Friday, May 27, 2011

Judgement Day Arrives

Yet another world-class psychopath has been apprehended. Ratko Mladic, for whom Serbia has long turned a blind eye to the urgent requests of the international community and the International Criminal Tribunal, has now finally been apprehended. Serbians in general, by a ratio of 7-to-1, consider him a war hero, someone whose exploits on the field of battle is heartily applauded.

His sixteen-year protection by the Serbian military, the government and the people, 78% of whom claimed in a recent enquiry that they would never turn him in, if they were aware of his presence, has come to an end. The reason for this is no mystery, for economics played a great part in the final collapse of his mendacious security.

The security of being enabled to join the European Union simply overrode the pride in continuing haven for the Butcher of Sarajevo.

"Ratko, our hero", is no more. Uncomfortable questions will continue to be asked, of course, how it was that Ratko Mladic was able to evade capture and extradition to the Hague for so long. He has been seen openly attending public events, dining at popular eating establishments, and living in peace and serenity tending his flock of goats at a farm owned by a cousin. He had powerful protectors.

The savagely bloodthirsty atrocities he commanded in the slaughter of civilian Bosnian Muslims marked him as extraordinarily conscienceless. Such hatred is exemplified by ethnic strife and resentment and historical events that become deeply seared in the collective memory of ethnic and tribal groups that have always despised one another.

It is not particularly that the Serbs were more heartless than the Croats and the Bosnian Muslims, since all three groups were fully capable of launching inhumanly deadly missions against one another. General Mladic's father was a partisan who was killed by pro-Nazi Croatian soldiers in 1945. The 500 years of Turkish rule in Serbia, detested and resented by Serbian Christians, linked Bosnian Muslims to the former oppressors.

These are entrenched background resentments and hatreds that could explain in part why each of the groups, Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims, responded to their own impulses to slaughter one another. It is the order of the magnitude of Ratko Mladic's offence against humanity that sets him apart; his demented, anti-human determination to cleanse Bosnia of Muslims by driving them out, by massacring them.

The atrocities attributed to his urging of his troops to corral civilian males of all ages and in one fell swoop slaughter 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in a UN-protected 'safe' area of Srebrenica, sets him and them apart. Rape, torture, mutilation, and unspeakable atrocities were committed under his instruction and insistence.

Serbia's new president, Boris Tadic, anxious to bring his country into the EU, will be viewed by many Serbians as a traitor for allowing himself to be bullied by the United States and Britain with their security intelligence aiding him in the location and apprehension of Serbia's self-proclaimed "God". Now a sick, elderly man, no longer the fiercely fearful general charged with two counts of genocide.

A symbolic victory that will offer a ghost of closure for some, but not all of his victims, whose bleak lives echoes their loss of brothers, fathers, husbands, sons, and the carnage their daughters and they suffered, which can never be ameliorated.

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