Once again, a moral monster has died in his bed. This time it was Slobodan Milosevic, one-time Communist apparatchik, long-time Serb nationalist despot and rabble-rouser, the man who more than any other deserves to be called the father of ethnic cleansing. He had much blood on his hands, for which he was being tried, endlessly, at The Hague. He was found dead there Saturday, apparently of cardiac arrest.
Christopher Hitchens provides a brief overview of Milosevic’s career:
He entered into a collusion with fascist and irredentist groups, among them Bosnian Serbs and Belgrade Serbs, which deliberately threw Bosnia into civil war and gave us the modern (and euphemistic) term “ethnic cleansing.” He hijacked the national army of a unitary state and used it to attack the autonomous republics within that state. He very nearly destroyed two of the urban cultural treasures of Europe: Dubrovnik and Sarajevo. He emptied the treasury of Serbia and reduced its citizens to poverty and paranoia. He and Saddam were the only two heads of government to welcome the failed coup against Mikhail Gorbachev. Eventually, he went even further and ordered the mass expulsion of the majority population of Kosovo, who were herded onto trains and forced onto the roads. . .
I am on record as saying there’s very little we can do about moral monsters who make private butcher-yards out of their nations. Stalin, Mao, Kim Il Sung, and Pol Pot all died in bed. In this case, there’s a difference. Something could have been done. Milosevic, the killer, fell into the hands of the Western democracies. We had him. We could have made him an example: let the next Milosevic beware.
Instead, he was allowed to become ringmaster of a confused circus at The Hague, strutting and threatening his former henchmen and victims, as if nothing had changed in his condition, as if he were still tyrant in Belgrade and we helpless observers. The trial began in February 2002. It had taken four years, with no end in sight, to judge a man responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands: the moral obtuseness of the West almost equals the viciousness of the defendant.
According to the WaPo, Milosevic believed he was being poisoned. One can only hope it’s true.