Justice postponed?
July 21, 2008 2:52 PM   Subscribe

Newsfilter: Radovan Karadžić arrested today in Serbia. Trial to follow. Will Srebrenica and Vukovar finally see justice? Or will another suicide intervene?
posted by imperium (72 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, Happy Day!
posted by hackly_fracture at 2:55 PM on July 21, 2008

Well, anything that follows from this will probably be grindingly slow and take an age, but yay! anyway.
posted by Artw at 3:12 PM on July 21, 2008

How could a magnificent haircut like that hide for 12 years?
posted by kuujjuarapik at 3:16 PM on July 21, 2008

After thoroughly depressing myself by reading "A Problem from Hell" by Samantha Powers, (which by the way I learned about via MeFi... thanks!) It brings some comfort to see people like him subject to the justice system.
posted by jlowen at 3:19 PM on July 21, 2008

see people like him subject to the justice system.

which has such a great track record.
posted by jonmc at 3:20 PM on July 21, 2008

Actually, the ICTY hasn't got a bad record. That page still lists three as at large, but actually we're down to two.
posted by imperium at 3:24 PM on July 21, 2008

8 years? 32 years? 40 years? that's an appropriate sentence for ethnic cleansing?

the only debate should be whether it's life without parole or death.
posted by jonmc at 3:26 PM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Finally! What an embarrassment that he's been free for so long.
posted by AwkwardPause at 3:37 PM on July 21, 2008

I'm amazed they finally managed to arrest him. How much of this was looking for a fugitive and how much was the political will in Serbia to arrest him? No matter the percentage, it's a good thing.

Charles Taylor
Radovan Karadžić
Robert Mugabe
posted by selfnoise at 3:38 PM on July 21, 2008

My husband just IMed me: "Father Ted has been arrested!"
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 3:40 PM on July 21, 2008 [6 favorites]

It blows my mind that he's been in Serbia all this time. I haven't heard in any of the news outlet where exactly he was found, who was sheltering him and whether they were arrested as well. Anybody have anymore information?
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 3:40 PM on July 21, 2008

Karadžić is responsible for so much of what happened to me.

My family and I were starved and cut off from electricity, gas, water, phone service and even things like wood with which we could have kept somewhat warm. My father, a funny, kind and literate man, and my mother, a vivacious woman who struggled during Communism and the war to see her children survive with the class and dignity of our family intact, were both reduced to shells of their former selves because of the nationalist-inspired terror Karadžić and his thugs.

And so one winter's day we pushed a heavy cart up and down Sarajevo's steep streets to collect water from a brewery pump, for all of the things one needs water for - drinking, cooking, washing, flushing toilets, growing little plants and herbs inside, and so on. And while waiting for out turn in the open street, Karadžić's little demons fired a shell which vaporized my mother and sent my father's head rolling down the street in my view, until I lost consciousness. I was wheeled to the morgue and left to die from my untreatable injuries. By a miracle, I survived. While in a coma for weeks, I missed the burial of my parents. I awoke to find I'd lost all of my possessions as well - another trauma - but even today I treasure those few seconds after gaining consciousness, when I could still believe my witness of the vicious death of my parents was nothing more than a nightmare. We had argued that day, as we had on many recent days. The war caused a lot of stress for everyone, and I was very bratty, being a teenaged girl deprived of simple things I felt I deserved in life - going to a dance or buying a new outfit or just drinking coffee with friends on a nice afternoon. Was my punishment for my loose emotions to see my father's severed head, his eyes still open, looking out at me one last time, with me unable to say goodbye?

Karadžić is the father of thousands of tales like mine.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:45 PM on July 21, 2008 [391 favorites]

It blows my mind that he's been in Serbia all this time.

Really? I thought it was common knowledge that he'd been sheltered by Serbian nationalists for the last decade. It will interesting to learn exactly how they finally got hold of him.
posted by Rangeboy at 3:45 PM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Dee Xtrovert - wow, just wow.
posted by Rumple at 3:48 PM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

It blows my mind that he's been in Serbia all this time. I haven't heard in any of the news outlet where exactly he was found, who was sheltering him and whether they were arrested as well. Anybody have anymore information?

It's widely known that he's been sheltered by factions within the Serbian government, and especially by some members of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which (as an institution) was a big promoter of the actions of the Serbs during the whole war. He escaped capture many times, and despite evidence of who was assisting him, I don't believe anyone suffered for it. There were people in the Serbian government (although I can't maintain that it was ever even a majority) who realized not only the magnitude of his war crimes, but also the damage he did to Serbia. But support for these Serb war criminals still has such power - after three disastrous wars in less than two decades - that it was considered a form of political suicide to say much about getting these guys caught.

And while Karadžić was definitely the worst guy still uncaught, it should be noted that Ratko Mladić is nearly as terrible and is still at large, believed to be in Serbia and protected by members of the military and government.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:51 PM on July 21, 2008

There were reports late last year that he'd grown a beard as a disguise and was moving between three or four different Orthodox monasteries in Herzegovina and Montenegro. Mladic is apparently in Belgrade.

