Deutsche Welle: Joe Biden foresaw the Srebrenica Genocide

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

US presidential candidate Joe Biden has a deep understanding of the Balkans, as he foresaw the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica, the expulsion of Albanians from Kosovo and was the first to advocate NATO military intervention, Deutsche Welle reported, citing an article by the German ‘Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).

“Serb nationalists hope that Trump will remain president. Most Bosniaks in the Balkans are keeping their fingers crossed for Biden. Both sides have good reasons for their position,” said the FAZ article by Michael Martens.

Biden represented the state of Delaware in the US Senate and was a member of the Foreign Relations Committee when he visited the Balkans in 1993.

“Biden met with Alija Izetbegovic, the president of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Sarajevo and in Belgrade he talked with Serbian ruler Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic. In Naples and Stuttgart, American NATO generals informed him about the military course of the fighting in the Balkans,” the article said.

Following that trip, Biden summed up what he knew in a 100-page report, which Martens in his article said was “extremely clear and far-sighted.”

“If NATO governments would have followed Biden's recommendations at the time, terrible massacres and tens of thousands of deaths in the Balkans could have been avoided. But the senator's proposals became a policy only years later,” he wrote.

This is evident from one particular sentence in the report in which Biden warned that, if the West does not act, the eastern town of Srebrenica would become “the Guernica of our time.”

“Biden wrote this sentence two years and three months before the genocide in which troops under the command of Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic killed more than 7,000 Bosniaks and inscribed the name Srebrenica on the world map of horrors committed by the people. The Spanish town of Guernica has been on that map since 1937 when it was bombed by Germans and Italians,” Martens wrote.

At a time when other Western politicians could not or did not want to differentiate between victims and perpetrators and would only provide diplomatic negotiation solutions as a response to the Greater Serbia campaign “Biden's analysis was both clear and accurate: In the Balkans, a well-armed Serbian army is fighting the barely armed Croats and Bosniaks, whom the West is making it even more difficult to defend themselves with a perverse arms embargo. That must change,” he wrote.

The United States must lead the West in a decisive response to Serbian aggression, starting with airstrikes on Serbian artillery throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina and on units of the Yugoslav National Army in Serbia that were involved in this international crime, Biden’s 1993 report said, adding that Western forces should destroy every bridge on the Drina river to prevent Serbia from supplying the Bosnian Serbs.

In another part of the report, it seems that Biden also foresaw what would happen in Kosovo in 1999. He argued that if Milosevic and his Serbian supporters in Pristina are not stopped, it could result in the expulsion of Kosovo Albanians to Macedonia and Albania.

Biden at the time suggested that Washington should withdraw its diplomats from Belgrade and serve as an example to other countries while arguing that communication with Slobodan Milosevic regarding the situation in the Balkans “had no value,” the FAZ article said.

“That was more than a quarter of a century ago. Since then, Serbian nationalists have considered Biden a proven enemy of Serbia, as the Serbian Radical Party, (Aleksandar) Vucic's former political home, stated on the eve of Biden's visit to Belgrade in 2016,” Martens wrote, adding that it is understandable why Vucic would not want to see Biden become the next president of the US.

While Martens refrained from directly comparing Vucic and Milosevic in his article, he argued that Vucic made Serbia, “which was a functional democracy to some extent, a presidential democracy which he controls.”