20 August 2006

Back to the Balkans: No Victory, No Justice?

This Sunday's lesson in international humility comes via The Rhine River, who quotes a sobering excerpt from an article entitled "Milošević in Retrospect" by David Rieff in the Summer 2006 issue of Virginia Quarterly Review:
Milošević's death accomplished what all his delaying tactics and coutroom antics could never do--cement perception of the International Criminal Tribunal of Yugolsavia's failure....

But this is not to say that victors' justice can never succeed; what it cannot do is succeed in a political vacuum or when the outcome on the battlefield has been indecisive....

And in Serbia, this is emphatically not the case. Even in Bosnia, nationalism burns almost as fiercely in the Serb areas as it ever did, and certainly few ordinary Serbs, let alone the former leadership, feel any remorse for Srebrenica or the siege of Sarajevo. In Serbia proper, the current government, while not extreme itself, depends on the support of Milošević's Socialist Party in order to remain in power. Under those circumstances, it is almost impossible to imagine that had Milošević lived and been convicted, the Tribunal's judgement would have seemed legitimate to many Serbs. With his death, one more name has been added to the martyrology of extreme Serb nationalism--a victim, in this accound, of a kangaroo court whose pretensions of delivering justice ring hollow.
On Thursday, the BBC also included some retrospection in its report on forensic experts exhuming bodies from the largest mass grave yet from the war in Bosnia.
The team unearthed 144 complete and 1,009 partial skeletons at the site in Kamenica, a village in eastern Bosnia near the border with Serbia.

The grave contained victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which about 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb troops.

The bodies had been brought to Kamenica from elsewhere to conceal the evidence.

"Kamenica is the biggest mass grave" found since the 1992-1995 war, said Murat Hurtic, a member of the forensic team.

The massacre is the only event from the Bosnian war classified as genocide by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

The two men accused of masterminding the massacre, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Ratko Mladic, remain at large.

The forensic team found documents in the mass grave indicating that the victims died in the massacre, the Associated Press reports.

Bullets and bindings around the victims' arms were also found there.

In July 1995 Bosnian Serb forces overran the UN-protected enclave of Srebrenica, where tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslim civilians had taken refuge from earlier Serb offensives.

The Serb forces later separated thousands of men and boys from the women and killed them, dumping the bodies in mass graves.
Is anyone intimidated by international war crimes tribunals? Two alleged "masterminds" of mass slaughter in Bosnia have been at large for over a decade, most probably in the mountains of Serbia. If they are indeed guilty, better they should die in battles decisively lost than to be hauled before an unconvincing international court. And the same goes for other alleged war-criminal "masterminds" who may still be at large in the mountains of Pakistan.

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