Not-at-all coincidentally, the arrest comes just days before Serge Brammertz, the Hague Tribunal's chief prosecutor, goes to Serbia to meet with the new government.
posted by tapeguy at 3:52 PM on July 21, 2008

For Dee Xtrovert, and all those who suffered and died under the tyranny of Milosevic and his minions:

posted by Anderson_Localized at 4:02 PM on July 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

Radovan Karadzic, Slobodan Milosevic, Franjo Tudjman, and Alia Itzebegovic were at the peace conference in Camp David but sadly all they could agree on was that Bill Clinton was a funny sounding name.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:09 PM on July 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

"He was a psychiatrist most ordinary. Not bad. But he was not a hard worker." Former colleagues discuss working with Dr. Karadzic.
posted by grounded at 4:20 PM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

A 1998 article by Mark Danner. Danner met Karadzic shortly after the shelling of the Markela marketplace.
Anyone who has spoken to Dr. Karadzic will recognize this "mechanism of falsification of reality" as his most distinctive quality. When I inquired of him, over our plates of beef stew, in his small office, with color-coded maps showing successive diplomatic plans for slicing up Bosnia on one wall and an Orthodox crucifix on the other, about the siege of Sarajevo, the siege that people around the world had been watching in transfixed horror for almost two years, the leader of the Bosnian Serbs replied that there was no siege—that in fact those artillery pieces and mortars had been dug into the mountainside to keep the Muslim hordes from breaking out of the city and attacking the Serbs. As always with Karadzic, the words seemed so distant from reality that one had trouble mustering arguments to challenge him.

I asked Karadzic about the shelling of the National Library, whose broken, cluttered ruins I had visited a few days before, perusing the odd charred scrap of paper, the pitiful remains of hundreds of thousands of irreplaceable books and manuscripts. How could he, a man of learning and culture, a poet himself, have countenanced his gunners lobbing shell after shell into the great building, destroying it in a day in a great conflagration that left his adopted city canopied in a cloud of priceless ash? Dr. Karadzic could only shake his head sadly, stare gravely into my eyes, and declare that of course the Muslims had destroyed this building themselves: "It was a Christian building, you know, from the Austro-Hungarian period, and so the Muslims hated it. Only Christian books were burned, you know. The others they removed."

And so it was with the shells that had reduced the world-renowned Institute of Oriental Culture to a burned carcass; so it was with the mortar round that had plunged into a crowd waiting outside a shop in a downtown street and brought the world the Breadline Massacre of May 27, 1992, in which sixteen people died in a telegenic horror that forced the Western countries to impose the first set of sanctions against the Serbs; so it was with the two shells that had killed six children who were sledding twelve days before the Marketplace Massacre, and the three shells that had killed ten Sarajevans and wounded eighteen in Dobrinja on February 4. In each case, Dr. Karadzic told me, the Muslims, "trying to gain the sympathy of the world," had "shelled themselves."

There was a certain brilliance to his blank and impenetrable sincerity. I actually found myself wondering, as a young blond waitress cleared the dishes from Karadzic's desk, whether he could possibly believe anything he was saying. "Mechanism for falsification of reality"—that was Dr. Ceric's term. And yet this seemed insane....
More articles by Danner on Bosnia. The US and the Yugoslav Catastrophe.

PBS Frontline show on Karadzic.
posted by russilwvong at 4:31 PM on July 21, 2008 [9 favorites]

Dee Xtrovert. I hope this arrest will help you sleep a little bit better. But I'm not sure if there's a moral difference between Karadžić/ Mladić and those who helped them hide.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 4:31 PM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Fucking finally.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:32 PM on July 21, 2008

"Human insurrection, in its exalted and tragic forms, is only, and can only be, a prolonged protest against death, a violent accusation against the universal death penalty."
posted by ageispolis at 5:32 PM on July 21, 2008

"[The arrest] comes just weeks after a new pro-western coalition government in Serbia was formed whose overriding goal is to bring Serbia into the European Union, the world’s biggest trading bloc. The EU has made delivering indicted war criminals to the Hague a precondition for Serbia’s membership." [nyt]

Coincidence? I think not!
posted by AwkwardPause at 6:11 PM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

My friend just left from a stint working for the ICTY and I bet she is pissed at her timing in leaving, as I know she was looking forward to the day this monster was brought to justice.
posted by Falconetti at 7:15 PM on July 21, 2008

Good. Fuck him.

And Dee Xtrovert - my god, to be able to write that for *us* schmucks? That took the strength of a thousand men.
posted by notsnot at 7:29 PM on July 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

to be able to write that for *us* schmucks? That took the strength of a thousand men.

Or just one girl! People need to know what happened over there because of people like Karadžić. When you're in the middle of war and trying to make it through the day, it's tough to even have time to dwell on how bad things are. Every day I wondered, how will I eat? will I freeze? what if I become very ill? and a thousand other things that, if they were ever solved, were only solved for a few hours before they popped up just as pointedly as they had in the previous day. People don't tell you how exhausting living in wartime is. There's nothing to do but go about doing necessary things and everyone bitches and bitches and bitches about this or that - all things that will be again as bad (and likely worse) tomorrow. But there's nothing to do but try to complain it "out" of your system. Which doesn't work, of course. And will it ever end? It went on for years like that.

