Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What are the odds?

At last, the truth will emerge. With Radovan Karadzic's capture and imminent trial, by a US-sponsored junket known as the ICTY, we will get to know the full facts about mass rape and genocide. Or will we? Forget for a moment the effrontery of a 'court' that effectively acts on behalf of the occupiers of Iraq dispensing wisdom on war crimes. And let's leave aside the fact that - whether or not Karadzic is guilty, as I think he is, of war crimes - trials of this nature are farcical and tend not to disclose much in the way of official responsibility. The more obvious point is that the verdict was reached, so far as official liberal opinion was concerned, some time ago. And that verdict has it that the Bosnian war was purely the result of a Serb nationalist pact of aggression against the remaining components of Yugoslavia, and that Radovan Karadzic, as a 'mastermind' of the war, strove to exterminate Bosnian Muslims and Croats.

Vulliamy's article puts it like this:

After 13 years on the run, Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, is on his way to The Hague to face charges of genocide and masterminding the bloodiest carnage to blight Europe since the Third Reich. ... And that man looking like Santa Claus was him, Karadzic! The man who arranged the mass murder of 100,000 people and the enforced deportation of two million? All those incinerated homes, the mass rape camps, the mass deportations at gunpoint.

This, to be frank, crazed nonsense is unlikely to be met with as much derision as it deserves to be, if any at all. Let me enumerate the falsehoods: Karadzic is certainly likely to be charged with genocide, now that the ICTY has ruled that Srebrenica was a genocide and Karadzic is believed to have ordered that attack, but he is not going to be charged with 'masterminding' the war; Karadzic may be accused of 'arranging' the mass murder of 8,000 Muslim males, but I know of no serious source that holds him responsible for 'arranging' the mass killing of 100,000 people, which is on current estimates close to the total number who died in the war on all sides, civilian and military; at the end of the war, a total of 2.2 million Bosnians of all kinds were displaced, one million of those internally, but it is absolutely not the case that Karadzic 'arranged' the 'enforced deportation' of two million people. These are just matters of fact about which Vulliamy is either deceived, or dissembling. How is it even possible to have a sensible discussion about this if the facts are so obscured by propaganda that - and I bet you this is true - hardly any Guardian reader will notice that the prize-winning senior foreign correspondent Ed Vulliamy is just ranting out of his blowhole? How is it possible that anything that did emerge from a trial would be weighed, if not dispassionately, then at least with an attempt at honesty?

I raise all this not because Karadzic is entitled to any defense from me (I am sure he is more than adequately protected by his amulets). So much is obvious. And I don't raise it because even my reasonably well-grounded suspicions about his culpability are not enough to persuade me that the facts should be settled by a lawless court which refuses to investigate the crimes of its sponsors. I raise it because, well, here we are in the middle of an epic and ongoing war crime with death rates, torture chambers, and mass rapes that are certainly much worse in their totality than anything that happened in Bosnia. All of this is the direct responsibility of the American state, which unarguably launched a war of aggression without any provocation whatsoever. And, somehow, the volume is decidedly muffled. While there are great independent journalists exposing much that is going on, the field is not exactly crowded. The liberal journalists and opinionators who were so vocal in advocating for Izetbegovic, so eager to bear witness, are hardly visible. And where they have not just enthusiastically backed the enterprise, they are at the very least circumspect on the matter of the evident criminality of the war's planners and prosecutors. Even those who are not backers of the war in Iraq constantly apologise for the United States government (usually referred to by the abstraction, 'America'), constantly seek consolation amid its crimes, and assert repeatedly that it still does some good in the world. Well, forgive me, but if that's the trend, shouldn't you be ashamed to talk about Bosnian war criminals? If you find yourself struck by a curious aphasia on the matter of trying to prosecute not only American officials but British ones too, what right have you got to exult about the capture of one lowly thug by the agents of the world's biggest thugs? If you can't match with honest reporting the level of hysteria and propaganda that you generated over Bosnia and then Kosovo, is there no point at which abashment sets in? I ask merely for information.