Mladic Convicted

Today’s conviction of Ratko Mladic on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by a UN tribunal will come as cold comfort to those terrorized by his renegade Bosnian Serb forces. Mladic served the President of Republika Srpska, Radovan Karadžić (who was captured in 2008), as chief of staff of Bosnian Serb forces,

Mladic went underground at the end of the Yugoslav wars and was reported in poor health when finally tracked down and captured in 2011. On entering court today Mladic appeared in altogether better health, smirking at the camera – “a gesture that infuriated relatives of the victims.”

Mladic and his forces are most remembered for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of about 8,000 men and boys, but the “Butcher of Bosnia” also terrorized the capital Sarajevo, where the 1992 – 1996 siege killed about 14,000 more people, including 5,434 civilians.

Here are photos from Sarajevo in November, 1997.

The Bosnian parliament building, top, and detail below.

Bullet-ridden tram stop.

Danger! Sniper!

The SFOR, or Stabilization Force, patrols the main street.

The flower market, where a mortar shell killed 66 in 1994.

I think this photo sums up the term “abject misery.”
A Sarajevo tram crosses in front of the rubble of a shelled-out building.

 

Live Tweeting World War Two

A man who works at the Museum of London named Alwyn Collinson is live-Tweeting (for the next six years!) events as they happened on this date in 1939. Here is his Twitter feed.

The New Populism

berlinwall

The world has been waiting for Donald Trump since 9 November, 1989. It’s not often we can calculate the end of a political era to the exact day, but the breach of the Berlin Wall on that date set off a dénouement to the Cold War, a 776 day countdown to the final dissolution of the authoritarian model represented by the Soviet Union.

The ensuing interregnum had its own name, the Post Cold War period, highlighted but not defined by the 9/11 attacks. Its defining events were the Yugoslav wars, the GWOT and the continued strong dominance of neo-liberalism in the United States, which many believe led to the other defining event of the period, the 2008 financial crisis.

donald_trump_make_america_safe_again_sign_-_fred_shinn__terrie_frankel

During the Post Cold War period political scientists grew impatient for the world to get on with things, to get past this pause in history. Now the new era is well and truly here; out with the old, a half century’s balance of power between representative government and authoritarianism, in with the new populism.

Few get to watch an inchoate new era take form, and that is our great good fortune. I look forward to reading future writing about the underlying dynamics that set this unnamed new era in motion. It will earn its own name in due time, but whatever we call it, who on earth would have thought one of its founding fathers would be Donald Trump?

•••••

Berlin Wall photo from EarthPhotos.com. Other photo from Wikimedia Commons.

First Impressions of the Minsk II Agreement

Some people are roundly trashing Minsk II. About the most positive sentiments out there seem to be that it’s better than nothing.

I’m pretty skeptical.

Note that the document that emerged wasn’t signed by the government leaders but by these negotiators, members of the Trilateral Contact Group, same as Minsk I:

[OSCE] Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini

Second President of Ukraine L.D. Kuchma

The Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Ukraine M.Yu. Zurabov

A. V. Zakharchenko

I. V. Plotnitsky

Not putting the clout of the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine explicitly behind the document doesn’t augur well for its implementation, I don’t think.

Olga Tokariuk gets it right:

Also note these two parts of the agreement:

4. On the same day that the withdrawal of heavy weapons begins, a dialogue must start to prepare for local elections in Donetsk and Luhansk regions in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and Ukrainian laws on the temporary status of Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Dialogue must also begin to address the future status of these regions.

– and –

9. Control of the Ukrainian state border in the conflict zone must be returned to the Ukrainian government on the first day following local elections in the conflict zone and following implementation of point 11 of the Minsk memorandum governing Ukrainian constitutional reform.

It seems to me that together, they’re essentially Russia telling Ukraine, “You can only have your border back after we hold sham elections that we can manipulate as we please, and between now and then we can run as much military materiel into DNR/LNR as we like.”

First impressions only, but not especially hopeful.