There is rightly much to do about comments made by retired General John J. Sheehan to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the presence of openly gay soldiers contributed to the Dutch military’s failure to protect the Srebrenica safe area and thus the murder of over 9,000 muslim men. There are many reasons why this claim is unsubstantiated such as that the Dutch had no mandate, equipment, command structure or air support to mount a serious fight and that the integrated Dutch military has done extremely well in Afghanistan. Sheehan claimed that Dutch leaders had told him about the “gay issue” and mentioned a name: Henk van den Breemen (a retired former general). This morning Van den Breemen told NRC that this was “complete nonsense.” The same article also records the response by the Dutch defense minister Van Middelkoop, who represents a small conservative Christian party that can hardly be viewed as enthusiastic about gay rights issues:
“It’s a disgrace and unworthy of a military officer. I don’t want to say another word about it.”
I feel the same way.