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Sheehan apologizes to the Dutch

by: Blue Girl

Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 15:26:21 PM CDT

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A couple of weeks back we were treated to a shameful display by General Jack Sheehan when he was invited to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee about repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." In that testimony he embarrassed himself terribly. It was so bad that it was embarrassing to watch, especially as he attempted to place the blame for the slaughter at Srebrenica on the fact that the Dutch military allows gay soldiers to serve openly. When pressed, he said he was  relying on statements by the then-Chief of Defense Staff, General Henk van den Breemen.

General Van den Breemen, however, found the allegations of Sheehan "absolute nonsense." He does not share Sheehan's views on the role of homosexuals in the fall of Srebrenica, and has never said anything even remotely like that.

Sheehan's comments caused a lot of eye-rolling and embarrassment among Americans, but the Dutch were outraged, and justifiably so. Not just at the comments, but at the reopening of a wound that should never have been inflicted and most Americans are probably ignorant of, since telling it would have cast a pall over our outsized jingoism and hubris, and dog knows our media would have no part of that.

The truth of the matter is, the Dutch should not even have been there at the time. They were overdue to rotate out, but no relief came. Their NATO allies refused to go in and protect the city because, they claimed, that Srebrenica was too dangerous with its only one intermittent supply route. So the Dutch stayed on, defying the odds, refusing to just abandon the populace.

Sheehan undoubtedly knows this, as do most Americans who served in the European theater at the time. Maybe that is why he has apologized to the Dutch.

The Defense Ministry released an e-mail Tuesday from Sheehan, a former NATO commander who retired from the military in 1997, to retired Dutch Gen. Henk van den Breemen saying he is sorry for his statements to the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 18.

In the e-mail, Sheehan says the 1995 murder of some 8,000 Muslim men in Bosnia's Srebrenica enclave "was in no way the fault of individual soldiers."

Outnumbered and outgunned by Serb forces, Dutch U.N. peacekeepers did not intervene as Muslim families seeking refuge at Srebrenica were separated and the men driven away to be summarily executed and plowed into mass graves.

Sheehan had cited Van den Breemen, the Dutch military's chief of staff at the time of the massacre, as his source when he told the Senate committee Dutch army chiefs had believed gays were "part of the problem" in the fall of Srebrenica.

"I am sorry that my recent public recollection of those discussions of 15 years ago inaccurately reflected your thinking on some specific social issues in the military," Sheehan wrote to Van den Breemen.

Dutch Defense Minister Eimert van Middelkoop welcomed the apology.

"The minister is satisfied with the apologies and very pleased that the case is closed," Van Middelkoop's spokesman Otto Beeksma said.

The Dutch are certainly civilized. As soon as the apology was rendered, all was forgiven, even by a group that had hastily organized to sue the General in the US court system for defamation. "Now that he has expressed regret, the need to start legal proceedings has vanished," said the organizer of Pink Army.  

Blue Girl :: Sheehan apologizes to the Dutch
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I did not know that (4.00 / 1)
about the Dutch being abandoned to guard Srebrenica alone.


I did not know (0.00 / 0)
Dear shameful,

It actually was worse than tags tell you. DutchBat 3 had to give in to the Serbs, but in spite of the monniker, it wasn't a battalion at all. They were very short on personnel and equipment: no tanks, no arty, no CAS. Even food was a problem because the one supply road was regularly cut by the Serbs.

Gen Petraeus, several times commander in and of the 101st Airborne, appreciated the situation last night on Dutch TV. The 101st from "Band Of Brothers" fame fought under similar circumstances in the Netherlands in 1944.

Let us praise this blog and BGRS for spreading the news!

[ Parent ]
I DID know (0.00 / 0)
that we allow too fucking many people to "speak for us" on the international stage.  Who asked t his prick's opinion in the first place?  The Wall Street owned media?  

Ask them why, out of all the comments and statements on DADT, they made such a big deal out of the one that made this country look like a bunch of slobbering idiots.

My question now would be... was this Sheehan mutt the NATO commander when the Dutch were abandoned in an indefensible position and denied reinforcement or support?  

If God ever decides to give the world an enema, I'm pretty sure Wall Street is where He'll stick the hose.

I imagine... (0.00 / 0)
That McCain invited him to testify, because he knew what Sheehan would say.

Sheehan is not a bad guy. He is an old guy and he is set in his ways. But before writing him off entirely, remember that he is the one who turned down the "War Czar" job saying "The real truth of the matter is, they don't know where the hell they're going!"

As to your question, I know that Clark was the commander a couple of years later when I sent someone I love off to Kosovo, but I will have to look up who was the supreme commander then.  

When you get raptured, can I have your car?

[ Parent ]
Yep. (0.00 / 0)
He was NATO commander 1994-1997, when he retired. The massacre at Srebrenica was July 1995.

When you get raptured, can I have your car?

[ Parent ]
Gates praises the Dutch (0.00 / 0)
Dear all,

At the time of this writing, General Petraeus is visiting the Netherlands. Yesterday he appeared on national TV. Like the Dutch, he considers the Sheehan matter closed after above mentioned apologies.

His main concern now is to coordinate with the Dutch our final tour of duty in Uruzgan, Afghanistan. Let us hope that this time around, another nation or nations will step up and take the bat.

We were very pleased with the praise Petraeus heaped on the Dutch - of course for their long-lasting contribution in Afghanistan, but also for their actions and behavior in Srebrenica. Petraeus was Military Assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe - he knows what he is talking about.

The man is also a great diplomat, who took over the Dutch 3D model of combined military and civil action in Uruzgan and made it the operational manual for the U.S. Armed Forces there. During his command in Iraq, he already stressed good military-civilian cooperation, e.g. by rebuilding Mosul and by teaching soldiers to think as wel as to fight.

It is an honor to have the general visiting. His career, awards, medals and general comportment are an example for all U.S. Armed Forces and for soldiers everywhere.

Best regards,
VHJM van Neerven,
Editor-in-chief VNCcommunicationcounsel
Amsterdam, The Netherlands


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