OPINION

A dubious stance on war crimes?

Whatever one’s opinion may be regarding the legacy of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, one cannot fail to be surprised by the remarks of certain US officials expressing their disappointment that the International Criminal Court at The Hague did not manage to impose a verdict upon Milosevic for war crimes. One is invariably mindful of the USA’s official stance concerning the existence and operation of international justice. At the end of World War II, the US was the driving force behind the Allies’ creation of the court at Nuremberg, which tried and convicted Nazi war criminals. Of course, international conditions were very different then: worldwide destruction, millions of dead and a fervent desire that such annihilation should never be repeated. The years that followed dashed hopes for the birth of a new era, and the crimes against humanity that occurred from time to time generated less public outrage due to the overriding «balance of terror» that existed during the Cold War. The US administration has expressed its disappointment that Milosevic died before he could be convicted of crimes that the Western powers had aimed to curb by means of military intervention. But one cannot ignore a glaring paradox. The USA convened the Nuremberg war crimes trial with the aim of securing peace in the postwar period and promote the «American way of life» but today it refuses to recognize the authority of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, evidently due to fears that some of its own officials may be forced to stand trial for a series of initiatives and policies on the international stage in areas where it deemed intervention necessary.