Mladic’s refusal to plead at the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague gave a legal middle finger to the Serbs who rallied to his defense this week following his arrest for ordering the murder of 7000 men and boys at Srebrenica, Bosnia in 1995. More than that it served to truly clarify his passionate love and stalwart defense of the Serbian people.
For give me for deviating a bit from the point, but Mladic in Bosnia was the bloody tip of the spear for Serbia’s then leader, Slobodan Milosevic’s policy that Serbia was besieged by the world, and that he was defending Serbian culture from Europe and the United States. Funny how so many of those who swallowed such tripe now reside in the US and Western Europe, or want integration with the EU precisely because of the policies of Serbian nationalist leaders. And all of them cried at the end of the Emir Kusturica film, Underground, at the line, “Once upon a time there was a country…” I guess true nationalism crumbles when toilet paper and potatoes are hard to afford any longer.
But Mladic did not rise before the court and boldly decry the legitimacy of its mandate. Nor did he stand in defense of his reconstructed national history, invented historic victimhood or Serbian sovereignty. He did not assert that the 7000 unarmed and bound men executed and bulldozed into graves, or herded into schoolhouses and grenaded to death were terrorists and evil-eyed jihadists bent on annihilating all Serbs. There wasn’t a whisper about Jasenovac, the battle of Kosovo, the German firebombing of Belgrade in 1941, the Austrian invasion of 1914 or any other propagandized national calamities. No, Mladic claimed he was a sick old man with a terminal illness.
Patriot? A patriot stands by his nation, above his own needs. Particularly a proud general who pledges before god and country to offer his life in defense of the nation. Mladic did none of that. Instead he acted in court as he did in so-called battle in Bosnia. He fought like a coward, besieging towns and cities, shelling and sniping civilians, allowing weekend warriors-civilians from Belgrade on sad and perverse adventures, to come and fire upon civilians for sport. He harassed journalists, and murdered some. The vanquished, frightened and innocent he gathered in fields and disposed of them like trash. He fought as a coward and now meets justice as a coward. Maybe this will reveal to Serbs everywhere the true character of the fight in Bosnia that all too many of them still accept and defend.
For his victims and the survivors of his victims, perhaps you can take some solace from his pathetic repose. Perhaps the ridiculous ends of Milosevic, Mladic, and Radovan Karadzic reveals that the war was indeed criminal and selfish and not at all how it was characterized in the Press as a war against religions. Perhaps Bosnians of all religions will realize that religion was not the reason for the war, but the excuse, much like paying one’s light bill is the excuse not the reason for robbing a bank. Perhaps the farcical charade these men concocted that caused 120,000 deaths and uprooted the lives of millions brings Muslims, Serbs and Croats closer to the reconciliation they sorely need. Perhaps.