Can you imagine how terrible it was to push that cart to the pump every few days, knowing that's where my parents were killed and knowing it could happen again? And every time I did it, I was a little weaker and cared a little less about living any longer. I was so very tired.

And schmucks? I'm one too. I read "The Diary Of Anne Frank" as a young girl and saw programs on the Holocaust and always, in the back of my mind, I had sympathies for those victims but I thought to myself that if a similar situation ever came about, I would do this or that (unlike them) and survive. I think everyone does that - imagining how they would cope, but it's astonishing how set in our assumptions about our environment we all are. It was almost a fantasy to create an imaginary world in which I pitted my wits against the Nazis or similar evil-doers and won. But in reality, I didn't win, Karadžić did. Around the time my parents were killed, he said of Sarajevo that soon one wouldn't count those killed, one would count those who survived. I suppose it was a wish of his, but as a wish it came true. Most of my school friends and neighbors and much of my family died or disappeared. Of my classmates in school, more than half died. Everyone I know has problems from the war still. In fifteen years I've never had a good night's sleep like I did in my little room in the house of my parents.

Karadžić walking the Earth didn't bother me, because I know that another Karadžić lurks around the next corner. I'm happy they caught him. I'm proud that my people (those who believe in decency and basic rights) will treat him according to a standard he never lived up to himself. I'm a little happy thinking of the toasts that will be made through the week to mark this symbolic event, and the thought that for the many people still living in rough times in miserable Bosnia, perhaps the war will recede an inch further back into a meaningful past.

And to respond to a prior post, there is probably no doubt that Serbia made this happen in "coincidental" timing with recent, informal EU-related talks. But that offer - and plenty of offers for financial assistance to Serbia - have been on the table (and sometimes removed) with these same conditions. What makes this time different, I can't say. But to consider it a cynical move is to ignore just how long and how stubbornly Serbia refused to hand him over - often with the knowledge of NATO and UN forces, and the knowledge of Western advisors in the area. I'm just glad it happened after all.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:56 PM on July 21, 2008 [99 favorites]

Dee Xtrovert...all the best to you friend.
posted by Duke999R at 8:57 PM on July 21, 2008

But in reality, I didn't win, Karadžić did.

Living well is the best revenge - particularly with the butcher in jail. All the best to you.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:31 PM on July 21, 2008 [3 favorites]

"I'm happy they caught him. I'm proud that my people (those who believe in decency and basic rights) will treat him according to a standard he never lived up to himself."

I admire your character and fortitude in maintaining that attitude, and I wish you a future of healing and sound sleep.

Personally I hope that he will go to trial and that the trial will confront him and his supporters with the truth of what they have done, and in some way vindicate their victims.

"The EU has made delivering indicted war criminals to the Hague a precondition for Serbia’s membership."

And it has finally worked. I hope this sets a precedent for other countries that want to join civilisation.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:44 PM on July 21, 2008

Just watched the "The Death of Yugoslavia" on Google vids recently.

It's a BBC doc that came out some time ago and it's notable for featuring interviews with many of the monsters responsible for the Yugoslav genocides. It's not easy to watch, but if you know nothing about the conflict then this series is an excellent summary of the horror that ensued when Milosevic and other ethno-nationalists destroyed a country for their own twisted purposes.

Part I. Part II. Part III. Part IV. Part V. Part VI.

I also recommend Joe Kubert's "Fax from Sarajevo." It's a graphic novel chronicling the story of the Bosnian graphic novelist Ervin Rustemagic's and his life during the terrible seige of Sarajevo.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 12:11 AM on July 22, 2008 [19 favorites]

Dee, thanks for sharing. I hadn't expected this thread to bring forth such painful personal memories.

Having spent years watching the news from the former Yugoslavia, I can only say how much my friends and I cursed and raved at the TV that such things could be done to people in Europe half a century after WWII, that we never forgot it, especially the absence of justice, and that I too toasted this last night. With Croatian slivovica, natch.

Incidentally, seeing as we're doing culture too, pals of mine who made it out of Sarajevo mid-siege recommended Underground. The soundtrack is by the amazing Goran Bregović, too.
posted by imperium at 12:28 AM on July 22, 2008

Ed Vulliamy (foreign reporter of the year in the 1997 British Press Awards) wrote this article last December on why it was so hard to bring Radovan Karadzic to justice.
posted by adamvasco at 12:47 AM on July 22, 2008

BELGRADE, July 22 (Reuters) - War crimes fugitive Radovan Karadzic was arrested on Monday near Belgrade posing as a doctor of alternative medicine, sporting long hair, a beard and glasses to hide his face, officials said on Tuesday.
A picture shown to reporters showed an unrecognisable Karadzic, markedly thin, with a long white beard and flowing hair. Serbian officials said he was walking freely around town and earned money from practicing medicine.
They said they could not divulge more details because it might jeopardise efforts to arrest two other war crime suspects on the run.
posted by e-state 4.0 at 3:45 AM on July 22, 2008

Dee Xtrovert, I'm so sorry for what was done to you and yours. I mean, words like "I'm so sorry" don't begin to cover it. I'm glad you survived and hope that the future brings you good things.

