Tuesday, March 14, 2006

No Justice, No Amnesia

Students rip down a mud-splattered Milosevic poster in Belgrade in 2000

The sad thing about Slobodan Milosevic dying in prison is that he will never be found guilty for the hideous crimes he perpetrated against his enemies, and against the Serbian people themselves. What's worse, the cult of personality that surrounds the man (whose first name, in one of the great bitter ironies of history, means "freedom") is trying to dress poor Slobo's remains in martyr's garments. From a highly recommended Christopher Hitchens article in Slate:
One can see, forming in the swamps of nationalism and superstition, a myth of martyrdom dimly taking shape. This would be the worst outcome, since Milosevic began and ended, as all such dictators do, by ruining his own people and degrading his own country.
The Hitchens article is also worth a read because he lays out the "highlights of his more lurid criminal career" and doesn't forget to mention the "realists" in the American camp who thought Slobo to be quite the fellow, some right up until the NATO bombing campaign in 1999 (the similarity between this and certain American interests coddling and enabling Saddam Hussein should not be overlooked).

So, there will be no guilty verdict, and Milosevic's legacy will undoubtedly be a topic of hot debate. But the war crimes trial in the Hague was not entirely a lost cause:
An enormous archive of atrocity has been amassed and videotaped and cataloged, and one day history will be very grateful for it. No denial or revisionism will be possible in this case.
That won't stop people from trying, of course, but they will be, demonstrably, on the wrong side of history.
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