by Louis Proyect
(Swans - March 27, 2006) In the days following the death of Slobodan Milosevic, every newspaper made sure to find him guilty of charges that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) could not prove in court. Typical is the pontificating Washington Post editorial of March 14, 2006:
The life of Slobodan Milosevic offers another lesson in how one individual can shape the course of history. Yugoslavia, the country whose disintegration he inspired, emerged from communist rule at the end of the 1990s resembling many nations (Iraq comes to mind) in the throes of transition: Ethnic and sectarian rivalry was real in a cobbled-together state, but few people expected, much less wanted, a civil war. Mr. Milosevic, a Communist Party apparatchik in Serbia, deliberately and methodically nursed this latent tension from a flicker to a conflagration and used it to consolidate a criminal regime in Belgrade.
The demonization of Milosevic has a long and sordid history. A LexisNexis full-text search for "Milosevic" and "Hitler" aborted since the resulting 1000+ articles exceeded the system limit. A more restrictive search within the headline and lead paragraph returns 307, with this item from the May 15, 1991 Independent being typical:
As the crow flies, she was only four miles from Kosovo. As the B-52 bomber speeds, she was only a few minutes from the village of Korisa, where Nato warplanes were accused of killing about a hundred civilians a few hours earlier.
But Hillary Clinton did not talk of the latest dead or wounded when she toured this camp in northern Macedonia yesterday. Perhaps she had not yet been informed. Instead, she referred to past atrocities, notably those carried out by Adolf Hitler and Slobodan Milosevic, comparing the Yugoslav leader's "ethnic cleansing" to the Holocaust.
Mrs. Clinton was not to be outdone by her husband who accused Milosevic of systematically promulgating doctrines of racial supremacy in a 1999 Memorial Day speech: "In Kosovo we see some parallels to World War II, for the government of Serbia, like that of Nazi Germany, rose to power in part by getting people to look down on people of a given race and ethnicity and believe they had no place in their country and even no right to live." (1)
But when one goes to the trouble to track down Milosevic's speeches, the words sound more like the sort of thing heard in a multicultural training workshop at a liberal arts college than anything heard from Der Furher:
Equal and harmonious relations among Yugoslav peoples are a necessary condition for the existence of Yugoslavia and for it to find its way out of the crisis and, in particular, they are a necessary condition for its economic and social prosperity. In this respect Yugoslavia does not stand out from the social milieu of the contemporary, particularly the developed, world. This world is more and more marked by national tolerance, national cooperation, and even national equality. The modern economic and technological, as well as political and cultural development, has guided various peoples toward each other, has made them interdependent and increasingly has made them equal as well. Equal and united people can above all become a part of the civilization toward which mankind is moving. If we cannot be at the head of the column leading to such a civilization, there is certainly no need for us to be at its tail. (2)
Now, of course, these words can simply be rhetoric intended to pull the wool over the world's eyes, but they don't bear out Clinton's claim that Milosevic openly employed racial supremacist doctrines. Perhaps the wily Milosevic had trained the Serbs to go on killing sprees whenever they heard words in favor of tolerance, just as the Red Chinese had trained Frank Sinatra to kill their enemies whenever he saw the Queen of Diamonds card in The Manchurian Candidate.
The occasion of the speech was the 600th anniversary of the defeat of the Serbs by the Ottoman Turks, an opportunity that Milosevic took to reassure Serbs in Kosovo that they would no longer be victimized. For the Cruise Missile Left, this speech would eventually take on the dimensions of a Hitler speech to a Nuremberg Rally. Needless to say, the actual words never appeared in these attacks. Before the lynch mob against Milosevic had been fully assembled, the liberal press was quite capable of describing him accurately.
