Ratko Mladic Arrested in Serbia

 Posted by on May 26, 2011  Add comments
May 262011
 

It seems the Serbs have finally decided to arrest the murderer, General Ratko Mladic, sixteen years after he personally oversaw the cold-blooded massacre of 8,000 men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995.

This isn’t the only blood on Mladic’s hands.  The killers who lurked in the hills overlooking Sarajevo were acting under his orders as they shelled civilians and shot people down in the street with high-powered rifles.  His forces murdered thousands as they systematically destroyed 300 Bosniak villages around Srebrenica and he knowingly facilitated the Chetnik thugs led by the criminal Arkan as they robbed, slaughtered and raped their way across Bosnia.

Srebrenica was a gigantic failure for the UN, with  General Philippe Morillon’s hollow assurance still resounding as an example of empty posturing.

I will never abandon you, he told the terrified refugees, and promptly departed for safety.   When the Serb forces rolled into the town, the remaining Dutch UN soldiers surrendered without firing a shot  and the slaughter began.

Use this moment, Mladic urged his soldiers.

One by one, Mladic surrounded and bombarded Bosniak settlements while at the same time laughing at the ultimatums he received from the United Nations.  While his army had endless supplies of munitions and fuel thanks to Slobodan Milosevic’s support, the EU was imposing an embargo on supplies of weapons to the Bosnian forces to defend themselves.

Probably the most stark example of how powerless the UN was can be found in the ludicrous concept of safe areas.  Sarajevo, Goražde, Žepa, Bihac, Srebrenica and Tuzla were so designated, but the UN failed to define precisely how they might be made safe.  In Srebrenica and Žepa, the Serbs overran the defences and massacred the people.  The people of Bihac were besieged and starved by attacking Serb, Croat and, bizarrely, Serb-supported Bosniaks.  Civilians in Goražde were saved only because NATO attacked Serb forces from the air, finally convincing Mladic that at last he was dealing with people who meant business.

In the end, the UN had to admit that the term “safe area” applied only to their troops, who had no mandate, or capability to carry the fight to the Bosnian Serb army which was, after all, a branch of the JNA, a very professional fighting force.  Be under no illusions.  Ratko Mladic was a highly-trained officer of an extremely capable army.  Not only that, he was among the very best of his generation — a man not to be taken lightly, despite his bluff, shoulder-punching bonhomie.  He might have had the common touch, but his intellect was far from ordinary and if Morillon was under the illusion that he dealt with an inferior, he was badly mistaken.

Mladic never took his orders from the ridiculous Radovan Karadzic, figurehead of the Bosnian Serbs.  He rarely disguised his contempt for the occult-obsessed former psychiatrist who always brought a fortune teller with him to perform incantations before a battle, even though, of course, he took no part in the fighting.  Karadzic was always an absurd and rather pathetic figure.  Even at the height of the siege, a documentary about his poetry played to packed audiences in Sarajevo cinemas and broke all records for attendance at comedy events.

It was the Krajina uprising that launched Mladic’s murderous career when Milosevic appointed him chief of the Bosnian Serb army staff in 1992, and the connection with Belgrade continued unbroken thoughout the conflict.  Despite Belgrade’s denials, the Krajina uprising and the Bosnian war were instruments of Serbian policy, and the Serb forces there were controlled, paid and supplied from Belgrade.

Mladic saw himself, probably correctly, as a key figure in the  creation of a Greater Serbia, and worked closely with his old friend, General Momcilo Perisic, chief of staff of the Yugoslavian army in trying to achieve that aim.  There was little limit to Mladic’s arrogance, or to his awareness of his world profile.  This was a man who named his pet goats after his international critics.

There’s no doubting his efficiency.  By the end of 1994, he had taken 70% of Bosnia for the Serbs. Both he and Perisic stayed in close contact with Slobodan Milosevic, co-conspirator with Croat president Franjo Tudjman in a plan to divide Yugoslavia by violent means but true to form, Mladic seems to have also held Milosevic in contempt, even though Slobo was in theory giving the orders.

As Mladic went about his job of mass murder, he was living with his own personal tragedy.  Not only had he lost both parents through suicide but, a year before the Srebrenica atrocity, his daughter Ana, a medical student, had taken her own life after learning of her father’s genocidal activities in Bosnia.  Ironically, the suicide weapon was the treasured pistol presented to Mladic in the military academy for being such an outstanding student.

