dinsdag 22 juli 2008


Don't send him to The Hague, to a Tribunal instituted by Nobody, representing Nobody and handing out sentences in Nobody's name. Do not be fooled by such concepts as International Community, Humanity, and so forth. Humanity is, absent the Kingdom of God, an ideal, a possibility, but not here yet, and certainly not involved in the administration of international justice. And those who feign to act in its name are liars. Instead, there are tribes, clans, religious communities and nations - and it is against these that Karadzic committed his crimes, and it is these that should sentence him. His place is in Sarajevo.

Do not be concerned about fair trials, as those that were hand-wringing about the fairness of Saddam Hussein's trial. Deposed tyrants and kings and vanquished warlords and generals do not receive fair trials. Hussein did not, Ceaucescu did not. The Nazis at Nuremberg did not. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette did not. The Czar was not even given a trial (the Bolsheviks understood the real point of the exercise well enough). Responsibility is too scattered among too many smaller thugs and officers and functionaries. It is not about justice - there is no room for such a thing at historical points of transition. It is about power. For the new state to be born and assert its legitimacy, the old must be done away with in an expiatory act of bloodshed.

I was strongly against the extradition of Milosevic to that Nobody's tribunal in The Hague, not because of much sympathy to Milosevic. If, in defiance of NATO and the European Union and the United Nations and other such nonentities, the Serbs would have asserted themselves and done a Ceaucescu on him, such an action alone would have bestowed more dignity on that people (as well as on Milosevic himself, oddly) than anything much else that has happened in post-Milosevic Serbia. Note that there was enough to object to with the tribunal itself. Its inability to decide whether to have a trial or an extended therapy session for one - if I recall, Milosevic was in the sixth year of his imprisonment at the time of his death, and the trial had anything but ended. Then there is the time of the indictment, which was at the height of the bombings of Yugoslavia, by which the tribunal made itself rather blatantly into a party in the ongoing conflict. Of course, this was not surprising, since this, too, was about power rather than justice. In the end, I just happened to disapprove of the entities wielding said power.

Or indeed the ideology behind it. Which was that of the most blatant worshippers of power - the Western European babyboomer former radicals. The privileged brats of 1968 who turned the Left from anything remotely to do with practical politics to the uncritical worship of any far-away armed movement with the vaguest allegiances to "socialism", to desperate acts of terror in the cities of West Germany and Italy, to hopeless sectarianism encapsulated in minuscule "workers vanguards" ran by their miniature tinpot Stalins and Maos complete with miniature tinpot show trials, excommunications, etc., etc. - and eventually, rather comfortably, to the hallways of power itself. Where the iron faith in the perfectability of man by high explosives turned into the worship of American warplanes bombing old European cities. The ideology of Joschka Fischer, Tony Blair, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Stalinists-turned-MEPs and other ideologues of military humanism.

Yet the world has moved on. Military humanism - the spread of Western-European and American ideals of democracy and liberal society through the massive and coordinated use of firepower - has pretty much met its fate in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is not to be lamented - if a resurgence of Talibanism in Afghanistan definitely would be. Multi-ethnicism, the attachment to which pretty much defined the Western liberal response to Yugoslavia, is a dirty word now in most Western European societies, which seem to be obsessed with the idea of Muslims either planning to kill us or to outbreed us. We're falling apart.

Which is why the Serbs and Bosnians should pay no heed to the demands of the European Union or international organizations running courthouses - the legitimacy of these institutions themselves is under increasing strain. The legitimacy of Serbia as a nation is not, and that of a multi-ethnic Bosnian nation may not be either. But it must be asserted over and outside the confines of Europeanism. Karadzic should not be shuttled out far away to some clean maximum-security prison cell in some country like Italy or Norway or another which has nothing to do with him. He should not be prosecuted by a Swiss or English attorney and sentenced by a panel of judges from France or South Korea or some such. Instead, he should answer to the people of Bosnia and them only. Don't let your modern sensibilities be offended by such notions as blood sacrifice and the like. Not all old ideas are bad. It's not about justice, even though justice may be done: but a symbolic exercise of power by the hands of a people over the ghosts of the past that still haunt it. Karadzic should be tried, accused and shot in Sarajevo. "International community" and the rest of the world be damned.

2 opmerkingen:

mattghg zei

A question: is either a Serbian, a Bosnian or an "international" trial likely to convince the Serb nationalists currently rioting in Karadzic's favour that their man really is not worth standing up for now?

Merlijn de Smit zei

Doubtful. But they're kind of irrelevant. Those same nationalists failed to hinder the extradition of Milosevic, failed to keep Kosovo, repeatedly failed to get their party into government. They won't be able to keep Karadzic from being tried.

I strongly dislike the high-handed Western European approach to Serbia, and wouldn't mind a slightly more assertive Serbia at all. But psychos like Karadzic and Mladic are a hindrance to this more than anything else, and the sooner they disappear from focus the better.