The Independent, a liberal British newspaper that would eventually lead the wolf pack against Milosevic, described the 1990 election, on December 11th of that year, as one pitting him and "his communist allies" against Vuk Draskovic, a "right-wing nationalist." As the 1990s dragged on, with the Western press moving toward the propaganda consensus that Milosevic was Satan, there would be a growing tendency to describe him as the counterpart of Croatia's Franjo Tudjman, despite Milosevic's ongoing clashes with Draskovic, Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj and other such ultra-nationalists. But once the capitalist press decided to stick the nationalist label on him, nothing could remove it. If Milosevic was determined to defend Serb interests in a context of anti-Serb racism, then that was proof enough that he was embarking on a new Holocaust.
When Milosevic assumed power, he embarked on a tentative series of economic reforms of the kind that were sweeping Eastern Europe. Those who are anxious to represent Milosevic as being identical to the Croatian and Slovenian rightist rulers exploit these measures as proof that there was nothing "socialist" about Milosevic's party except the name. Since Titoist Yugoslavia (a political tradition that Milosevic was determined to uphold despite the "End of History" type message being propagated in the West) was characterized by a high degree of marketization, it might at first seem difficult to figure out exactly where Milosevic stood. Since Milosevic was more of a pragmatist than a Marxist, who veered left and right in the course of sustaining a social base in Serbia, there was little in the way of "The Thoughts of Slobodan Milosevic" to identify him ideologically.
But the local anti-Communists had no such problems. On March 14, 1991, New York Times reporter Stephen Engelberg described enormous crowds of anti-Communist protesters out in the streets calling for his resignation. As was obvious to anybody who listened to their chants or read their leaflets, we were dealing with "the same sort of popular upheaval that toppled most of Eastern Europe's Communist governments in 1989."
By this point, The Independent had joined the crusade against Milosevic. Despite its liberal reputation, earned mostly through the inclusion of reporter Robert Fisk on their staff, the paper made sure in a March 25, 1991 article that its readers understood that the Serb Communist brontosaurus stood in the way of genuine freedom and progress:
The irrational and autocratic Serbian leader is effectively preventing Yugoslavia's federal government from implementing the economic reforms which could rapidly turn it into a thriving country. Although in the past he has shown an interest, at least verbally, in Western-style reforms, Mr Milosevic is now clinging firmly to the old Marxist state system which gives him immense power and support from many people, like pensioners, who would suffer from change. The impact of privatisation and a free market, says Professor Veselinov, "would overthrow Milosevic and socialist ideas."
There were also frequent reports that his wife Mirjana was a kind of communist Rasputin directing Milosevic from behind the curtains, making sure that he was not seduced by the siren song of neoliberalism. The Washington Post reported on January 21, 1996:
Mirjana Markovic's unwavering belief in communism -- she has taken much-publicized trips to Beijing and Moscow in the past year -- is seen as a threat by some economists who have studied Serbia's plight over the past five years.
She and her colleagues have kept up a steady drumbeat in the media, warning that privatization, a cornerstone of transition to a market economy, has meant trouble in former communist nations. To the 80 percent of the Serb population who rely on state-controlled television for their news, the economic successes since 1989 of the Czech Republic or Poland simply do not exist.
Hatred toward Mrs. Milosevic took on a kind of frenzy -- reminiscent of that directed against Eva Peron in the 1950s -- in which she was described frequently as a "red witch." Like Juan Peron, Milosevic was an imperfect ruler. He understood the need for state control over the commanding heights of the economy, but lacked the political will to transform his society into a bulwark of revolutionary socialism. In an almost universal law of history, half-measures and vacillation lead to defeat. This is dictated mostly by the deadly resolve of the capitalist class to bring all of humanity under its iron heel. If Milosevic had any real sin, it was not being ruthless enough.
Mrs. Milosevic's mother was a Communist partisan killed presumably by the Nazis in 1943, a year after giving birth to her daughter. (It is unclear whether she was killed by the Nazis or by partisans who charged her with collaboration. Since she had been captured and tortured by the Nazis, it is not out of the question that she did provide some information.) Markovic would begin to call herself "Mira" after her mother's wartime guerrilla name. Devotion to her mother's memory led her to join the Communist Party when she was 16. She became a Marxist academic, gaining a Ph.D. in Marxist sociology. All in all, whatever her flaws, she seems far more appealing than her "leftist" detractors like Paul Berman, Christopher Hitchens, and Marko Attila Hoare.