When I saw this post on the front page, of course I felt a certain satisfaction, as of a long-standing wrong being put right. But reading your story, and inwardly multiplying it by thousands, and remembering the news during the war makes me wonder if anything resembling justice can be done on one man for the deaths and wrecked lives of thousands. What could begin to put things right?
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:59 AM on July 22, 2008

Also on the review front, graphic journalist Joe Sacco does a fine job adding detail to the picture with Safe Area Gorazde.
posted by e-state 4.0 at 4:57 AM on July 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

Less than a month ago, the BBC's From Our Own Correspondent had a report on the difficulties of finding Karadžić and Mladić.

It described them as 'not be too well hidden to be captured, but too well protected'. The change in political climate in Serbia over the last few years is clearly key to this marvellous news, and I wonder if the focus on his disguise is partly to play up the hidden over the protected, for the purpose of keeping the heat off those who finally stepped aside and allowed him to be taken.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 5:30 AM on July 22, 2008

It is rather fitting that Karadzic had found new employment as a quack. It appears that he continued to take advantage of the gullibility of his fellow humans to sell them fake remedies to real or imagined illnesses.

Oh, and Dee: Sorry.
posted by Skeptic at 5:42 AM on July 22, 2008

This reminds me of the story of a well-known Mafia don in Sicily who had been "on the run" for years and years. Finally political pressure built to the point where the public had finally had enough and demanded that the government finally do something about him once and for all. So the police went to his home in Sicily and arrested him.
posted by deanc at 5:59 AM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Karadzic was co-responsible for Srebrenica. Not Vukovar.
posted by talos at 6:48 AM on July 22, 2008

Karadžić's website, apparently. Has a chatroom, and a forum, which alas appears to have been deluged with spam.
posted by randomination at 7:29 AM on July 22, 2008

One down. I hope that, unlike Pinochet, he lives to see himself convicted and sentenced like the criminal he is.

But the depressing part is that apparently so many in Serbia think of him, and his fellow genocides, as heroes. Of course, since so many currently living Serbs were directly involved in the rapes, the killings, etc its hardly surprising. Turkey still can't admit to the genocide of the Albanians and that took place over a hundred years ago. Unless great pressure from the outside is exerted it appears that nations will suppress all memory of such things, and enshrine the villains as great men.
posted by sotonohito at 7:53 AM on July 22, 2008

Dee Xtrovert...all the best to you friend.

Fervently seconded. Thanks for sharing your story, and for your undaunted spirit.
posted by languagehat at 8:04 AM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Dee Xtrovert - I have no words for your pain. My heart goes out to you.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 8:42 AM on July 22, 2008

Dee Xtrovert; Thank you for sharing such painful experiences with us. It's a sobering look at a kind of horror that most of us will never truly understand.
posted by quin at 8:53 AM on July 22, 2008

sotonohito: I think you mean "Armenians", not "Albanians".
posted by pascal at 8:56 AM on July 22, 2008

I just realized that I never finished my thought about how tiring war was (up above.) What I wanted to end up saying - but didn't manage to do - is that when I came to America, it seemed as if no one had any idea about the war in Bosnia. It made the news, but few people I met knew anything about it, even where Bosnia was located. Admittedly, Yugoslavia's many "peoples" defined by nation or religion, and their very complicated interrelated histories, made it a tough war to understand. Still, it's disheartening to see one's own life, and the lives of thousands of others, undergo such massive upheaval and for it to seem like the rest of the world didn't notice. So it's a good feeling to be here and know that even though the war is "old" news now, there are so many of you who care. Thanks for that!

Turkey still can't admit to the genocide of the Albanians and that took place over a hundred years ago.

Well, I'd have a tough time with that, too - especially as it was the Armenians! But it's strange - Germans don't seem to have a problem at least feeling shame for their activities in the Hitler era, and this was true even fairly soon after the end of the war. Serbia not only refuses to take any real responsibility, but they really do pretend like it didn't happen at all, or they hugely minimize it or claim that "crimes were committed on all sides." That's true, no doubt, but it obscures the reality that the Serbs were the aggressors and to me it sounds a bit like saying that the Holocaust was no big deal, because the British soldiers did some bad stuff as well. Serbia's actions after the Siege of Sarajevo expose its leaders policies and the sentiment of its population for what it was. I am hopeful that this is changing now, at least a little.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:59 AM on July 22, 2008 [10 favorites]

pascal Damn. Yes, that's what I meant. I hate when I make stupid mistakes like that...

As for Serbia vs. Germany, I think a large part of the difference is that Germany was defeated militarily, its leaders were all put on trial for war crimes, and the nation was forced by the rest of the world to admit and discuss what it did.

