Saturday, October 14, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Two [16]


This final section of Part 4 seeks to delegitimize the work of the ICTY. It starts off with this conspiracy-friendly bit of paranoia:

"Tribunal indictments being the equivalent of conviction in the court of public opinion, with guilt taken for granted, actual prosecution and conviction are scarcely necessary, and the next step can be execution. Out of deference to its European supporters, the ICTY can inflict long prison sentences, but not capital punishment. However, the number of unconvicted defenants who have died while in custody of the ICTY or its agents ought to have caused a major scandal in any proper criminal jurisdiction. Defendants appear to run a strong statistical risk of a de facto death penalty before being put on trial. Here are some examples:"

[As always, underlined words in quoted sections were italicized in the original text.]

There are many problems with this paragraph, and on many levels. It was only a few pages ago Johnstone was sneering at "ICTY apologists" for not 'thinking through' the implications of certain beliefs and statements. Is that the problem here? Or has Johnstone, in fact, thought her statements through? If she has, then I was correct when I surmised that her concerns about the legitimacy of the ICTY are in fact a sham--she does not want there to be any effective instrument of international justice, period. Like a State's Rights advocate gone global, she envisions a world in which sovereignty is so absolute that the internal affairs on a nation are of no concern to the outside world at all, even when the internal affair involves the mistreatment of citizens by the state.

The first clause is a fine example of her sloppy logic and imprecise comparisons. Are indictments really the equivalent of conviction? Has she analyzed this issue in depth? Has she conducted a "serious, scientific study" a la the one she wanted performed on rape victims?

And this "court of public opinion"--which public is she talking about? The world at large? The Western public? Surely not the Serbian public--at least not the confirmed nationalists. Who is she describing here? And how much weight should public opinion carry in such situations? Why is public opinion the primary concern here? She does add "with guilt taken for granted" but again, she does not explain why this is so, or why she can be so sure. We don't even know who this "public" is, yet we are to take her word on how they feel about ICTY indictments.

So getting a conviction is "scarcely necessary," she assures the reader. Really? How so? Going back to the question of "the public"--I would think that the public in, say, Bosnia, or Serbia, might care very much about whether or not high-ranking defendents were found innocent or guilty. And I have a little more faith in use stupid, naive Westerners than Ms. Johnstone does; I think people in the West understand that a man found guilty of charges of genocide is maybe a little more responsible than a man found innocent. People who follow things like international tribunals tend to at least acknowledge the judicial process at work.

Then her 'analysis' just gets goofy; the reference to "the next step can be execution" refers to the the fact that several defendants died either in custody or while being arrested--she wrote this years before Milosevic died in his cells, so I can only imagine what she thinks now.

Clearly she is implying--strongly implying--that foul play was involved. In the next post, I will examine the five examples she gives; for now I only ask the reader to consider this: What possible motive would the ICTY and Western powers have for causing harm to to indicted war criminals? What motive could be at work here? Causing the deaths of a high number of suspects--as Johnstone is alleging--would be very hard, if not impossible, to cover up. It would delegitimize the work of the tribunal. To go back to Milosevic, remember that the primary emotion expressed by Del Ponte and numerous others at his death was disappointment that he had cheated a final verdict.

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