The Shame of Srebrenica
Twenty years ago, in July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces killed nearly 8,000 innocent Muslim civilians in Srebrenica, a small valley town in eastern Bosnia. This massacre — the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II, one that occurred while U.N. peacekeepers stood by fecklessly and NATO refused to intervene — shamed the international community, and its lessons still loom over the debate about U.S. military intervention today.
Srebrenica became a brutal symbol of the price of inaction. Had the United States and its allies intervened sooner, the tragedy could have been prevented. As a stunningly self-critical 1999 report by then-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan concluded, “The cardinal lesson of Srebrenica is that a deliberate and systematic attempt to terrorize, expel or murder an entire people must be met decisively with all necessary means.”