Monday, November 06, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Two [33]


Johnstone concludes her review of the "factors" involved in the Western case against Milosevic with this claim--that NATO committed crimes equal to, or greater than, those committed by Serb police and military forces in Kosovo, and that the charges brought against Milosevic were drummed up by the US and NATO in order to justify their military action against Yugoslavia post de facto.

Because this two-page section takes us out of Bosnia and into Kosovo, I am not going to give the issues she touches on all the attention they fully deserve, even though the situation in Kosovo was, of course, directly related to the war in Bosnia. The NATO war in Kosovo is another issue, which deserves a fuller study than I can give it right now. The NATO military action against Yugoslavia in 1999 operated under a different dynamic and reacted to different circumstances than the long drawn-out Western responses in Bosnia. However, there are some points worth noting:

"The NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia, initiated on 24 March 1999, were in flagrant violation of international law on numerous counts. Yugoslavia was attacked, without any mandate from the UN Security Council, although it had not committed any act of aggression against any other country."

Putting aside Johnstone's ever-disproportionate sense of selective outrage, it must be noted that, especially in the second sentence, she is technically correct, at least in regards to operations in Kosovo (Johnstone is not willing to acknowledge the reality of JNA and Serbian paramilitary operations against Croatia and Bosnia, but since those wars had ended some years earlier we will let that pass). Kosovo was, and remains, part of Serbia.

Johnstone is consistant on this point--the sovereignty of a state trumps the rights of individuals within that states. The world community has been grappling with the problem of sovereignty for some time now; the former Yugoslavia was only one arena in which this question has been relevant. At what point do the internal affairs of a sovereign nation become the business of the outside world?

This isn't the first time Johnstone has stumbled across a good point; as always, she fails to grasp it. Instead of acknowledging that the international community came up against a somewhat new problem and was feeling around for a suitable response--including a coherent ideological/intellectual framework--she concludes that she has found another convenient stick with which to beat the Western conspiracy against Serbia. And after getting her whacks in, she tosses it aside.


She has nothing to say about the situation in Kosovo, of course. She believes that the US indictment against Milosevic was brought to The Hague as the war was still going on in order to justify it in light of civilian casualities in Serbia and growing opposition in the US. Which might be partially true. The Clinton administration had many conflicting motivations going into Kosovo; their spotty track record in Bosnia certainly being one of them. No reasonable person can doubt that in Kosovo, the US regarded Milosevic as some sort of "unfinished business" from Bosnia.

If Johnstone were seriously interested in some of the international legal implications of NATOs war against Yugoslavia, this section might have been worthwhile reading. But she isn't, and it wasn't. As an example of the laughable nature of her analysis, I present this quote:

"The Yugoslav government itself tried on 29 April 1999 to institute proceedings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague against NATO governments for a broad range of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Western media, in brief reports, let it be known that such an intitiative was "not serious." "

Again, if her intent was to question the impartial nature of international justice by asking whether a small nation can effectively use the institutions of internatinal justice against powerful nations, she might have an interesting and productive line of inquiry going. But Johnstone's vision is narrow and petty; she only wants to discredit the West on behalf of her nationalist heroes.

The section ends with Johnstone decrying the government of Zoran Djindjic (who, she explains, had "risen to power on Kostunica's coat-tails with much financial backing from the United States and Germany"--I'm assuming she's not all that distraught over his murder) for turning Milosevic over to The Hague. "Serbia got virtually nothing for selling its former president," she complains, raising the question of why a nation should be conpensated for surrendering a man who started four bloody wars and tore the delicate social fabric of his neighbors to shreds.

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