Mladic v Blair – who is the biggest war criminal?
As the trial begins of Ratko Mladic in the Hague for ‘genocide’ and ‘crimes against humanity’ perhaps it’s only fair to ask just how these terms are defined and therefore who is or is not a ‘war criminal.’
The official definition of a ‘war crime’ goes thus:
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict (also known as international humanitarian law) giving rise to individual criminal responsibility. Examples of such conduct include “murder, the ill-treatment or deportation of civilian residents of an occupied territory to slave labor camps”, “the murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war”, the killing of prisoners, “the wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages, and any devastation not justified by military, or civilian necessity” Using this definition, US presidents, politicians and generals as well as the Queen, Thatcher, Blair, Brown and Cameron could all be indicted on charges similar to those targeted at Mladic. The Israeli governments and military of the past 50 years could certainly be charged on each count but ah, these rules only apply to ‘the enemy’ to the likes of Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad and Mugabe not friendly or useful dictators, torturers and mass murderers like the Saudis, the Burmese, the Turks, The Chileans, El Salvadorians, the Argentinians, the Philippinos, or the Chinese. No, there’s money to be made from those war criminals., markets to protect, ideologies contrary to capitalism to be crushed.
The Nuremburg trials set the tone for such tribunals and whilst the architects of the Nazi death camps and those who implemented the mass execution of millions deserved to pay for their crimes, the word ‘genocide’ has now been used to describe everything from the Serbian war in Bosnia to the killing of a handful of ‘white framers’ by ‘so-called war veterans’ in Zimbabwe. The use of language is important here as the western media, especially the BBC, which maintains that it is balanced and impartial always presents its reports within an agreed editorial and political context.
Words such as ‘insurgent’ ‘militant’ and ‘terrorist’ are applied only the ‘enemy’ of ‘our’ forces. Propaganda is only used by the enemy media, whereas BBC reporting is ‘world renowned for its unbiased objectivity’ yet take a look at any report from Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan (or further back to Ireland or the Falklands) and what you get is an embedded, pro-British military bias that pretends the causes for such conflicts are simple cases of good versus evil, brave professional soldiers versus evil, cowardly terrorists. The IRA and the Argies and the Taliban must be presented as somehow inhuman, cruel and despicable just as the Viet Cong and the Germans all had to be seen as monstrous and evil.
The mass bombardment of civilian populations in Germany, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Palestine, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan is of course entirely necessary in military terms and not the wanton destruction of cities, town and villages because that would infringe international law and lead to possible charges of war crimes. The torture, humiliation and murder of prisoners of war in Guantanamo and the H-Blocks, in Kenya and Columbia, in South Africa and Iraq is totally justified as these people aren’t actual soldiers, they are ‘terrorists’, and as such international law doesn’t apply to them.
In this context is Mladic any worse than Blair or Bush? Maybe he’s less guilty than these two who used men like Mladic to do their dirty work, used the intelligence services, generals and politicians to make a case for an illegal war that saw ‘regime change’ as a selective way of removing those who dared question the economic and military status quo and who, unlike China or North Korea, were easy enough to bomb into submission.
Article 6 of The Charter of the Nuremburg trials states :
The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility:
(a) CRIMES AGAINST PEACE: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;
Among those charged under this count were:
All the defendants, with divers other persons, during a period of years preceding 8 May 1945, participated as leaders, organizers, instigators, or accomplices in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit, or which involved the commission of, Crimes against Peace…”
If the Iraqi war and what followed it wasn’t ‘planned, prepared, initiated to wage a war of aggression in violation of international treaties, agreements and assurances’ then I don’t see how Bush and Blair can escape the same fate as Mladic.
If found guilty for the murder of up to 8000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995, Mladic deserves to be held to account for his crimes and the crimes of his forces but why pick on Ratko and the other Serbian generals and politicians when the world is filled with similar men? Unlike Thatcher, Reagan, Bush Snr, Major, Blair, Bush Jnr, Brown, Obama and Cameron, Mladic simply did what soldiers do, they kill and burn and torture and terrify, that’s their job. It’s the same job US and British and all other soldiers are paid to do, so let’s not fool ourselves that there’s anything noble or honorable about it. Blair used the sacrifice of thousands of people as a stepping stone to a lucrative career as an international public speaker, corporate flunky and ‘peace envoy.’ Mladic faces the rest of his life in a cell. Who is the worse human?