Mladic and Bin Laden: which solution is just?

30 May
General Ratko Mladić during UN-mediated talks ...

Image via Wikipedia

Guest post today by author Gerard Oosterman, artist, farmer and blogger. Gerard raises interesting questions about the two situations

They couldn’t believe their luck. Finally, after all those years on the run, the Serbs got their man. Ratko Mladic was indicted in 1995 by the International Criminal Tribunal and was recently arrested after a tip off.

Mladic stands accused of the murder of at least 7500 Muslim men and boys from the town of Srebrenica. This is considered the single biggest atrocity since World War II. Having watched footage on the news this morning there seemed joy by many that he had been arrested, but unlike the killing of Osama Bin Laden, there was no hysterical dancing on the streets as there was in the US when news of that killing broke.

The total number killed as a result of all the attacks on America on 9/11 were close to 3000.

There are no winners in acts of terror on innocent civilians and the world is a better place now that both have finally been caught up with. However, the killing by Ratko Mladic and his henchmen of 7500 Muslims never received the same media attention as Osama Bin Laden’s attacks on the US,  even though the number killed by Ratko Mladic was far greater and surely on equal level of cruelty suffered of those killed by Bin Laden.

The siege of Sarajevo resulted in the deaths of at least another 10 000 people. The relentless shelling of this beautiful historical city of was encouraged by Mladic, who was reported as ordering, “Shell them till they go mad”.

One has to go back to World War II to find the equivalent.

There is, however, a stark difference by which both came to their final moment of justice. One was killed outright followed by jubilation and cheers by thousands of enthusiastic people, mainly Americans. It was seen as fair justice. Not many expressed concern that the shooting dead of Osama, in the head ,was done in front of his twelve year old daughter. Amnesty International was less enthusiastic, and was critical of this peculiar US method of justice, as OBL was unarmed and in bed, at 1am.

Amnesty raised concerns that there was no attempt to capture him alive, and stressed the necessity  to adhere and comply with international Law in  such situations.

Ratko Mladic on the other hand was arrested in a pre-dawn raid on an isolated farm, without any violence. He was immediately brought before a judge.

A few elderly women were interviewed just after the arrest of Ratko and were shown to still grieve for their sons and husbands.

The difference could not be more startling. While America has always been associated with guns, violence and seeking retribution whenever possible, no more so than in the cold blooded killing of OBL, at least the Serbs have displayed remarkable resistance to acting in the same way. Mladic is reported to have had two loaded guns but like Bin Laden, offered no resistance.

There are still many Serbs who consider Mladic a hero. The Serbian Government was repeatedly requested to implement his arrest but fearing a backlash, was somewhat less than enthusiastic. The big stick of refusing Serbia’s entry to the EU was effectively wielded by the European Union, finally persuading the Serbian Government to act.

No doubt the world can give a well-earned sigh of relief that another monster has been caught. Unlike the US action against Bin Laden, the world will experience the process of bringing such a monster to justice when Mladic is tried in The Hague.

Gerard blogs at  Oosterman Treats Blog

5 Responses to “Mladic and Bin Laden: which solution is just?”

  1. David Horton May 31, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    Well said Gerard. I have been putting off consideration of OBL till I had my mind clear on it, but you have hit the nail on the head with this comparison with Mladic. Big differenc of course – Mladic “only” killed his own countrymen, not Americans. The sequence of events may well have been different if Mladic had launched terrorist attacks in the west when NATO intervened.


  2. PAUL WALTER May 31, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    Who would have thought that Yugoslavia was going to end up the mess it ended up in in the nineties, back in the eighties?
    Jingoism is often the last resort of scoundrels and that includes once social democrat scoundrels, from Mussolini to Milosovic. We see it with labor in Australia a little also, as Labor, thwarted on other fronts, also retreats to a nationalist position as to asylum seekers and minorities in general.
    Wasn’t Mladic an inperious butthead in his tinpot glory days?
    But no more strutting about with rocket launchers, like fifteen years ago.
    The last photo of him showed a deranged, fearful old man, and hard as hard as you try, you can’t feel much sympathy for him, given the cruelties he seemed so delighted to have inflicted on his tormented victims.


  3. David Horton June 4, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    Hullo again Gerard, have now had a go at this topic, stirred into action by your excellent piece Same conclusion, different path to get there!


  4. Gerard Oosterman June 6, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    Very good David, Have you tried to get your piece published at the ABC Drum? It is so much better put. Thank you for your insight and support.



  1. Shades of the prison-house « The Watermelon Blog - June 4, 2011

    […] recent similarly motivated raid, with quite a different outcome, the capture of Ratko Mladic, also helps provide perspective for the bin Laden […]


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