Subscribe via RSS Feed

Mladic, OBL and International Justice

[ 109 ] May 26, 2011 |

It’s hard to overstate the significance of Ratko Mladic’s arrest last night. Moreso that Slobodon Milsoevic, Serbia’s president during the 1991-1995 war of ex-Yugoslavia, and moreso that Radovan Karadzic the political leader of the Bosnian Serbs during the war, Mladic is reviled by Bosnian survivors of the conflict as the former leader of the Bosnian Serb Army. Though best known for his his calculated role in the war’s most infamous massacre of over 7,000 noncombatants at Srebrenica – along with the subsequent massacre at Zepa, this was his crowning achievement after several years of war marked by sexual assault, forced displacement, massacre and general butchery of civilians and detainees. Danger Room has a well-linked round-up of info on the snatch.

What I find fascinating about the international reaction to his arrest is the importance of this man being brought to trial. At no point I am aware of during his years of hiding was it argued that he should instead be taken out by a targeted killing – partly because it was recognized that justice for his victims required a trial. Recent empirical research demonstrates that these courts have not only been able to effectively carry out prosecutions, but have had a number of other important positive side-effects, with few of the negatives originally feared. I remain puzzled that the ad hoc tribunal model has not been seriously considered for KSM, OBL or other terrorist masterminds.

[cross-posted at Duck of Minerva]

Share with Sociable

Comments (109)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. CJColucci says:

    If Osama Bin Laden had been hiding out in Islamabad as an alternative medicine guru, no longer involved in running active terrorist operations, it would have been wrong to order him taken out, rather than taken in. Likewise, if Mladic were still running some kind of guerilla movment, it would have been appropriate to kill him, at least if he didn’t surrender so we could put him on trial.

    • CrazyTrain says:

      Ding, ding, ding. Exactly. Carpenter’s straw man just doesn’t cut it. There may be reasons why it was wrong and/or unlawful to order OBL killed unless he clearly and unequivocally surrendered immediately (I don’t see them but there are arguments), but the comparison to the Mladic is not one of them. Mladic and the other war criminals being dealt with by the ICTY have not been engaged in an active war for a very, very long time.

      • OK, shoot: why is it preferable for war criminals whose forces are still engaged in hostilities to be killed instead of captured and put on trial.

        Not allowable. Not acceptable. Preferable.

        Honest question. I want to hear the other side.

        • CJColucci says:

          I didn’t say it was preferable. I’d have preferred taking OBL alive if he had surrendered or it could have been done without excessive risk despite his failure to surrender. If it turns out that he was killed even though he had surrendered (with due allowance for “fog of war” honest mistakes), or that the orders were: “Kill him. Period,” then I agree there’s a big problem.

        • Normy says:

          joe from Lowell,

          Do you have a job? I mean, you comment so much here and probably on other boards as well that I’m beginning to wonder if you’re not actually a shut in.

          If you are, your boss should fire you. And I can guarantee that you are not self-employed. That takes courage and business knowledge. I’d fire you if I were your boss.

          • I don’t comment on any other boards, but since you asked, I’ve been staying home with my infant son for the past few weeks.

            Maybe someday you’ll find a woman willing to touch you below the neck. I’d take the “under” on that bet, though.

            You’re a classy guy, Norm.

            Oh, and my last boss wrote the recommendation letter to get me into the licensure program so he can hire me for a more advanced job.

            • Normy says:

              Oh, and my last boss wrote the recommendation letter to get me into the licensure program so he can hire me for a more advanced job.

              Oh, Yeah! We all believe you.

              I do believe, however, that you’re not self-employed. Those who create jobs don’t call for the socialist state as you do.

              I’m guessing you’re a probably in the food service industry. I hear it’s exploding.

        • dave says:

          It’s preferable because it’s cheaper, by an amazingly large amount, than running a media-circus war-crimes trial and accommodating defendants in maximum-security facilities for the rest of their naturals.

          Economics, people, wake up!

    • That’s a good refutation of the argument that trying to kill bin Laden was wrong, or illegal.

      However, I don’t think that’s what Charli is arguing. I think she’s making a different point: that trying bin Laden, like trying the top Nazis or the Serbian war criminals, would be preferable, in terms of discrediting him and his movement.

      • tequila says:

        Discrediting him in the eyes of whom?

        His followers do not accept the legitimacy of international legal institutions.

