Sheehan blames Bosnian massacre on gay Dutch soldiers

Timothy Kincaid

March 18th, 2010

sheehanIn a page right out of Scott Lively’s playbook, retired General John Sheehan assigns gay the blame for one of the world’s atrocities. This time, it’s the massacre of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica. (Herald Sun)

A RETIRED US general today said Dutch UN troops defending Srebrenica in the Bosnian war failed to prevent the 1995 genocide partly because their ranks included openly gay soldiers.

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, pressed him to clarify his comments about Srebrenica.

“Did the Dutch leaders tell you it (the fall of Srebrenica) was because there were gay soldiers there?” asked an incredulous Senator Levin.

“Yes,” Gen Sheehan said and added: “They included that as part of the problem.”

Gen Sheehan, who retired from the military in 1997, said he had been told that by the former chief of staff of the Dutch army.

Nearly 8,000 Bosnian men and boys were slaughtered by the Serbs at Srebrenica. This assignment of blame to gay soldiers appears to be a new theory, one that was not discovered by the Dutch in their subsequent review of what went wrong.

Sheehan appeared to be arguing that the liberalization of the European militaries led to weakness and suggesting that allowing gay soldiers to serve resulted in sissy-boy soldiers. He didn’t share his views on how that worked in the Israeli army.

Senator Levin wasn’t having it and called Sheehan out on his biases. (Navy Times)

“I think we all remember Srebrenica,” Levin said. “Any effort to connect that failure on the part of the Dutch to the fact that they had homosexuals … is totally off target. I see no suggestion of that. It’s no more on point than the fact that they may have allowed African or Dutch-African or women” to serve.

“My comment was that the liberalization … ” Sheehan said.

Levin interrupted. “I agree with that,” he said. “They weren’t good in that respect. They were trained to be peacekeepers, not peace enforcers. … But to slide over from that into a suggestion that it had something to do with the fact that homosexuals were allowed in the Dutch army suggests that somehow or other homosexuals are not great fighters. … I think that is totally wrong.”

It will be interesting to hear the response of the Dutch government to Sheehan’s assertions. [Update: Dutch military officials have responded.]

Sheehan also shared his opinions on the attitudes of soldiers, decades after he was last in any position to know. (Stars and Stripes)

On Thursday, retired Marine Gen. John Sheehan, former head of U.S. Atlantic Command, told lawmakers he supports the yearlong review but believes researchers will conclude that such a change is detrimental to unit cohesion and morale.

“Military life is fundamentally different than civilian life,” he said. “Popular culture may have changed over the years, but military culture and responsibilities have changed very little.”

Sheehan said known homosexuals in units he commanded caused disruption for all his Marines, forcing troops to choose sides and creating fear among those who had to work closely with them.

Having presented an argument that is both outdated and bizarrely homophobic, I wonder if Sheehan has actually hurt his cause.

Ben in Oakland

March 18th, 2010

As always, whatever it is and dewspite and possible connection, let alone actual knowledge, it’s always the fault of…

…wait for it…

the fags.

Is this man even possibly embarassed by himself?

Mihangel apYrs

March 18th, 2010

well in that case the US military will not miss the Netherlands’ forces in Afghanistan, nor the forces of her Britannic Majesty.

I really wish we could have a proper statement of how our US allies see our armed forces: we could do with the money we’re haemorrhaging…


March 18th, 2010

Next we will learn that it was gay Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus.

Ben in Oakland

March 18th, 2010

homer: …who crucified the baby jesus and made him cry.

you know how we are.


March 18th, 2010

Funny thing, a Dutch correspondent in Washington checked whether or not the person Sheehan refers to actually exists. He does not.

David Roberts

March 18th, 2010

If they let guys like this serve and command live artillery, we have far bigger problems in the military than whether someone is gay.

That is perhaps the most asinine statement I’ve ever heard from someone wearing that uniform.

Timothy Kincaid

March 18th, 2010


Babelfish didn’t give a translation that makes it clear to me that Hankman Berman doesn’t exist.

