The appeasers of Ratko Mladic...
It's great news that he has been captured....hang him...
As it turns out, this has been a stand-out month in the battle against evil. First, there was the killing of Osama bin Laden. Now, finally, the capture of the fugitive Serb war criminal, Ratko Mladic.
In 1994, I was a fairly junior media relations officer with the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), deployed in midst of the war in the former Yugoslavia. It was a time when Mladic was at the height of his powers, able to control the flow of aid into besieged Sarajevo with the imperious ease of a man turning a faucet on and off. Mladic’s strategy of squeezing, expelling, and murdering his largely Bosnian Muslim victims — known locally as “Bosniaks,” a term denoting an identity that is more national than religious — made a mockery of the UN operation.
The six towns and cities designated by the UN as “safe areas” ended up becoming the most dangerous places in Bosnia. Srebrenica, the place where Mladic’s forces carried out a massacre of 8,000 Bosnian men and boys in 1995, dumping the dead bodies into mass graves, was one of those “safe areas.”
In the hours that followed Mladic’s arrest, media coverage focused on the consequences for Serbia, pointing out that a major obstacle to the country’s integration into the European Union had now been lifted. My attention, though, was fixed on the past — specifically, upon the blatant appeasement of Mladic and his backer in Belgrade, the late, unlamented Slobodan Milosevic, that I encountered first-hand at the UN.
A number of fine scholars, notably Noel Malcolm and Brendan Simms, have traced in careful detail the evolution of a British-French-Russian axis of appeasement that set the tone for the UN’s role in Bosnia. The British foreign secretary at the time, Douglas Hurd, was a notorious proponent of the notion that Yugoslavia, in its first iteration as the kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, and then in its remaking under Tito’s communist regime, was little more than a seething cauldron of inter-ethnic hatreds. This theory, in which everyone and no one was responsible for the slaughter which followed Yugoslavia’s disintegration, could lead to only one conclusion: let them get on with killing each other. This was music to the ears of the Serb ultranationalists, who worked diligently with their Croatian equivalents on a plan to carve up Bosnia.