Friday, December 04, 2009

"In Harm's Way" by Martin Bell [13]

Chapter 14: Court Martial by Blue-Eyed Stare

Here we meet General Michael Rose, the British UN Commander in Bosnia of less-than-stellar reputation among certain circles (ahem). Bell holds Rose in much higher regard than I do, and to be honest he makes a case that I may need to revise my opinion. Bell was the reporter who passed along Rose's "intemperate" (to be very generous) comment that the Bosnian government army had deliberately collapsed its' defenses at Goradze in order to draw the UN and NATO into the war on their side.

Bell's version of events suggests that while Rose certainly meant what he said, he possibly did not mean to imply a larger shifting of blame for the war. Bell strongly implies that Rose knew that the Bosnian Serb leadership and the Belgrade regime were the primary movers of the conflict, and in this chapter at least there is no suggestion that Rose adopted a wider blame-the-victim interpretation of events based on his belief that the Bosnian government exaggerated the situation in Goradze in order to sway Western opinion. Nor does Bell apologize for the possible role the media might have played in such a scenario, although he certainly is aware of the theoretical dynamic which would have been in play.

There are also hints at the personal dynamics driving the lack of cooperation between the UN and NATO. Given that the UN ultimately failed to stop aggression in Bosnia, and that NATO airstrikes helped bring the war to an end, Rose's trademark brusqueness and intemperance seem much less charming than earlier in the chapter.


Anonymous said...

Kirk, there's something that just doesn't add up. It's not just Gorazde. Noel Malcolm's review of Rose's book "Fighting the Peace" at provides quite a range of instances of Rose's partiality and sometimes worse. Rose after all is Dodik's predecessor in blaming the BiH governemtn for the 5 February 1994 marketplace massacre. Maybe he's honest in his prejudice, misunderstanding and obstinacy and it's that honesty that Bell sees as the most important quality in the man. But Bell still has a long way to go to rehabilitate Rose.

Kirk Johnson said...

Owen, I'm trying to give Bell the benefit of the doubt, but I'm also trying to give a feel for the book as one goes through it--this is all we've seen of Rose so far, so for the time being I'm taking Bell's perception at face value.

That said, I will have some other sources handy when I continue with the review.

Srebrenica Genocide said...

Kirk, forget about Bell. Here is a review of General Michael Rose's book by Noel Malcolm, click here. I can only conclude, and God is my witness, that General Michael Rose is a disgusting human being.

Anonymous said...

Kirk, if anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, it's Martin Bell, so one has to think that there's some reason for him to respect Rose, but I wish I could see what offsets the evidence from elsewhere. Rose's current denunciation of the Iraq war is expressed in a shrill tabloid-style diatribe against Tony Blair's character which I can't say is unjustified but doesn't suggest that his analytical approach is one based on strict military objectivity. I wouldn't trust Rose's judgment but I admire Martin Bell, so I really would be interested in any insight you may get into why he has this respect for Rose.