In Serbia none of that happened. There were a few war crimes trials, but the nation wasn't shaken in the same was Germany was. The rest of the world was content to let it all pass by with a few token trials, and after that to go along with Serbia's plan of pretending that the entire affair never happened.

The best estimates are that between 20,000 and 44,000 Bosnian women were systematically raped by Serbian soldiers, there has never been any effort to identify and try those soldiers. Compare to the intense search for low ranking guards and functionaries at concentration camps.

We can see a similar pattern in Japan. Following the US conquest of Japan the Japanese leaders were put on trial for war crimes, but mostly against Americans and other Europeans; war crimes against the Koreans and Chinese were largely ignored at the Tokyo trials [1]. As a result the right wing in modern Japan seeks to deny the atrocities committed against the Chinese and Koreans, and if they admit it at all they also claim "crimes were committed on all sides". Recently in Japan a history textbook that addressed Japanese war crimes in China was rejected following massive protests by right wingers.

In the USA the process has reached its ultimate state of denial WRT the abuse of slaves by the slave owning population. Despite a centuries long program of rape, torture, and murder many places in the former Confederate States of America are quite proud of the mansions of the slave owners. They are tourist attractions, and either make no mention of slavery and its horrors or do their best to claim that it wasn't really that bad. War criminals, such as Nathan Bedford Forrest, are held up as heroes by many southerners, and countless monuments honoring the Confederate dead claim they fought for a noble cause.

No one wants to admit that their ancestors, or even worse they themselves, did evil. It takes a massive effort from the outside to force any admission of atrocity, and absent that sort of effort the war criminals and their descendants will gladly pretend that the entire affair never happened and eventually enshrine and hold up for adoration the very villains who committed the atrocities.

[1] A few of the most spectacular and gruesome examples of crimes against Chinese and Koreans were tried, though it should be noted that the people in Unit 731 were given amnesty by the US government.
posted by sotonohito at 9:35 AM on July 22, 2008 [8 favorites]

Whoa... I looked at the chart at the bottom of this page and was surprised. I had no idea that the former Yugoslavian republics broke up completely this year. But I see it isn't a done deal as Serbia is still trying to claim Kosovo.
posted by tinkertown at 9:44 AM on July 22, 2008

Well, at least we get to settle the great MeFi “which are worst, homeopaths or war criminals?” debate once and for all.

Karadžić's website, apparently.

Here's another one...


...via Bruce Sterling, who will probably be digging up other interesting stuff as he's keen on this sort of thing.
posted by Artw at 2:36 PM on July 22, 2008

Having had the horror of that war at my doorstep, having watched it unfold under my eyes, between the ignorance and the indifference of the mainstream media and EU, and having it in front of me again, vividly as then, in the words of Dee X, there's only one thing I might add for the record, and it's that I wish Dr Radovan Karadžić a long, long, long life in full health, both physical and mental. Behind steel bars.

Živeli, everyone else.
posted by _dario at 4:16 PM on July 22, 2008

Dabic ? That name sounds familiar ..........
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:11 PM on July 22, 2008

Dee Xtrovert ----

I joined Mefi just so I could write this. I frequently browse, but haven't felt compelled to contribute until now. This morning my beau, incidentally Vito90, woke me up with the news that Karadzic had been captured; news for which I was happy to leap out of bed and cheer. I only hope he doesn't die on trial like Slobo. I am not Bosnian, but last year I took part in something which changed my life. So, I wanted to share the experience with you and let you know that what happened in Bosnia is not going unknown everywhere, as it seems to have for so long.

I attended college at a small school in St. Louis, Mo. -- Fontbonne University. There I had the privilege of learning from some great professors, two of which took it upon themselves a few years ago to teach about the Genocide in Bosnia. I was approached as a junior by the one, named Dr. Ben Moore, and asked to participate in his landmark honors class, the subject of which would be the Bosnian Genocide. They hand picked who they wanted and there were, oh, 15 of us. The class met once a week for 3 hours wherein we discussed everything from the history of Yugoslavia, dating back to the Ottoman Empire - a la our genius history professor Dr. Jack Luzkow - to the events leading up to and setting the stage for this horrible tragedy.

Our class got to meet Ed Vulliamy (who was mentioned in this thread) and have dinner with him. I unfortunately didn't get to meet him as I was out of town that day. We also worked closely with a man named Patrick McCarthy who wrote a book called, "After The Fall: Srebrenica Survivors In St. Louis". We read Yugoslavia: The Death of A Nation by Silber and Little. We watched all of the Death of Yugoslavia companion videos, as were mentioned above. We became totally immersed in the subject. The course was so much more than that, however.

You may or may not know that St. Louis has thousands and thousands of Bosnians who were relocated there after the war. Dr. Moore became good friends with one such man named Amir Karadzic; incidentally one of the most wonderful men I have ever met. He lived in Prijedor at the time of the war and spent hours courageously sharing his story with us.