To an extent, the hatred directed toward the Milosevics simply reflected a variety of anti-Slav racism in the West. The Serbs became the ultimate "Other" who always came out as losers when compared to Croats, Slovenes, or Muslims. The Daily Telegraph of June 29, 1991 provides a graphic example:
There are fewer than two million Slovenes... Unused to combat, their national heroes are poets who have kept the language alive. The republic attracts tourists for skiing and lakeside mountain holidays and is known for its wines... Shaped by centuries in the Austro-Hungarian empire, they are Roman Catholics and use the Latin script. By contrast the Serbs, landlocked and eastward looking, still cling to neo-Communist centralism. Their religion is Orthodox Christianity, they use the Russian alphabet and suffer the influence of centuries of domination by the Ottoman Turks.
Who wouldn't prefer people "unused to combat" with an affinity for skiing to the glowering, Stalinist Serbs? Unlike the Bosnian Muslims, the Slovenes, and the Croats, the Serbs never mastered the art of cultivating Western opinion makers. This, no doubt, arose from an underlying conviction that the effort was hardly worth it in light of the anti-Communist prejudices prevailing in the West. This not only described the mass media, but popular culture as well.
A British film like the 1997 Welcome to Sarajevo was an awful propaganda piece that depicted the Serbs as killing machines and the Muslims as pure as the driven snow. Based on a book by British foreign correspondent Michael Nicholson about trying to evacuate Bosnian Muslim babies from a Serb siege, the film unsurprisingly depicts the hard-drinking and cynical Western journalists (the script abounds in clichés) as good guys. So wrapped up was Nicholson in demonizing the Serbs that by his own admission other journalists had decided that "he's lost his credibility now," according to the December 21, 1997 Denver Post. In other words, just the sort of "witness" that would prove crucial to increasing war fever in the Balkans.
Outlets of high culture were just as bad. The prestigious New York Review of Books had no fewer than 127 articles that dealt with Milosevic in one fashion or another. With Michael Ignatieff, Warren Zimmerman, and arch-Serbophobe Tim Judah weighing in regularly, it is no surprise that many academics would give assent to the idea that Milosevic was the new Adolf Hitler. After NATO's victory in Yugoslavia, Judah has taken up new pursuits -- writing dispatches from Afghanistan trying to make the case that the Northern Alliance was not that bad, and from Iraq assuring his upscale readers that the American soldiers would be welcomed with rosewater.
According to the Official Version of the war in Bosnia, Milosevic was largely responsible for all the bloodshed by promoting expansionist tendencies by Serb militias. There are, of course, reputable scholars and historians like Misha Glenny (utterly hostile to Milosevic) who felt that "The decision by the European Community to recognize Slovenia and Croatia pushed Bosnia into the abyss."
Despite Diana Johnstone's reputation in certain circles as the basest kind of pro-Serb apologist, she leaves no doubt that there were no "good guys" in the war over Bosnia, which she described as a "brutal little civil war for control over contiguous territory in a mountainous province chock full of arms factories and men trained in guerrilla war, occasionally aided by outside mercenaries: thousands of Muslim mujahidin fighting for Allah, a smattering of Russian Slavophiles rushing to the aid of the Serbs, and various European neo-Nazis inspired by Tudjman." These men were "inevitably joined by local criminals and psychopaths taking advantage of the chaos to rape and pillage under control of one 'cause' or another." (3)
However, this even-handed treatment was not accepted by Western intellectuals who tended to project the Spanish Civil War and other "good fights" on a rather Hobbesian landscape. For them, it was a battle between Good and Evil, with the Bosnian Muslims standing for multiculturalism and democracy and the Serbs representing pure, almost metaphysical Evil -- at times taking on the dimensions not just of Nazis, but practically like invaders from another planet who were on a mission to destroy all earthlings.