        His popularity among the average Muslim, if there is such a thing, is already rock-bottom.

        The persistence of Serbian ultranationalism after Milosevic was put on trial should be an indication that the Hague is no antidote to the persistence of political extremism. Indeed, it can feed it.

        • His followers do not accept the legitimacy of international legal institutions.

          His popularity among the average Muslim, if there is such a thing, is already rock-bottom.

          Think in terms of margins. There are millions of people in between the two poles you discuss.

  2. Warren Terra says:

    How upset should we be that he was apparently produced when doing so was useful to bolster a case for accession to the EU, suggesting that important people could have delivered him any time they wished?

  3. .Normy. says:

    I remain puzzled that the ad hoc tribunal model has not been seriously considered for KSM, OBL or other terrorist masterminds.

    Now hold on there li’l buckaroo…

    Most of the egghead liberals I know were advocating that OBL, if caught, should be put through the civilian justice system just as they advocated for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and all those in Gitmo.

    Why a tribunal? Why not a civilian trial? Why not in New York City? Ya’ know, to ‘show the world’ blah…blah…blah….

  4. calling all toasters says:

    If the Pakistanis had handed OBL over to us to try and gain our favor, I guarantee we wouldn’t have shot him on sight. And that is what the analogous situation would have been.

  5. Although I would have favored a trial for bin Ladin, and believe strongly that the federal courts are well-equipped to handle the trials of the Gitmo prisoners, I see a distinction between Mladic and OBL that seems meaningful. The former was no longer actively engaged in the crimes he is accused of, while bin Ladin was, apparently, still in command or at least involved with, forces which were actively pursuing violence against the perceived enemies of al Quada. Had Mladic been killed in the course of a military action I doubt that there would be many who would decry the fact that he had been denied a trial.

  6. jon says:

    Wasn’t Plan A to try and CAPTURE him? Wasn’t that foiled by helicopter failure? Given that, as they mention above, he’s still working against us, plan B seems reasonable to me in the circumstances.

    Also heartening to me is that, unlike the Israelis, and us too often in that same place, we didn’t just let a missile strike do the work and let God sort the innocent from the guilty.

    • Ed says:

      Wasn’t Plan A to try and CAPTURE him?

      The White House has already conceded that it was a “kill or capture” mission as opposed to a “capture or kill” mission. Given the helicopters, etc., it’s hard to imagine that the “capture” part was much more than a fig leaf, and of course targeted killings by the US via drone are now standard in the region, ramped up heavily by Obama very early after he took office.

      • Given the helicopters, etc., it’s hard to imagine that the “capture” part was much more than a fig leaf

        Huh? I don’t even understand what your claim here is. Because they came in by helicopter, that means they were determined not to kill him? Okay, if they intended to capture him, what would they have traveled in instead?

        Also, they had lawyers waiting to represent him on stand-by, prepared to fly out to the ship in the event of his capture. I suppose they’re a fig leaf, too, and all of these fig leaves just go to show that they’d planned a coverup.

        targeted killings by the US via drone are now standard in the region

        …and quite notably NOT used for this mission, which doesn’t make their use against other targets terribly good evidence for your point. (To head you off, no, I am not making an argument that the use of soldiers instead is proof they intended to capture him. I am rebutting your point.)

        The SEALs used helicopters, and Obama has ordered drone strikes in other cases (but not this one). So, therefore, it’s clear they were determined not to take him alive. Tell me if I’m misstating your argument.

        • Normy says:

          Obama has ordered drone strikes…

          Does that make Obama a murderer?

        • Ed says:

          Because they came in by helicopter, that means they were determined not to kill him?

          You’re getting a little excited, old fellow. I don’t think you meant to write that.

          Given the setup of the mission, Obama’s previous statements on the subject of bin Laden and what the Administration has been willing to admit, I’m reasonably satisfied that this was primarily a kill mission with capture at best a very secondary consideration. You don’t agree, one gathers.

    • Jeremy says:

      From one of the articles I read, the helicopter failure meant they couldn’t take bin laden’s wives. Don’t remember where I read it, though, sorry.

  7. Don’t fret, Charlie. It looks like an ad hoc tribunal is exactly what KSM is going to get.

    Let’s hope it’s not too ad hoc.

  8. Er, Charli, that is.

    Good to see a post from you.

  9. richard says:

    The Milosevic trial was an absolute disaster. I assume that Mladic trial will be better (it couldn’t be worse) but there are certainly no guarantees of that.