Amir facilitated our meeting and interviewing survivors of the ghastly concentration camps at Trnopolje and Srebrenica. It was truly life changing. I never had the courage to conduct any of interviews myself, but I sat in on many of them. It was so incredibly compelling to be one of just four or five in a room, and to bear witness to these horrible things that had happened. The most amazing thing about these people we interviewed is that they were so often devoid of hatred. So rarely did they speak to being angry, or vengeful. Mostly, our interviewees wanted the truth to be known, and that's what ultimately compelled them to tell us their stories. Your culture is one so full of life, and that shone through even as we listened to such frightening narratives.

I was racked with guilt, and sorrow, and anger the whole semester. I cherished the unique opportunity, but I loved and hated being a part of it. We would have class some nights at a Bosnian restaurant in the Bosnian neighborhood, and I always loved that. It made me feel like part of your culture. I constantly felt like I needed to contribute. I wrote my senior thesis in Communication on Slobodan Milosevic, titled, "The Nationalist Rhetoric of Slobodan Milosevic," in which I explored the ways his rhetoric served to unite the Serbs and facilitate anti-Bosnian Nationalism. I received honors for the 30 page paper, for which I am still so incredibly proud.

Our interviews and learning culminated in the opening of a museum exhibit at the Missouri Holocaust Museum, November 25, 2007. It was unprecedented, so far as we know. Amir told us that even now, in Prijedor, there are no monuments that stand to commemorate the tragedy. He did teach us that sadly, there are monuments to salute the Serbs' Nationalism. Anyway, I had already moved to Seattle by that time, and it made me very sad not to be able to afford flying back for the opening, but I was so glad it finally came to fruition. Two of the girls in my class, education majors, developed a curriculum for the subject matter we covered so that future generations will not be kept ignorant about that which has been swept under the carpet for too long.

So, I can't say why exactly I joined MeFi and wrote this, if but to celebrate your culture's vivacity with you, and to tell you that I am glad, while I don't know you, that you are still here today. I wish that this had never happened, but I will forever do my best to educate people the best way I know how; with the truth.

Cheers friend.

posted by diablo37 at 7:56 PM on July 22, 2008 [21 favorites]

Thank you for your nice message.

It's been a couple of days since Karadžić was captured, and as you can imagine, my head has been swimming with many thoughts about it.

First of all, as imprinted as this man's face is in my mind, I don't think I ever would have recognized him in his disguise. And I cannot wrap my thinking around the idea that he had these strange websites devoted to his "healing" psychological / herbal / astral / whatever practices. It's too bizarre for me, like finding out that Hitler had somehow become an amazing wedding cake baker after the war. And how were those links discovered so quickly? It must have been known by many all along. I'd love to understand this.

Also, I remember seeing "The Hunting Party" in the theatre with a group of people. I liked the movie for some obvious reasons (nice footage of Sarajevo, realistic portrayal of Serb nationalists), although it was clunky in parts. But my American friends! They hated it and saw it as the least realistic historical drama ever, so over-the-top to be comedic, but not funny enough to be a real comedy. But Mefites, if you rent this movie and think of Karadžić, I think you will be shocked at just how realistic it is.

And the subject of film reminds me of a review I read in a newspaper of "Welcome To Sarajevo," in which the reviewer complained about the excessive coverage the war in Bosnia received, although it was apparent to most of us who were starving, cold and sick that the situation could have used a bit more exposure. He wrote something to the effect that there were brutal wars going on in such places as Rwanda or East Timor, but Sarajevo got more coverage by virtue of the fact that Sarajevans were so undeniably good-looking! It must have been the most backhanded compliment ever, and - while I like a nod to my looks as much the next Sarajevan - it upset me quite a lot, because it was at that point that I realized the whole world missed the real tragedy of Sarajevo . . . which was that Sarajevo was a place where girls played with Barbies and grew up to read Hemingway and the Bronte sisters and debated existentialism and were allowed to drive their parents' Volkswagen and knew who the Gang of Four were and tried cooking Japanese food and watched video tapes of "Soylent Green" with our grandmother, in front of the television, eating pistachios and laughing. That such a barbaric war, in a place so much like America or Germany or France, was *allowed* to happen, right there in Europe, really said a lot about how even localized standards of caring had fallen. It scares me to think that the attitudes which allowed two world wars to happen were so easily resurrected. And it scares me more to know that it's still true.

Amir told us that even now, in Prijedor, there are no monuments that stand to commemorate the tragedy. He did teach us that sadly, there are monuments to salute the Serbs' Nationalism.

A dollar spent on a moment in Prijedor or many other places to memorialize the victims would, in my opinion, be a dollar wasted. At least for now. In Sarajevo, scars from shells and bullets are everywhere. When munitions hit pavement, the deep marks they left were filled with a red-colored glass, and these "roses," as they're called, are uncountable. And any trip into the countryside will give a traveller plenty of opportunities to see the burned-out towns, and to experience how it feels to know that still, to put one foot forward to walk in a beautiful forest or field, is to take a big chance at experiencing the special joys of a landmine, and to look at a vacant house and wonder, was the family killed? Are the bones of the boy bleaching in the back? Could the girl no longer sleep in the bed in which she was raped? Because people don't give up the homes without a reason. I look forward to the day when the scars are so hidden that a little statue or plaque is needed to remind us of what happened in so many little spots across the country.