With such a false dichotomy in place, Milosevic became the mastermind of a genocidal plot rather than simply one actor among many in a nasty civil war. Throughout the 1990s, self-described radicals like Mark Danner or State Department liberals like Michael Ignatieff were consumed with the need to vilify Milosevic as some kind of awful combination of Hitler and Stalin.
For the anti-Milosevic fraternity, Srebrenica became a kind of latter-day Guernica. Since much of the ICTY testimony was consumed with the need to prove that Milosevic was the mastermind, one can understand how frustrated they would become as proof of this remained elusive. An official Dutch report into the Srebrenica massacre would state that the Dutch Government and the United Nations bore as much responsibility as the Serb militias. UN soldiers from the Netherlands allowed Bosnian Serb warlord Ratko Mladic to overrun the city and kill thousands of Muslims in revenge for killings carried out in Serb villages by Muslim militias in an all-too familiar scenario. The report failed to link Milosevic to any of the killings: "No evidence had been found that suggests the involvement of the Serbian authorities in Belgrade." (4)
The war in Bosnia eventually exhausted itself, just as a brush fire eventually runs out of fuel. Even as the demonization campaign against Milosevic in the West continued, he was seen as necessary to bring the war to an end at the Dayton, Ohio Conference. Evidence of this can be found in the habitually anti-Milosevic Independent, which, on November 24, 1995, admitted that Milosevic pushed through the treaty over the opposition of Bosnian Serb hardliners. Radovan Karadzic, who along with General Mladic ran the Serb militias, was furious that the proposed peace plan would cede most of Serb-held portions of Sarajevo. It also required him to surrender elected office in Bosnia and face ICTY prosecution. No wonder Bosnian Serb nationalists and their co-thinkers in Belgrade would denounce Milosevic as a traitor.
Despite this report and dozens of others like it from that year, Dayton was not mentioned once in all the venomous articles following Milosevic's death. Instead there was the all-too-familiar amalgam made between Milosevic and characters like Karadjic and Mladic.
With the end of the war in Bosnia and until new war clouds gathered around Kosovo, there was some relaxation in the crusade against Milosevic and the Serbs. A LexisNexis search on "Milosevic" and "Hitler" reveals no articles written between 1996 and 1997 that compare the two.
However, between 1998 and 1999 the propaganda machine was turned on once again in order to prepare the world for a new intervention in Kosovo -- 180 articles likening Milosevic to Hitler can be found in this period. At least one media pundit showed signs that he was getting jaded with these comparisons. In an April 20, 1999 Toronto Star article titled "Nato Campaign To Hitlerize Milosevic Falls Flat," Tom Walkum declared his willingness to break ranks:
Most of us know little or nothing about the complicated politics of the Balkans. But we do know Nazis.
That's why, when NATO started its bombing on March 24 , U.S. President Bill Clinton immediately compared Milosevic to Hitler.
Clinton was taking a lesson from the playbook of his predecessor, George Bush, who used the Hitler analogy with great effect in his war against Iraq's Saddam Hussein.
Unfortunately for Clinton, not everyone bought the Milosevic-Hitler comparison right away. NATO hadn't done its preparatory propaganda spadework.
"You don't go out and start talking about Hitler, when it's really the first opportunity you've had to introduce him (Milosevic) to the American people," U.S. communications professor Leonard Steinhorn explained at the time.
"All of a sudden there's this lunatic out there who is like Hitler and we haven't heard about him before?"
All the while that the war in Bosnia had been raging, a new war was gestating in Kosovo. Armed rebels led by the KLA had carried out guerrilla attacks on police and had also victimized Serb citizens. From the very beginning, the same intelligentsia that had so willingly looked the other way at Muslim atrocities in Bosnia would find itself on the KLA bandwagon. The Guardian newspaper in particular was replete with encomiums to the ruthless fighters. When Milosevic warned that he would be forced to come to the aid of the beleaguered Serb citizenry, he was accused of preparing a genocide.
