Words, False Justice
'War Crimes,' Imperial Style
by Nebojsa Malic
words – and through them, concepts – have been cheapened and
corrupted by their abuse in the cause of power. "Genocide"
is one, used with increasing frequency in victim politics
to discredit an enemy and demand assistance. "Terrorism" comes
to mind nowadays. There is also the deliberate but erroneous
conflation of "liberty" and "democracy," which a closer examination
reveals are actually
opposites. And the way "human rights" are construed these
days, as well as their "defense," often means a denial of
life, liberty and property – the only true "rights" – for
the sake of imposed obligations and forced entitlements.
the past decade, one institution has systematically
twisted the meaning of "war crimes," what constitutes them,
and who is immune
from being accused of them. The US-sponsored, self-styled
"tribunal" in The Hague has recently marked its tenth anniversary,
though its activities are no cause for celebration. Even more
unfortunate is the fact that this Hague Inquisition has been
a foundation for establishing several other "courts" of equally
dubious repute, from the Rwanda tribunal to the International
Criminal Court. Now comes word of an Iraq
War Crimes tribunal, to be set up by the US puppet government.
latest abuse of "war crimes" as a political weapon is indicative
of the degree to which the ICTY's poison has seeped into the
minds of the general public. A desire to cloak everything
in the mantle of righteousness, evoking the images of the
Nazis facing "justice at Nuremberg," is a serious impediment
to good judgment. How come no one recalls that the gravest crime prosecuted at
Nuremberg was not the Holocaust, but the initiation of war?
Maybe because under that principle, the invasion and occupation
of Iraq would itself be a crime?
doesn't need to have observed the Hague Inquisition to know
the Iraqi "tribunal" is going to be a joke. But it helps.
of the NY Times
the end of November, the International Herald Tribune reprinted
editorial from its parent paper, the New York Times,
in support of the Hague Inquisition. Calling it "fair and
thorough" was probably bad enough, but the Times editors
went on to credit the ICTY with Bosnian Serb "confessions"
of guilt for Srebrenica, extorted under extreme
duress by Bosnia's Imperial viceroy. Finally, the Times
highlights the apologies of Serbia-Montenegro's
appointed president, Svetozar Marovic, to Bosnia and Croatia,
saying that such "acknowledgments of guilt would not have
happened if soldiers were not confessing to these crimes,
and they are crucial to breaking the cycle of ethnic violence
in the Balkans."
much nonsense, for so few column inches. The "cycle of ethnic
violence" is a worn-out cliché, a cavalier dismissal of real
issues the US intervention has suppressed. As for the use
of such apologies, the NY Times/IHT editorial
embodies one: to wave them about as "proof" of "Serb guilt"
that can be further used in Balkans power games. How else
can one interpret the ludicrous assertion that those apologies
"prove" the Bosnian War was a matter of "a well-armed Serb-dominated
Yugoslavia victimizing an unarmed Muslim population in Bosnia"
Dayton Daily News)?
is Marovic some modern-day Willi Brandt. He is an obedient
appointee of Milo Djukanovic – a petty thug who rules Montenegro
– and the moribund, quisling Dossie regime in Serbia; he represents
a few hundred politicians and their coterie, certainly not
the people of Serbia and Montenegro.
of all, though, the apologies were not prompted by "confessions"
in The Hague, but rather by the ongoing sycophancy of Belgrade
and Podgorica to the throne in Washington, which needs no
excuse for groveling. So, what are these famous confessions
the New York Times values so? As it turns out, mostly
a pack of lies: par for the course at the
Amazing Case of Momir Nikolic
former Bosnian Serb officials have been the source of "confessions"
that the New York Times and other media, as well as
the Inquisition itself, have extolled recently: Momir Nikolic
and Miroslav Deronjic. Billed as a former intelligence officer
who actively partook in the Srebrenica killings, Nikolic has
provided some sensational copy over the past few months. The
only problem with him has been… well, a certain lack of truthfulness.