  10. wengler says:

    It’s not the same because OBL had mystical powers. The same powers that the prisoners at Gitmo have. These powers mean they can never face trial and they can never be transferred to the US.

    If these prisoners were moved to the US, al Qaeda would cast a spell and all Fox News viewers and Republican elected officials would immediately soil themselves.

  11. Anderson says:

    I remain puzzled that the ad hoc tribunal model has not been seriously considered for KSM, OBL or other terrorist masterminds.

    I’m not sure what Carpenter means here (and I’m disappointed by all the hairsplitting upthread by commenters). Does she mean an international tribunal, or one assembled by the U.S. somehow?

    In the latter case, I can’t imagine how that would work, or look much better than the military tribunals.

    In the former case, two problems: (1) the U.S. would insist on the death penalty, and (2) in the case of KSM and others we’ve held, our torture of the defendants would be a difficult issue.

    That, IMHO, is why the U.S. has no interest in such a tribunal, leaving aside the politics — the U.S. is omnipotent, omniscient, always right, and does not do things “internationally.”

    • N.Thomas. says:

      In the former case, two problems: (1) the U.S. would insist on the death penalty…

      Exactly why is that a ‘problem’? Congress passed the death penalty for the most heinous of crimes. If anyone qualifies, it’s either of these guys.

      They fried the Rosenbergs and they didn’t kill anyone. KSM and OBL surely qualify.

      • DrDick says:

        Because most civilized nations have abolished the death penalty and would not agree to this. Most European nations will not extradite criminals to the US who are charged with capital crimes because of this.

        • It seems like a lot of work to get N. Thomas up to speed on things. Are you all sure it’s worth the trouble?

          • Anderson says:

            Word. If we’d boycott responding to his trolling, he’d go away.

            … FWIW, I was simply identifying the obstacle to a tribunal. I lean against the death penalty on procedural grounds, but have no philosophical objection in the case of Nazis, OBL, & their ilk.

            (It’s a good day when you get to write “ilk.” Ilk! ILK!)

        • Normy says:

          Because most civilized nations have abolished the death penalty and would not agree to this.

          Ummm….the US has not. What you are advocating is looking to foreign nations and cultures as to how to deal with crime.

          I guess if Obama can snub congress and go to the UN for authority in attacking Libya, we can look to France and ask them what we should do with mass murders.

          Brave New World

          • DrDick says:

            Given that they have lower crime rates than we do, perhaps they have something to teach us. Of course I realize that, as a conservative, you have no interest in learning new thing and prefer to continuously make the same old stupid mistakes,

            • N.Thomas.. says:

              Crime rate is good, but it’s not the only consideration.

              Many dictatorships also have low crime because of the heavy handed government, but I don’t want that either.

              So, if you’re asking if I would prefer a oppressive government with little freedom because the crime rate is a little lower, the answer is NO

              • DrDick says:

                Are you really arguing that Britain, France, and Italy have oppressive governments? Are you really that stupid?

              • Malaclypse says:

                Are you really that stupid?

                Of course he is.

              • Normy says:

                Are you really arguing that Britain, France, and Italy have oppressive governments?

                Lot of freedoms in the US that I cannot enjoy in those countries, especially in running a business, personal freedoms, too.

                I can go to jail for not thinking properly in Germany and France. Defending my property can’t be done in most of Europe. Religioius freedom is about to go by the wayside as well.

                Europe is not my first choice.

          • chris says:

            Ummm….the US has not.

            Yes, and on an *international* tribunal, we’d be outvoted, which is one possible argument for not convening one and keeping the whole business under US control.

        • N.Thomas.. says:

          Because most civilized nations have abolished the death penalty and would not agree to this.

          So, imposing Europe-style attitudes is how you would like to decide things? Or would you rather ask the people that actually have to live under the laws how they feel?

          So you think Europe looks to us for clues as to how they should be?

      • Malaclypse says:

        They fried the Rosenbergs and they didn’t kill anyone.

        In fact, at least in Ethel’s case, she probably was not even actually guilty. Boy, no problems I see with the death penalty. Logically, if we can fry the innocent, then it should be okay to fry anyone. Problem solved! USA! USA! USA!

        • Normy says:

          Dear GayMalaclypse,

          Just because you say Ethel Rosenberg was innocent doesn’t make it so. She was convicted and you weren’t there.