After the bodies of 45 Albanians turned up in Racak on January 17, 1999, the liberal press, the Clinton White House, and NATO came together in a perfect storm to smash the Serbs once and for all. It is worth mentioning that William Walker was head of the investigation team that would establish responsibility for the killings. To nobody's surprise, he found the Serbs guilty of war crimes against civilians. This William Walker was Reagan's US ambassador to El Salvador in November 1989 when six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter were plucked from their beds and murdered by the Salvadoran Army.
As journalist Mark Cook pointed out in Covert Action Quarterly,
Walker first emerged in the Iran-Contra Scandal as the right-hand man of Oliver North and Elliott Abrams in illegal arms shipments to the Contras out of Ilopango airbase in El Salvador. Before that, he was deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Honduras when U.S. authorities were recruiting officers from Somoza's deposed National Guard to establish the Contras, and forming military death squads that murdered hundreds of Honduran workers, labor organizers and students. (5)
In other words, he was just the right man to build a case against the dastardly Serbs.
Milosevic's fears -- as expressed in the 1989 speech -- were unfortunately grounded in reality. As soon as the Serb army was driven out of Kosovo and power fell into KLA hands, a series of pogroms were unleashed that were so acute that even Human Rights Watch (HRW), a key element of the Serbophobe brigade, was forced to take notice. (6)
HRW called attention to how Serb refugees from Kosovo expressed fears of being killed. One told an investigator, "We're in a panic. Our defense forces are leaving, and we'll be at the mercy of the KLA. I have two children; what can I do?" HRW called attention to a "rash of killings of Serbs" that proved such fears were not unfounded. Those who remained in Kosovo tended to be the oldest and most vulnerable members of the Serb community. HRW described how 14 Serb farmers were shot dead as they harvested hay in the village of Gracko, in central Kosovo. It would be difficult to imagine people like Susan Sontag circulating letters in the New York Review of Books demanding that the killers be brought to justice.
Even with the Serb army being driven out of Kosovo, the anti-Milosevic forces were still not assuaged. Until he was driven from office and until the Serb Republic was liberated into the hands of the IMF and NATO, they would not rest.
The new insurgent movement that would take shape in Serbia itself, like all anti-Milosevic movements in the past, would receive the automatic benediction of Western pundits. At first blush, Otpor (Resistance) seemed to be dreamed up by a public relations wizard. Consisting of freedom-loving students including a healthy dollop of anarchists, nobody could be more different from the stodgy Stalinist supporters of Milosevic. The other key freedom fighter was radio station B92 that promoted rebel rock music. A favorite was Dragan Ambrozic, who founded Serbia's most popular band. He was a sex, booze, and good times-loving hippie who could be counted on to sing at anti-government rallies.
Despite the radical cachet, Otpor and B92 were not that much different from all the counter-revolutionary groups that dotted up in Eastern Europe and the USSR in the late 1980s. Whatever the intention of its founders, these groups were basically instruments of imperialism. Roger Cohen, who wrote the New York Times ritual condemnation of Milosevic while his body was still warm, was quite candid about the connections between the "youth revolt" and Western intelligence.
At a June meeting in Berlin, Homen heard Albright say, "We want to see Milosevic out of power, out of Serbia and in The Hague," the site of the international war crimes tribunal. The Otpor leader would also meet with William D. Montgomery, the former American ambassador to Croatia, in the American Embassy in Budapest. (Washington had by then severed diplomatic relations with Belgrade.) "Milosevic was personal for Madeleine Albright, a very high priority," says Montgomery, who was yanked out of Croatia in June to head a group of officials monitoring Serbia. "She wanted him gone, and Otpor was ready to stand up to the regime with a vigor and in a way that others were not. Seldom has so much fire, energy, enthusiasm, money -- everything -- gone into anything as into Serbia in the months before Milosevic went."