Serb homages to their actions?Perhaps Americans don't know, but there is a kind of honor in the Balkans wherein if you've done something worth doing, you wouldn't ever talk about it. That would be "unmanly." Of course, if you are "unmanly," you do your best to prevent others from knowing. Perhaps they think a monument here or there help in that. I don't know.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:40 PM on July 22, 2008 [29 favorites]

"I'm happy they caught him. I'm proud that my people (those who believe in decency and basic rights) will treat him according to a standard he never lived up to himself."

D.E. - this is a crucial point, and something that US government has lost sight of recently. You can't just set up a torture camp in Cuba because the US was attacked. You can't cast yourselves as the 'good guys' and then start water boarding people. There are standards of decency that must be adhered to, or you run the risk of joining your enemies in the gutter.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:00 AM on July 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Looks like that website I linked to may be false.
posted by Artw at 9:52 AM on July 23, 2008

And I cannot wrap my thinking around the idea that he had these strange websites devoted to his "healing" psychological / herbal / astral / whatever practices. It's too bizarre for me, like finding out that Hitler had somehow become an amazing wedding cake baker after the war. And how were those links discovered so quickly? It must have been known by many all along. I'd love to understand this.

I think this was a natural development for him.

A key feature of the New Age from its very beginning has been blaming the victim. The trope of 'they must have been lovers in a previous life' used to excuse child molestation and incest is only one example.

It's interesting to me that Karadžić has enough of a conscience that he needed to seek out such pathetic and contemptible comforts.

Maybe there is a point to devoting a few years at the Hague to publicly rubbing his nose in his own actions after all.
posted by jamjam at 10:49 AM on July 23, 2008

jamjam writes:
A key feature of the New Age from its very beginning has been blaming the victim. The trope of 'they must have been lovers in a previous life' used to excuse child molestation and incest is only one example.
Do you have any citations or other support for either of these statements?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:15 PM on July 23, 2008

A key feature of the New Age from its very beginning has been blaming the victim. The trope of 'they must have been lovers in a previous life' used to excuse child molestation and incest is only one example.

I'm glad someone finally had the courage to expose those crystal and dragon-sculpture beaded-curtain hippies for what they really are: child-molesting victim-blamers. Keep up the good fight, jamjam.
posted by felix at 3:41 PM on July 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Re: Joe Sacco. Besides Safe Area Goradze his story "Christmas With Karadzic" has been reprinted in War's End. 'I feel nothing intimidating about his presence, nothing extraordinary about this man indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal...a man I have despised with all my heart for years.'

Re: Bruce Sterling. Yes, he's interested in this stuff. He's married to Jasmina Tešanović and lives in Belgrade. I used to read Jasmina's stuff in BoingBoing. Some of her articles are no longer available there.
posted by CCBC at 3:43 PM on July 23, 2008

I want to correct the above statement that some of Jasmina Tesanovic's articles are no longer available at BB. Some of the links are dead but, by proper archive searching, I did find the articles in question. If you try clicking on an article link in the list that follows her stories, it may be dead. If you copy the title and search it, you will find the article in thye archives.
posted by CCBC at 3:52 PM on July 23, 2008

the only debate should be whether it's life without parole or death.

The ICTY reflects the policy of almost every civilized country in the world - it doesn't employ capital punsihment.
posted by Neiltupper at 3:57 PM on July 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

This isn't Iraq, there are rules!
posted by Artw at 4:34 PM on July 23, 2008

The ICTY reflects the policy of almost every civilized country in the world - it doesn't employ capital punsihment.

Two interesting points in relation to this.

1. I am completely opposed to the death penalty but it is interesting that polls of Europeans demonstrate that the majority in a surprising number of European countries are in favor of the death penalty in certain circumstances. Examples: 1, 2, 3. So even though the EU mandates the abolition of the death penalty as a requirement for membership, in many of those countries that abolition does not reflect public opinion.

2. One unintended issue with the Rwandan criminal tribunal is that because there is no death penalty so the high value defendants are assured they will not be executed. The lower level perpetraters of genocide in Rwanda are subject to Rwandan courts where they can be executed. So in that case, the worse you are, the less likely you will be executed, which is an unintended incentive. I don't know if this applies to the ICTY though, does anyone know?
posted by Falconetti at 7:17 PM on July 23, 2008

the only debate should be whether it's life without parole or death.

While I can understand this sentiment, this isn't even a question for me.

The Serbs distorted reality and history to effect the tragedies they caused. Mostly they got away with it . . . because even some of their more outrageous lies provided enough excuse for the UN and NATO and the USA and others to turn their backs on the problems they caused. Many lovely children in my city died because they were not allowed exit transport on the many empty cargo planes controlled by the UN and NATO. Why were they denied an exit? Because to acknowledge a need for children to be medically evacuated from Sarajevo would be to acknowledge that there was a state of siege in Sarajevo (as bombs fell daily and I suffered sniper attacks and the effects of a bombing which killed my parents and many others!), and to acknowledge the latter would necessitate international bodies to step in and *do* something, under their own rules. Which no one wanted to do. Better to let sweet children suffer, then die.

