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U.N. official tells truth behind Bosnian Serb leader’s arrest

Published Aug 11, 2008 7:17 PM

At the end of July the Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic was taken from Belgrade and placed in the Scheveningen detention center near The Hague, Netherlands, where the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia charged him with war crimes, including “genocide,” during the 1991-1995 civil war in Bosnia.

Those who only learn their news from the corporate media might not realize that the ICTY was created not by the United Nations but by NATO; that it is not an impartial court but has been directed almost exclusively against Serbs; and that it was incapable of convicting its most famous defendant, President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia, who died in custody under suspicious circumstances after demolishing the prosecution’s case. They would also not learn that German and U.S. interference in Yugoslavia, with the intention of destroying the remaining socialist-leaning state in Eastern Europe, had provoked and prolonged the civil war in Bosnia, leading to thousands of additional deaths. For a different view of that history, see: www.workers.org/2006/world/milosevic/.

Any international court that failed to put the U.S. and German leaders on trial—those who ordered and carried out not only the 1999 war against Yugoslavia, but 10 years of aggression that finally dismantled that multinational country—cannot be taken seriously as an unbiased court. It is an imperialist political tool.

Below we publish excerpts from the telling remarks of U.S. citizen Phillip Corwin, taken from an interview by Cathrin Schütz in the German

daily newspaper Junge Welt on July 31. (jungewelt.de) In the spring and summer of 1995 Corwin was the “Civil Affairs Coordinator and Delegate of the Special Representative for the UN Secretary General for Bosnia and Herzegovin,” and has written a book about his experience.

Cathrin Schütz: Richard Holbrooke, Paddy Ashdown and many other Western officials once involved with the Yugoslav crisis unanimously call the arrest of Radovan Karadzic the capture of one of the most brutal war criminals in contemporary history. What was your reaction to his capture and statements like Holbrooke’s: “Karadzic would have been a good Nazi”?

Phillip Corwin: Holbrooke and Ashdown used the wars in former Yugoslavia to advance their own careers. Phrases like “one of the most brutal” and “good Nazi” are purely emotional, and only remind us of the terrible biases those men held, and the crippling damage they did as so-called diplomats. Even now, they contribute to the Serbophobia that makes a fair trail in The Hague almost impossible.

In any criminal proceeding, the question of intent is paramount. From my contacts with Bosnian Serb officials, including Dr. Karadzic, I was convinced that the general intent of the Bosnian Serb leadership was to protect Serbs, not to kill Muslims or Croats or any other ethnic group.

CS: The main allegation is his alleged responsibility for genocide of Bosnian Muslims in the town of Srebrenica in July 1995. At the time Srebrenica fell to the Bosnian Serb army, you were the highest ranking United Nations civilian official in Bosnia-Herzegovina. What had happened?

PC: First, one has to realize that the tragedy of Srebrenica was part of a larger tragedy. ... What happened in Srebrenica was not a single large massacre of Muslims by Serbs, but rather a series of very bloody attacks and counterattacks over a three-year period, which reached a crescendo

in 1995.

And the number of Muslim dead in the last battle of Srebrenica, as BBC reporter Jonathan Rooper has pointed out, was most likely in the hundreds, not in the thousands. Moreover, it is likely that the number of Muslim dead was probably no more than the number of Serbs who had been killed in Srebrenica and its environs during the preceding years by Bosnian Commander Naser Oric and his predatory gangs.

The exaggeration of the number of missing Bosnian Muslims shows that the official reporting was political.

In May 1995, two months before the final battle at Srebrenica, 90 percent of the Serbs living in Western Slavonia were ethnically cleansed by the Croatian army in “Operation Flash.” A month after Srebrenica, 200,000 Serbs were ethnically cleansed from their ancestral homes in the Krajina area of Croatia. The international community did nothing in either case.

Srebrenica must be placed in perspective. If, indeed, 700 innocent Muslims were massacred during the battle of Srebrenica in July 1995, then that was a war crime and the criminals should be prosecuted. But the difference between 700 and 8,000 is political not numerical.

CS: One media article stated that “The [Yugoslavia] Tribunal was the child, in part, of Western governments’ guilt over doing so little to stop the war in the former Yugoslavia and its related atrocities.” Is that what you observed?

PC: I think the main reason for the destruction of Yugoslavia was the ambition of NATO to move eastward. Although the Cold War had ended, the Cold Warriors were still in power. Washington still felt Russia was its biggest threat because it had so many nuclear weapons, and Washington wanted to move up to the borders of the former Soviet Union. ICTY was an attempt to provide a legal framework for NATO’s eastward expansion.

ICTY was not formed out of guilt. Imperialism never suffers from guilt. ICTY was formed to continue the pressure on those in Eastern Europe who opposed NATO expansion.

CS: Will Karadzic get a fair trial?

PC: I don’t believe Dr. Karadzic can get a fair trial in The Hague.

CS: Although most of the commentators/journalists know little or nothing about Bosnia and the Bosnian war, they all “know” that Karadzic is a war criminal. How come?

PC: After the Vietnam War, the Pentagon knew it had to learn to control the press. It has been very successful in doing that. During the Yugoslav wars, the press bought the idea that NATO was fulfilling its moral duty by opposing “Serbian racism.”

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