          You just look so STOOPID when you do this.

          • She was convicted and you weren’t there.

            So was Dreyfuss. Do you really want to argue that an improper conviction can’t happen? You have an odd conception of what makes someone look stupid, Norm. (Related: it’s 2011, you’re a grown man, and you use “gay” as an insult.)

            The Rosenbergs were convicted on the testimony of thelead member of the spy ring, who testified against them in exchange for the prosecution not seeking the death penalty for him. You want to stick your neck out and take his word for it when he says what Ethel did and did not do, that’s up to you. I have questions.

            • DocAmazing says:

              M-m-m-m-my Venona!

            • Normy says:

              None of this is evidence. You’re an idiot.

              Is there any evidence that Ethyl Rosenberg was wrongly convicted?

              If not, you’re just a blowhard bullshitter.

              ‘Maybe’ is not an argument.
              ‘Possible’ is not an argument.

              • Malaclypse says:

                Is there any evidence that Ethyl Rosenberg was wrongly convicted?

                You do realize that the way it works is that there is supposed to be evidence that she was correctly convicted, right?

              • DrDick says:

                You do realize that the way it works is that there is supposed to be evidence that she was correctly convicted, right?

                No, he doesn’t. In Normy’s world, if the prosecutor and police say you are guilty you should be convicted and executed.

              • None of this is evidence.

                No, it’s a reason to doubt the evidence. Think hard – have you ever seen any variations of the words “reason” and “doubt” put together before?

                ‘Maybe’ is not an argument.
                ‘Possible’ is not an argument.

                Apparently they are, to you, since you’re perfectly fine with executing people based on them.

              • herr doktor bimler says:

                Is there any evidence that Ethyl Rosenberg was wrongly convicted?
                Too much focus on alcohol here.

              • Malaclypse says:

                Is there any evidence that Ethyl Rosenberg was wrongly convicted?

                More proof (see what I did ther?e) Normy is an expert.

        • N.Thomas.. says:

          Logically, if we can fry the innocent…

          So, you’re saying that the Rosenbergs were innocent??

          Is that what you are asserting?

      • Exactly why is that a ‘problem’?

        Note the words “in the former case,” referring to “an international tribunal.” The other nations in that international tribunal would be at odds with us over sentencing.

        • Normy says:

          The other nations in that international tribunal would be at odds with us over sentencing.

          Hey, you gotta stand your ground and not *always* cave in to the Europeans on every issue.

          Our culture and our laws say he fries. Maybe they can outvote us, but we should stand firm on our convictions just as I’m sure the other nations will.

          Do you think they will look to the US for clues as to how they should proceed?

          Pleeeeeze….

          • Hey, you gotta stand your ground and not *always* cave in to the Europeans on every issue.

            So, we argue back and forth and don’t come to any agreement and can’t hold the trial. This doesn’t strike you as a problem?

            Do you think they will look to the US for clues as to how they should proceed?

            Since you seem to have forgotten, what you were responding to, and what I was trying to remind you of in my comment, was a theoretical situation in which the United States and some other countries were trying to hold an international tribunal. “They” are not going to be proceeding with anything; we’re talking about “all of us” attempting to proceed in an international manner. If we can’t agree on whether or not it is to be a capital case, that’s going to throw a bit of a monkey wrench into the works, no?

            • Normy says:

              If we can’t agree on whether or not it is to be a capital case, that’s going to throw a bit of a monkey wrench into the works, no?

              This is the argument of those with no ethical convictions. You wish to surrender them all even before the fight for the sake of expediency.

              You should be ashamed.

              • Since you seem to have forgotten, what you were responding to, and what I was trying to remind you of in my comment, was a theoretical situation in which the United States and some other countries were trying to hold an international tribunal.

                I can keep cutting and pasting this for as long you as you make it necessary.

              • N.Thomas.. says:

                You need to GROW A PAIR.

            • Malaclypse says:

              So, we argue back and forth and don’t come to any agreement and can’t hold the trial. This doesn’t strike you as a problem?

              Since Normy does not believe in trials, for him, it is a solution.

          • dave says:

            I love this idea. It’s one-up on the ‘Bomb the Hague’ plan. The ‘Convict Him at the Hague Then Abduct him by Force from International Custody Just so we can Execute Him’ plan.

  12. Bart says:

    Capture good for victims; bad for Serbia, because now they’ll be in the EU and shortly thereafter in the PIGS (SPIGS?) club at the mercy of the IMF.