The means were in place - easy transportation for the children, foreign doctors and hospitals who would provide free care, organizations who would cover the costs and house these kids. But no. Or rather, "NO!" Of course, many suffered who weren't children, but the case was made on the behalf of children specifically, for who could blame them for anything? Still, it didn't work.

During this, Karadžić provided lies and excuses to quell any lingering bad feeling that the rest of the world may have had about their almost total abandonment of Sarajevo. (Many other places too, but it was harder to get news about the villages outside Sarajevo than it was to get news about New York City or London. We weren't alone, we suspected all along, but we felt alone.)

Of course, the truth of nearly anything Karadžić said was nearly always the opposite of what he said. This is now known and acknowledged by nearly everyone. There is a strong sense of "honor" in the Balkans, but it is sometimes different than what honor is considered to be in America. The "honor" that Karadžić displayed in his furtherance of genocide was the "honor" of getting one over on the rest of the world for the "benefit" of his people. This honor will be lost when his intrinsic cowardice and weakness force him to say things which are counter to it in an attempt to save his own skin. The truly "honorable" thing to do, in the case of Karadžić, and by the tenets of Balkan culture, would be to admit his actions fully and stand proud.

But he won't have the balls for that. That's why I would like Karadžić to stay alive.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:29 PM on July 23, 2008 [5 favorites]

The lower level perpetraters of genocide in Rwanda are subject to Rwandan courts where they can be executed.

Actually, Rwanda abolished the death penalty last year.
posted by Neiltupper at 11:10 PM on July 23, 2008

Thanks Neiltupper, I wasn't aware of that development.
posted by Falconetti at 7:42 AM on July 24, 2008

Dee Xtrovert --

Like others, I was given a glimpse of what was really happening in Kosovo during that time through the efforts of independent organizations instead of the news media through short films like Postcard from Peje. It's more real than any news report where a third-party reporter is standing with some war-appropriate backdrop and recapping the politics of the situation. That shouldn't excuse us from trying to understand the ramifications of those news reports, however.
posted by jeanmari at 6:07 PM on July 25, 2008

Catching up with Fikret Alic
posted by Rumple at 12:33 AM on July 27, 2008

Bosnia is on the edge again. The problem of Srpska. An article by Paddy Ashdown who was the international High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina 2002 - 2006.
posted by adamvasco at 6:04 AM on July 27, 2008

That's a pretty accurate article, though it does present one misleading idea:

I flew into Sarajevo the day after Karadzic was arrested, expecting to find a city in celebration because the architect of their four-year torment from the Serb guns, which killed 10,000 in the Sarajevo siege, was behind bars. But, after a brief flurry of jubilation, the mood is sombre. For people know that, after 10 years of progress which made Bosnia the world's most successful exercise in post-conflict reconstruction, there is a real threat of Bosnia breaking up again.

The reality is that for most Sarajevans, this threat existed before the Dayton Agreement was even signed.

There may be wars where each side bears part of the blame, but the war in Bosnia was one almost entirely of Serbian aggression. No third party disputes this. But after half its population fled, and more than one in twenty Bosnians lost their lives, peace at any cost sounded pretty reasonable to all of us; it couldn't be worse than the war. And so an agreement was made in which - incomprehensibly - the aggressors were essentially awarded the territory that they had conquered. The analogy might be if Germany had lost WWII, but was still allowed to keep all of its earlier territory, plus Poland, the Sudetenland, half of France, and so on. In other words, they were rewarded for their aggression.

That's a big part of why Serbian aggressions were not stemmed, and continued to cause problems. Sarajevans of all stripes believed and continue to believe that this peace is temporary.
Strangely, one of the big hopes is in Serbia itself. It was always believed by Serbian Serbs, Bosnian Serbs and those of us who aren't Serbs or Serbians, that Republika Srpska would one day unite with Serbia itself.

This now seems increasingly unlikely. Serbia is trying (though slowly and shakily) to distance itself from the wars they started, their genocidal crimes and all that. That's a good thing. Republika Srpska is beyond unrepentant - they still speak proudly of their rape and slaughter of Bosnian Muslims. So understandably, for Serbia is beginning to see Republika Srpska as a liability - a fairly impoverished place with few prospects and loads of unsophisticated Serbs who would work hard to set back Serbia's reconnection with mainstream Europe.

The irony is that Republika Srpska's irrationality and self-caused isolation will likely lead to it becoming a kind of poor cousin to Albania (in terms of opportunities and quality of life), rather than a part of an integrated Europe - while the rest of the former Yugoslavia marches towards something like visible progress.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:26 PM on July 27, 2008

Thanks for your insights Dee. The problem as I see it is that Republika Srpska is like an unlanced boil that could spread and explode with dire consequences. The recent harassment of Transparency International and the fact that the army of Republka Srpska was headed by the yet to be captured war criminal Mladic gives serious concern for a peaceful solution in the foreseeable future.
posted by adamvasco at 5:27 AM on July 28, 2008

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