Sunday, May 14, 2006

An Op-Ed piece from the New York Times gave me plenty to think about:

"Why Insist on the Surrender of Ratko Mladic?" by Timothy Williams Waters

My initial reaction was one of disgust--the idea of not arresting Mladic for his crimes is, of course, obscene. But then again, that is not what the author is advocating. He does not suggest letting Mladic off the hook; only that the arrest of Mladic not be a 'deal-breaker' on Serbian entry into the EU. What should we think of this?

There is some merit to the arguement. It is possible--even probable--that a 'forced arrest' would be a somewhat humiliating gesture by Kostunica or any other Serbian government. Waters feels that this will only serve to strengthen hard-line nationalists, and it is very possible that he is correct.

In his favor, I would also note that the war has now been over for almost a decade. There is a young generation coming of age in Serbia that took no part in the war and bears no guilt or knowledge of those events. To continue ostracizing Serbia indefinately would be to follow the same logic of collective/generational guilt that ultra-nationalists used to stir up the war in the first place. It is the political and military leadership of Serbia that needs to be held accountable. To punish the population at large with no end in sight would not only be unjust, but couterproductive. There is nothing to be gained from legitimizing nationalist claims to victim status.

However, the author overstates Europe's need to include Serbia in the EU. There are many other nations still waiting to fulfill the requirements for EU membership, and none of them are shielding known war criminals. The hypocrisy of the Western European countries who refused to intervene during the war is somewhat galling; however, the line has already been drawn. The EU is not asking Serbia to make costly reparations or compromise its own security; they are merely asking the government to demonstrate that it has full control over its military and security forces. As a condition for membership in a broader community of nations, that does not seem to be too much of a price to pay.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A recent conversation with an acquaintence ended on a disconcerting note. The subject of Bosnia came up (not entirely out of context, although anyone who has had to withstand one of my periodic tirades might question that!) just as I was leaving. I sensed that this friend was a non-interventionist at the time (we didn't know each other then, nor have we ever discussed the issue before), and based on the few comments he made I am quite sure I am correct.

What was disturbing about the conversation was that he paraphrased Canadian general Lewis MacKenzie (he didn't remember his name), the former 'peacekeeper' turned Serbian nationalist spokesman. MacKenzie discounted any Western attempts at intervention, essentially arguing that the blame in the war was shared equally, and that all three parties were determined to fight regardless of the consequences.

That MacKenzie's dishonest 'neutrality' hasn't been more fully exposed is a shame. In case anybody wonders why I was compelled to start this blog years after the war ended, here's your reason--a reasonably well-read American was completey unaware of the biased nature of MacKenzie's 'neutrality.'

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I am reading "Sarajevo Blues" by Semezdin Mehmedinovic. I can't recommend this book highly enough. A collection of poems, short prose pieces, and brief essays about the war in Sarajevo, the book was originally published in Zagreb in 1995, and has been translated into English. It is a marvel--wry rather than bombastic, Mehmedinovic focuses on small, intense moments of clarity derived from clear-eyed observation. I highly recommend it.
Here's a link to a summer camp for children in Bosnia by the Global Children's Foundation, a non-profit that aims at growing peace by bringing children of different groups together. From this site you can read about the organization, donate money, and even volunteer for the camp (which is somewhere near Sarajevo).

Global Children's Foundation

A worthy cause.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The bad news--Ratko Mladic continues to live as a free man; justice is still delayed.

The silver lining--the EU shows some integrity, and makes good on threats:

CNN Story on EU Action

In short, the EU has suspended talks on Serbian membership now that the deadline for Mladic's arrest has passed without seeing the butcher of Srebrenica in international custody. Good for them.

Let's not forget that Karadzic is also still on the run, shuttling back and forth between the Republika Srpska and Montenegro. If the independence of Montenegro goes through as is widely expected, the international community needs to hold their feet to the fire on this issue.