The American Interest

Chronicle of an Announced Arrest

The media frenzy surrounding the arrest of the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic on July 21 was based entirely on the doctrine of nonequivalence inaugurated in 1992: Serb crimes are bad and justly exaggerated; Muslim crimes are understandable.  This doctrine was spectacularly reiterated a month before Karadzic’s capture, when the Muslim wartime commander of Srebrenica, Nasir Oric, was found not guilty by The Hague Tribunal of any responsibility for the killing of thousands of Serb civilians by the forces under his command in the three years before the fall of the enclave in July 1995.

The imbalance is more than unfair.  The talking heads gloating over Karadzic’s capture have no need to suppress the thought that different U.S. policies could have prevented the horror of “Bosnia,” because no such thought ever occurs to them.

Over the past two centuries Balkan lands have been bargaining chips for alliance construction.  The Bosnian war of 1992-95 was the most destructive segment of the War of Yugoslav Dissolution that began when the Yugoslav republics of Slovenia and Croatia seceded in the summer of 1991.  With no ethnic majority and no “Bosnian” nation, the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina had the most to fear from violent secession.  And with a reunited Germany committed to the recognition of Croatia and Slovenia, the Muslim leadership in Sarajevo knew...

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