Saturday, March 11, 2006

Milosevic - death without justice

The death of Milosevic marks the end of an era - a step away from the Balkan war, and a step towards the history books. Time has lapsed, and the immediacy of that war is diminished by the death of its main architect.

Normally the death of someone such as Milosevic is a time of muted celebration, but here, however, I can't help but feel a little bit gipped. Although his trial dragged on for years, there was always the promise of justice - an opportunity for Serbia and the world to come to terms with what happened. That promise has been taken away, and with Karadzic and Mladic having evaded the international legal apparatus thus far, and Stojiljkovic having committed suicide some years back, the head honchos responsible for the atrocities committed during the war have all managed to avoid being held accountable for their actions in any real punitive sense.

Therefore, I am sorry that Milosevic died. I am sorry that he never had the opportunity to be found guilty. I am sorry that the residents of the former Yugoslavia will not have a chance to use his conviction to formally close that ragged chapter of their history. I am sorry that once again, the truly guilty escaped justice. Milosevic deserved far worse than to die in his sleep, not just for what he did to the Bosnians, Albanians and Croatians, but also for what he did to the Serbs, who emerged from the war stigmatized, war-weary, and impoverished regardless of their culpability.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuck victor's justice. Some of the Albanian heroin-dealing terrorists we saved from the Serbs are now in Gitmo. This is a testament to the European inablity to do anything promptly more than any statement about justice.

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given the example America has set, not only in its own total disregard for international law but also in the dishonest way it carries out its role as boss state, what remotely compelling motivation exists for anyone to play along with the legal charade?
(And once they have nukes, cowardly, overextended America won't pretend to touch them!)

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok...several points here.
a) from the people I talked to involved in this (or who were previously involved in it) most thought he'd be aquitted on most major charges - as the evidence chain was not sufficnt to support conviction even by the ICTY/ICTR standards. So querry whether you're upset he died.

b) As for America--I'll paraphrase Louis Henken here - America obeys most international law, most of the time. We can go on and on about US not signing conventions - but at least the ones they sign they either a) observe, or b) give a legitimate (though, perhaps incorrect) interpertation of why they are violating. Thats more then can be said for most countires - Sauidi Arabia is a signatory to the Convention to end Discrimination against women.

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

America obeys most international law, most of the time.

Why is this even a sentence? Don't child molesters obey almost all laws almost all of the time? How many criminals don't obey all the laws except the ones they break?
Slobo's crimes came directly out of deliberate American policies, like the acceleration of violence as the anti-civilian bombing campaign ramped up. We could've influenced him to act differently and we chose to fuck him as our latest whipping boy.

The world is a prison now.
If you obey the law, you are taking your pants off and applying lube.
If you disobey the law and promise grisly and especially nyukyuler suffering to anyone who screws with you, you won't get screwed with.
It's just like what they tell you if you have to go into a prison. We are all Nixonian madmen now. Strauss would be horrified.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone seen this?

"The man dubbed the Butcher of the Balkans [was] responsible for the deaths of at least 250,000 people," says Britain's Sun tabloid in memorium. That's a lot of death. Coincidently last week, the Lancet Medical Journal now estimates that the US invasion and three-year occupation of Iraq has killed more than 250,000 Iraqi civilians. That's a full one percent of the country's pre-war population: the equivalent of three million Americans, to convert the blood to a currency the West better appreciates.

But then the United States doesn't recognize the Hague, except for others. And it doesn't do body counts, unless the bodies can be laid at the feet of its enemies. At whose feet will Milosovic lie? Those of another butcher, still plying his trade.

6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason its a sentance is becuase international law is not analogous to domestic law. A first year law student learns that. Dometsic law is not voluntarist, intenrational law is - which means a country can choose, in most cases, not to take on an international obligation. So it is not a violation of int'l law for the US to refuse to sign the ICC. That, however, is differnt then taking on an obligation and then ignoring it. See Arabia, Saudi.

Moreover, the concept of sovreign equality is a FICTION. International Law has always given great power a special place - thats why we have the P5. As such, yeah, the US can act in a way that is different then Serbia, and not violate Intenrational law. Even the most liberal of legal scholars, see Phillip Alston, would conceede the point.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone seen this other thing? Alexander Cockburn cites various sources to the effect that Milosevic was winning.

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dometsic law is not voluntarist, international law is - which means a country can choose, in most cases, not to take on an international obligation.

