27 December 2012

US to Bosnians: Here's What Your Constitution Should Say

Last month saw the publishing of a new proposal for the reorganization of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the Muslim-Croat entity in the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina). That is not remarkable in itself. Since most everyone in the Federation, Croats and Muslims alike, agree the entity is dysfunctional and would benefit from a reorganization it is only to be expected various blueprints for reform would be brought forward. What is more newsworthy is the making of this newest draft has been financed by the US Embassy in Sarajevo.

American Paper

The reform proposal was drawn up by the "Law Institute in Bosnia and Herzegovina", an NGO that is so grassroots the address of its website appears in English (www.lawinstitute.ba). The document it has produced comes with the note it is "financially supported by the Embassy of the United States", but that "all standpoints, opinions and conclusions indicated in this document, do not necessarily reflect attitude of the U.S. Department of State".

Naturally the Americans will not tie themselves down to every detail and turn of words in the document, but it is just as obvious they would not have funded the drafting of  a proposal they disagreed with. What is more the US Ambassador in Bosnia has just recently stated constitutional reform of the Federation has the backing of the United States, and the US Embassy is the only entity mentioned as having "financially supported" the making of this draft. It is safe to conclude this is the American proposal for the reform of the Federation of BiH, which the US State Department has paid for in full.

How is This Normal?

Before moving on to the contents of the proposal, let us first take a step back and consider what should by all rights be an abnormal and outrageous state of affairs. Why should one sovereign nation even have a proposal for the reorganization of another, supposedly likewise sovereign, nation in the first place?

Nigeria does not come up with drafts for internal reform in Chile. North Korea does not spend money on drawing up plans for constitutional reform in Tanzania. Russia does not finance proposals for the internal reorganization of Belarus, or Armenia. The United States itself does not waste breath presenting plans for their internal reform to China or France, and Bosnia and Herzegovina certainly does not fund the drawing up of blueprints for the territorial reorganization of the United States of America.

19 December 2012

Voluntaryist Reader

Just to inform anyone who follows me here, that I've also took up blogging at The Voluntaryist Reader. It is a collaborative blog recently started by over a dozen libertarian radicals with diverse interests such as politics, philosophy, economy and history. So check it out and bookmark it if sparks your interest, either the main page, or else just my archives (two posts so far).

07 December 2012

Wrong Kind of Croat

Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač, two senior officers of the Croatian army have been released by the ICTY which has reversed its decision from last year when it ruled they be imprisoned for the duration of 24 and 18 years respectively. At the time the court ignored the implication of its sentence. If the two accused were guilty of a "joint criminal enterprise" (whatever that is) for carrying out Operation Storm as the ICTY said they were, then logically so too was the Clinton administration which had backed and green-lighted the offensive via ambassador Galbraith. The recent acquittal is no less damning for the theater in Hague, however, and merely lays out the level of its pro-Imperial slant in a different way.

The arbitrariness of the ICTY may now be shown quickly that much more easily just by comparing its respective records on the Croatian Army (HV), and the army of Bosnian-Herzegovian Croats (the HVO). Given that at the time, Croatia, and the Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina were led by one and the same political party (the HDZ) and that Croats of BiH were reliant on assistance from Croatia and sincerely appreciative of Zagreb there is no real reason to expect qualitative differences in their respective armies, as regards their politics, radicalism or propensity for atrocity. Neither should then one expect that HV and HVO members would be found guilty of war crimes at a just court of law at wildly different rates, given that these two forces took part in fighting with roughly comparable gore levels.* Is this the case with the ICTY?

The disposition of the ICTY toward other participants in the wars in the Balkans in the 1990s is glaringly obvious and may be laid out as a few simple rules. The non-natives, the Americans and the NATO Europeans do not get indicted at all. Bosnian Muslims and Albanians are indicted sparingly, and only to be cleared of guilt, or to receive slaps on the wrist. The designated native black hats, the Serbs, are prosecuted with vigor and receive heavy punishment.

ICTY's relationship with the Croats has been less clear-cut. They have been indicted far more sparingly than the Serbs, but also far more frequently than anyone else. Their cases have seen verdicts and sentences all over the place and included instances of dramatic reversals (Blaškić, Kupreškić, Gotovina). In fact in the recent judgment the appeals body split 3-2 to acquit Gotovina and Markač, so at least seemingly it was close to making an opposite decision.

That said, the last month's acquittal of Gotovina and Markač are less of a surprise than had been their earlier sentencing to long-term imprisonment. The latter outcome was unusual, because it went against the rule of thumb for Croats at the ICTY, which could be observed beneath the seeming ambiguity. The two senior Croatian army officers were the wrong kind of Croats to be condemned as criminals of war by the Empire-sponsored court. They were from Croatia when it takes a Bosnian-Herzegovian Croat to really wet the inquisition's appetites.