Could you ever imagine the European president having the courage to sanction the type of action that the American president recently approved? Of course not, for at least two reasons. First, do you know who the European President actually is at the moment? I would be surprised if you do. Second - it is inconceivable that the EU would ever agree to anything quick or efficient.
As I often say in my own unique mixed metaphor, in EU politics 'there is no smoke without mirrors'. We never really know what is going on behind the scenes . . . behind the smoke screen. The way that Europe deals with another (alleged) mass murderer will reveal a lot about what is wrong with Europe, even if it also reveals something about the fundamental humanity, truth and justice that they would like us to see. Meanwhile our money will be squandered on a show trial that will seem endless.
Not many people would say that Ratko Mladic was a paragon of justice. Even his supporters would only back him because of his successful efforts to eradicate their mutual enemies. He was indicted in 1995 of the cold blooded killing of between 7,000 and 10,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica - the worst single atrocity in Europe since World War II - a much worse atrocity than the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers where 2,800 died. In one single event Mladic's forces killed at least twice as many as bin Laden's have killed in total. Since that time one might speculate that certain Balkan authorities have successfully shielded him from arrest and kept him from facing justice.
Dear old, scheming, genocidal Mladic has good lawyers, no doubt handsomely paid out of his ill-gotten proceeds, and they will make it difficult at every step of the legal process, spinning out the trial for years. The costs will reach tens of millions and justice might never be done.
This is the alternative to sending in a crack squad of soldiers to 'dispatch' him. The American approach had the additional feature of revealing to the world how Pakistan had kept him 'hidden in open sight', whereas in the European approach nobody would dare to offend another European country by pointing it out. Surely those who deliberately defend and hide indicted mass murderers (whether they are labelled 'terrorist or 'army chief') deserve to be exposed.
Which is the better approach, the lesser of the two evils? Please comment. I can't believe that anyone reading this could claim not to have an opinion.
Little note. In typical fashion, the question about who is the president of the EU has at least three possible answers:
- President of the European Council (since 1 December 2009, Herman Van Rompuy)
- President of the European Commission (since 22 November 2004, José Manuel Barroso) unelected of course, but clearly the most powerful
- Presidency of the Council of the European Union (since 1 January 2011, Hungary)