson that history teaches us today.

Yet around that grand thought, at the centre of it in fact, are the murdered people of Srebrenica. What was their crime, and unless we act in the defence of such as they, who will come to our defence when we need it most?

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