If you speak Dutch, can you please translate that article for us?


March 18th, 2010

The Google translation of the page Hans linked to is here. The translation isn’t all that brilliant, but you can find all the key points.

I’d like to amend Timothy’s closing line:

Having presented an argument that is both outdated and bizarrely homophobic, and also based on hearsay evidence from a Dutch general the Dutch Embassy in Washington (and therefore presumably the government of the Netherlands) isn’t even aware of, I wonder if Sheehan has actually hurt his cause.


March 18th, 2010

I should’ve included the Google Translation in my original link, sorry.

Sheehan indeed refers to some ‘Hankman Berman’ *twice*. This person is unknown to the Dutch Embassy and also the spokesperson of the current minister of Defense.

You’d think they would know someone closely associated with one of most traumatic episodes in post-WWII Dutch history.

Bluntly put: the general is lying.


March 18th, 2010

“I think we should stand up there,” said the spokesman.” in that last translation is wrong.

The spokesperson declares there will not be a formal protest because “I think we ought to be above such accusations”

Timothy Kincaid

March 18th, 2010

Thanks, Tavdy.

The Google translation is much better than the babelfish. I should have tried that first.

Timothy Kincaid

March 18th, 2010

As a comment on that site noted, he was referring to Hendrik Gijsbert Bernhard “Henk” van den Breemen.

I’m sure someone will hunt him down for a comment.

Timothy Kincaid

March 18th, 2010


thank you for helping and for clarifying. This is really very interesting.


March 18th, 2010

Yeah I’m sure the handful of gays in the group of 400-500 Dutch soldiers were why they lost to 1000-2000 Serbs.

What an a$$hole.

Ben in Oakland

March 18th, 2010

We already know that true homophobes will say whatever they can think of, fact, logic, compassion, and sensibility be damned.


March 18th, 2010

And now the FRC has reported on this (, completely ignoring the Dutch Military’s refutation of Sheehan’s claim.

What I also enjoyed in their little blurb was how they bade good riddance when Kathy Griffin “stormed out.” Ummm… Mr. Perkins? Kathy Griffin is a rock-solid, unconditional supporter of the Military – even when it’s engaged in a war she’s 100% against.

Watch her TV show – go to a live performance. Her support of the troops is completely genuine – and they love her.


March 18th, 2010

These supposedly good generals are all a farce. The reason wasn’t the fault of only gays but of some foolish higher ups. Why should we get the blame for everything that goes wrong in the world. I think Sheehan is talking through his hat. Just another big lie.

Amila Bosnae

March 18th, 2010

I’m a survivor of the Bosnian war.

I have NEVER heard anything like this.

It seems to me Gen. Sheehan is willing to abuse a genocide in his crusade against homosexuals in the army. I find it EXTREMELY disgusting.

It’s not hard to find facts about this. The soldiers in question did nothing to prevent the genocide (or even helped by separating men from women and children) because those were their orders. The area was to be etnically cleansed in order to add it to Serbia, which is just across the river.

Amila Bosnae

March 18th, 2010

Sorry, I think the word is misuse, not abuse. (?)


March 19th, 2010

Are you effing kidding me?!? I take the day off to spend some time with my nephew and come back to find this shite??? Unbelievable. To hell with this farce of a “study”. Ram DADT repeal through NOW!


March 19th, 2010

This is just so wrong.
That should be “different from”, not different than”.

Fred in the UK

March 19th, 2010

The charitable side of me is wondering if General Sheehan regards ‘liberalisation’ of the military both as a disastrous policy and also an inevitable consequence of having gays in the military? Hence his opposition to the repeal of DADT.

However if that were the case surely a man of the calibre to become Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic Command would have clearly explained his reasoning? For the same reason I would not expect such a man wouldn’t make public comments that would sound so inflammatory in Amersterdam? The events at Srebrenica were at the time and, to an extent continue to be, a major embarrassment to the Dutch. Also the implication of his comments hardly plays well in either London or Jerusalem.


March 19th, 2010

@FredinUK – not to mention Ottawa

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