Skip to comments.Beware of political activists in robes
Posted on 07/23/2008 7:03:44 AM PDT by DTA
George Jonas: Beware of political activists in robes
Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2008
If we take Radovan Karadzic at his own evaluation as a Serbian patriot, by being available to be captured and handed over to the international tribunals of the new world order, he's rendering his country the only service left for him to render.
Had he not gone into hiding in 1995 after being indicted for his role in the infamous Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys, the one-timepresident of Serbian Bosnia couldn't be utilized as a chip in the Faustian bargain with theWest today.
But as Mr. Karadzic had gone into hiding, he could be, and he is.
Ivan Vejvoda, director of the Balkan Trust for Democracy, has been quoted as calling Mr. Karadzic's arrest a clear signal "this [Serb] government is determined to take this country into Europe."
Defeated, reduced and ostracized, Serbia has been pressing its nose against the shop window of the European Union. Its wallet empty, its credit in tatters, it has had nothing to trade in exchange for the opulent goods on display. The one-time cock of the Balkan walk has fallen on evil times. Tired of being a pariah among nations for trying to retain its dominant position in the Yugoslav federation during the 1990s, the country is keen to return to the fold.
It's not easy. Europe is skeptical. Having tried to hang on to its regional dominance mercilessly, often to the point of inhumanity, Serbia has sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind. Now just about the only items of value it has left are its alleged war criminals.
In 2001, Serbia's then-prime minister, Zoran Djindjich, traded the first one. Ex-president Slobodan Milosevic, a. k. a. the Butcher of the Balkans, went for about US$1-billion. Dying of heart failure in 2006, before a war crimes tribunal could arrive at a determination in his case, Mr. Milosevic had the consolation of surviving the man who traded him. Mr. Djindjich was assassinated in 2003.
Now Serbia is offering up a man described as "the worst" by Richard Holbrooke, the American diplomat who brokered the 1995 Dayton accords that ended the war in Bosnia. How long will President Boris Tadic, who is trading Mr. Karadzic this week, survive him? That's anybody's guess.
Why -- one may ask -- are alleged war criminals bargaining chips? What value is there for the West in having them available for show trials? The answer lies in liberal illusions combining with fashion to allow power politics to masquerade as justice. "There is no better tribute to the victims of the war's atrocities than bringing their perpetrators to justice," said a White House communique, commenting on Mr. Karadzic's arrest.
But will a tribunal in a case like this achieve justice? I wonder. I've no soft spot, to put it mildly, for alleged war criminals. But political activists dressing up in black robes worry me just as much.
In the Netherlands, war crimes trials are becoming something of an industry. A few years ago student "jurists" of a moot court in the renowned Hague Academy of International Law invited the press while they were questioning an actor in the prisoner's dock, wearing a cocked hat and a gold-studded coat.
"Are you Napoleon Bonaparte, born August 15, 1769, in Ajaccio, Corsica?"
"How do you plead?" " Non coupable!"
On this particular day, the moot court acquitted Napoleon of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The actor in the cocked hat looked relieved. However, as the Times of India pointed out, the mock trial "offered a flavour of what may be in store for tomorrow's leaders -- and not only megalomaniac dictators."
At a recent conference on Terror and Human Rights at Israel's Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya, Harvard University's Alan Dershowitz advised Israel not to appear before the United Nation's International Court of Justice.
"It is an insult to kangaroos to call the ICJ a kangaroo court," Prof. Dershowitz said.
As one who has been insulting kangaroos for years, it gratified me to see the renowned legal expert's remark. My view has always been that international tribunals were kangaroo courts, not only in relation to the ICJ and Israel, but in general.
What is a war crime? NATO bombed Serbia into giving up Kosovo. The province's ethnic Albanians undoubtedly wanted independence--but so did the ethnic Germans of the Sudetenland. It's not so easy to see why dismembering Czechoslovakia in 1938 was a war crime and dismembering Serbia in 1999 wasn't. Or rather it's all too easy to see: Politics.
There's no international law, it seems to me, only international politics, and the proper place for politics is summit meetings, legislative chambers, diplomatic receptions, or battlefields. It certainly isn't courtrooms. UN-type judicial bodies won't increase confidence in justice, only erode confidence in the law.
In his book Does America Need a Foreign Policy?, Henry Kissinger concludes that the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia with its concepts of national interest, sovereignty, and balance of power, despite their flaws, cannot be abandoned with impunity. "When moral principles are applied without regard to historical conditions, the result is usually an increase in suffering rather than its amelioration," he writes. Reformers of all stripes should listen.
“There’s no international law, it seems to me, only international politics, and the proper place for politics is summit meetings, legislative chambers, diplomatic receptions, or battlefields. It certainly isn’t courtrooms. UN-type judicial bodies won’t increase confidence in justice, only erode confidence in the law.”
This is a brilliant point.
The politics of that day, to create a muslim country in europe and to crush christians.
I say that while not excusing the simplistic tactics used by both sides.