May 16, 2014 will mark the 2nd anniversary of General Ratko Mladić’s ongoing trial to be followed by the 3rd anniversary of his arrest and transfer to The Hague on June 3, 2014.
The true hallmarks of justice are a fair and speedy trial before an impartial judge by a jury of one’s peers.Well you ain’t going to get that in The Hague.
At the end of World War II the Allies settled scores and meted out justice. They did so “without undue delay”. The Nuremberg Trialstook less than 1 year [November, 1945-October, 1946]. An additional set of war crimes trials, 12 to be exact [“The High Command Trial”, “The Krupp Trial”, “The IG Farben Trial”, “The Einsatzgruppen Trial” etc.] took less than 3 years ending in April, 1949.
By comparison the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the ICTY, established on May 25, 1993 by Security Council Resolution 827 will mark its 21styearon this month. The ICTY has only judges, some of dubious impartiality, and it surely ain’t got no juries.
Mladić was arrested andthe media made himthe world’s Monster du Jour. There will be others, tomorrow, next week and next year. These monsters- to-be will be Libyans, Somalis, Egyptians, but never, ever, American or British. It is easy to demonize a person, accuse him of war crimes, ascribe to him acts of insane violence, and condemn him, but never level the same charges to other politically correct participants and never addressing the roots, the causes of the conflicts that precipitated them.
It makes the world feel good. Another criminal behind bars waiting for justice to be done. The world breathes a sigh of relief. Civilization has been saved. But then another war, another revolution and the cycle repeats itself. Mass graves abound and they all look alike, year in and year out, whether in Bosnia, Somalia or the Sudan.
And then there are conflicts, wars, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and now the Ukraine that make the news day in day out, yet somehow escape being tainted by accusations of war crimes, of genocide or simply the murder of civilians. Political assassinations by unmanned drones with civilian “collateral damage” are a weekly occurrence. Those deaths, those murders fly under the radar of international scrutiny. They are simply ignored while the world smugly congratulates itself for a job well done,sheer moral hypocrisy.
I do not like Ratko Mladić much. I met him twice in 1994 during the warin Bosnia. He was an arrogant son of a bitch but no worse than his Western counterparts, say “Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopfor the insubordinate Stanley McChrystal and the morally flawed David Petraeusbut he just happened to be a Serb, an easy target. He proudly wore his “kokarda” as a badge of honor on his “Šajkača”. His choice of headgear was no more outrageous than Green Berets or the recently adoptedUS Horse Cavalry Stetsons, really just cowboy hats.
I met him in a café in Han Pijesak, a small war torn town in Eastern Bosnia close to Sarajevo surrounded by a fawning retinue of junior officers. But every general officer has sycophants. He was sitting on the terrace of the café, beefy and loud, full of himself. The colorful red and white umbrellas kept us cool and in the shade. There was a lull in the war. The war didn’t seem real.
Srebrenica, the massacre of 8,373 Bosnian men and boys, was to be a year later in July, 1995. Mladić is accused of ordering this tragedy. As in any war there are deaths in the thousands. Many are soldiers but many more are innocent civilians. Dresden, a declared “safe haven” at the end of World War II, had 600,000 refugees, and a population 350 times larger than Srebrenica. The Allies [the good guys, England and the United States] fire bombed it and between 150,000 and 200,000 civilians died. In 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki accounted for at least a quarter of a million civilian deaths [150,000 for Hiroshima; 75,000 for Nagasaki; with another 500,000 dead from radiation, starvation and cancer.] Extenuating circumstances were claimed that saved untold American and British servicemen, better “them than us” right?
There are always claims of extenuating and mitigating circumstances if you want to justify your war crimes. NaserOrić, a common street thug was the Muslim military commander in Srebrenica. He abused the United Nations’ “safe area” “safe haven” by launching attacks against the Serb population resulting in some 1,800 deaths. But that is forgiven, understandable and politically correct.
Eight thousand deaths is no small number, yet insignificant if taken in the context of the civilian casualties of the Iraq War. People disagree as to the actual numbers of deaths, but they all agree that the deaths are in the hundreds of thousands.
The Iraq Family Health Service, whatever that entity may be, pegs the deaths at 151,000 from March, 2003 to June, 2006. The Lancet, the respected British medical journal dedicated to world health, estimates 601,027 deaths for the same period. Opinion Research weighs in at 1,033,000 deaths as a result of the conflict from 2003 to 2007. The Associated Press reports in at 110,600 deaths for 2003 to 2009. The Iraq Body Count Project claims either 98,170 or 107,152 civilian deaths for the same period. WikiLeaks, leaking official United States classified Iraq war cables reports 104,924 Iraqi deaths, including 66,081 civilians. And so it goes.
So now we have that dumb, full of himself Ratko Mladić, unfortunately born a Serb,after all these years in the dock accused of 8,000 deaths, with the world braying for human sacrifice, for justice.
Ratko Mladić is the perfect scapegoat. His extended prosecution, two years and counting, just like Slobodan Milošević’s which lasted five full years, keeps the world’s eye off the ball, of what is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere. The ICTY has kept the war crimes focus on Serbia for 21 years allowing the rest of the world to ignore far more outrageous conduct.
DeyanRankoBrashich, an attorney, Op-Ed columnist, resides and writes from New York City and is a frequent contributor. He is the author of “Letters from America,” and “Contrary Views”. His contact and blog “Contrary Views” is at www.deyanbrashich.com.