Until the conquering victor forces them to account for their sins, which they would not have been punished for had they not lost. In other words it's not law at all, and it's certainly positively anti-moral.

(Don't feel bad about law school teaching you to apologize for the State in all its incredible stupidity: you could be in medical school, bending over backwards to justify pharmaceutical strangulation of Africa, or denying care to poor people in America because of "realism." Hell, art students don't usually have much to say about Beinfang or Praeger...)

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any emotions you feel reading this are ignorant and should be constrained in defense of International Law As It Now Stands, which is of course How It Generally Should Be. Here are more ignorant conflations of State and individual:

Even though the former Yugoslav head of state has always pleaded his innocence, producing scores of witnesses to prove it, the trial is still not due to end until 2010. With the budget of The Hague tribunal running at nearly $300 million a year, this is doubtless a comfortable sinecure for the lawyers involved, most of whom had pretty unsuccessful careers at home. But such a long trial is by definition a travesty of justice: the Nuremberg trials lasted just over ten months, from 20 November 1945 to 30 September 1946.

...The trial has heard more than 100 prosecution witnesses, and not a single one has testified that Milosevic ordered war crimes. On the contrary: only last Tuesday, a Muslim captain in the Yugoslav army testified that no one in his unit had ever committed systematic harassment of Albanian civilians in Kosovo, and that he had never heard of any other unit doing so either. On 9 November the former head of security in the Yugoslav army, General Geza Farkas, an ethnic Hungarian, testified that all Yugoslav soldiers in Kosovo were handed a document explaining international humanitarian law, and that they were ordered to disobey any orders which violated it. What a contrast with US army practice!

Instead, what has emerged from the trial to the general indifference of the world's media is that the Serbs were subject to horrendous provocations. ...

In any proper court of law, the Milosevic trial would have collapsed long ago; for instance, when the previous presiding judge, Sir Richard May, unexpectedly died in July 2004. Since there are only three judges, this is equivalent to the sudden disappearance of four jurors, which would cause a criminal trial in this country to be abandoned or restarted. So determined, however, are the judges to obtain a conviction of their prize defendant that they have even ruled that he can be tried in absentia if he is too ill to defend himself in court. The judges themselves admitted that their ruling had no precedent in law, but legality has never bothered them much: ever complicit with the prosecutor, they allowed the addition of new indictments after Milosevic's transferral to The Hague in 2001, even though this violates the key tenet of extradition law that a defendant may not be tried for charges other than those for which he was originally extradited.

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you guys are all crazy. law is the beautiful music the powerful like to listen to while they rape you. there is no legal question a human can ask but "how must i pervert this perverted lying machine to ensure the survival of humanity?"

4:39 PM  
Blogger Nixie said...

To say that Milosevic did not order the commission of war crimes is akin to denying the Holocaust, albeit on a smaller scale. (And yes - I've Godwined this flamewar)

While I believe that the Serbs have been scapegoated, there is no question about the devastation resulting from their offensive actions.

Regarding international law - don't dismiss it entirely. The US has shown regard towards international law in its adherence to WTO decisions. I do admit - realpolitik is to some extent very alive and well - power makes right.

Nevertheless, think about what the world would be like today without the international legal instruments established after WWII. Maybe international criminal law hasn't developed so far - but think about all of the Conventions to which the US does abide - particularly with regards to civil procedure and jurisdiction.

While the US may ignore international law all too frequently, also remember the Alien Tort Claims Act as a domestic vehicle for dealing with international legal issues.

Some of you have a negative view of international law not justified by the realities on the ground. Maybe a small dose of information might help, as would an understanding of the obstacles facing the implementation of international law across the globe.

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The US has shown regard towards international law in its adherence to WTO decisions.

ie, when profitable.
we are not impressed.
this is an immoral structure for facilitating state evil which should be replaced with something closer to a moral, consistant, enforceable legal code.
of course with the advent of john bolton we will look back on this as a golden age...

9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you for real? "When its profitable" - we LOOSE in the WTO ALL THE TIME. And recent research shows that we loose not only to power players (EU, Japan) but to small and developing countries (like Equiador, Chile, and India).

What you are asking for is utopia. And it will never happen. International law is both a duck and a rabit - i.e. - it is always part law and part politics - as such the ethical normative structure you suggest wont happen - no one wants it, and there is no one who is willing to enforce it.

