Thursday, May 26, 2011

DUTCH DILEMMA

General Ratko Mladic in 1990's

Ratko Mladic in court today
A Dutch dilemma looms now that Ratko Mladic has finally been arrested by Serbian authorities.  These same authorities knew where he was in the village of Lazarevo, Serbia just as the Pakistanis knew of the Osama Bin Laden residence.   Serbia wants to join the European Union and one of the conditions was the arrest for trial of Mladic.  Ratko Mladic committed many war crimes as a Bosnian Serb General however he is best known for the massacre at Srebrenica.  It is an appalling affair and complicated by the surrender to him of the Dutch Forces charged with the protection of the Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica.  Dutch troops under a UN flag failed to protect the Muslims in 1995, their commander was videoed accepting drinks and gifts from Mladic.  As a result the Mladic Forces then massacred 8000 male Bosnian Serbs males of all ages, raped and murdered the females of all ages and pillaged the area. All this in the tragic tradition of European religious ethnic wars.


Now the irony is Ratko Mladic will be extradited, unless he can avoid it due to his health, to stand trial at the International Criminal Tribunal situated in the Hague, Netherlands the country whose military failed in its duty.  The Dutch military prowess has a history of incompetence unless totally superior as they were for example in Ireland.  William of Orange routed the Irish forces, who were as busy fighting amongst themselves as they were trying to fight him, at the Battle of the Boyne.  To this day Ireland remains divided as a result and hence the recent controversy with the State Visit of Elizabeth Windsor to the Republic of Ireland.


The history of the Netherlands has unfortunately its own military history of war crimes.  In June 1815 at Quatre Bras and Waterloo the Prince of Orange who at aged 23 was commander of  the First Corps of the Duke of Wellington's Army facing Napoleon's Army of France.  Three times he sent troops to certain annihilation by insisting they advanced in line, rather than form square, with cavalry formed ready to attack them.  He was excused from any punishment because of his Royal status - no war crimes trials in those days.  Of course in European history each and every country has in turn committed what we now call 'war crimes' and in turn been the judge of another.  With the United States being involved after World War 2 at the Nuremberg Trials in Germany.  So let us remember that no one nation is an innocent all are guilty.  What has been learned?  Well not much it appears by the Netherlands.  The Mothers of Srebrenica have a lawsuit against the United Nations (UN) their Dutch lawyer Mr. Hagedorn said the group will not drop that lawsuit because of the arrest of Mladic.  The Dutch Courts have upheld the UN claim to be immune from lawsuits.  In our own maritime world the Netherlands is Flag State to the vessels of Sea Shepherd all of which have committed numerous acts of piracy.  Vile as the war crimes of Mladic are he does have pretty good grounds to say "those who are without stain cast the first stone" - no doubt his defence lawyers will.  An article by Danial Hannan www.telegraph.co.uk./ blog  is well worth reading and an important opinion.


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