So Wesley K. Clark was in The Hague yesterday to testify at the UN Tribunal of Slobodan Milosevic. Nifty. "It's the rule of law, it's closure. It's a very important precedent for what may be happening later with another dictator from another part of the world," says Clark which the Washington Post claims means that "Clark Sees Model for Hussein's Prosecution." Thing is, later in the article Clark is quoted as saying in a speech, "I don't believe that any form of punishment should be off the table . . . including the death penalty." Sorry Charlie, you can't have one without the other. A United Nations international court won't allow the death penalty.
Here's my beef with Clark's opinion, and all those "multi-lateralists" who think an international court, such as The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia aka The Hague tribunal should be where Saddam Hussein is tried. It's a piece of crap.
According to the UN ICTY website the initial indictment was 24 May 1999, with amended indictments following in June, October and November of 2001. As I recall Milosevic was sent to The Hague in the summer of 2001. Now, two and a half years later, Wesley Clark has played his part and there is still no end in sight. Is that the kind of court Clark and others are actually calling for? Do they really want years of farcical comedy masquerading as justice.
Here's an example; secretly indicted by the UNICTY in 1998 Stanislav Galic was finally captured in December of 1999 and only two weeks ago finally brought to justice. He was found guilty on two counts of murder, two counts of inhumane acts (other than murder) and one count of terror -- for this he was sentenced to twenty years with credit for time served (starting on his capture). It is likely that he'll be spending his 77th birthday a free man.
The Milosevic trial is still going on, and shows promise of going on for quite some time.
UN ICTY history shows that if tomorrow the US decided to hand Saddam over to the UN for trial they'd first have to set up the UN Iraq Tribunal which could take a couple of years, UN bureaucracy not being known for its speed. Then it could easily be half a year before a final indictment is made, that's after he is in UN tribunal custody, then several years of Comedy Central trial before judgement is rendered with a sentence as short as twenty years with time in custody (starting the day the US captured him, not the day the UN takes custody of him) counting to that; meaning that if he survives he could be a free man by the age of 86, an attainable age considering the level of health care he's receiving in US custody and what he'll probably receive while in UN custody. That is how international justice seems to work.
Truth is I believe it's more a case that they are either parrotting some party line or simply haven't actually thought out their position to its logical conclusion. Sure the thought of an international criminal court sounds good, but only if we look at it through a lens of our own hope and dreamy visions of how we wish the world was. It's an entirely different animal when we look at it through a lens ground with historical precedent, then we get a whole different picture, one that depends on who is the motivating and controlling power behind the courts. That's where the big difference comes in. Nuremberg is seen as a success and The Hague is considered, by many, to be a modern day Nuremberg. It's not. The Hague is an international compromise designed to make "The World" happy with its existence; Nuremberg was not.
Update: Den Beste weighs in on the Transnationalists and touchs on the subject I wrote about,
"Based on performance in the recent past, there are serious questions of whether international tribunals are capable of holding such trials efficiently and effectively. That's what the Rwanda and Milosevic processes seem to suggest."
The entire thing is, as is usual for him, well worth reading.