The comments of a retired US general
that openly gay troops were to blame for the massacre at Srebrenica
have angered the Dutch.
Marine Corps General John J. Sheehan,
the former Supreme Allied Commander for NATO, made his remarks
Thursday at a key Senate panel looking into repeal of “don't ask,
don't tell,” the 1993 policy that bans open gay service.
Sheehan told senators that the
integration of gay soldiers by various European countries –
Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands included – was to blame for a
loss of combat readiness.
“They declared a peace dividend and
made a conscious effort to socialize their military – that includes
the unionization of their militaries, it includes open homosexuality.
That led to a force that was ill-equipped to go to war,” he said.
Sheehan went on to explain that the
Dutch peacekeeping force assigned to protect the Bosnian “safe
haven” of Srebrenica was “under-strength” and “poorly led”
because gay troops were allowed to serve openly.
“The Serbs came into town, handcuffed
the soldiers to the telephone poles, marched the Muslims off, and
executed them,” he said, then added, “That was the largest
massacre in Europe since World War II.”
A spokesman for the Dutch Defense
Ministry told UK daily the Times that Sheehan's comments were
No investigation “has ever concluded
or suggested a link between homosexual military personnel and the
things that happened over there [in Srebrenica],” Roger Van de
“Every man or woman that meets the
criteria physically and mentally is welcome to serve in our armed
forces regardless of [religious] belief, sexual preference or
whatever,” he added.
During his first State of the Union
address President Obama pledged he would end the policy that
prescribes discharge for gay and lesbian service members who do not
remain celibate or closeted.
Also on Thursday, Army Lt. Dan Choi and
Capt. Jim Pietrangelo were arrested
after they handcuffed themselves to the White House fence in protest
of the policy.