Stopping Bosnian Genocide was worth American blood
“‘When they came for the Jews I said nothing for I was not a Jew. When they came for the Catholics I did nothing for I was not a Catholic. When they came for me I could do nothing, and there was no one left to speak for me.’ Those who say Bosnia is not worth American blood bear a close resemblances to those who have made similar claims in the past.”
By Justin Green
| Justin Green wrote about and taught politics for 25 years before retiring to Prescott |
18 December 1995.
The pundits and pols of Prescott and the nation have pontificated and reached agreement. Bosnia is not worth a drop of American blood. Fortunately Bob Dole has shown better judgment and even the House may sanction sending 20,000 Americans to Bosnia. These troops will be part of a NATO force of 60,000 assigned to preserve the Bosnian peace accords agreed to by the Bosnian Muslims [Bosniaks], Bosnian Serbs and the Croats.
I confess early on I vacillated on this issue. At one time I was opposed to sending our ground forces to the area. I did, however, urge the use of our air power and an end to the arms embargo imposed on Bosnia’s Muslims.
I have changed my mind. In late October I had a soul-searing experience. I spent four hours in Washington’s Holocaust Museum. The sights and sounds reminded me that on occasions my human interests are more important than my nation’s interests. The holocaust convincingly demonstrates that in cases involving man’s inhumanity to man, the humanity of each of us is at stake.
Accepting such behavior and doing nothing makes us guilty of complicity with the actions of others. It makes us less than human as those committing the genocide under the ethnic cleansing.
To paraphrase the words of a German theologian, “When they came for the Jews I said nothing for I was not a Jew. When they came for the Catholics I did nothing for I was not a Catholic. When they came for me I could do nothing, and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Those who say Bosnia is not worth American blood bear a close resemblances to those who have made similar claims in the past. In the 18th century. They would have paraded outside Versailles protesting Louis’ decision to send forces to aid America’s revolution. Their signs would have read, “this is a war between England and its colonists. It’s not worth a drop of French blood.”
If King Louis listened, our revolution would have failed and perhaps the idea of democracy would have failed with it.
In the 1930s there were Brits applauding their government’s decision not to oppose Hitler’s reoccupation of the Rhineland. They said, “This is between France and Germany and not worth a drop of English blood.”
Hitler’s diaries tell us that if England had resisted he would have backed down. Perhaps a small risk of English lives than might have avoided World War II and the loss of a million English lives.
These people resemble the isolationists who approved Neville Chamberlin’s Munich agreement of buying “peace in our time” at the expense of the Czechs. Munich emboldened Hitler and made World War II inevitable.
American isolationists stood by from 1939 to December 7, 1941, claiming the fate of Poles, Norwegians, Danes, Dutch, French and English and the victims of Hitler’s concentration camps, Jews, Gipsies and Jehovah’s Witnesses were not worth a drop of American blood. They argued America had no real interests in Europe. Europeans had been fighting Europeans for a millenia and what was one more European war.
Europeans had been persecuting Jews for centuries and American intervention could not stop an ongoing historical process. Some even thought Hitler was doing the world a good service by eliminating Jews. Further, they said Americans were not guilty of ever persecuting anyone so our humanity was not at stake. All this sounds very familiar, doesn’t it?
I challenge those who claim Bosnia is not worth American lives to first visit the Holocaust Museum and then tell us if they still believe that to be true. To do so would be to deny their own humanity. Our presence in Bosnia has little to do with our nation’s interests. It has a lot to do with our claim to be human beings.