Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gay soldiers responsible for massacre, says retired general

This story, reported by Voice of America, is pretty hard to take.  At the DADT hearings in Washington on Thursday, Retired US Marine General John Sheehen (left) blamed the inclusion of gays in the Dutch military for the slaughter of thousands of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995.

Senator Carl Levin (right), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, seemed confused by Sheenan's words.  According to Sheehan, after the Cold War, the Dutch, "declared a peace dividend and made a conscious effort to socialize their military.  It included open homosexuality.  That led to a force that was ill-equipped to go to war."

What Sheehan failed to remember was that the Netherlands allowed gays to serve years before the fall of the former Soviet Union.

Still, Sheehan pushed full steam ahead.  Gays had weakened the military, he said, and the 400 Dutch peacekeeping forces were unable to stop the greatest military massacre since World War II.

Here's a snippet from the exchange between Levin and Sheehan: 

SHEEHAN: "That [Srebrenica] was the largest massacre in Europe since World War II."
LEVIN: "And did the Dutch leaders tell you it was because there were gay soldiers there?"
SHEEHAN: "It was a combination ..."
LEVIN: "Did they tell you [that gay soldiers were to blame], that is my question."
LEVIN: "They did?"
SHEEHAN: "They included that as part of the problem."

After the hearings, Dutch military officials expressed astonishment at Sheehan's statement.  The spokesman for the Netherlands Ministry of Defense, Roger van de Wetering, told VOA Sheehan's assertions are "total nonsense" and that he "cannot believe that a man of that rank is stating such a thing."  According to Voice of America, van de Wetering said that he had never heard Sheehan's allegation before from any source in the Netherlands or anywhere else.

Sheehan's testimony has been out of the mainstream.  Many of the nation's top military officials and commanders -- including those who previously supported or even drafted DADT -- have urged that the policy be repealed.

You can see a clip of the hearings below.

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