Milosevic victimized NATO. NATO was forced to murder 16
innocent civilians and made to weather two hours of bad
publicity. Indeed, the entire 11-week bombing campaign was
a war crime perpetrated by Milosevic. By refusing to accept
the US ultimatum at Rambouillet, he provoked the bombing
of Yugoslavia. Every hospital destroyed, every housing estate
reduced to rubble, every bridge crashing into the Danube,
every petrochemical plant going up in flames was Milosevic’s
war crime not NATO’s. Most horrifying of all, NATO
that repository of all that is finest, most honorable
and decent in men’ hearts was "smeared."
The Serbs must be made to pay for this violation of the
global moral order. The current dispute between the regime
in Belgrade and Carla del Ponte as to who gets to put Milosevic
on trial first is largely a sideshow. We know the outcome
already. Indeed, the outgoing Clinton Administration had
already suggested a solution. Milosevic does not have to
be shipped off to The Hague. He can be put on trial in Belgrade,
but the prosecutors will be from The Hague. After his inevitable
conviction of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the
Yugoslav courts can try him. The prosecutors will be representatives
of the new regime who clearly have their own reasons for
wanting to purge Yugoslavia of every vestige of the pre-Kostunica/Djindjic
era. The trials will, of course, be a mockery of justice.
Is there anyone in the world who seriously doubts how del
Ponte’s "court" will rule? Is there anyone who
doubts the outcome of the Yugoslav domestic trials? Milosevic
will be convicted of every crime under the sun from "vote
stealing" to embezzlement to double parking and spitting
on the sidewalk.
fairness of the trial Milosevic can expect at The Hague
is to be gauged from the fact that the Court had indicted
him on the basis of a few interviews with Kosovo Albanian
refugees. Yet Louise Arbour, del Ponte’s predecessor, knew
immediately that Milosevic was personally responsible for
any atrocities that may have been committed. The flimsiness
of the evidence against him was evident from the beginning,
as NATO repeatedly revised downwards its estimates of Kosovo
Albanian casualties. Just the other day, OSCE investigators
were forced to acknowledge that they had found no evidence
to substantiate an NPR report that Yugoslav forces had burned
the bodies of 1500 Albanians in the Trepca blast furnace
as they were pulling out of Kosovo.
fairness of the trial Milosevic can expect from the Belgrade
authorities is to be gauged from the remarks of Interior
Minister Zoran Zivkovic. "Milosevic’s place is in jail,"
he declared, "It would be just for him to stand trial
here because he committed all those crimes here…. Our prosecutor
should accept The Hague’s indictment, add the local charges,
and trigger the proceedings in front of our courts…. The
war crimes definitely existed…and there is no dilemma who
is responsible: Milosevic as the former supreme commander."
Milosevic has not even been charged with anything yet. But
we already know that "his place is in jail." During
his recent visit to Washington, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran
Djindjic announced that an investigation into Milosevic’s
activities would start "within a few days." The
former leader will be put on trial "in two weeks."
"His place is in jail," even though there has
as yet been no "investigation." One would have
thought an investigation into the activities of a man who
ruled a country for over a decade is likely to be extremely
complicated. Sifting through and amassing evidence would
surely be immensely time-consuming. Yet, according to Djindjic,
it should take no more than "two weeks." Carla
del Ponte for one was not buying any of this. "We cannot
wait for years" for the outcome of domestic legal proceedings,
she thundered, "For crimes against humanity… Milosevic
will stand trial in The Hague. For other [crimes] he may
answer in Belgrade." Note the casual and repeated references
to "crimes" before even any evidence has even
been collected, let alone presented before any court of
then today’s courts of law have very little to do with law
or with justice. Courts of law are simply the mechanism
for enforcing the US-led New World Order. These courts have
nothing to do with establishing individual responsibility
or criminal intent. They serve to intimidate, to punish,
to provide a fig leaf of legitimacy for the raw assertion
of power. The issue is no longer whether people are to be
tried in domestic or international courts. What matters
is that the "judicial process" be directed against
officials of countries who refused to accept US diktats.
The Hague Tribunal has no right to put anyone on trial.
According to international law, nations can only cede their
sovereignty voluntarily. Yet the Tribunal was imposed by
order of the UN Security Council. There is therefore no
reason whatsoever for the states of the former Yugoslavia
to cooperate with del Ponte. By accepting the Tribunal’s
jurisdiction, by repeatedly promising full cooperation with
it, by accepting the term "war crimes" to describe
Serb resistance to NATO aggression, the new regime in Belgrade
has effectively declared that Serbia is now the vassal state
insisting on putting Milosevic on trial the Belgrade regime
is not asserting any kind of independence. The US Government
does not care two hoots whether Milosevic goes to prison
in The Hague or in Belgrade. What is important is that the
man who defied the will of NATO be publicly humiliated,
that the Serbs enact a script prepared in Washington. By
convicting Milosevic of "war crimes" and corruption
the Serbs would thereby be acknowledging their own guilt
in asserting their "nationalism." They would be
acknowledging their crimes just as NATO had asserted all
along. And they would be acknowledging the justice of NATO’s
cause. The "good" NATO was up against the "evil"
Milosevic. The trial and imprisonment of Milosevic would
serve as lesson to anyone else who would seek to defy the
will of the West.
