Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wanted: Dead or Alive

Interesting sort-of contrast to the bin Laden raid; Bosnian Serb ex-commander and war criminal Ratko Mladic has been arrested by Serbian police agencies hiding in a relative's home in the little Serbian town of Lazarevo, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northeast of Belgrade.

The guy was obviously well known in town. I love the quote from one of his fans; "They didn't even wake us up," said a resident who identified himself only as Zoran. "I'm furious. They arrested our hero."

You'll note that this didn't require an elite team of Belgian commandos, helicopters, cross-border insertions, or diplomatic furor. A little group of local coppers showed up at his door - undoubtedly with the help of the Serbian national intel agency as well as Euro intel types - handcuffed his ass, and drove him away. He even had a couple of hoglegs on him, but didn't manage to get a double tap through the head for his pains.

Now there's a LOT of dissimilarities between Ratko and Osama, the single biggest being the lack of ideological fervor in the Serbian community. But you'll also note the immense dissimilarity between the countries where they were hiding.

Serbia desperately wants into the EU; it wants a piece of the lovely lolly that comes from being a First World nation and having all that economic development n' stuff. Despite there being a solid core of "fuck-the-Euros" Serbian irredentists, the government and much of the population of Serbia wants shut of the bad old days of Pan-Serbian war and atrocity. Generally speaking, the goals and objectives of most Serbs are fairly close to most other nations and peoples in the EU.

The disparity between the goals and objectives of Pakistan and the United States could hardly be greater. They barely share a common interest. Pakistan is treated as a battleground by the U.S., its government and people seen as objects or targets or, at best, pawns to be manipulated. Is it any surprise that the U.S. government couldn't trust the ISI and the local Abbotabad coppers to knock on Osama's door and whisk him off to an appointment with the ICC?

I'm not going to go back to second-guessing the OBL raid. I'm just observing; given the differences visible between Serbia and Pakistan that makes treating a war criminal like a war criminal possible in one but not the it any wonder we have a scalpel available in Serbia but nothing but a hammer in Pakistan? Or that it looks like the West is likely to get a favorable-ish resolution to the Balkan morass but seem unlikely - barring an imperial-level commitment of troops, time, and money - to get one from southwest Asia?


  1. Oh, how I hated this bastard! Finally!

  2. seydlitz,
    When did hatred become part of the job description?
    Why do we bring guys like this to trial, but give free passes to guys like GWB?
    If we can try this guy in this docket, then why not guys like ksm?
    Why do we selectively applaud one prosecution and ignore others?

  3. I dunno if I sympathize with the KLA that much...

  4. jim-

    I think it had something to do with dealing with Bosnian refugees over a period of some time, editing all those IIRs of Serbian war crimes and seeing how it was having little to no effect. There were several high-level resignations of US officials over this and many lower-level careers ended voluntarily here as well . . . in other words, it's personal.

  5. YT -

    The War in Kosovo was several years later. I do not know of any sources that claim the KLA had anything to do with inciting the Serbs to massacre Bosniaks at Srebenica.

    But you are right that the KLA committed some atrocities also. So did the Bosniaks, Croats, and a few Macedonians and Montenegrins. The Hague I believe has indicted some of the above and has convicted some from each group. Although the majority of those indicted have been Bosnian Serbs, nobody is without blame in the Balkans. Someone once said: "They are all cursed with the ability to forget nothing of their history and yet never learn any lessons from it." Not an exact quote, perhaps it is more a paraphrase.

    Mladic himself and Karadzic also were Bosnian Serb and not from Serbia itself. At their age I am sure they were born either during or just before or after the Nazi Occupation. They must have heard stories from their grandparents or greataunts and uncles of that time when some say more than a half a million Serbs died, not at the hands of the Germans but at the hands of their own countrymen. The Nazis were more interested in Jews. But in the major concentratrion camps in Yugoslavia, Sajmiste, Schabatz and Nisch, many more Serbs died than Jews and Gypsies. There was as much or more ethnic cleansing going on then as later in the 1990s but in reverse. Most of the atrocities committed against Serbs during that time were done by Bosnian Croat Catholics in the Ustase. But at the time some Bosniaks welcomed the German occupation and some accepted jobs in the death camps and in the Waffen SS. The same goes for the Kosovar Albanians, many of whom enlisted in the Scanderberg SS Division. I don't know if any of those war criminals were ever brought to trial. I suspect they escaped trial at Nuremberg. Maybe Tito got a few, but after the war wasn't he was more interested in unity than pursuing war criminals? I hope I am wrong.

    But other than Mladic I wonder how many others have been tried for war crimes in Srebenica? And we should not forget: 1] the Greek Volunteer Guard who allegedly participated in the massacre and have never been investigated by the Hague; and 2] the Dutch UN commander who allowed it to happen. And while we are talking about the Dutch, why not charge them with war crimes for their cluster bombing of civilians in Nis during the Kosovo War?

    Don't get me wrong I am for the prosecution of Mladic and his henchmen. But let's be honest about it and go after all war criminals, not just the ones that get incriminated in the popular media.

  6. Mike, Seydlitz, Chief:

    Otto von Bismarck, the “Iron Chancellor” was, in his day, above all, interested in playing Russia against France. He regarded the Orient rather as he regarded the Balkans, "As the swamp to end all swamps."

    So what's a Westerner to do (Howdy Pod'ner)? Ignore the Balkan/Mohammedan hordes, or have them come to you, in order to ruin your day? No more Viennas.....just use other peoples for your scut work (Mexicans anyone)?

  7. Back in the 19th Century when England, France, Russia and Italy all were playing the great game in Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria, wasn't it Bismarck who said something along the lines that: "The Balkans are not worth the life of a single Pomeranian soldier."?

  8. seydlitz,
    When one starts personalizing then it's hard to think strategically.
    Doesn't strategic thinking require a detachment from the personality?
    Hate distorts reasoning.

  9. jim-

    I don't claim to be thinking strategically in this instance. It's more about vengeance, although I was simply a bystander. I hope the Bosnians find some peace through this . . .

  10. Gwynne Dyer has a very nice column about the usefulness of the ICC

  11. seydlitz,
    So i understand-
    A strategic thinker is allowed to succumb to vengeance once in a while?!
    What do we call this?