Monday, March 13, 2006

Milosevic is Dead ...

Did Slobodan Milosevic "cheat" justice by dying before the Hague Tribunal could pronounce him guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity? That is the overall sentiment I am detecting in reading Western coverage, with ancillary comments about how the Serbs will never have to admit their "guilt" for the Yugoslav wars.

Death is cheating us of holding many of the perpetrators of the Yugoslav wars to account. Perhaps it is time to create a commission that will be prepared to go through the records and examine all leaders for the degree of culpability and responsibility. I am thinking here of Croatian president Franjo Tudjman, whose role (via his secret agreement with Milosevic to partition Bosnia) merits a much greater degree of scrutiny, as well as what others like Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic said, did and ordered.

Some of those who argue against this seem to be opposed because a real investigation would take us away from the simple black and white narrative of good and bad guys. Others argue it would create some sort of moral equivalence. I think that the judgment of history fairly applied would still assign the major portion of blame for the death and suffering of the 1990s to Milosevic; what it might do, however, is indicate how the West played a far more realpolitik game than the current purveyors of moralpolitik would like us to believe (in terms of accepting ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo when we felt it served our interests--especially the Croat cleansing of Muslims from Bosnia in 1993-94).

It strikes me that this can only ratchet up European pressue on Serbia to render all war criminals outstanding. It is remarkable to watch soft power, under frustration, begin to take on the unbending tone and technique of hard power. Europe is increasingly blunt; EU expansion can be used as a blunt object. The language of masculine and feminine foreign policy deployed toward American and European sensibility is due for a revision: there are "female" moods different from the conciliatory and conflict-averse, and "male" moods different from mere pugnaciousness.
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