Tuesday, 22 July 2008

On Karadzic’s arrest

From Martin Bright, political editor of the New Statesman:
I have always believed that all British school children should be taught about the unique horror of the Srebrenica massacre in the same way that they are all taught about Auschwitz. The failure of the international community to come to the aid of the 8,000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men massacred in the safe haven of Srebrenica in July 1995. The massacre had a huge influence on Tony Blair's policy of humanitarian intervention, which he relied on as justification for intervention in Kosovo and, to some extent Afghanistan and Iraq. [more]
From the Americans for Bosnia blog:
Today, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that the Karadzic arrest is an internal Serbian matter. Considering that ALL of the indictments against Karadzic concern events in Bosnia, which--despite the best efforts of Greater Serb nationalists--is not part of Serbia, this is a very strange position to take. [more]
And Marko Attila Hoare looks at the implications of the history of Karadzic for Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al Bashir, very recently indicted on war crimes charges by the International Criminal Court:
The Bashir indictment is to be celebrated, because whether or not it results in the tyrant ever facing justice, it represents a nail in his political coffin; a push sending him further along the road already trodden by Milosevic and Karadzic.

His international isolation will increase; what is left of his legitimacy will decrease; it will be more difficult for other states to collaborate with him; and if he survives his eventual overthrow, the successor regime will have to collaborate with the ICC in bringing him to trial, which will be a catalyst to its own democratic reform - just as enforced collaboration with the ICTY catalysed democratic reform in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia. [more]

UPDATE 23 JULY - From Oliver Kamm:
We know, from records of telephone conversations between Milosevic and Karadzic in July 1991, that Belgrade was making clandestine shipments of arms directly to the Bosnian Serbs.

This was in preparation for the adoption by the UN Security Council, at the request of Yugoslavia, on 25 September 1991 of Resolution 713 imposing an arms embargo. The resolution thus left the newly independent states helpless against Serb aggression. [more]
UPDATE 2 - after reading a bizarre claim in the LRB, Bob from Brockley gives a reality check:
What was the position of Western politicians? Some Western politicians, like Bob Dole, called for action. The majority of the Bush I clique American politicians, epitomised by James Baker, Lawrence Eagleberger, Dick Cheney, Brent Snowcroft and Colin Powell, opted for a "realist" response: doing nothing, shifting responsibility to Europe. Samantha Power has dubbed the Bush policy as a policy of disapproval: disapprove, but do nothing. In Baker's memorable words, America "did not have a dog in this fight".

Clinton, who won the Democratic Party nomination for president during the period of ethnic cleansing, called for action. It was only after his election at the end of '92 that intervention became politically possible. But despite some American politicians (notably Dole, Frank McCloskey, Al Gore and Joe Biden, as well as Madeline Albright), calling for action to finally be taken, the majority of Republicans and Democrats denounced them as war-mongers.

Thirteen months into the war, well over a hundred thousand Bosnians massacred, Clinton finally sent Carter-era hack Warren Christopher to Europe to persuade the Europeans not to actually act but to lift the arms embargo so the victims of cleansing could defend themselves. He came back having changed his mind, and the Bush I policy of disapproval and inactivity continued for months, a continuity signalled by Colin Powell remaining in post. Warren Christopher even claimed the Muslims were themselves responsible for their own genocide. The official line was: this is a tragic civil war, there's nothing we can do.

Meanwhile, on this side of the pond, the David Owen led European diplomatic initiative was signally ineffective. The UN came up with a tepid "safe areas" plan over a year into the slaughter (de facto accepting genocide outside the safe areas), but failed to send anywhere enough troops to defend them. France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark were the only European countries to actively support this. Mitterand, under pressure from both left and right-wing politicians to act more decisively, accepted a minimal UN presence. Only when Chirac took over in 1995 did France take a more robust position. Italy opposed intervention from the start. Greece not only opposed intervention but supported Milosovic. Helmut Kohl, to the intense irritation of Major and Mitterand, took a stronger line - but Germany's official military neutrality stopped it from actually committing troops.

What was Britain's position? Under John Major and Douglas Hurd, Britain took an even more anti-interventionist "realist" position than Bush I.


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