Most people would be flattened by the loss, but not Mladic, who carried on his military campaign regardless, though he was said to have been distraught and profoundly depressed as a consequence of Ana’s death.  Some say his daughter died of shame, but clearly, the experience of losing a beloved child in such circumstances didn’t cause him to reflect on what he was doing to thousands of other parents, or to wonder about the morality of his actions.

This, above everything else, in my opinion, makes Mladic monstrous.  He was not a man without feelings, but he was capable of suppressing them.

Even after the Dayton peace accords were signed, Mladic refused to give up control of the Bosnian Serb army to Biljana Plavsic — another convicted war criminal.   Eventually, Bosnian Serb police physically destroyed the communications between Mladic and his commanders, but he still remained an officer of the Serbian army in Belgrade until 2001 when, eventually, the new Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica, forced him to resign.

This is what makes the Serb case so ludicrous.  They were employing him and paying his wages while the rest of the world treated him as a wanted war criminal.  Over the years since he supposedly went on the run, Mladic was frequently seen in the Belgrade cemetery at Topcider, sitting on a bench beside the grave where his daughter is buried.  He plainly felt safe under the protection of Serb security forces.

Obviously, it now suits the Serb government to hand him over for political reasons, but they must be wondering how the final chapter will play out.

Will Mladic follow the example of his parents and daughter, and finish his own life as he has threatened?  That’s what Milan Babic did, although his suicide was more than likely driven by guilt, since he was the most prominent figure in the Krajina uprising that sparked the whole Yugoslav bloodbath.

Or will he do something much worse, and tell the real story of how Serbia and Croatia conspired to fight a war that enriched so many politicians at the cost of so much human misery?

After all, whatever else we can say about Ratko Mladic, he didn’t benefit personally from the horror of the Bosnian war, unlike many others, Bosnian, Serb and Croat.

In the long run, Mladic failed to achieve anything but cause misery. The Krajina Serbs were ejected en masse during Croatia’s German-supported Operation Storm in 1995. Bosnia is now a patchwork of ethnically-delineated municipalities existing uneasily beside each other, while Republika Srpska seethes at having to share power with the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Open war is never far from the surface as the ancient hatreds continue to ferment. For now, though, the Bosnian Serbs are limited in what they can do because in the west they rely almost totally on Croatia and in the east on Serbia. When Serbia joins the EU, Republika Srpska will be given no room to manoeuvre, but in that region, a grudge can last a thousand years, while the EU is unlikely to be there in a hundred. When the Union finally decides to call it a day, Bosnia’s Serbs will be ready and wiling to spark another Balkan war, beginning the whole futile cycle all over again.

 

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Update: Mladic extradited

The hunt for Ratko Mladic

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Previously:

Genocide in Bosnia
Bosnia. The Legacy Of Karadzic And Mladic

Karadjic Caught

  15 Responses to “Ratko Mladic Arrested in Serbia”

Comments (15)
  1.  

    There is a natural reaction it seems to describe people like him as “monsters” or even (for gods sake) “Animals” although I dont know what Animals are supposed to do those things.But from what we see all around the world and in every history book.People like him just display a characteristic of human nature that we like to distance ourselves from…until perhaps we are in his position!.

  2.  

    Losing a child in tragic circumstances humbles a man to the point of not being able to get out of bed of a morning, let alone taking a terrible revenge on the world around him through bitterness. My own personal opinion of Mladic is that he is not a monster as such, but a psychopath.

    Psychopaths, like Mladic, live a “predatory” lifestyle. They feel little or no regret, and little or no remorse except when they are caught. They need relationships, but see people as obstacles to overcome and be eliminated. I doubt the man in question lost much sleep or missed too many meals after his normal ‘working’ day.

  3.  

    Ratko Mladic – now there’s a blast from the past but not a blast of a good kind. His very name makes my skin crawl.

    I recall watching the events of 1992-1995 and may disgust and horror as this evil bastard made complete fools of the UN, David Owens and the entire international community.

    This was one of the most shameful periods of modern European diplomacy. We had the Carrington-Cutileiro Plan, the Vance-Owen plan etc., to him, they were a joke.

    He didn’t give a damn, His simple aim was the complete destruction of Europe’s only Muslim community.

    He shelled markets and squares regularly in Sarajevo killing scores at a time and then blamed the Bosniaks for shelling their own people.