Just how much money backed this objective is not clear. The United States Agency for International Development says that $25 million was appropriated just this year. Several hundred thousand dollars were given directly to Otpor for "demonstration-support material, like T-shirts and stickers," says Donald L. Pressley, the assistant administrator. Otpor leaders intimate they also received a lot of covert aid -- a subject on which there is no comment in Washington.
At the International Republican Institute, another nongovernmental Washington group financed partly by A.I.D., an official named Daniel Calingaert says he met Otpor leaders "7 to 10 times" in Hungary and Montenegro, beginning in October 1999. Some of the $1.8 million the institute spent in Serbia in the last year was "provided direct to Otpor," he says. By this fall, Otpor was no ramshackle students' group; it was a well-oiled movement backed by several million dollars from the United States. (7)
Despite the obvious signs that the West was interfering in the Serb political process, Milosevic decided to run once again for president in September 2000. His opponent was Vojislav Kostunica, who, according to the October 7, 2000 Reuters, received millions of German deutschemarks. In that same report, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Green Party warmonger was said to feel duty bound to provide financial support to Slobodan Milosevic's opponents as an "obligation based on history" to promote democracy. Der Spiegel reported that the USA coughed up around $30 million. Additionally, the USA promised to lift economic sanctions if Milosevic got the boot. A little over 10 years earlier, the same strategy proved effective in getting Daniel Ortega to leave office in Nicaragua. Ronald Reagan called it "Crying uncle" but much of the left failed to make the connections between the first instance of imperialist meddling and the second.
Even with all the cash pouring into Kostunica's coffers, there was still enough of a reservoir of Serb nationalist resentment of NATO and Western financial domination to necessitate a runoff between Milosevic and Kostunica. Naturally, the opposition accused Milosevic of election fraud and demanded nothing less than Kostunica in power.
Despite all their lip service to democracy, the imperialist-backed opposition showed an impressive willingness to use violence against anybody who stood in their way. The October 9, 2000 Guardian reported that cops and soldiers were key elements in the "democratic revolution."
The soldiers, who had been assigned to the elite 63rd parachute brigade, provided the shock troops in the storming of the parliament and the offices of state television RTS. This was corroborated by a participant, Zivan Markovic, who was a veteran of the 63rd brigade.
The paratroopers got their marching orders from Velimir Ilic, a long-time anti-Milosevic activist and mayor of Cacak, where the coup was organized. Ilic is just the sort of person you'd expect to see in the middle of such skullduggery. When he was accused of breaking windows at a Cacak radio station that he disapproved of, he responded, "We're not some small-time, two-bit Gypsies, here. Trust me, where we strike -- grass doesn't there grow no more." In August 2005, after feeling insulted by a question from a reporter from his erstwhile allies at B92, he accused her of being "mentally disturbed" and threatened to kill her and her editor. (8)
Even after Milosevic was ousted by a motley crew of paratroopers and Western-backed "youth rebels," his enemies were not mollified. They obviously wanted his head. In a brazen act of blackmail, they told Kostunica that he had to be turned over to the ICTY or else suffer the withholding of more than $50 million in badly needed economic aid. An additional $1.3 billion was subsequently doled out to Belgrade after Milosevic was turned over. This open act of blackmail raised very few eyebrows among the Serb-hating Left.
Despite the fact that Kostunica made a campaign pledge to not extradite Milosevic and despite the fact that the Yugoslav Constitution bans the extradition of citizens, the ex-president was turned over to the West on April 2, 2001. In a pattern that had become depressingly familiar, the imperialist powers were breaking the law in order to restore legality to Yugoslavia.
In a stubborn refusal to toe the propaganda line, Aleksa Djilas, a Belgrade historian, told the New York Times on June 29, 2001: "We sold him for money and we won't really get very much money for it. The U.S. is the natural leader of the world, but how [does it] lead? This just feeds the worst American instincts, reinforcing this bullying mentality."