  13. Slocum says:

    Alas, Djindjic. All this is irrelevant.

  14. Tim Mildren says:

    This is a lay-up -

    Pakistan is not friendly territory and OBL was still actively at war against us. Would we have gotten OBL if we had asked the Pakistanis nicely ? You don’t know the answer to that -

    The Serb case is entirely different.

    Keep your cases straight — there are plenty of human/civil rights issues to raise with the Obama admin — this is not 1 of them.

    The argument in this post is what gives cover to a**hat wingers — please don’t put ammo on a platter for them like this

  15. Normy says:

    …way it works is that there is supposed to be evidence that she was correctly convicted…

    GayMalaclypse,

    A court heard the evidence. A federal court in an extremely high profile trial convicted Ethyl and Julius, both communists, of passing state secrets to the Soviets.

    Now 60 years later some BOZO on a blog decides the court was just full of crap.

    Spare us all, pleeeeeze……argue something else.

    • Malaclypse says:

      GayMalaclypse

      My oh my, someone thinks a lot about the possibility of homosexuality in others. I wonder why?

      • N.Thomas.. says:

        Hey, you’re the one that proudly announce it. No one can know over the keyboard without your BIG FAT FLAPPING GUMS announcing it to the world.

        So, if you’re so proud, then wear it with pride, Suzie.

        • He’s not embarrassed about people knowing he’s gay, you twit.

          He’s making fun of you for talking like a middle school girl in a particularly backwards part of the country.

          • N.Thomas.. says:

            Is he so helpless that you must intervene on his behalf….ALL THE TIME?

            • Actually, I was intervening on your behalf, in the hope that you would come to your senses and stop embarrassing yourself.

              Srsly. It’s 2011, you’re apparently a grown man, and chortling about someone being gay makes you look like Beavis’ little sister.

              • N.Thomas.. says:

                …chortling about someone being gay makes you look like Beavis’ little sister.

                heh…for starters, only he can tout his gayness. He runs his mouth about it, and then when others mirror him, it’s somehow terrible.

                Secondly, no one needs you to be the PC police, because it doesn’t work for me. That’s why I’m self-employed. People like you wish to tell me how to think and what to say and what not to say. And to that I say

                Phoooey!!!

                I’ve upped my standards.

                Up yours.

                To me, it’s the same as any other behavioral problem.

              • Tyto says:

                I agree that your proud refusal to display even minimal social or professional courtesy is the same as any other behavioral problem.

              • I’m sorry your problems getting along with people are so profound that they’ve interfered with your professional life.

                You should get some help with that.

              • Malaclypse says:

                He runs his mouth about it, and then when others mirror him, it’s somehow terrible.

                Um, Normy? I’ve never said I’m gay, since I’m actually not. I’ve just said that you are obsessed. Thanks for proving me right.

              • Murc says:

                Oh, good. I was starting to think ‘Wait, Mal is gay? And talks about it a lot? I missed this somehow. Wow, I’m dumb.’

                I should know better than to pay attention to Norm.

    • DrDick says:

      Of course, no one is ever wrongfully convicted of a capital crime in this country.

    • Tyto says:

      And all this time I thought Korematsu was wrongly decided. But now I know that because (1) SCOTUS heard the “evidence,” and (2) decided the case over sixty years ago, the decision must have been correct.

      See, the knowledge that the War Department essentially fabricated the “evidence” that underpinned the decision and the social context in which it occurred gave me some pause, but you’ve shown me that I can properly dismiss such trivialities as irrelevant, given the factors above.

    • A court heard the evidence.

      As with Dreyfuss. You have no idea who that is, do you? Google is your friend.

      A federal court in an extremely high profile trial convicted Ethyl and Julius, both communists, of passing state secrets to the Soviets.

      …based on the testimony of the leader of the spy ring, who was spared the death penalty in exchange for his testimony.

      Perhaps you are in the habit of taking communists* at their word when they say what prosecutors want to hear in order to avoid execution.

      I’m not.

      *You see what I did there?

  16. Normy says:

    Well?

    What’s the questions? You say you have ‘em and it seems your panties are in a wad about ‘em.

    So, let’s have ‘em.

    Put up or STFU, joey.

  17. herr doktor bimler says:

    Whatever happened to Pastafarian and his Googled expertise in Serbian insults? I’d have thought he’d be weighing in.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.