Finally - John Bolton. Europeans aren't better. Every country ignores internatioanl law when it is strong - and the Europeans do it all the time. Look at their compliance with WTO. Or France's compliance with the NPT. Come on - yeah, US ignores international law, so do other countures. We're back to wehre i started from: "Most countries observe most international law, most of the time" (Henkin, How Nations Behave). The trick is to make internatioan law more likely to be complied with, not to make it utopian and ignored.

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The trick is to make internatioan law more likely to be complied with

this is hardly an answer
but without a truncheon that means making it less of or really totally unlike a law
there has to be a point at which people do things when don't want to
the real concern here is on massacres by the powerful
and those same powerful parties are what passes for a truncheon in the present system

legally, technically, in terms of how the system works now, obviously everything you're saying is correct

but morally the thing to hope for and work toward is the destruction of the united states of america as hegemond

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the multipolar world of the Cold War was hardly more effective. If anything bigger massacres were allowed to happen in the name of fighting the commies, or fighting the capitalists. The reality is, it is only once the US became a hegemon that punishing anyone who committed genocide even became possible. You think the ICTY/ICTR ever get set up during the Cold War? or even the ICC, which is not supported by the US, would NEVER have been possbile without the US being that hegemon. Ask the people at the ILC who drafted the statute in the first place (or, read their reports in AJIL).

The reality is - there is no world government, becuase there is no world sovreignty. We can talk about the creation of world government all we want, there is no opportunity to enforce it (ftr: normatively I think its a bad idea, becuase it is inevitable that any such government will be culturaly imperialistic, and deomcratically infirm). People have been arguing about this for at least 150 year now (surely Kelssen and Leuterpauch in the 1930s who debated with Schmidt/Morgantheau). But the cold fact of relaity is that whenever international law (and international lawyers) forget that they are part of the state structure, and embrace a moralistic and utopian agenda they are ignored and overuled by state practice. You wanna change this - good luck. You either have to brainwash 51% + of the population of the world, or conquer it.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reality is, it is only once the US became a hegemon that punishing anyone who committed genocide even became possible.

Yes, like we punished the Sudanese and the Rwandan radio broadcasters. Look, I have no technical knowledge to draw upon, and I'm not interesting in divining any: but neither do you have a moral basis. International law is not just imperfect, it is corrupted, and it is the people who talk about punishing genocide who are idealists. Punishing genocide? When on Earth did that happen? It happened in such a way to satisfy lawyers. The law is the beast that gave Henry Ford millions in compensation when his Nazi tank factory was maliciously bombed by the Army Air corps.

or even the ICC, which is not supported by the US, would NEVER have been possbile without the US being that hegemon.

I am far more concerned with the fact that the ICC and those prosecutions that are permitted are totally meaningless. If the court were valid Americans and out pet monsters would be on trial there. The only people tried there are not only our enemies but those of our enemies we are interested in demonizing.
This is not a legal function but a propagandistic one.

But the cold fact of reality is that whenever international law (and international lawyers) forget that they are part of the state structure, and embrace a moralistic and utopian agenda they are ignored and overuled by state practice.

Yes, and as illustrated by the Milosevic trial, in which the disgusting and bloodthirsty delusion of American morality is upheld. I see no difference between serving the state out of delusion or out of racist murderous cynicism; but if I had to write a paper on it I could illustrate and flesh out both perspectives to the required word limit.

And I would remind you (as you already know) that your non-argument about reality is laughable to a Socialist who, in ancient world would be killed for opposing the incoming patriarchal re-ordering for property rights and assured that the old Garden is unimaginable; in the middle ages killed for peasant revolt and assured that just as the poor shall always be with us, so shall be the nobility; at the pre-dawn of the industrial age killed or imprisoned for Luddism, assured of the delusion of opposing progress (and demonized as against all technology); within the industrial revolution killed for rioting against the natural order of things (and demonized as against all order); and in the twentieth century assured that, yes, well, some socialism might be possible after all in some places but certainly never ever here AND IT IS IRRATIONAL TO DOUBT THAT GOVERNMENT IS EEEEVIL, EEEEEEVIL. So we've got no justice no, nor probably in this generation: so what? Should justice die, so that the victory of injustice can be more complete?
Or in short, tell the perpetuity of the way things shall always be to the cannon-bearers at Dien Bien Phu.

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Confused UN yammers about how denial of impunity to international law vital to peace.

10:05 AM  

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