made a plea bargain with the prosecution, pledging testimony
and cooperation in exchange for a lenient sentence on a relatively
lesser charge, and a new life for his family. But in his zeal
to sweeten the deal and serve his new-found patrons, Nikolic
outright fabricated portions of his testimony. The story broke
at the end of September, when a reporter for the fiercely
pro-Tribunal IWPR commented
that Nikolic's perjury casts doubt on the entire plea-bargaining
system (not to mention the rest of his testimony). The story
was quickly censored and replaced with a politically correct
version, while the reporter himself was forced to resign
under pressure from IWPR's donors – the Soros Foundation and
the British government, who also fund the ICTY.
to say, Nikolic's testimony was not disregarded in any of
the cases, nor did the media who enthusiastically repeated
his claims issue any retractions. The Inquisition did exact
retribution for its shame, punishing Nikolic with a 27-year prison
sentence earlier this month. What happened to his family
is unknown, though the Inquisition probably took care of them,
as an inducement to others potential collaborators.
everyone involved could eat their cake and have it, too: the
Tribunal got to use Nikolic's testimonies, false or not, to
railroad other defendants; the media got their headlines –
and no one reads retractions, anyway; Nikolic got his family
out of the Balkans nightmare, even if he will spend the next
27 years in jail. Who lost out? The deceived public, for one,
then the railroaded defendants, as well as the IWPR reporter
who lost his job for telling the truth.
other star perjurer, Deronjic, was a Serb civilian official
in eastern Bosnia. He claimed, and the media dutifully
repeated, that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic ordered
him personally to kill as many Muslims in Srebrenica as possible.
Not reported, of course, was that Deronjic could not provide
any proof for this alleged statement – indeed, could
not place himself in Karadzic's presence at the time: no corroborating
witnesses, no journal entries, no radio intercepts, nothing.
Deronjic is not only a liar but a really bad one emerged in
cross-examination by Slobodan Milosevic
(as Deronjic testified at his "trial" as well). It also became
apparent that Deronjic's statements were written by the prosecution,
and that he merely signed off on them. This is not the practice
only for plea-bargain witnesses, either: many testimonies
against Milosevic were ghost-written by the prosecution as
well. If this is not suborning perjury, then what is?
Inquisition is very fond of fabricating reality. Last Friday,
a Bosnian Serb general to 20 years for a crime that does not
exist, and claimed clear evidence for a series of deadly incidents
during the siege of Sarajevo even though that was not the
Galic was accused of "inflicting terror on a civilian population,"
a previously unknown crime even to the Tribunal that writes
its own laws and rules as it goes along. This was duly pointed
out in a sharp dissent by Judge
Rafael Nieto-Navia, who also said the prosecution failed to
prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. What, an Inquisitor
who actually cares about the law, evidence and truth? A man
truly deserving of his robe! Alas, Justice Nieto is an exception
that confirms the rule regarding the ICTY: political factors,
power and propaganda dominate the "court," and justice is
at best viewed as a nuisance.
for the supposed "ending the cycle of ethnic violence," it
ought to be said that the professional victims in the Bosnian
Muslim establishment emphatically condemned the Galic verdict,
claiming it was too lenient. Nothing short of absolutely
acknowledging every allegation of theirs will do, and even
daring to require evidence prompts outrage.
one's goal is truth, justice, and eventually peace, "war crimes"
tribunals are not the answer. Nor are the abuses of language,
thought and logic. Nor the facetious apologies by insincere
flunkies, offered and received as political bargaining chips.
Violence cannot be stopped by clichés.
course, nothing else can be expected from politicians, who
dwell on institutionalized violence and see people – their
own as well as others – as things to be used, whether for
their personal gain, "greater good" or some supposedly glorious
only real apology people on both sides of the Sarajevo frontline
(myself included) can use is for being treated as things,
by just about everyone, for those four years or so. Yet it's
the one apology they will likely never hear.
if Iraqis really want to put Saddam Hussein and his followers
on trial, they ought to do so in a local courtroom, on charges
of robbery and murder. He was, after all, a politician and
a head of government; they are in his job description.
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