Sticking to the script that had been established in the early 1990s, the trial of Slobodan Milosevic was filled with violations of human rights in the name of human rights. In a series of articles that appeared in The Spectator beginning in 2002, John Laughland has documented the openly prejudicial behavior of both judges and prosecutors who often acted in concert.
Despite the tendency today of the Cruise Missile Left to still accuse Milosevic of genocide in Kosovo -- the charge that was leveled against him in The Hague -- the court dropped this charge in 2001. Why? The tripartite panel of judges confessed that they simply could not convict since there was insufficient evidence!
Now, in a normal society where justice was impartial Milosevic would have been released. Instead, however, the prosecutor -- the awful Carla del Ponte -- decided to introduce two new charges involving war crimes in Croatia and Bosnia. One wonders why they didn't try to blame him for 9/11 as well, or the sinking of the Battleship Maine, while they were at it.
Additionally, anybody with an IQ higher than a flea might ask why Milosevic would now be viewed as a war criminal when he was a key participant in the Dayton Accords that ended the war in Bosnia. Indeed, The ICTY had already decided in 1995 that there was no evidence to warrant bringing charges against him for war crimes in Bosnia. And this was even after Srebrenica, supposedly the worst slaughter by the Serbs during the entire war. It would seem that the new charges were introduced only to keep Milosevic behind bars. If they could not convict, the imperialists could at least keep him captive within their Kafkaesque court system.
Once the proceedings began, the results would have proven embarrassing to any truly impartial court as Laughland points out:
Highlights include the Serbian "insider" who claimed to have worked in the presidential administration but who did not know what floor Milosevic's office was on; "Arkan's secretary," who turned out to have worked only as a temp for a few months in the same building as the notorious paramilitary; the testimony of the former federal prime minister, Ante Markovic, dramatically trashed by Milosevic, who produced Markovic's own diary for the days when he claimed to have had meetings with him; the Kosovo Albanian peasant who said he had never heard of the KLA even though there is a monument to that terrorist organization in his own village; and the former head of the Yugoslav secret services, Radomir Markovic, who not only claimed he had been tortured by the new democratic government in Belgrade to testify against his former boss, but who also agreed, under cross-examination by Milosevic, that no orders had been given to expel the Kosovo Albanians and that, on the contrary, Milosevic had instructed the police and army to protect civilians. And these, note, were the prosecution witnesses.
We can conclude with some observations on the circumstances of Milosevic's death that have taken on the aspects of a CSI episode in the Western press. Speculation has revolved around whether he was poisoned by his enemies. There is also speculation that he took antibiotics, which diluted his heart medication, in order to precipitate a transfer to a Moscow hospital. Some have argued that he was not taking his heart medication for the same reasons.
All of this seems beside the point. As war crimes expert James Gow once stated, it would be better if Milosevic died in the docket because if the trial ran its course he might be found guilty only of minor charges. So there was a strong incentive for the ICTY to keep his medical condition as poor as possible in the hopes that he might succumb to a long-standing heart condition.
It was becoming obvious over the past year or so that the strain of defending himself was the main cause of Milosevic's deteriorating health. When the court raised the possibility that a lawyer be appointed to represent him, there were strong objections from the ex-President's camp since nobody knew the facts of the case better than the defendant, who under normal circumstances would have already won an acquittal.
But these are not normal circumstances. Over the recent past, the greatest threat to world peace since the days of Adolph Hitler has emerged under the banner of the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack. Using pious phraseology about democracy and human rights, it invades sovereign nations on the basis of lies and then subjects their head of state to show trials.
To the credit of the late Slobodan Milosevic and to Saddam Hussein, who now is on trial for his life in another kangaroo court, they never bowed down. In life and in death, these imperfect men will always remind us of the need to resist the injustice perpetrated by states acting out of perfect evil.
PleaseLouis's work and our efforts.