    He used snipers armed with high-powered rifles to kill thousands in the city and then claimed his forces were returning fire at Bosnian forces.

    He unleashed another criminal Željko Ražnatovi, a.k.a Arkan on the population of north-western Bosnia. This psychopath, murdered and raped his way through the war. One of his favorite methods of extermination was to lock dozens of people into small windowless rooms with no ventilation while denying them food and water. Thankfully he was assassinated in Belgrade in 2000.

    And then there was Srebrenica. He reveled in his humiliation of the cowardly Dutch UN ‘peacekeepers’, patting young Bosniak boys on the head as he explained to all and sundry how everybody would be ‘protected’.

    We all know how that turned out.

    I think that it’s a shame the ICC will not hang him.

  4.  

    Niall — I can’t disagree with any of that It’s just a pity that they can’t hang Vojislav Šešelj while they’re at it.

  5.  

    I have no sympathy for Mladic nor am I qualified to call him a psycopath or a monster or an animal. Nor do I condone in anyway what he and his goons did. But, is Mladic a product of his circumstances? The “Troubles” created people like him who would otherwise have lived perfectly normal, anomynous lives. Were they worse? They killed most of their victims at close quarters, he killed most of his at a distance, I don’t think the number of victims makes much difference. War / conflict does horrible things to ordinary men, most of us are lucky that we never have to deal with it.

  6.  

    On the contrary, he killed most of his Srebrenica victims at very close quarters indeed.

    I always think labels like “monster” let people off the hook. Monsters, by definition, do monstrous things and are therefore not to be blamed. It’s when ordinary people commit monstrous acts that we need to be horrified. The Yugoslav wars stand out for me because the atrocities were committed with such cold precision and planning. Nothing was done in the heat of battle. And before anyone says so, yes, I know what the Ustasha did to the Serbs. In fact, I’ve written about it many times here.

  7.  

    There are many potential Ratko Mladic’s within a couple of hundred yards of all of us right now. Thankfully the dark side that is apparent in some of the characters among us will never be given the conditions to flourish.

  8.  

    Mladic is a very brilliant guy, extremely capable, intellectually gifted and an utter bastard. Isn’t that a terrible waste?

  9.  

    Hands-on killers who use their hands as a weapon: to bludgeon, choke, strangle, or knife victims tend to be a bit on the oul tick side when it comes to the grey matter, whereas Mladic took time in the planning of his victims deaths. His intellect and cunning are far above the average man, who let’s face it, are mostly lazy when it comes to putting in an effort at their work.

  10.  

    Whatever criticism may be laid at the door of the UN Secretariat, and the actions of Gen. Morillon, accusing the Dutch forces in UNPROFOR of cowardice is reprehensible.

  11.  

    It’s also incidental, since the crimes were committed by Mladic, not the UN.

  12.  

    Why is accusing the Dutch forces of cowardice reprehensible ?…they certainly did not give any great display of courage or show any willingness to sacrifice themselves for the people they were there to protect.

  13.  

    BoldPilot.

    Let me clarify my remarks about the Dutch peacekeepers that ‘defended’ Srebrenica in the summer of 1995.

    The Dutch U.N. troops arrived in early July relieving a battalion of Canadian soldiers who had been steadfastly defending the enclave. Their job was to continue to defend the enclave and it’s population.

    In July 1995 the Serbs began to make probing attacks on the enclave’s perimeter, which was being defended by 400 Dutch troops.

    The Dutch commander, Col. Ton Karremans had options open to him. One was to stand his ground and fight the superior force of Mladic’s troops in the hope that by reporting to the world that U.N. forces were being attacked, there would be a massive international reaction.

    The second option at his disposal was to call in airstrikes by NATO fighters that were circling overhead. Indeed, he could have done both.

    He did neither (although it has been disputed that he did ask for strikes but they were denied).

    Instead, he went to meet Mladic, drank a champagne toast with him, and agreed to hand over the Muslims in return for 30 Dutch soldiers who had been taken hostage.

    It was only when the Serbs discovered from Karremans that no resistance would be offered that they immediately decided to go for broke.

    I do not accuse individual Dutch soldiers of cowardice but I do accuse their battalion commander and his superiors (General Morillon included) of being cowards.

  14.  

    May he fucking burn; whether it is here or there is irrelevant – old genocidal maniacs deserve to answer for their actions…

  15.  

    Agreed Ray, burn like fire…the self-servin’ old Kuntz..not alone , unfortunately.

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