By Denis Campbell
While you have every right to make a fool of yourself, even when testifying before Congress, you have no right to besmirch the honour of every Dutch solider (many of whom often served alongside your own US troops), to justify your Party’s internal political needs. You wrongly and bone-headedly claimed the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica was caused by the inclusion of gay soldiers in the Dutch fighting force and have been, rightly, globally ridiculed for that assertion.
Here’s why you should re-think your position and think before speaking. Next Wednesday, 05 May, The Netherlands will honour and remember their war dead. They will ‘celebrate’ 65-years of a freedom many in the US only see as an anthem singing, flag bumper-sticker wearing, jingoistic concept. The Dutch can speak of true freedom having reclaimed their nation after five long years of Nazi occupation.
That evening, Queen Beatrix will solemnly lay a wreath at the foot of the war memorial in Dam Square and nationwide there will be an eerie two minutes of total silence. Last year we featured this photo of young scouts in a tiny Dutch village standing silently before the graves of those who fell. 65-years later, the youth are not allowed to forget this day. Cars will pull over to the side of or simply stop on busy highways and nearly everyone in the nation will pause in a silence you, sir, should have contemplated before taking their good name to such a vile, self-serving place.
What you left out of your remarks General is what true honour means in both the military and political arenas. Having lived in the Netherlands for six years, it was stunning in 2002 to witness the government of then Minister-President Wim Kok resigned en masse when a report was released linking Dutch soldiers to the massacre through non-action. They had so many plausible possible excuses to let them off the hook, they:
- took the word of the Bosnian General,
- were hugely outnumbered,
- did not have a clear mission engagement strategy,
- were there as UN peacekeepers…
all very real excuses that would let any soldier or government off the hook.
In the end they chose stark fact, Dutch troops did not intervene and hundreds were massacred. The very real pain and yes, shame was felt by everyone when the investigation completed.
The entire Dutch government met and then (just as they did a few weeks ago over another incident) did the right thing and resigned. Their reasoning, it happened under our watch so we were responsible.
Thus ended the careers of several noble public servants and a widely respected and internationally admired PM. Cynics said there was no real cost since there was an election coming and he was not planning to run again, yet they still did the right thing.
No US President since Richard Nixon in 1973 has done that. Indeed had the Watergate break-in happened today, he would pull a Bill Clinton or Dick Cheney and probably never even contemplate resignation, instead would ‘lawyer up’ and ‘stonewall.’
There is honour in serving and only when you behave honourably and do the right thing. That there is no honour in US politics has long been established. To extend that to the US military is no longer such a stretch. Your bosses Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld should have resigned over lying the USA into war but never did. Instead they SPUN and finagled, lied and cheated, killing thousands of soldiers and more civilians.
Honour and doing the right thing is everything in The Netherlands. Wim Kok’s government is not the first to resign. Your Commanders sought self-preservation, ass-covering and expediency over everything else for 8-years.
There is no more honour and pride now allowed in a country that occupies another for nine years. There is no honour and pride in being a homophobic, gay-basher hurting your own troop readiness through witch–hunts and 1950s style finger pointing whilst looking to make headlines in retirement. You, sir, should just shut the hell up!
Denis G Campbell is the author of 6 books including 'Billionaire Boys Election Freak Show,' 'The Vagina Wars' & 'Egypt Unsh@ckled.' He is the editor of UK Progressive Magazine and provides commentary to the BBC, itv Al Jazeera English, CNN, MSNBC and others. His weekly 'World View with Denis Campbell' segment can be heard every Thursday on the globally syndicated The David Pakman Show. You can follow him on Twitter via @UKProgressive and on Facebook.
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