Russian official Pavel Borodin sits in prison in New York.
He is state secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union. He is
wanted for questioning in Switzerland about an alleged crime
committed in Moscow. The crime kickback payments
by Swiss companies to win a contract to refurbish the Kremlin
is hardly the most serious. The Russian authorities
say there is no evidence of crime. The Swiss claim they
know better. And the US Government will have us believe
that it is simply following international law in holding
Borodin without bail pending a Swiss request for extradition.
Borodin is being denied bail even though the Russian Ambassador,
Yuri V. Ushakov, had assured the court that Borodin would
be prepared to wear an electronic monitor on his ankle and
even to pay for a federal agent to watch him around the
clock. Ushakov promised that, if released, Borodin would
make all his court dates. Yet the US Government treats the
Russian Ambassador as if he were representative of some
Godforsaken banana republic. Once again, the United States
is using a spurious judicial procedure to intimidate other
countries. Anyone can be arrested anywhere at any time and
held indefinitely, on the basis of warrants that are kept
of Godforsaken banana republics, the del Ponte Tribunal
is not the only international court meting out "justice"
as defined by the United States. There is also something
called the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Its
Chief Prosecutor is also Carla del Ponte. It too operates
on the basis of secret indictments and international kidnappings.
Where the Hague Tribunal mainly targets the Serbs, the Rwanda
Tribunal goes after the Hutus, deemed to be the villains
of the Rwanda civil war. The United States threw its weight
behind the Tutsis in Rwanda, and particularly their leader
Paul Kagame, and decided that only Hutus committed war crimes.
The Tutsis, like the Moslems of Bosnia, were victims. Again
the UN Security Council established the Rwanda Tribunal,
with the UN General Assembly having no say in the matter.
A UN tribunal is especially odd in this case, since it is
claiming jurisdiction over a civil war. The Tribunal concerns
itself exclusively with crimes committed in 1994. It resolutely
ignores pre-1994 Tutsi crimes against Hutus as well as the
Tutsi massacres of Hutus in Eastern Congo since 1994.
the new rulers of the Philippines, having overthrown a popularly-elected
President last month amidst much congratulation from the
Bush Administration and the IMF, are promising to put on
trial former leader Joseph Estrada ("a drunken, womanizing,
film star who was kicked out of high school for brawling,"
in the horrified words of The Economist.) There was
a constitutional way to remove Estrada by impeachment.
It failed. However, rather than wait for an election, the
military, aligned with the mob and the business elites,
seized power. Estrada was popular among the poor and had
challenged the dominance of the elites that have run the
Philippines into the ground. He is likely to be charged
with plundering the economy a crime potentially punishable
by death. Corruption charges are extremely nebulous. They
are always trotted out, since people believe them so readily.
Stories of billions salted away in secret Swiss bank accounts
are as much a staple of the media as tales of evil dictators
torturing little children for the fun of it.
article in The Times, Simon Jenkins wrote: "I
cheered when I heard that a Chilean judge had ordered the
arrest of General Pinochet. I cheered not because I regard
the general as a villain (although I do). I cheered because
the judge was Chilean, the court Chilean and the crimes
Chilean. A nation is never so mature as when it holds its
own past to account." Now, Jenkins is a sensible fellow,
but in his desperate attempts not to wander off too far
from mainstream opinion, he concedes almost everything to
his opponents. He knows perfectly well that the Chileans
would never have dreamt of putting Pinochet on trial had
they not been put pressured to do so by the "international
government." Jenkins would never dream of applying
the same standards to British or American leaders. After
all, he is not calling for the arrest of Clinton or Blair
on war crimes charges. Would he be in favor of Margaret
Thatcher standing trial for the sinking of the Argentine
ship, the Belgrano, during the Falklands war in 1982 in
which 700 sailors died? Would he favor putting former Prime
Minister Edward Heath like Pinochet 85 years old
on trial for the death of 13 demonstrators in Northern
Ireland in January 1972? Would he favor putting Henry Kissinger
on trial for the deaths of civilians in Vietnam? Would he
favor putting Janet Reno on trial for the murders at Waco?
Of course not. Jenkins accepts the same double standards
of our imperial masters. Trials are for lesser species,
the means by which obstreperous nations make themselves
acceptable to the rulers of the New World Order.
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