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Posted by on Mar 18, 2010 in International, Places, Politics, Society, War | 11 comments

U.S. Marine General: Dutch Troops Failed Partly Because of Gays (UPDATED)

A retired Marine general, John J. Sheehan, told senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Dutch Army failed to protect the city of Srebrenica during the Bosnian war ”partly because of the presence of gay soldiers in its armed forces,” according to the Washington Post.

Sheehan, a NATO commander who retired in 1997, made these comments during hearings on “don’t ask, don’t tell” today.

Senator Levin sharply questioned the general’s remarks, sources, accuracy and intent.

“Pressed by Levin to name names, Sheehan cited Dutch Army Chief of Staff Hankman Berman, who was fired by the Dutch Parliament for failing to protect Srebrenica.”

Further, according to the Post:

In a statement, Dutch Ambassador Renée Jones-Bos said, “I take pride in the fact that lesbians and gays have served openly and with distinction in the Dutch military forces for decades, such as in Afghanistan at the moment.”

“The military mission of Dutch U.N. soldiers at Srebrenica has been exhaustively studied and evaluated, nationally and internationally,” Jones-Bos said. “There is nothing in these reports that suggests any relationship between gays serving in the military and the mass murder of Bosnian Muslims.”

I am sure the Dutch will have much more to say about these accusations.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE:

As expected, Dutch officials and media have reacted swiftly and strongly to the suggestion made yesterday by retired Marine general John Sheehan that gay soldiers in the Dutch army partly contributed to the fall of the UN safe haven of Srebrenica.

The Dutch Ministry of Defense said that suggestion is too ridiculous for words and that “it was unbelievable a man of general Sheehan’s stature had come out with such a statement.”

The Dutch ambassador in the US, Renée Jones-Bos, issued a statement saying: “I am proud of the fact that gays and lesbians have openly served in the Dutch military for decades, just like they are doing now in Afghanistan,” according to Radio Nederland.

The Dutch caretaker Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said via Twitter that he was amazed at the ex general’s comments – saying they reflected more about the discussion around homosexuals in the US army than anything else.

The Dutch Newspaper NRC Handelsblad covered the news under the Dutch headline, “Opmerking generaal VS over Dutchbat wekt woede.” (“U.S. general’s remarks over Dutch battalion arouse anger.”)